Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today


NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.


NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.


New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.


Plant Profiles

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Stems of Variegated Tapioca



Variegated tapioca is an evergreen tropical shrub whose leaves have a large, bright yellow-to-white center.  The show is undiminished by intense heat or pitiless sun and, thanks to large roots that can store water, established plants can tough out drought as well as meager soil.  Manihot esculenta 'Variegata' could just be the perfect pot plant to set out in the Summer, on a hot west-facing terrace, or near the swimming pool.


References don't seem to have commented on the shrub's colorful display of leafless twigs when kept cool but frost-free through the Winter.  The display rivals that of the best Siberian dogwoods.  Each raspberry splotch marks where one of the leaves' raspberry-hued petioles had attached.




Older portions of the stems lose both their yellow and raspberry coloring. 




How can the plant be grown to maximize production of the young colorful twigs?  Early-Spring pruning is the usual tactic, which works extraordinarily well for other shrubs whose Winter twigs are colorful, such as Siberian dogwood and some forms of maple, linden, alder, and willow.  My plants of variegated tapioca are very young; I'll prune only lightly this Spring, but I hope that pruning of Siberian-dogwood intensity will also be the norm for this shrub.


Yet another question is how to reliably encourage the plant to shed its leaves; evergreenity is the norm, remember.  Did my youngsters drop theirs more from the stress of being dug from containers of mixed plantings, when only they were to be potted-up and overwintered?  Or did cool Fall weather help foliage shedding more?  Here's hoping that leaf-drop is facilitated best by cool temps and shorter days.  These plants will be grown as "conservatory" specimens from now on: One plant to a container, without the disturbance of being planted directly in the ground in Spring and then dug up in Fall. 


Here's how to grow the other ornamental form of tapioca, Manihot grahamii.  It is much hardier than this variegated form, which is a tropical bush hardy only in Zones 10 - 12 but, otherwise, has similar needs and talents.  


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