This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

June 29, 2014

Creating a criss-cross of tropical foliage

What I am working on now here at The Tropical Paradise I call the *criss-cross*. You can see it happening here in the Dioon Garden, with these cycads. It just means that these types of plants look their best when they are criss-crossing other similar plants.

But you have to be careful here. I've found that the elephant ears were getting torn up when they started to criss-cross these cycads (which are sharp), so I moved them away from this area. These dioons are called *spinulosums*, which means spiny, and they are!

Mostly these plants don't need any care. They grow slowly, only once a year (like the one in the center is doing) with a flush of new leaves. But it's important that I have access back there, so I can get in and trim and weed. If you look to the right you can see one of the stepping stones that gives me a place to stand when I need to get back there.

Cycads are my favorite plants. And if you've never heard of them, that's a shame. They give the illusion of ferns here in the desert. The most common one is typically called a *sago palm*, but actually it's a cycad. These cycads, which are slightly bluish-green, are dioons. I've had them here for many years, but they only do well with shade. I rarely ever find them at nurseries, but there are a few people here in the Phoenix area who sell them. Many of my plants came from Home Depots in Los Angeles, where they are common, and inexpensive. They grow very slowly, and stay small. In another 100 years or so, they will begin to outgrow this area, and then I'll have to remove some of them!
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