Thursday, June 30, 2011

Opuntia Molesta

During a conference on poisoness plants back in spring, a clever botanist brought up a list of plants that had terrible sounding names.  On a random stroke of luck, I discovered the name of an unknown cactus growing in my garden that was there before we moved into our home. For years, it has grown on the hot west side of the home.  I thought the plant was cool looking so I just left it there.  Now I have a name for it....Opuntia Molesta!!
Sounds like a spell from Harry Potter, no?

It grows in super hot conditions with a lot of sun.  It's neglected quite often. And it's slow growing. It's upright and branching at about a height of 2 feet right now.  If a piece breaks off, a new plant begins.  There are 2 varieties of this plant and they are found in Baja California.  Grows in Tucson and adds form to the garden.  Until tomorrow.....

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kartchner Caverns

Because I could not take pics inside the cavern, I shot pics from within the museum....
Today's focus is on a wet and humid cave that is incredibly breathtaking to see and about an 1 and half south of Tucson. Unfortuneatly, you can't take pictures inside the large cavern so I had to be "creative" with my photo shoots. Thankfully there were lockers for a dollar to protect my things.  There's a lot to know before going, and that's one of them I should have researched before purchasing a new memory card!  I was a little upset at first but I got over it:)  It's important to note that this is an active cave with a colony of bats that come to raise their young every year.  Anywhere from 500-1500 bats have been recorded inside the cave and it's important to preserve this unique Sonoran treasure.  While Southern Arizona has many caves, this is one for everyone to go see.  So if you'd like to learn about caves and it's your first time, this would be the place to visit.  If you're an active adventure seeker, this is not the place to go as you will be bored. With ticket prices at over 20 bucks per adult, it's a good thing to know. I'll feature another cave for the adventurers next month.   Kartchner Cavern is wheelchair accessible and I even saw one of those helper dogs go inside the cave on our tour. I'm not sure how that works, but it happened.  Here are some tips for you if you decide to visit.  This was my 2nd time visiting.....
An artist created this piece after Kubla incredible 5 story column created by Mother Nature's hand over thousands of years
Reservations are important!  You can do this online or over the phone.  During the busy spring tourism season, it's important to plan ahead or you won't be able to see everything as tours get booked up quickly.  So plan ahead for this one.  It's also better to go when both rooms are open in the cavern which is around the beginning of the year. In spring, the bats return and the Big Room Tour is closed to give these mammals some privacy(closed from April 16th until October 14th).  Everything is regulated tightly for the preservation of this cave.  Here is the link for all things Kartchner Caverns including directions.....  They recommend you get there about 45-60 minutes early to watch a film and read up on caves in their museum.
Here are some random things that happened on our trip.  There was a flatulent man on our tour.  At first, I thought it was my imagination, but alas, happened several times.  It was kinda cool because it echoed in the cave.  I just decided to move ahead of the line:)  Our guide was informative and friendly.  I've discovered over the course of my blog studies that most guides were former teachers who left the profession.  I listened to other people talk about how wonderful it was to have a former teacher as a guide because she was very good at what she did.  "It's too bad because that's the kind of teacher you want your kids and grandkids to have.", someone said on the ride up to the cave's entrance.  It is too bad, but the state of education is getting worse and that's all I'm going to say on that matter.  I'll just let you, the reader, think about that issue and how it will affect your children down the road.  If something doesn't happen soon, you are going to find "sloppy seconds" taking over your child's education. Most of the excellent teachers are looking for work elsewhere these days. Um....oh yes...the cave:)   The cave is humid and warm so don't wear a jacket:)

The people who found Karchner Caverns back in 1974,Tenen and Tufts, said that they had stepped into the magical world of Xanadu and named the massive and central column Kubla Khan.  The structure measures 58 feet tall in the Throne Room. When I hear the word Xanadu, I think of Olivia Newton John and her roller skating escapades in that movie to her song, "Magic". Either way, it is something to see and won't disappoint...the cave that is.  The movie "Xanadu" is another story:)  See pic below....

Kubla Khan
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge
In Xanadu did Kublai Khan
A stately Pleasure-Dome decree,
Where Alph, the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers was girdled ’round,
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But, oh! That deep, romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill, athwart a cedarn cover:
A savage place! As holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath the waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her Demon Lover!
And from this chasm with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this Earth in fast, thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced,
Amid whose swift, half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail;
And ‘midst these dancing rocks at once and ever,
It flung up momently the sacred river!
Five miles meandering with ever a mazy motion,
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean.
And ‘mid this tumult, Kublai heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the Dome of Pleasure
Floated midway on the waves,
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device:
A sunny Pleasure-Dome with caves of ice!
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such deep delight ‘twould win me
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome within the air!
That sunny dome, those caves of ice,
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry: “Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle ’round him thrice,
And close your eyes in holy dread:
For he on honeydew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise!”

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


In the late 90's, I snapped this shot in the early morning on my way back from Phoenix.  In the right hand corner, you can see the majestic beauty of the ocotillo near Picacho Peak.
Many people believe the ocotillo(oh-ko-tea-yo) to be a cactus, but it is not. Some may mistake it as dead twigs in the desert when it doesn't have its tiny leaves, but it is not.  Hopefully this post will clear up the many myths of this lovely plant.  Before I begin, I'd like to note that in the 90's, I saw this plant all over the Sonoran region.  Today, it's not as commonly seen here and I'm wondering two things.  In the early part of 2002 or 2003, these plants became popular as natural fence posts.  If you price them today, they are quite expensive and I am wondering if people haven't illegally gone into the desert and harvested these plants for profit gain.  Case in point, the above picture no longer exists.  I went back 15 years later to this same spot only to discover that all the ocotillo are gone from this particular area. I've been noticing more people planting them again around their landscapes but for awhile, they were noticeably declining. It is a popular plant for Tucsonans here.  I believe this plant has also been affected by the urban sprawl happening in our desert towns.  It is hard to watch as cookie cutter homes go up all over the place.  This is just something to think about before I begin my write on this unique plant.  
When rains are plenty, ocotillo will leaf out and become attractive sculptures in the landscape.  Hummingbirds love the orange red flowers.

So what is ocotillo? "Fouquieria splendens Engelm. grows in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Common names include ocotillo, desert coral, coachwhip, Jacob's staff, and vine cactus, although it is not a true cactus. For much of the year, the plant appears to be an arrangement of large spiny dead sticks, although closer examination reveals that the stems are partly green. With rainfall the plant quickly becomes lush with small (2-4 cm) ovate leaves, which may remain for weeks or even months. Individual stems may reach a diameter of 5 cm at the base, and the plant may grow to a height of 10 m. The plant branches very heavily at its base, but above that the branches are pole-like and only infrequently divide further, and specimens in cultivation may not exhibit any secondary branches. The leaf stalks harden into blunt spines, and new leaves sprout from the base of the spine. The bright crimson flowers appear especially after rainfall in spring, summer, and occasionally fall. Flowers are clustered indeterminantly at the tips of each mature stem. Individual flowers are mildly zygomorphic and are pollinated by hummingbirds and native carpenter bees." 

This was taken near a friend's house.  Look at the 90's old photo shots!!

Planting ocotillo can be done the year around with care. Ideally ocotillo plants have been grown from stem cuttings or from seed. Transplanting large bare-root plants has marginal success. They should be planted to the original growing depth and, as with cacti, in their original directional orientation. The original south side of the plant, which has become more heat and sunlight-resistant, should again face the brighter, hotter southern direction. If their direction is not marked, success is again limited. Ocotillo plants prefer well drained sandy or gravely loam soils with light to moderate amounts of organic content. For caliche subsoil, break a hole through it so the plant has adequate drainage.
Sunny, open, unrestricted locations and those where surface water does not collect are ideal for ocotillo. To help prevent a newly transplanted ocotillo from falling over or blowing down in a storm, large stones may be placed over the root area instead of staking, which often scars the stems. Leave two to four inches space around the trunk. Some degree of growth set-back is to be expected. Properly transplanted, however, this native plant will reestablish itself fairly quickly. Transplanted ocotillo plants require irrigation to become established, but once established, they can survive on 8 inches of rainfall per year. A well-balanced fertilizer at half strength will help ocotillo to grow faster. This will usually stimulate plant growth and vigor. However, do not apply fertilizer to newly transplanted plants. When using any fertilizer, apply it evenly to the soil surface over the rooting area and water well into the soil. Do not risk overfertilizing; this plant is adapted to harsh conditions without added fertilizer. State plant protection laws are enforced; contact the state Department of Agriculture for specific regulations, restrictions, permits, penalties, etc. before digging and moving any cacti, agaves, ocotillos, yuccas, or other protected species. Purchased plants should be from a reputable source."  End of article. Source:

Remember that it is important to buy these plants from a reputable source.  There has been a decline in these plants and I have seen it. This fence idea is a popular one all over.  It looks great, but it is also expensive. Some people have no qualms about stealing one from the desert and using it for their own selfish purposes. If you ever witness this happening, call your local police department.  This has been happening for years now to our Saguaro and Ocotillo populations.  It's called theft.  Poaching happens all over the world and the US is not immune to this problem....just talk to the rangers at Organ Pipe National Monument or the Sonoran Park officials.   So what is an ocotillo?   It is not a cactus but a member of the Ocotillo Family (Fouquieriaceae). There are 11 species of the Fouquieria genus, most of which occur in Mexico. The Ocotillo is the northernmost of these species. The Boojum Tree (F. columnaris) is a close relative occurring in Baja.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Club Green

I love this fountain and it is my FAVORITE piece from this garden.  It reminds me of a beach in Rocky Point with coral and shells abound.
One of the things that came to mind while putting together several posts was our school garden. A biology teacher, Mr. Ewing, began this special project several years ago and today it's a lovely oasis for teachers and students alike.  I enjoy being able to go down and visit the garden area on my prep time to grade papers or just take a stroll.  While it takes some maintenance, I believe it's important for schools to have a garden.  Most high schools won't bother with something like this, but I'm glad someone was forward thinking and started this project. My 4th Year Spanish class donated an orange tree to the garden and today it has grown quite large.  Let's take a look at some of the highlights this natural and wild garden offers.

The roses in April are fantastic!!!  This plant has taken off with late morning sun and afternoon shade. 

While in this wildlife garden, you will notice all kinds of birds fluttering about....sometimes having a little bird fight. 

The entrance to the garden is warm and inviting from the sterile concrete hallways of our school.

All along the garden, you'll find rustic benches and ramadas for people to sit and take a break.

During this photo shoot, there was a bird war over some seed.  This little guy takes a break from the territorial anger:)

Agaves took a beating this past winter, but blooms remind us that some of these plants have recovered.

A pond was placed in the garden and is maintained by students during the day.  Several critters that come to visit.....javelina, rabbits, snakes, lizards, and other desert fauna. This picture is taken from a teacher's second floor window.  What a view!!

I think this garden represents peace in a dark time for education.  With all the cuts going on and happening throughout the US, we are facing some very depressing times for our kids.  There comes a breaking point for everyone and I don't know when that will happen, but we are losing wonderful teachers and programs due to cuts.  In Arizona, some interesting laws are being passed that are changing the face of the public school system here.  Most people feel saddened by what is happening....and powerless.  But in a time of sadness, it's good to know that there is a place you can go to let the bad thoughts disappear.  Mr. Ewing has done a great job educating kids and extending the classroom out into the garden.  I know it takes a lot of time and effort to care for this garden and I'm thankful we have it. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Mystery of the Jaguar in Southern Arizona

On a somewhat recent post about Extinction, I was fascinated by the plight of the Zanzibar Leopard.  Cats are naturally reclusive animals and will go undetected by most people.  Was this cat really extinct?  I typed in "Zanzibar Leopard" and discovered a blog by a couple of researchers studying this issue on the island of Unguja. If you are fascinated by this topic, I enourage you to click on this link for more information.

It got me thinking about our own issues here in the Sonoran Desert.  Today, it isn't uncommon to see a Bobcat or the elusive Mountain Lion.  Although if you see a Mountain Lion, it should be from a distance:)  These are incredible cats to have around in our desert ecosystem.  But were you aware, that Southern Tucson had Jaguars at one time? And it might surprise you that it wasn't so long ago that this animal made the news.  In 2009, a Jaguar was caught by the name of Macho B.  He was rumored to roam around the area of the Buenos Aires Bird Refuge near Three Points, Arizona.  In 2004/2005, I remember visiting Brown Canyon Ranch in this fantastic refuge and hearing about a study being done on Jaguars.  I sat eating my breakfast thinking about this majestic creature....and here!!!  In our Sonoran Desert?  No.  It couldn't be true.
Sorry about the bad camera shot....I had to be quick...PLUS, I didn't have a good camera back then! Never again.
On a trip into the Amazon several years ago, we were floating down the Tambopata River in Peru.  We noticed two unusual predatory birds sitting on the branches. This piqued our curiosity as we turned the river's bend.  Why were they randomly sitting on branches?  They were also observing something of interest.  We silently floated around the corner in our canoe near reeds and the dead fallen tree.  Our mouths dropped open.  Locals, along with me and my buddy, just stared at the magnificent Jaguar eating its kill on the shore.  It is EXTREMELY rare to see a Jaguar in the wild because they are secretive animals.  I had my crappy camera then and snapped several of the shots you see here on this blog.  Locals, after the event, said that we were very lucky to see this predator as even THEY don't see the Jaguar often.  In his lifetime, our guide Robin, said that he had seen this animal only 3 times!  That's how elusive this animal is!  The Jaguar, upon seeing us, returned back into the forest.  He had been licking his paws after eating his kill.   To this day, I will never forget that moment in my life. I love all things "cat" which brings me back to my story of Macho B.
Moments after seeing this cat, it left the scene quickly
Indeed, there was evidence that a Jaguar had made it back to the Sonoran desert after years of being wiped out by area ranchers and poachers.  The Buenos Aires Refuge, however, has been making huge strides after years of research and protection to restore native grassland area for wildlife and plants.  The work has taken decades to correct damage done by ranchers, their cattle, and hundreds of miles of wire fencing.  It is home to the Pronghorn, Masked Bobwhite Quail, and the endemic Pima Pineapple Cactus that is listed as endangered.  This is probably our states greatest success story.  But it doesn't only stop there, Mexico, which shares the border, has also been cooperating by protecting lands on its side. If you drive through this area, there are times you will feel as if you were in the savannas of Africa.  This large and protected area has encouraged animals, like the previously thought extinct Jaguar of Southern Arizona, to return.  Today, the studies continue.  While this was and is encouraging news today, the plight of Macho B was an unfortunate one.  A photo captured this cat in the wild.  Eventually humans found the animal and put a collar around his neck which, along with old age, killed him.  Here is a report sent by the Zanzibar Leopard researchers that I was completely unaware of....
This pic taken by Martha Retallick. Macho B has been recognized every year during Tucson's All Souls Processional in November.
This planet is an incredible place.  Education has always been the key to understanding.  It took early generations of settlers to eradicate buffalo herds as they shot them from their train windows, ranchers to destroy Jaguar habitat, the ignorance of government and local villagers to eradicate "vermin" like the endemic Zanzibar leopard to possible extinction....and well...the list goes on and on by our human ignorance.   Today it's human development encroaching upon virgen tracts of land both here and abroad. For every action we make, there is a consequence that changes the balance of our planet.  I get encouraged hearing the news that a Jaguar made his way back to Southern Arizona, but I am saddened by the actions taken to tag this magnificent creature which lead him to his death. May we learn from these stories and try to restore what was lost and what could be lost. Because when it's's gone forever.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gate's Pass

Looking for breathtaking desert sunsets? Or an iconic Tucson sunset with Saguaro cactus? Here's a place that won't disappoint.  Gate's Pass is a scenic drive that cuts through the Tucson Mountains.  Started in 1883, Thomas Gates created this road as a shortcut through the mountains to get to his ranch.  Today this area is known as Saguaro National Park and is iconic for our Tucson image.   He was a local pioneer and rancher who purchased the land which would eventually be enjoyed by many people over the years and you won't  be disappointed.  Here are some pics I'm pretty proud of.......if you've never seen an Arizona sunset or sunrise, you need to come and visit. These pics were shot on 3/19/2011 while waiting for the Supermoon.  Enjoy.....

This is my personal favorite.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Mystery of Tikal

A thousand years ago, a community of Mayans lived in the jungles around the city of Tikal.  It thrived for a period of time as a center of commerce, art, culture, and religious significance.  Then mysteriously, the Mayans disappeared. The jungle grew back and hid the ancient city of Tikal until its' eventual discovery by Spanish explorers.

Notice how moisture evaporates off the forest floor in the morning?
Entering the park is a treat all of its' own. The thing I love about Guatemala is that they don't tell you how you're going to feel before the experience or how tall you need to be to get on a ride or that there aren't any fences around water areas full of's real. And because it's real, this country attracts a kind of traveler with common sense.  There are times when you may say, "Holy S%$t!" but you know that it will be worth the experience.  We entered the park which is an immense jungle area full of mosquitos.  You'll pass the Giant Ceiba trees, trees covered with tillandsias(the air plants), and a tropical assortment of wonderful plant life.  If you go early enough, you'll see plenty of fauna.  Remember to be quiet when walking the dark trails to the pyramids. If you go earlier in the morning, you'll find the experience cooler and less humid......and also free of the busloads of tourists that come in the afternoon.

One of the many ancient sites at Tikal
Most of the time, we were by ourselves on the trails and several times, we got lost.  NEVER wander from the trails.  The jungle is immense in this part of the world and it's very dangerous.  Bring lots of water with you as people dehydrate quickly from sweating in the tropical climate.

After an adventure on a rickety old staircase, my sister and I, made it the top for some spectacular views.....and a nice breeze:)
This was one of those experiences on my bucket list.  It was one of the most magical experiences of my life and it was worth the journey there.  Some people fly while others take busses......we took the bus because there were some places along the way we had to visit.  Guatemala is a treasure and one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The pyramids are stunning as are the trails that lead to them. 

Still used today as a religious center, Mayans use these alters in front of the pyramid at Tikal
So what happened to the Mayans?  This is my theory after years of thinking about the matter.  Some would have you believe that aliens took them......and that would be rather cool, but I don't think that was the situation.  Our world today is faced with overpopulation and I believe the Mayans, who massed in the thousands at somewhere around 120,000, couldn't maintain their food or water supplies which resulted in the city of Tikal being abandoned. At the time, a city of that population was rare and unique in a rain forest region.  Most tribes lived in smaller communities because there were limitations on the forest resources.  Smaller communities were easier to maintain.   They had used up all their resources around the area and had nothing left.  My theory is that many of them went to other communities or back into the rain forest.  A plague had destroyed their crops and with overpopulation and agrarian failure, the Mayan reign that lasted for a thousand years, collapsed.  Isn't there a message here?  Somewhere?

I didn't have a great camera back then....but here are some bird nests and that bird in the tree.  It has a yellow tail and made some really cool noises.
The older I get, the more fascinating history becomes to me.  I never liked it in high school.  Reading books was like having your heart ripped out of your chest on the steps of Tikal.  Well maybe not that bad.....but speaking of bodily harm.  Watch your steps in this park.  There are large reptiles hiding in pools of water with no fences around them:) There are tiny signs in Spanish, but if you don't speak the language, you could be food for the native animals:)  Just kidding.....but do be careful.  Guatemala is a very different country than Costa Rica or Las Vegas.:)  More adventures on the way......
More altars used for worship.  Copal is burned on them.

Don't wander far off the path or you may get lost in this!!! Most people depart to Tikal from the beautiful and colonial island city of Flores. It's about a 45 minute ride to the park.  A bloody, yet accurate depiction of Mayan life can be seen in the film Apocalypto by Mel Gipson. I know I know...the name may bring random thoughts, but he did an amazing job on this film.

Bring water and mosquito repellent!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hibiscus Flower?

No this not a hibiscus flower.  But it sure looks like one.  This pic was taken from the Whiskey Barrel cacti collection at El Presidio in April.  A variety of Opuntia known as the Engelmann Prickly Pear.  This cactus is cool with or without the flower.  I love the long needles and purple hue of the pad.
The Engelmann Prickly Pear taken in April.


A lovely tropical plant that will grow in our landscape here in Tucson is the hibiscus.  It loves sun and has lovely tropical and lush foliage.  There are many varieties that have red flowers, yellow flowers, orange flowers, red with yellow, orange and yellow, blue.....well there are a lot varieties that were created for different zones. After this winter, most of the hibiscus were killed to the ground or completely killed altogether. For that reason, I have a mixed opinion on whether one should plant this lovely bush into their landscape.  Personally, I like hibiscus in pots or planters, but I won't be putting it into the ground due to the ugly results of last winter's freeze.
BUT.....I think you should consider this lovely plant because it adds a nice focal point around your garden. I put this plant in pots and move it into my shed during the winter to protect from the freezes.  You should water this plant regularly and it does LOVE sun.  HOWEVER, if you can protect your hibiscus from the afternoon's intense last two or 3 hours of sun during the middle of summer, it will do well. So it loves sun, but with too much of it,  the leaves will burn. It also needs to be fertilized regularly.....about twice a year.  Here is some info on how to care for this lovely tropical here in Tucson.
"In our hot, dry part of the summer, hibiscus blossoms tend to desiccate at the junction of the flower and stem, causing them to drop off prematurely. As we cool down and have a bit more humidity, the flowers have much more tendency to open fully and stay on the plant longer. There are so many great hibiscus varieties it would be near impossible to list the good ones, but it’s easy to say there is one to suit every person’s color choice. Tucson is not a tropical climate, but in many parts of the valley it is almost easy to believe that. The biggest differences are the temperature fluctuations and lack of humidity most of the year. If either of these plants is being added to the landscape at this time of year, it should be soon so it can get settled in before we get close to freezing temperatures. If it is going into a container, it is much more easily protected during a freeze.
Enjoy these tropical beauties. They will soon be at their peak!" End of article.  Source:

One last item friends.  I would be negligent in my duties as Spanish teacher not to mention another positive about his plant.  Mexicans make a drink from the leaves of hibiscus known as "Jamaica" (Ha-my-ca) which is created from dry flower petals.   You can buy them at the store in large bags.  It's a delicious drink served cold in summer or it also makes a great hot tea. Squeeze a bit of lemon or lime and voila! You will need to boil first and than cool. Simple. Easy. Delish! Here's a recipe.....

Jamaica Flower Iced Tea Recipe
(Agua de Jamaica)

4 cups water
1/2 cup dried jamaica flowers
1/2 cup sugar
Another 3 cups of cold water
More sugar to taste
1 lime, thinly sliced

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Experiments of Tropical Desires?

I know you're out there.  You.  The one whom questions life and the ability to grow tropical things.  Right now it's moist, hot, sticky, and well.....tropical.  You've apparently forgotten our winter freeze and you're beginning to ask yourself some interesting questions.....Can I grow a mango from seed?  Can I grow coffee from seed?  Ginger root? What about papaya? Or.....avocado?  What if Peter Pan grew up? These are such lovely questions to ask ourselves during this time of tropical madness.

Tucson is subtropical and I love that we carry that title because for about 3 months out of the year, we sweat and curse the Gods for such moisture to enter our world.  Swamp coolers no longer work and A/C is on at full blast. Why couldn't we grow these lovely fruits?  Here are several reports out of my own backyard in Tucson.  These were conducted over the past 10 years for fun.  Again remember that I'm talking about our desert climate while describing the seed experience here in the Old Pueblo.  So let's get ready to play with nature.......

Avocado.  You ate an avocado and you fell in love with the fruit.  You can't let this flavor go and you say, "What the hey?!  I'm going to plant this large seed." Memories of Mexico and the Superbowl surface and a smile forms on your face.  You follow the toothpic rule.  Half the seed in the water and the other half out.  Then a crack.  Then a sprout.  It grows and you put the new little baby avocado into the soil and it GROWS!!!  So what next?  The first few months are beautiful and the plant shows sign of life and happiness.  It is possible to keep your avocado plant in a pot, but the tricky part is making sure it finds a spot that it likes.  The minute it is placed in the wrong spot, the plant will decline and eventually die. It is super frost sensitive...even more than the citrus.  If this plant dies, it dies for good. Avocado do not grow very well in Tucson and so putting them into the ground will mean eventual death...although miracles have been known to happen. See my post on Avocados and Unicorns at a religious center here in Tucson.  Avocados MAY do well in their pots but the minute we have that first freeze, it's "Adios amigos."  A few trees are reported growing in the Tucson area. 

How depressing!!!  What about coffee?  Coffee will grow during the summer.  Trader Joe's will occassionally sell this plant and get people excited.  I tried growing this plant in my own garden, but the frost killed it.  So I got angry and tried again, but this time, I wouldn't be stupid.....I'd bring it into my house....where it eventually died.  Not enough humidity or sun during the winter.  Now I've been to coffee plantations in Central America on horseback so I know the conditions have to be wet and dry...and warm.'s tricky. Just wait on my report about the Geisha fields outside of Boquete, Panama.  Delish!!!  The only coffee tree/bush that I know of is at the BioDome.  However, I'm sure someone has coffee growing somewhere:)

Mango.  Delicious and juicy.  It grows here, but put it in a pot.  This plant is a bit more tolerant of the cold but not by much.  You have to move this plant around a lot and it's high maintenance in the winter.  Too exhausting......

Alright.  What about ginger root?  That's tropical.  Forget about it.  Too much water and it will rot....not enough and it will dry out. None of it growing at all.  I actually, in a glorious moment of gardening, had a root grow for me.......and then die.  Bummer.  Ginger is VERY tricky to grow, but who knows....maybe there is a closeted Ginger out there. LOL!!!  Bad Joke......but seriously........

Papaya.  The little black seeds go into the ground and they pop up!!!  A plant is born and to end this post on a higher's the plant that will have better success in a pot.  Plus you can easily manage this a pot.  It grows tall with an attractive leaf structure. With a 75 percent success rate,  I've grown it over and over again......but there are times I would just let it die because I wanted to use the pot for something else.....there are better tropical plants out there for our subtropical climate.  However, if you are curious about these experiments, you should try them out.  I've gotten all of them to grow and if you have a greenhouse here in Tucson, these will grow for you and look lovely in that greenhouse.  They all need consistent heat and humidity throughout the year, but Tucson only gets that tropical moisture and heat for 3 months out of the year.

Looks like weed although I'd never admit growing that stuff.
 There you have it.......maybe you have a success story that you'd like to share?  And if you don't live in the Tucson area, what plants have you experimented with? Panama adventures coming soon.......