Friday, December 31, 2021

Lobster for the Poor! How this Crustacean Became a Decadent Fare


"Lobster shells in the home are regarded as a sign of poverty and degradation," wrote author John J. Rowan in 1876.  Due to the overpopulation of the crustacean on the coasts of the New England states, lobster was long considered frowned-upon junk food in the United States. 

No wealthy person wanted to be seen eating the "cockroach of the seas," especially when they had their own land animals to fall back on.  The mass-available protein source, on the other hand, was reserved for the poor, servants, prisoners, and slaves.  For a time, the American lobster was so cheap that it was sold in cans like tuna, and people even fed lobster to their cats.

Decadent Fare
How did it go from cat food to decadent gourmet fare?  By the introduction of American rail transportation in the mid-19th century, Lobster was served on trains across the country precisely because it was so inexpensive - but presented to passengers as a rare exotic food.

Domestic travelers were unfamiliar with lobster and acquired a taste for it in the travel situation. They simply did not know that it was "poor man's food."  It became such a popular product that demand caused the price to rise and supply to become scarce.  The sea roach became a luxury item and an elite mark of distinction.  At last, even the rich could afford to be poor.




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Sunday, December 26, 2021

PCR Test Sites Before Entering the US or Canada


Flying From Mexico to the United States

US-Regulations state: "Regardless of vaccination status or nationality, any individual age 2 and older coming to the United States must show a negative pre-departure COVID-19 viral test taken the day before they board their flight to the United States".  You must show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight. 

Affordable and rapid tests are available in healthcare centers, pharmacies, and laboratories.  Remember that only PCR and antigen tests are accepted.  Present an attestation indicating that you have received a negative COVID-19 test or that you have recovered from the disease and are cleared for travel.

Locations, prices (usually between $450 MXN and $579 MXN, and times of COVID-19 tests are available at the following airports in Mexico:

More Testing Sites in Mexico:

Azova Labortatories offer PCR, Rapid PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests.  Here are the locations, prices and times:


Non-citizen travelers (e.g. Canadians) entering the United States via land border and ferry terminal ports of entry will be permitted to enter for a non-essential reason (i.e., tourism), provided they are fully vaccinated and can present proof of COVID-19 vaccination status. See all the info of the US Embassy in Mexico:

I found this offer at a gas station in Texas

COVID-19 Vaccinated Travelers Entering Canada

Pre-entry testing and ArriveCAN requirements can be found in detail on this website:

Where You Can Get a FREE PCR Test in the US:
Save lots of money when using the free PCR tests that some drugstores offer.  However check their websites, locations, and make appointments in time.  See how much you can save - compared to other PCR testing site offers. No matter if you drive or fly, you need to get a PCR Test to pass through the border. COVID-19 vaccinated travelers entering Canada - Pre-entry testing and ArriveCAN requirements.  All information as of December 26, 2021.

Rite Aid Opened no-charge COVID-19 testing capabilities and is expanding its no-charge COVID-19 testing capabilities with 317 additional drive-through testing site locations.

Like Rite Aid's existing testing sites, the new locations will utilize PCR, simple self-swab nasal tests overseen by Rite Aid pharmacists.  Each site will operate Monday through Friday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., with testing only available through the chain's drive-through windows to ensure the safety of customers seeking other services in-store.

Walgreens offers FREE* drive-thru COVID-19 testing for ages 3+ as well as convenient at-home test kits for purchase in-store and online.  Appointments are available for up to 7 days in advance.  Online booking only. In a statement, Walgreens COVID-19 testing is free at all of its drive-thrus.


COVID-19 Testing at No Cost to You at Quest Diagnostics

Check to see if you're eligible for this COVID-19 testing program at no cost to you when billed to your insurance or the government.  Same-day appointments are often available.  Their test can detect COVID-19 regardless of strain, including the Omicron variant.   Those experiencing symptoms may request a COVID-19 and Flu Test.  The free COVID-19 and Flu Test is only available if you are experiencing COVID-19 and/or flu symptoms.  Answer a few questions to see if you're eligible.  Book an appointment and receive an email with your appointment details.


For free Covid tests in California and locations check these sites:

Walmart Pharmacy Drive-Thru Locations

Located at select Walmart’s through the Pharmacy Drive-Thru window.  You will need a prescription request from your doctor or qualify per the CDC guidelines to get an observed self-collection COVID-19 test at one of these locations.  You may also get a COVID-19 test if you have a special request from your health plan.  Please contact your doctor or health plan for more information.


Free COVID-19 Testing at Drugstores:

If you’re in a location without many COVID-19 testing sites, you may want to head to your independent neighborhood drugstore.

You will notice several major chains on the list of where to get a COVID-19 test, including CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid.  All of these often offer PCR testing at no additional cost if using insurance or if you fall under some federal programs for those without insurance.  However, at CVS, “testing is not available to customers or patients who are located outside of the United States or U.S. territories.”

Passport Health also has a network of clinics in over 100 locations nationwide, primarily for people who need a negative PCR test to fly or return to school.   Even better, you can make these appointments online, which may save precious time instead of waiting in a long line.  Many of these locations also offer drive-up testing, where you swab yourself and don’t need to leave your vehicle.

Turnaround Times can Vary by Chain and Location:

  • Walgreens: Turnaround time is based on when the sample arrives at the laboratory. Walgreens offers FREE* drive-thru COVID-19 testing for ages 3+ as well as convenient at-home test kits for purchase in-store and online.  Appointments are available for up to 7 days in advance.  Online booking only. In a statement, Walgreens COVID-19 testing is free at all of its drive-thrus.

  • Rite Aid: Turnaround time varies between 125 minutes to two to five days. Rite Aid Opened no-charge COVID-19 testing capabilities.  Expanding its no-charge COVID-19 testing capabilities with 317 additional drive-through testing site locations.  Like Rite Aid's existing testing sites, the new locations will utilize PCR, simple self-swab nasal tests overseen by Rite Aid pharmacists. Each site will operate Monday through Friday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., with testing only available through the chain's drive-through windows to ensure the safety of customers seeking other services in-store.

  • CVS: Average turnaround time for receiving results from lab tests is one to two days for PCR tests. However, CVS charges $139, which includes $100 for the independent laboratory that processes your test and $39 for your MinuteClinic visit.


PCR tests generally take around 72 hours for results, some urgent care facilities have introduced “rapid PCR tests,” where you can receive your results as fast as 30 minutes.  If you’re looking for a faster way to get a PCR test, it may cost you as these facilities may not accept insurance.  Some testing sites deliver results over the phone, which likely won’t be suitable for boarding an aircraft or entering a country.  Insist on getting it by email.

Rapid PCR Testing Options (charging) Include:

  • COVIDCheck in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Denver.  Results in six hours for RT-PCR tests.  Cost: $349
  • Complete Health Partners in Nashville, Tennessee. Results in 30 to 45 minutes. Cost: $250, not billed to insurance.
  • DMCovid-19 Test offers travel PCR testing by housecall nationwide in all states except Alaska and Hawaii.  It also has nine physical locations.  Cost: Price varies by location and whether it’s in-home or in the office.
  • Elite Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Results in 24 hours. Cost: $250
  • Frontage Laboratory in Exton, Pennsylvania (35 minutes from Philadelphia).  Offers COVID-19 tests for travelers within six hours.  Cost: $203 for an RT-PCR test.
  • Medical Offices of Manhattan in New York City, New York.  Same-day results.  Cost: $175 for the test, which doesn’t include doctor consultation.
  • Saguaro Bloom in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Offers 24-hour and 90-minute turnaround for RT-PCR testing.  Cost: $299 for 90-minute turnaround and $149 for 24-hour turnaround.
  • Test Well in Reno, Nevada, and South Lake Tahoe, California. Offers RT-PCR tests for travel with guaranteed same-day results. T he cost is $149 for travel purposes (but you can file a claim with your insurance for reimbursement).
  • Urgent Medical Care and MRI in Jersey City, New Jersey.  Results in an hour or less only for travelers who need documentation.  Cost: $300 out of pocket, not billed to insurance.
  • Venistat Mobile Labs in New York, New York.  Offers RT-PCR test results in less than 24 hours. Cost: $125 when using insurance, $190 without insurance.
  • WeTestU in San Diego, California. Offers mobile RT-PCR testing for travel.  Cost: $159 for 24-hour turnaround, $199 for 24-hour turnaround, $259 for same-day (eight hour) turnaround, $329 for one-hour turnaround.
  • Worksite Labs offers PCR test results guaranteed within 24 hours near 20 U.S. airports. Cost: $90. See the locations here:

Stay safe, wear your mask, get a booster vaccination, and keep your social distance! 




Monday, December 20, 2021

Gardening in Baja California Sur, Mexico


Over 4,000 plant species and subspecies can be found on the Baja California peninsula with over 600 endemic species. The variety of trees and flowering plants is just overwhelming - no matter if you walk through the towns, nurseries, or hike in the mountains of Baja California Sur. 


In Latin: Bursera microphylla, Spanish: Torote'.  Gigantic trunks with peeling whitish bark are grossly thick, forming a stem, especially in plants with a restricted root zone.  The foliage is pinnately compound and very lacy and delicate looking, deciduous in most instances.  The sap is aromatic and the tiny fruits are quite fragrant. 

The elephant tree lives on arid, rocky hills and low-lying mountains in the Sonoran Desert and the Baja California Sur.  The sap from Bursera microphylla was used by the native people (particularly the Cahuilla) as a cure-all for diseases, especially those affecting the skin.  It was also used as a good luck charm by gamblers, and the Seri tripes use the wood to weave baskets. 

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This attractive yellow-blooming - Palo de Arco shrub/tree has been a staple in Mexican folk-medicine for centuries and adopted for landscaping throughout Mexico, as well. It thrives even in the hottest, sunniest locations.  They are often growing along country roads, beautifying the landscape with their cheery flowers.  You can easily plant them in gardens and even build flowering fences, using several of these attractive shrubs.

Watering and feeding: Low to moderate water use, no fertilizer necessary.  With its widespread native range in the Americas, it is not surprising that there are many Spanish and Indian names for this showy tree, including Palo de Arco, Esperanza (hope), Tecomaxochitl, Roble Amarillo (yellow oak), Fluvial del Oro (river of gold), Retama (broom), Flor de San Pedro, Tronodor, Corneta Amarilla (yellow crown) and Trompeto (trumpet), among many others.  

Propagation through seed planting: The general rule on seeds is to not plant them any deeper than the size of the seed.  The Palo de Arco seeds are little wafers and dry easily when sprouted.  Start them in a gallon plastic pot scattered on the surface with just a small amount of soil over them or not.  After the watering, cover the pot with a plastic bag to keep the seeds damp.  The roots will penetrate the soil and when the seedlings are an inch tall, transplant into individual pots.  Palo de Arco can certainly be propagated by cuttings as well!

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English names are Great Morinda, Indian mulberry, beach mulberry, among others. Polynesian healers used to use noni roots, bark, leaves, and fruit to cure or treat arthritis, menstrual cramps, infections, inflammation, and various other ailments.  In fact, Noni is used in the Indian system to cure many diseases.  Noni, at five years old, can produce up to 20 pounds of fruit per month on just one tree.  Once past this age fruit yields can get up to 500 pounds of fruit per month per plant.  These vats contain lots of Noni fruit fermenting into juice.  

How to propagate, plant, and grow Noni fruit

Speed the process of germination by providing the seeds with extra heat. You can also propagate the Noni plant through cuttings. For this, take a few, 20 cm cuttings from a healthy plant and root them.  Plant these cuttings in small pots until the roots start to grow out of them.  Plant in full sun in soil enriched with compost and well-aged manure.  Dig a hole twice the size of the pot and backfill a little soil so that the final height of the tree is the same as it was in the pot.  Backfill and firm down the soil.  Water to remove air pockets around the roots.

Since Nonis can survive droughts and are used to hot arid conditions, once the Noni is mature, the plants only need to be watered once or twice a week.  If the plant is older it is recommended to water it even less frequently, and each plant should get about 10 gallons of water each time it's watered. Overwatering can cause root damage caused by root rot and accelerate damage from root-knot nematodes.  What are the symptoms of root-knot nematodes?  Root-knot nematodes do not produce any specific above-ground symptoms.  Affected plants have an unthrifty appearance and often show symptoms of stunting, wilting or chlorosis (yellowing).  Symptoms are particularly severe when plants are infected soon after planting.  Noni is susceptible to a wide range of organisms including croton caterpillars, aphids and ants, cattle, root-knot nematodes, and a number of other pests.

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A mature palo verde can reach up to 25 feet tall and develop a 20-foot spread.  The Foothills Palo Verde (Cercidium microphyllum) can be found mostly on rocky slopes.  They have a yellow-green trunk, tiny leaves, and pods that constrict around the seeds.  The Blue Palo Verde (Cercidium floridum) are usually spotted next to water sources, like washes, and have a blue-green trunk.  A palo verde tree needs a site that gets full, all-day sun and provides the tree with enough room to grow to its full size.  The tree is extremely drought-tolerant but it doesn't tolerate soggy or wet soil, so choose a planting site with well-drained, slightly sandy soil. 

How to plant a Palo Verde tree:  You don't have to amend the soil before planting, but breaking it up and tilling deeply does make it easier for the palo verde roots to spread and penetrate deeply.  Dig out the soil to a depth at least twice that of the root ball and three times as wide.  The larger the area tilled and broken up, the more space will be available for the tree to root.  Palo verde trees depend on a deep root system to survive through droughts.  The size of the root ball or nursery pot provides the guideline for planting depth.  Dig the planting hole to the depth of the root ball, but make it twice as wide.

Most palo verde branches are covered in thorns, so wear long sleeves and sturdy gloves for handling and planting the tree.  Break up the soil around the roots and loosen the root ball slightly.  Fill the hole in halfway, and then water to settle the soil before you finish filling the hole with the removed soil.  Water a second time after the hole is filled to finish settling the soil around the roots.  You don't need to create a raised soil watering ring around the palo verde after planting, because this would only trap more moisture than the tree needs to establish.  Prune out any lower limbs if you want to raise the canopy.  Prune in spring, beginning in the year after planting.  Spray the blades of pruning tools with household disinfectant before and after use to prevent the spread of disease.

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Plumeria rubra is a small, flowering, tree or shrub, native to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America.  In Latin, named Ceratostigma plumbaginoides , the plant loves the heat, can survive long, humid summers, and is drought tolerant.   Plumeria Plumeria spp.) is known for the heavy fragrance and attractive white or pink petals of its flowers.  Thanks to the relatively shallow root system of the plumeria, it can be grown in pots.  In plant hardiness zones 10 through 12.  Though easy to transplant, plumeria roots do not like restriction, and special care is required to get bountiful blossoms.

While plumerias don't like wet feet, they should be watered deeply and then allowed to dry out some before watering again. They also need to be fertilized about every two to three weeks throughout their active growing season.

Plumeria does best in full sunlight with at least a half day's sun exposure to bloom properly.  There are many different types of Plumeria offered in nurseries; deciduous and evergreens.  Plumerias may be pruned as needed, up to 12 inches (31 cm.) from the ground in late winter or early spring (prior to new growth), however, any drastic or hard pruning done may reduce flowering.  These plants can also be propagated by seeds or cuttings in spring, with cuttings being the easiest and most preferred method.  The tips of the cuttings should be allowed to dry for three to five days before planting.  Insert cuttings about 2 inches  (5 cm.) in potting mix and water thoroughly. 

Why do plumeria leaves turn yellow?  Not enough water or too much water.  Because they need regular, even amounts of water, dry spells can cause plumeria leaves to turn yellow and cause them to drop off the plant, with the bottom leaves suffering first.  If you see yellowing leaves, check the soil by digging down several inches making sure it isn't wet.

Plumeria trees should be pruned in winter when the new growth has matured, as this will increase the chance for good blossom in spring.  Pruning helps maintain the size, remove the dead and damaged branches, and ultimately help in new growth.

How to propagate Plumerias:

The tips of the cuttings should be allowed to dry for three to five days before planting.  No special equipment or materials are necessary to propagate plumeria from cuttings.  Simply insert the base of the cutting into the ground or a container of moist, well-draining potting soil to a depth of 3 inches.

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Oleanders are a mainstay of Mediterranean gardens, widely used for screen planting, on hillsides, and alongside roads.  Flowering in summer, the large open clusters can be single or double, and come in many colors including white, pink, red, and peach.  Oleander, Nerium oleander, is a tender shrub and must be grown where temperatures never dip below freezing. 

Oleanders need regular watering from spring to autumn to keep the compost evenly moist and it’s especially important that plants don’t go short of water in spring when flower buds are forming.  During winter, reduce the frequency of watering as growth slows.  Feed with a liquid fertilizer every two weeks or so from late spring to early autumn.

Oleander shrubs require minimal care.  Although the shrubs are drought-tolerant, they look their best when they are watered during dry spells.  However, take care not to overwater them.  Yellowing leaves indicate that the plant is getting too much water. 

Pinching out the tips of young stems reduces legginess and encourages the shrub to branch out.  Pruning oleanders can also be performed.  Prune to remove damaged or diseased limbs any time, and prune to shape the shrub in late fall.

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Bougainvillea is tough as nails, fast-growing, and puts on a spectacular show of color year-round.  These vines are flowering machines that look great climbing a wall, sprawling as a ground cover on hillsides, or pruned and grown in containers.  Here's what you need to know about growing bougainvillea.

Bougainvillea is native to Central and South America and commonly cultivated in Mexico, South Florida, Arizona, South Texas, and Southern California.  Bougainvillea vines are fast growers and have stiff stems with thorns covered in heart-shaped leaves.  Their vines can grow up to 40 feet tall with support. Low-growing, shrubby varieties only get a few feet tall and can be grown in containers.  Bougainvillea blooms come in purple, red, orange, white, pink, and yellow.  But those blooms actually aren't blooms at all.  The paper-like structures are a modified leaf called a bract that hides bougainvillea's true flowers: small, trumpet-shaped blooms of white and yellow.  Bloom time is year-roundHardiness Zones: 9 to 11, but can be grown as an annual in colder areas.

Bougainvillea needs lots of sunshine!  It needs at least six hours of full sun per day.  The soil must be well-drained soil.  They don't like to remain wet for too long and can get root rot in heavy soil.  They like gritty, loose soil.  Handle the root ball with care.  Bougainvillea roots are thin and can be easily damaged during transplanting.  Water after planting and then weekly until the plant is established.  Once it's established (which generally takes one to two years), stop watering it - except in times of extreme drought.  Bougainvillea likes it dry.

  • Caring for Bougainvillea: 
    Prune your plant throughout the year, but especially in the late winter before the new growth cycle. For best bloom, trim all branches back to 20 feet or less. Bougainvillea blooms on new growth, so you can prune after each bloom cycle.  Pinch off the ends of vines that are about to bloom.  You'll get a denser display of bracts.  If you're getting regular rain once the vine is established, you don't need to water.  Bougainvillea likes it dry. It prefers a good, deep watering every three or four weeks rather than frequent shallow waterings.  Give a bougainvillea too much water and it can get fungal diseases and root rot.   Bougainvillea blooms better when kept on the dry side.  Too much water will give you lots of green growth and fewer flowers. Keep it dry.  These tropicals don't like to go below 30 degrees.  They can withstand one or two nights of a light freeze but anything more and they'll die.  Don't fertilize it. This tough plant doesn't need it.  But do feed the soil around it with compost.  A 3-inch layer of compost in the spring is plenty.  If you must fertilize, use palm and hibiscus food.

Important: Taller growing bougainvilleas need support or they'll be ground cover. Since they are twining vines and don't have tendrils to attach themselves to walls, you will need to tie them up. They can be trained on a trellis, over an arbor, on a fence, or on a structure.  Use strong ties and tie them well, because bougainvillea branches can be heavy. 

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Tropical Persian shield, aka royal purple plant, thrives on heat and humidity, yielding its most brilliant color in bright, indirect sunlight and partially shaded locations.  It prefers temperatures above 60°

The characteristic broadleaf foliage positively shimmers.  Neon shades of purple-veined with green seem to be overlaid with a silver gloss.  The growth habit is upright with leaves that are lance-shaped and measure six to eight inches long.  Stems are soft and may exceed three feet in height.  Over time, they may become woody.

Small, tubular, cone-shaped blue flowers, reminiscent of Virginia bluebells may bloom in season, but these are a rarity.  The reason is not entirely understood but is believed to be an example of “masting” behavior, in which blooming is sporadic, but profuse when it occurs.

This botanical phenomenon makes it impossible for wildlife to depend upon the seeds for food, as they are not always available.  From Europe, the Persian shield made its way into American Victorian gardens and households at a time when tropical foliage was enjoying its first North American heyday.

How to Grow

In Zones 10 to 11, you can cultivate your plant year-round in the ground or in outdoor containers, for evergreen foliage.  If the light is too bright, the leaves will appear pale and may even scorch.  For container gardening, use a good quality, organically-rich potting soil and a container with adequate drainage holes and a depth of at least 12 inches.  Keep the soil moderately moist by watering when the top third of the soil feels dry to the touch.   For garden growing, work the ground to a depth of eight to 12 inches.  Water weekly in the absence of rain, using a moisture meter as your guide.  Fertilize at planting time and midway through the growing season, using a liquid plant food diluted to 50 percent.

Propagation From a Soft Stem Tip Cutting

You’ll need to take a soft stem tip cutting from a friend’s plant or purchase a potted one from a nursery. Seeds are not readily available.  To start with a cutting from existing foliage, cut a length of the stem, measuring from the growing tip down about four or five inches.  If blooming has occurred, wait until the last flower drops and a flush of new growth appears.  Be sure to cut about one-quarter of an inch above a leaf node, the place where leaves originate.   Remove the bottom pair or pairs of leaves to reveal about three inches of bare, leafless stem.

Place the bare stem in a narrow clear container containing two inches of water.  Change the water daily.

Once roots grow to at least an inch long, transplant the cutting to a well-draining vessel filled three-quarters of the way with potting soil, or plant it out in the garden.  Be sure to take mature dimensions into account when growing in the garden or outdoor containers.  Plants need between one and three feet to spread out, and a soil depth of about 12 inches to support healthy root development.  Bury about one inch of the rooted stem in the soil, so the crown, where the roots and stem meet, is buried.  Tamp the soil down securely.  Maintain even moisture by watering when the top three to four inches of soil feel dry. Avoid letting pots dry out completely, but don’t oversaturate the potting medium. 

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Tropical hibiscus - Hibiscus rosa-sinensis - plants produce flowers constantly, but each blossom only lasts one day.  The shrub is fast-growing and can add up to 24 inches per year, eventually reaching heights of up 15 feet when growing under the ideal conditions.  They will grow between 4–10 ft. tall, and 5–8 ft. wide, and like full sun to partial shade and moist but well-drained soil.  Tropical hibiscus is a thirsty plant and will thrive and produce blossoms only if it is given enough water.  Depending on the heat, wind, and humidity in your environment, your plant may need to be watered daily.  Regular adding of compost and feeding with fertilizer will keep it blooming vigorously.

Hibiscus plants thrive on attention. Pruning hibiscus is a great way to give these plants just what they need. Pruning helps stimulate budding on new shoots.  It also rejuvenates the plants after their long winter nap while encouraging them to maintain an attractive appearance and healthy, vigorous growth.  Before pruning hibiscus, make sure your pruning shears are sharp and clean, preferably sterilized with alcohol gel, to prevent the spreading of any disease from affected branches.  When pruning hibiscus plants, they should be cut about a third of the way back, leaving at least two to three nodes on the branches for new growth to emerge.  These cuts should be made just above the nodes, leaving about a quarter-inch (0.5 cm.).

Propagate your tropical hibiscus from soft-stem cuttings taken in late spring or early summer after the plant has begun active growth for the season.  Choose a stem with a greenish cast that's 4 to 6 inches long. Use a sterile, sharp cutting tool to cut the stem.  Remove all but the top set of leaves from the stem.  Trim the bottom of the stem just below the bottom leaf node and dip the end in a rooting hormone.  Put the cutting in a pot of well-draining soil that's half potting soil and half perlite.  Moisten the soil and push a hole into the dirt in which you place the cutting.  Put a clear plastic bag over the plant, but make sure it does not touch the leaves.  Bagging the cutting preserves moisture and retains heat while it establishes roots.

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The plumbago has been described as a fast-growing, semi-woody perennial shrub that produces phlox-like blue flowers almost all year round.  When planted, the bush/shrub forms into loosely branched mounds that grow up to 36″ inches tall and wide.  The bush with beautiful blue blooms not only attracts the eye but its scent attracts butterflies.  If you are a butterfly lover you’ll love the plumbago to make your outdoors lively and beautiful.  In areas where there are no severe freezing temperatures or frost, the plant remains evergreen throughout the year.  The perennial plumbago blue thrives in the south in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 – 11, where it is used extensively as an outdoor landscape plant, planted in partial shade but in full sun locations.

Plumbago Care

When used as a ground cover or in beds it is best to plant in early Autumn or early spring.  Select a suitable growing location with lots of partial sun at a minimum.  Plant in well-drained soil, full of organic material with a 1/3 of each – loam, peat moss, sand – consistency.  For the best growth and abundant blooming, add flower plant fertilizer or shrub fertilizer every two weeks in spring and summer.  Stop adding fertilizer as soon as your plumbago has stopped blooming.  After planting, water thoroughly and allow the soil to become nearly dry before watering again.  Fertilize the plumbago plant regularly for a strong root system and full flower heads.  Propagate by cuttings of nearly ripe wood in spring or fall, by root division of old plants, and by seeds.

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This date palm tree, in Latin Phoenix dactylifera - is more commonly referred to by it's variety name, Medjool Palm. There are many varieties in the genus, for example, the True Date, Barhi, Deglet Noor, and Zahidi.  The Deglet Noor and Medjool Palm are the most sought-after variety in the Dactylifera genus.  All palm trees in the Phoenix family are considered to be prestigious.

Plant the trees in spring or fall for best results.  Dig the hole twice as deep and wide as the actual root base to loosen the soil.  Fill the bottom of the hole with soil so the plant is sitting high and roots are barely covered.  Press soil around the roots and water well to compact the soil around them.  Young trees do best with supplemental irrigation for several months until they are established.  You may also need to stake them for straight date palm growing.

How to Care for a Date Palm: After planting date palms, you will need to follow good date palm tree care. In addition to irrigation and support, palms need good nutrient management and pest and disease control.  Composted manure makes an excellent fertilizer in early spring.  You can also use a palm tree fertilizer high in potassium.  
Once trees are established, you will rarely need to water them.  Date palms prefer dry soil and excess moisture can inhibit growth.

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Lots of attractive palm trees that are dotting the peninsula - mostly where there is water in the vicinity or gardens where they get some moisture - are Palm trees.

One of the most beautiful is the grey-blue Hesper Palm tree or Palma Azul how it is called in the Baja.  Scientific Name: Brahea armada - Common Name (English): Blue Hesper Palm - Common Name (Spanish): Palma Azul.  Striking blue fan-shaped leaves make a bold statement in the landscape. Creamy white blooms form in summer on long inflorescence which hangs down from the leaves.  Native to Baja California, this palm is slow-growing and tolerant of rocky soils and desert heat. Maintains its unique blue coloring best in full sun. The average size at maturity is 15 - 20 ft. tall and 6 - 8 ft. wide. Can reach up to 40 ft. tall with age.  Special features are a dramatic foliage color, easy-care, water-wise, and a native plant.

While the date palms that were brought over by the Jesuit missionaries are the most ubiquitous palms on the peninsula.  But it’s the Blue Hesper Palm that’s endemic to Baja California. The distinct color of the silvery/blue fan-shaped leaves differentiates it from any of the other green-leaf palms on the peninsula. 

Palms do better with deep watering once a week.  
It isn't a fast procedure, which means you allow the water to seep slowly into the soil around the palm's roots. 

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Most of the plants in this article can be found in the large gardens at the Tango Azul Resort in La Ventana. Another article will cover more plants that are either endemic or thriving in Baja California Sur and in the Tango Azul Resort