Cherry Ong is taking us back to the conservatory at Centennial Park in the Toronto area. Today we’re on a visit to the arid house, which is full of plants from around the world that are adapted to dry and desert environments.
Ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata, Zones 10–12) is often sold as a houseplant, but given ample space it will grow into a big dramatic plant like this. The swollen trunk serves to store water for dry seasons.
You can’t have an arid house without cacti. This family of plants is native to the Americas. The swollen stems store water, and the spines keep hungry—and thirsty—animals from munching on them. Those practical adaptations also turn them into living sculptures.
Mother-of-thousands (Kalanchoe, Zones 10–12 or as a houseplant) has attractive succulent leaves, but these nodding, bell-shaped flowers are beautiful, both when fresh and salmon-orange, and as they age and fade to pink.
The iconic golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii, Zones 9–12) is hugely popular in dry, warm landscapes but is endangered in the wild due to habitat destruction for agriculture and grazing.
Aloe is an African genus of succulents with many different species, ranging from small rosettes to tall ones like this with their beautiful succulent foliage.
Have a garden you’d like to share?
Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!
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