Plant nomenclature

We’ve all heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” and that is sound advice even when applied in the horticultural world. These beautiful yet unfortunate specimens were stuck with silly, weird, or just plain ugly names, but that doesn’t keep them from making us smile. After all, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, right?

Read More

The Amaryllis Question

Posted on Feb 21, 2008 | 0 comments

Amaryllis Piquant, one of our best-selling Amaryllis bulbs
Several of my coworkers and I were given planted Amaryllis bulbs last week.  The stalks on each were just beginning to make their way into the world.  The obvious move for us was to agree to race, to see whose Amaryllis grew the fastest.  However, the problem with having several Amaryllis plants in the same office led inevitably to an argument: what is the proper plural form of the word "Amaryllis?"
This seems like a question that a group of employees of Wayside Gardens would know, especially garden writers.  However, with questions about plant names, there often isn’t a single simple answer.  The plant names are often either Anglicized Latin or Greek, or Latinized English.  Also, they are usually created by botanists, who are rarely too concerned with the grammar questions they may be creating.  In the case of the plural for Amaryllis, there are four possibilities that we are considering: Amaryllii, Amaryllides, Amaryllises, and Amaryllis.
Amaryllis Evergreen is an interesting new Amaryllis bulb with a light green color unlike any we've seen before
Amaryllii seems like it could be right, as many words that end with a similar sound are pluralized that way (Fungus, fungi, etc.).  However, words that are pluralized that way generally end in a "us" rather than "is," so I think that it’s safe to count this one out.  Amaryllides makes use of another form of Greek pluralization, and some botanists do use this.  I haven’t actually met any of these botanists, though, and I really don’t think that this is a very common form of the word (interesting fact, though: the word Amaryllis is Greek, and comes from a common girl’s name in Ancient Greece).  Which brings us to Amaryllises or Amaryllis.  The basic question here is: should the word be changed at all in its plural form?  Amaryllis is a genus name, and the general rule in botany is that the genus name is never pluralized, even when it is being used in the collective.  However, this may be an exception to this rule, because the plants that we’re usually referring to when we say "Amaryllis" are not Amaryllis Red Lion is a gorgeous traditional red Amaryllis bulb
actually in the genus Amaryllis, which consists of a single species, Amaryllis belladonna, a South African plant more commonly called "Naked Ladies" or "Belladonna Lilies."  The plants more commonly called Amaryllis in the United States is actually of the genus Hippeastrum (which should definitely not be pluralized).  Thus, I think that it is safe to pluralize the word (unless you’re referring to Naked Ladies), and that we should use the English plural form, Amaryllises (or just always call them "Amaryllis bulbs" or "Amaryllis flowers").  Plus, my spell-checker likes that form better.
As to the Great Amaryllis Race of 2008?  I’m winning.

Read More

Many of the roses and fruit trees sold from Wayside Gardens are grafted plants. Grafted plants are simply your desired plants grown on top of a hardy rootstock. The top part of the plant, the part that matters, is called the scion. The scion bears all of the fruit, flowers, or foliage that we want.


Eureka Lemon Tree is just one of Wayside’s wonderful fruit trees!

Grafted plants are beneficial because they serve to increase variety, improve quality, and reduce prices. The extra hardy rootstock ensures survival for plants in zones that would normally be way too cold, allowing you to grow plants which would otherwise be off-limits. When a fruit tree is grafted to a mature rootstock allows fruit production much sooner than if you had to wait for the original roots to mature. You also know exactly what you are getting. Your plant has been cloned and will be exactly what you wanted. Clonal reproduction is also much quicker than growing from seed, making it more cost-effective.

Plants are grafted onto very similar plants, usually the of same genus. Most of Wayside Gardens’ grafted roses are grafted onto ‘Dr. Huey’, a hardy old rose with flat blooms that are deep crimson with a golden center. You will see them often at old home sites where the scions have long died off, and the Dr. Huey rootstock has flourished. The Wayside Gardens fruit trees are often grafted onto strong, wild versions of themselves. For example, there is pear rootstock, which, left to it’s own devices, would grow tangled branches with nasty thorns. Make sure you trim back the growth from your rootstock if you don’t want it to take over. Sometimes, in a case where the delicate scion cannot take the extremes and dies back, the rootstock may take over completely. Make sure you pamper your young grafted plant until it gets established.

Read More