December Blooms in Southern California!

| December 18, 2014 | 10 Replies

December Blooms in Southern California! While many gardens are buried in snow or frost, and gardeners are dreaming of their spring gardens, a few plants are blooming in the Late Bloomer garden and I thought I would share. Hopefully, they will offer a little sunshine into your day!

December Blooms in Southern California - kalanchoe marnieriana

Kalanchoe marnieriana

December Blooms in Southern California - cyclamen

Red Cyclamen

December Blooms in Southern California - Begonia

Begonia, first bloom

As I didn’t plant a full-scale winter garden this year, I still have pepper plants, some with blooms, though peppers are very, very slow to develop and ripen. Do you see the spider in this photo? Write me and I will send you some Kabocha squash seeds!

December Blooms in Southern California - pepper blossom

Poblano pepper blossom

December Blooms in Southern California - aloe vera

Aloe Vera

We are in a serious multi-year drought in Southern California, and recent rains have been a blessing! But we have a long way to go!

December Blooms in Southern California - germanium


These photos were taken on December 16th the morning after a rain, and sunny December 17th.

December Blooms in Southern California - red camellia

Red camellia

December Blooms in Southern California - tomato

Cherry tomato blooms

A native of Brazil, the Princess Flower is a beautiful addition to a tropical or sub-tropical garden. Best suited for zones 9-11, this shrub is a recipient of the Award of Garden Merit given out by the Royal Horticultural Society and blooms are plentiful from May to January.

December Blooms in Southern California  - Princess Flower

Princess Flower

Tropical milkweed self-seeds (that’s why it’s called a weed!), so once planted, it will keep popping up all over your garden. Once you plant it, Monarch butterflies will find your garden!

December Blooms in Southern California - tropical milkweed

Tropical milkweed

Most of the flowering plants are producing small flowers in December, except for my pale pink camellia bushes. They are really putting on a show.

December Blooms in Southern California - pink camellia bushes

Pale pink camellia bushes loaded with blooms

December Blooms in Southern California - pale pink camellias

Pale pink camellias

Some plants are just starting to bloom.

December Blooms in Southern California - holiday cactus

Holiday Cactus, first bloom

Others are on their last legs.

December Blooms in Southern California - sparky marigold

Sparky Marigold still hanging on

And some plants just won’t quit! Borage self-seeds, so by the time one bush is spent, another one is pushing up. I’ve had borage blooming all year, and bees love it!

December Blooms in Southern California - borage


California native Pitcher Sage is my only native plant blooming at the moment. It’s about finished blooming and I’m looking forward to other natives starting to bloom. My plants produce delicate lilac flowers, but, evidently they also come in blue! Pitcher sage has done very well in the Late Bloomer garden. All my native plants were purchased at Grow Native Nursery, the retail store of the non-profit Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.

December Blooms in Southern California - Pitcher sage

Pitcher Sage has been blooming for months

I hope you enjoyed the color! Do you have anything blooming in your garden? Thanks for reading and I hope you will share with a snowbound garden friend! – Kaye


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Category: California Native Plants, Flowers, Urban Gardening

Comments (10)

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  1. I know that camelias do bloom here even in the snow …Beautiful flower shots . My aloe when it blooms in the greenhouse in late winter has a pale flower must be a different kind . I will try to get some shots in the greenhouse tomorrow to share of the begonias and climbing nasturtiums . Hope Califoria gets gentle rains and snows all winter! :)Sharon

    • Well, that won’t happen but we are off to a great start. They say CA needs a trillion more gallons to make up for the drought. But, I’m grateful for every shower we do get. I look forward to the photos!! Thanks for writing! I have 2 aloe vera and they both have red orange blooms, but one has speckled leaves and the other has solid green leaves. I don’t know much about it.

  2. Edythe Preet says:

    Hi Kaye – remember me from the PP Farmer’s Mkt? I have been strewing Tropical Milkweed seeds around my garden in the hope that they will all grow because…a few that self-seeded have Monarch Caterpillars (I’ve counted 15 so far!!!) munching away – yay! there aren’t many plants and each one has 2 or 3 caterpillars – is that enough ‘food’ to support them? can they be gently moved individually to plants that don’t have munchers? also, for the first year I have finally gotten my act together early enough to strew CA wildflower seeds and CA Poppies are coming up all over – and I’ve been moving itty bitty nasturtium seedlings from a years old thickly populated plot and the babies are all doing well – I’m SO pleased! – Edythe

    • Yes, Edith, they can be safely moved if you are gentle. I usually use a tiny stick or leaf as it’s very hard to do it by hand and not crush them or drop them. They freeze for quite a few minutes as a defense mechanism when they’ve been moved, or dropped! If they are stage 5, if they look big, they could eat perhaps 2-3 more leaves before they are done. But you must move them only to milkweed. Sometimes I gently clip a denuded branch they are on, and just lay it on a clump of leaves in another bush and before you know it, they have moved off on their own. This is the best method. But hold the branch when you snip as the jerk will throw them on the ground. It’s a delicate process. If you’ve counted 15, you probably have 30. Great to hear from you!!!

      • Edythe Preet says:

        Hi Kaye – thanx for getting back to me…I moved one little guy, on a leaf, to a thriving Milkweed and he froze like you said, then started crawling around, so i figured ok…but when I went looking for him today, he had disappeared – phooey – hope he’s hiding…happy hol’s and keep up the good Late Bloomer work in 2015! – Edythe

        • He or she, depending on which instar, will only leave the plant to shed skin, or if it’s 5th instar, full size and finished eating, leaves the plant to find a spot for a chrysalis. You very often see them on the ground near the plant when they are shedding. Sometimes they shed on the plant. But, if you see big ones wandering around off the plant, they are looking for a place to put their chrysalis. Thanks for you good wishes and right back at you for 2015! – Kaye

  3. yasuko kimura says:

    I would like to know the name of the pink camellia bloomed in December as picture shows. They look beautiful. I wonder if there are any camellia sasanqua bloom during Christmas time in Southern California apart from Yuletide.

    • Thank you for writing! This big camellia has been here at least 30 years, cause we’ve been here 25 and it was here. So, I don’t know the name, unfortunately. I could research it and maybe guess, but it would be a guess. It’s usually blooming January to March.

    • I thought I responded to this, I’m so sorry! We inherited this pink camellia bush, now over 30 years old, and I couldn’t tell you the name of it. I’m sorry! I would just ask at your local nursery to see what blooms here during Christmas. We were lucky to inherit all these big camellias including the luscious pale pink ones you see in my Rain Barrel episode. Thanks for following Late Bloomer and I hope to hear from you again!

  4. Catherine E Pitcher says:

    Tropical milkweed is not such a good thing for Monarchs. Because it doesn’t die back, the Monarch parasites build up on the plant season after season, leading to a much larger percentage of sick or dead caterpillars. Every other type of milkweed is great for them.

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