An Unexpected New Container Species

While engrossed in the first phase of my autumn yard cleanup today, I was surprised by the sudden appearance of a ‘volunteer’ new container species. Although I had previously seen it on the property recently, this was the first time it has seeded itself in this particular location.

I immediately recognized it as Felinus sheldonii var. potsittia (for an explanation of the species name, see the middle section of this post), first spotted in this general habitat about three years ago. No noticeable growth has been made since that time, which leads me to conclude that this variety has already reached its mature height – which is not much larger than a sapling.


Obviously this species is self-cleaning.


The dark foliage is enlivened with just a touch or two of clean white variegation. Notice how it has rooted itself in the one container that provides the maximum dramatic contrast.


A well-known characteristic of this genus is the ability to switch rapidly between the prostrate and
the fastigiate habit, according to prevailing environmental conditions at any given moment. This can often make transplanting (sometimes also called “herding”, especially if several are being addressed at once) rather a challenge at times.

Authorities differ on how often this genus should be fed; this is further complicated by the fact that some varieties are gross feeders while others can only be (charitably) described as “finicky.” Owners often report numerous trials of myriad different formulas that result only in frustration when their examples fail to respond. I have experimented with this particular variety on occasion and discovered that despite its small size this one definitely falls into the “gross feeder” category — so much so, in fact, that I am seriously considering giving it the cultivar name ‘Moocher’!


Although often ephemeral — I can never predict when it will pop up next — it certainly cannot be denied that this very unusual container species adds a unique touch to the suburban landscape….especially when acting as a focal point to draw attention away from less-desirable aspects such as the ever-increasing expanses of (now thankfully dead) crabgrass.  🙂

  10 comments for “An Unexpected New Container Species

  1. November 19, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    A related species was such a weed problem here that our town is named after them; Los Gatos.

    • November 21, 2018 at 4:02 pm

      Ah yes, I’ve heard that in some locations they can quickly become naturalized! A strong argument in favor of sterile cultivars, I am sure. 😉

      • November 23, 2018 at 10:48 pm

        Now that their habitat has been overwhelmed by urban sprawl, they are not so invasive. Many of the garden variety are quite happy here though.

  2. Adine Gnekow
    November 20, 2018 at 7:27 am

    I live in California and we own such a species too….exactly like yours. Despite the small size with its ho-hum color of black… can be easily cared for. We transplanted ours from a country environment to a city environment when we moved a few years ago and it is thriving! Just a little tender loving care plus feeding and watering it on a routine schedule is all it wants or needs.

  3. November 20, 2018 at 8:53 am

    I think this particular species is widespread, though color, form and variegation do vary. They can be problematic with wildlife, but certainly have their charm. 🙂 Great post!

    • November 21, 2018 at 4:08 pm

      I have seen mockingbirds swoop down and almost land on examples of this species, only to pull up at the last moment (rather like Luke Skywalker attacking the Death Star) as better judgment prevails!

  4. November 21, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    Fish based fertilizer is best, I assume 😊

    • November 21, 2018 at 4:18 pm

      No doubt, and as piscine ingredients go, salmon seems to provoke a particularly perky response in my cultivar’s uppermost foliage.

  5. November 24, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    Ha! This reminds me of our old cat Phoebe who whenever we inspected the garden would insert herself into whatever vignette we were contemplating, especially if we were taking pictures. Surely what we really wanted to look at was her!

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