Monocots in Your Designer Garden.

Growing monocots in your designer garden can mean that you are growing specimens of some of the oldest kinds of plants in the world. Why is this significant? There are many reasons, but one of the most important is that when you know how your plants are classified, you have a better understanding of the best way to take care of them.

What are Monocots?

If you are walking through woodland or field, you are unlikely to say, “Oh, look! There is a monocot.” That is because many of its defining characteristics are not immediately noticeable. One of the first and most important is that its seed has one cotyledon or embryo in the seed. Because of this, when the plant begins to grow, it will put up one primary leaf. Plants belonging to this family include most types of grass, maize (sometimes called Indian corn to distinguish it from the various grain types grown in Europe, which are sometimes collectively known as corn), and xanthorrhoea, sometimes called a grass tree – even though it is neither a true grass or a tree. Other characteristics of monocots are that their leaves are usually long and narrow with parallel veins and that the petal on their blossoms is grouped in multiples of three. By now, you are probably nodding and saying, “Oh, yes. I think I have seen many monocots. I just did not know that is what they are called.”

More defining characteristics of Monocots

Monocots often have wide-spreading roots that are located at a shallow depth in the ground. This means that in a strong windstorm, such as might occur in Kansas in the USA, tall monocots such as field corn might be blown over to lie flat upon the ground. This will cause difficulties with pollination and with growing the ears of grain as well as problems with harvesting. Unlike dicots (plants with 2 seed embryos) they do not have long tap roots to help stabilize them.

With that said, the splayed roots of a monocot help it to soak up moisture very quickly, making the most of rainfall in areas when water is scarce. This means that monocots are often good plants to have in a low-water, low-maintenance garden. They are often happy in sandy soil or in loose, nutritious loam.

Monocot Stems

Monocot stems are also unique in the plant world. Unlike woody plants, their vascular uptake structure is more randomly distributed. In some plants, such as the xanthorrhoea, the stem is not a true stem at all, but down-drooping leaves that have glued themselves together with the plant’s sap. In these plants, the stem is often hollow.

Those down-drooping leaves have another purpose for xanthorrhoea, Yucca filifera and Yucca rostrata. They provide a sort of armour for the central stem, helping the plant survive minor brush fires and similar disasters.

Some general notes about Monocots:

There are about 60,000 kinds of monocots growing on earth today. Of these, about 50 types of monocots are unique to Australia. Xanthorrhoea is among those unique to the island continent.

Additional notes about Xanthorrhoea, a unique monocot of Australia

There are several different kinds of xanthorrhoea that grow in Australia. The Glauca grass tree is perhaps one of the best known. This particular type of grass tree armours itself against forest fires by plastering its drooping leaves back against the main stem of the plant. This is not a complete fire-proofing, of course, but one of its characteristics is that it will be one of the first plants to grow back after a region has experienced a fire. Its seeds are structured so that the heat from the fire will encourage them to germinate.

Another important note is that xanthorrhoea has a symbiotic relationship with a specific type of mycorrhiza, without which the plant will eventually sicken and die. This is a good reason to get your Glauca Grass Tree from a licensed, reputable seller, such as Designer Trees.

Blossoms on the Big Monocots

Big monocots such as xanthorrhoea and various types of yucca put up a tall bloom spike that will grow waxy blossoms that are highly attractive to all sorts of pollinators and even to human survivalists.

Monocots in Your Designer Garden

There are a broad variety of monocots that can be planted in your garden. Each one is unique in its attractive characteristics, and most are excellent for low-water planting areas. These are only a few of the reasons why you will want to grow monocots as part of your designer garden.


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