In the Garden

What's in Bloom?

There's always something to see at The Ruth Bancroft Garden! Pick up a "What's in Bloom" guide when you check in for your tour. You can click the images below to see what's blooming this month or click here to view pdf.

Check out our Flickr Photostream as well! With photos organized by the month they were taken in, you can see what the Garden looks like throughout the year.

May 2017 Plant Highlight: Graptopetalum amethystinum

by Brian Kemble

The genus Echeveria is a large one, with most of the species in cultivation originating in Mexico. Some of the species in horticulture are known as “hens-and-chicks” and are commonly seen as garden plants in areas with mild winters. There are several closely related smaller groups of plants, and one of these is the genus Graptopetalum, with 17 species and a few additional varieties. All of these occur in Mexico, with 2 extending northward into Arizona. The genus name Graptopetalum means “inscribed petal” and refers to the red markings found on the petals of most species. Flowers in Echeveria are urn-shaped or tubular, with the mouth of the flower facing outward or downward, but in Graptopetalum the petals spread widely and face upward, like little 5-pointed stars.

Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental is home to a beautiful species named Graptopetalum amethystinum, which is found in the states of Jalisco, Durango, Sinaloa and Zacatecas. This plant has highly succulent pallid leaves which may be bluish but are often tinged with lilac or pink. In most species of Graptopetalum the leaves are puffy, but flattened on the upper side, and this is sometimes true of G. amethystinum as well, but it has more rounded leaves than the others which can resemble tittle balloons. In this respect, the species looks much like members of the related genus Pachyphytum, but the two genera have distinctly different flowers.

Like most kinds of Graptopetalum, G. amethystinum is clump-forming, and its stems may reach a length of up to a foot (30 cm). The plants grow on cliffs, and while the stems initially grow upward, they end up dangling downward as they elongate, with the leaves arranged in rosettes at the ends. If grown in a less vertical setting, the plant will sprawl to the side.


Graptopetalum amethystinum comes into flower in late spring, usually beginning in the latter half of April at the Ruth Bancroft Garden. The branched inflorescences emerge from between the leaves, bearing dozens of buds which open a few at a time over a period of weeks. The petals are pale yellow to almost white, with deep red markings. The red is more abundant toward the tips, and sometimes the entire tip is bright red, while the lower part of the petal tends to be red-speckled. Though small, about .6 to .7 inches long (15 – 18 mm), the flowers are quite beautiful.

This species does well in cultivation, and it may be grown in full sun under cool coastal conditions, but a little bit of shade suits it in hotter inland areas. As usual with plants that grow in rocks, it wants good drainage. Temperatures down to freezing do not bother it, but it should be protected if it gets much colder than this.

Plant Donations to The Garden

Many people express interest in donating plants to the Ruth Bancroft Garden. These include plants that have grown too large for their space, may no longer be desirable for the owner, mature landscape plants that are being removed to make way for new plantings, or were owned by friends or loved ones. Plant donations to the garden are most appreciated but must be approved by staff prior to drop-offs. Many donations are repotted in our nursery and sold at our plant sales to raise money to support the garden, while a choice few plants will be accessioned into our collection, depending on the species and whether it is represented in our collection.

If you are interested in donating plants, we request that you email digital images of the plants along with any identifying information you may have to our Garden Curator, Brian Kemble or Nursery Mananger, Steven Wexler.  They will be happy to determine which plants are appropriate for donation.

Garden Plant Information

The Ruth Bancroft Garden Tree Map

What's New in The Garden? Look here for interesting garden updates from the RBG gardeners' perspectives

Ruth's Tips
The Ruth Bancroft Garden Staff has been contributing "Ruth's Tips" articles to the Home & Garden section of Bay Area newspapers since 2005. We are currently in the process of scanning the printed articles to make them available online. Scanned articles are available here.
Plant Highlight Archives
View list in order of publication.
View list in alphabetical order.

To Plants in the Nursery

What's in Bloom?

Plant Highlight

Plant Donations

Garden Plant Information

Ruth's Tips Article

Plant Highlight Archives


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Mission Statement
The mission of the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Inc. is to preserve this exceptional example of garden design and to continue to develop its collection of water-conserving plants for the education and enjoyment of the public.  
Grant Funders

The Ruth Bancroft Garden would like to recognize the following grant funders:

The Quest Foundation for funding our Education Coordinator’s position

The Mervyn L. Brenner Foundation and The Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust for funding our directional signs

The California Horticultural Society for funding towards our restoration projects

The Bonita Garden Clubfor funding restoration and education projects


The Ruth Bancroft Garden GardenConservancy