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. To see what's blooming this month 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.

August 2017 Plant Highlight: Gymnocalycium schickendantzii ssp. delaetii

by Brian Kemble

Gymnocalycium is a fairly large genus of South American cacti, with about 50 currently recognized species plus a number of subspecies. The majority of the plants are found in Argentina, but they extend northward into Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia. For the most part these are dome-shaped or globular cacti, but some are flattened and a few are short-columnar. The various species may be single or clustering, and the size of a single head ranges from smaller than a ping-pong ball to the size of a soccer ball. Gymnocalycium spines vary wildly, with some being ferociously spiny and others having spines reduced to little squiggles pressed against the body of the plant. One of those with stout spines is Gymnocalycium schickendantzii ssp. delaetii, from northwestern Argentina.

Like many other plants in the genus, Gymnocalycium schickendantzii ssp. delaetii has a dome-shaped body, with mature plants attaining a diameter of 8 to 12 inches (up to 30 cm) and remaining single. In the shade, plants are deep green to bluish-green, but in sunnier situations they take on brown or bronze tinges. Each areole (the “eye” from which the spines and flowers emerge) puts out about 8 heavy spines which arch outward in all directions, intermeshing with those from adjacent areoles. The result is a well-armed plant, but with enough space between the spines that the plant body is readily visible. While the new spines are black or brown, they soon lighten to gray.
Gymnocalycium schickendantzii ssp. delaetii is summer-blooming, with flowers emerging mainly in December and January in its native habitat in Argentina. Of course, the seasons are reversed in California, and at the Ruth Bancroft Garden our plants flower from June to August, sometimes extending into the fall months. As with other species of Gymnocalycium, the buds of G. schickendantzii ssp. delaetii are covered with smooth overlapping scales. They open into funnel-shaped flowers which are off-white or flushed pink and about 2 inches long (5 cm). Though the plants flower over an extended period, there are never more than a few flowers open at any given time.

Although our plants at the Ruth Bancroft Garden have not made fruits, a successfully pollinated flower yields a club-shaped or barrel-shaped fruit which is blue-green at first, ripening to red. On the inside, the fruit is filled with a viscous translucent liquid containing many small black seeds. At maturity, the fruit splits open.

G. schickendantzii ssp. delaetii comes from a summer-rainfall area, but it can be grown outside in our winter-rainfall climate if given sharp drainage and occasional water during the summer months. It can endure cold spells down to the low 20’s F (-6 C).

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