Hairy Heliconias

Heliconias are striking tropical plants with with¬† thick flower bracts, that sometimes seem like they’ve been fashioned from plastic or rubber. The flowers emerge from the colorful bracts, but its the bracts themselves that command the most attention. You can see the yellow flower in the photo. On a recent trip to Colombia I came across this hairy heliconia, thick and dangling. Almost furry to the touch , it felt like a cross between a monkey’s tail, snake, and a child’s plush toy. You can see a much more impressive hairy heliconia photo here.


But, for those of you who prefer less hirsute heliconias, here are pictures of some other beauties that I spotted.¬† Don’t even think about growing these as houseplants. Some of these plants are 10-15 feet tall! The flowering bracts can be several feet long too, often dangling on rope-like stem over the steep hillsides like chandeliers.No doubt the colorful bracts can be easily spotted by hummingbirds that tend to pollinate these beautiful flowers.

Heliconias are sometimes are confused with Bird of Paradise blooms

 

Gorgeous yellow heliconia with green and white buds and blooms

Jardin Botanico in Bogota

The Jardin Botanico is Bogota, Colombia, is an oasis in this city of 7 million. It has a tropical house, including one devoted to orchids which will be featured in a future post. Bogota is more than 7,000 feet above so it has a distinct flora of cooler growing plants. Since I just got back from Colombia, I thought I would throw up a few pictures to brighten up the late winter days!

pink passion flower
pink passion flower

stunning red flower--perhaps a mimosa?
stunning red flower--perhaps a mimosa?
Flowering Vriesea bromeliad
Flowering Vriesea bromeliad
rick lavendar bloom
Both bedding and exotic plants for sale
Both bedding and exotic plants for sale
Beautiful palms are a higlgiht of the gardens
Beautiful palms are a highlight of the gardens

Gloriosa superba seed pod surprise

brillant orange red seeds of the flame lilly
brillant orange red seeds of the flame lilly
brillant orange red seeds of the flame lilly
brillant orange red seeds of the flame lilly

Those of you who’ve grown flames lillies (gloriosa superba) will notice that the flowers set pods very easily… The pods are actually quite large and bulbous, and will weigh down the vines seemingly to breaking point. Usually, by the time the plants die down for fall, the seed pods are still very green. Last fall, I saved one of he seed pods but never really expected it to ripen.

To my surprise, after coming back from two weeks vacation in Dec-Jan, I saw that the pod had turned black, and had shriveled and split open as if to release its seeds. The seeds themselves were large and round and also a beautiful orange-red color! Next year, I plan to save all the seed pods and enjoy them over the winter. They can be placed decoratively in a small bowl; a nice reminder in the middle of winter that warmer flower-filled days lie ahead… You can see a photo of the seed pod on the plant here in an earlier post.

flame lillies die down

PB270022

Well, a few weeks ago, I dug up my gloriosa superba(flame lilly) tubers and it seemed they had multiplied in their pot! I wrapped them in a kitchen towel with some dampish peat and then in one of those plastic mesh bags that you buy avocados or clementines in. Remember, these tubers are living things so you don’t want to wrap them up in an airtight or plastic bag, as chances are they will get mouldy and even rot.

They’re tucked away in storage closet, hibernating until temperatures warm up again in the spring when I’ll be able to pot them up again. In the meantime, here is an earlier post of gloriosa superba in bloom from this summer. If you want to grow these, you’re sure to find them listed in a garden or bulb catalog this spring.

Tropical ‘Houseplants’ in Bangkok

Freshly cut water lillies
Freshly cut water lillies

The weekend Chatchuk Market in Bangkok is famous, attracting locals and tourists alike. There are thousands of stalls selling virtually anything you could want, from antiques, to t-shirts; musical instruments to…tropical garden plants and orchids! So on a recent trip to Bangkok, I made the trek to the market. ‘Trek’ is an overstatement-all you have to do is hop on the sleek modern skytrain and it delivers you right to the market! This is the first of a few posts where I’ll share photos of all things green that I enjoyed seeing at Chatachuk. Among the most impressive were the nepenthes, caladiums, and orchids!

sprouting seeds
sprouting seeds

These are the ‘sprouting seeds’ of a tropical tree that grows in Thailand. Leaves on more mature growths look like avocado leaf. If anyone know what this plant is please let me know. I’ve looked for seed pods like this in the US, but have only seen the fibrous seed in dry decorative arrangements. Of course I was unable to bring any of these back to the US.


colorful bromeliads
colorful bromeliads

(left) I loved all the compact growing bromeliads, mostly neoregalias, showing perfect color. There are also some Thai caladiums in this photo, that are garnering attention by horticulturists in other parts of the world. We’ll post more photos of these in a later post.

(Below) buckets of water lillies for sale–both flowers and plants were available.

bucket of water plants and flowers
bucket of water plants and flowers

hoyas, with their waxy flowers
hoyas, with their waxy flowers

a gorgeous display of hibiscus
a gorgeous display of hibiscus


Tacca-also known as the bat flower
Tacca-also known as the bat flower

Exotic and unsual whiskered blooms on handsome plants! I’ve seen different types of tacca for sale in US garden catalogs but suspect they would do best in more humid southern climates, or a conservatory/greenhouse up north.