Well, I finally succumbed and purchased a few more miniature growing nepenthes commonly known as tropical pitcher plants . Some of the species can get to be monsters in the wild, big enough to capture a hapless frog or small monkey! But if your’re growing under lights indoors, then the miniatures are your friends–and kitty is safe (meow of relief).
These hybrids came for Predatory Plants in California. They took a while to get to me as the first shipment was lost, but another was dispatched from their cosy greenhouse–as soon as there was a break in the weather (33-45 degrees F)–to my deluxe apartment in the sky. Well not quite.
The babies arrived with pitchers fully formed , tightly bundled in sphagnum moss like new born babes in zip-loc bags. Below is a close up of a small-growing cultivar of a delicate species with tendril like leaves called Nepenthese glabrata.
The grower included pots and long-fibred sphagnum moss so I could immediately pot these up with minimum trauma. I went ahead and added some peat moss and perlite, mostly sprinkling this on top of the moss as its hard to get the two to mix together very well. I gave them a good soaking with some collected snow-water, that I warmed up first. I also added a few drops to the pitchers as per the instructions. Here is a photo of the trio of plants potted up.
Young pitcher plants potted up.
The last step was to drop them into a decorative jar then i got from one of the home decor shops a while back. I added some lava rocks at the bottom to capture any drainage water as Nepenthes like to be wet, but NOT sit in water. This also provides added humidity to the jar terrarium. The lid totally encloses the pants into a little stove-like greenhouse but they seem to love this. The plants were set under my grow lights. In winter the temperatures are ideal(mid 70s day–low 60s at night) but in summer I may have to move them to a bright spot that does not get as hot. By then, I hope they are well established and growing strongly!
Despite record heat in Washington DC, the titan arum, the world’s largest flower, took its time unfurling its giant calla-like “bloom” at the U.S Botanic Garden and is in full bloom!
Native to the jungles of Indonesia, this plant can take a decade or more to bloom. After all, putting up an inflorescence that can be ten feet tall is no easy feat. The plant has to build its reserves, which it stores in a giant swollen root called a corm –kind of like a spongy potato–that can way 30 pounds or more.
The role of the giant spadix that gives the plant its Latin name, Amorphophallus titanum is to generate heat about the temperature of the human body, or that of a rotting corpse. Like a giant antenna sticking up from the jungle floor the spadix disperses the flower’s stinky perfume far and wide to attract pollinators. The effect is enhanced by the deep red spathe, the skirt that surround the spadix and approximates the color of decaying flesh. This attracts certain carrion beetles and flies that end up pollinating the tiny flowers that are actually deep within –so what we think as the flower is technically an inflorescence.
All this takes a huge amount of energy and within 48 hours, the flower will collapse not to appear again for a very long time. You can see an illustration of this plants amazing life cycle here.
When we think of Wisterias we think of large sprawling vines that look like they could bring down a house, not houseplants. Hard to tame, we forgive them because of their pendulous racemes of grape colored blooms that appear for a few weeks in late spring. But lost in our tangled affair with the Asian wisterias, is their more demure and timid cousin, the American wisteria (Wisteria fructescens). This one can be grown in a pot, though not quite a houseplant; and yes, it will bloom at this size.
I purchased one in an 8″ pot about 2 years ago, in bud of course, and was thrilled to have a wisteria in bloom on my small balcony. I trimmed the vines down as they started to grow too long and clipped away extraneous branches over time to create a more bonsai-like appearance. Once clipped in early summer, I found the plant did not attempt to throw out a lot of new vines but managed with what it had. The wisteria overwintered on my balcony (dropping all its leaves as in nature) with no special protection(I’m in zone 7b) . It rewarded me again with blooms the following spring.
This year I had twice as may flowering racemes but missed most of the show, which lasts two-three weeks, as I was traveling . I’ve posted a photo from last year so you can get an idea of how striking this plant is. Its still in the same pot, and receives no special treatment–full sun, a little trim after blooming, and a little fertilizer now and then. While it is not a houseplant, it can certainly be brought indoors so you can enjoy the flowers during a few weeks in the spring. And the rest of the year you can still enjoy the delicate foliage on this southeast USA native species.
Made a trip to Longwood Gardens yesterday to catch the Orchid Show (and Sale!). It was a cold but sunny and crisp day and I only wish there had been more time to luxuriate in their stunning conservatory that was bedecked with orchids, but also had their customary spring floral display for those of us who are ready for spring now. And of course the famous blue poppies. From the rarefied altitudes of the Himalayas, these poppies are flow in in from Alaska to awaken from their frozen dormancy in the capable hands of Longwood horticulturists. One wonders, how ‘green’ this is, but for now, they remain a star attraction in Longwood’s spring display and one can see why. And for those of you who’re thinking they’re not really blue, remember that true blue is not found in the plant kingdom as far as I know-delphinium blue is probably as close as it gets.
Here are a few photos I took . I’ll save the orchids for another post.
Here are a few pictures from the 2009 National Capital Orchid Show and Sale. This event takes place every year at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington D.C. on Columbus Day weekend and admission is free! Most of these photos are from the Carter and Holmes display as there was sufficient natural light to get good photos. However, there are a large number of displays with hundreds of orchids in bloom. Orchid societies from surrounding states also put on displays which are enjoyed by several thousand people over the course of the weekend. For more information visit www.ncos.us