Neoregelia ‘Purple Star’ makes a great houseplant

bromeliads make great house plants
bromeliads make great house plants

Bromeliads make great houseplants. We’ve had this one forever. The plant forms multiple crowns after blooming. In fact, the one pictured is a grandchild offset from our original plant! It turns a marvelous pinkish-purple hue during its blooming cycle hence the name amount of light. I suspect they will be pinker in brighter light, as ours is.

The color on these can last for months. Then, offset emerge from the base of the mother plant which eventually dies. If you have enough room you can grow a large specimen with several crowns on one plant which also makes a dramatic statement. The plant gets up to 18″ across when mature but can easily be contained in a 4″ pot. We generally place our plant in a more decorative cache pot to prevent it from tipping over.


Folks always wonder where the flowers are. Well, they are right there in the center of the vase! See our photo to the right. They are so tiny, its not surprising that they need the the leaves to draw attention. The flowers may not matter much to us, but high in the treetops of tropical jungles where these bromeliads grow, they need to stand out to attract pollinators. That’s where the large leaves come in, luckily for us.

Source: Online from Tropiflora

Orchids-Fall Open House & Sale this weekend

Psychopsis papilio orchid hybrid
Psychopsis papilio orchid hybrid

Orchid growers Carter and Holmes, a long established greenhouse in North Carolina are having their fall open house and sale this weekend! See details below. Their new fall orchid mailer is full of color photos is now available. Carter & Holmes are renowned for their cattleya orchids and have bred many wonderful and award-winning cattleya hybrids over the years. Also not to be missed are their spectacular Psychopsis papilio hybrids(see photo)!

“You are invited to our 2009 Fall Open House & Sale on Thursday, August 27th, Friday, August 28th, and Saturday, August 29th from 9 AM to 5 PM each day. We will have the following programs each day at 10 AM.
Thursday, August 27th – General Orchid Culture
Friday, August 28th – Cattleya Species
Saturday, August 29th – General Orchid Culture
We will also be serving lunch between 12:30 and 1:30 PM each day for customers buying plants or supplies.
If you plan to attend one or more of the programs or if you plan to join us for lunch, please let us know by emailing us at or calling us toll free at (800) 873-7086.”

Sinningia Cherry Sprite-a miniature houseplant

Miniature sinnnigia makes a great houseplant
Miniature sinnnigia makes a great houseplant

Sinnngia Cherry Sprite-flower close-up
Sinningia Cherry Sprite-flower close-up

Sinningia Cherry Sprite is putting a great show on for us this summer! Obviously, the warm humid summer temperatures in Washington D.C. suit it well. This plant is actually growing in a ceramic self-watering pot often used for miniature African violets. The inner pot in which the sinningia tuber is growing, is about 3″ across.The whole plants is no more than 5″ across.

While this self-watering method seems to keep the plant adequately watered during the warmer months, I’ll probably let it dry out a little before refilling the reservoir, once growth slows down in the fall. Usually, the plant goes dormant during the colder months. I keep it on the drier side and when growth resumes, start watering again. With these types of pots its important to have good drainage so some additional perlite in the potting mix helps.

Even in between blooms, the dark green glossy leaves of this miniature sinningia are especially attractive.

Cymbidium Blooms in Summer Heat

Orchid Update September 2: Here is our mystery summer blooming Cymbidium Chen’s Ruby ‘Gold Tiger’. It opened its first bloom in late August and all flowers on the first spike are now open. It has a second spike popping with nine buds as well! The flowers are wonderfully fragrant during the day, a rarity among cymbidiums! I think this one is a keeper for its heat tolerance alone.

Cymbidium Chen's Ruby 'Gold Tiger'
Cymbidium Chen's Ruby 'Gold Tiger'

Original Post:
This compact cymbidium orchid seems to be more than just ‘heat-tolerant. In fact, it seems to love the heat! Its produced two spikes of buds during 80-90 degree weather during the past two month in Washington DC. Yes, it is growing outdoors on a balcony where it gets direct sunlight from morning through early afternoon.

The buds have fully formed, with no signs of dropping or blasting during the past two weeks when temperatures have pretty much hit 90 degrees every day. The plant last bloomed in October when I purchased it. Interestingly, other growths have young to maturing shoots, so unlike many standard cymbidiums that all produce their new growths at about the same time (and thus all bloom on those same growths about the same time) these will matures at different rates. This means the plant could bloom more than once a year, especially since temperature seems to be less of a factor. I can see this orchid doing this when they get up to size.

I know what hybrid this is, and the flowers are stunning, but I’ll keep it a surprise until the flowers open and post a photo then!

Isemenes Festalis-A festival of flowers

Isemenes Festalis--an easy summer bloomer
Isemenes Festalis--an easy summer bloomer

Hymeonocallis/Isemenes Bulbs
(known as Peruvian Daffodils) have beautiful clusters of starry white spidery flowers that bloom in summer!  The variety I have grown is X festalis which is commonly available. They are hardy zones 8 and higher, and while I managed to overwinter them outdoors in the ground here in zone 7B, they never bloomed for me…

One year, I potted some of them up in a 12″ pot for a patio display and they have never failed to bloom! Every summer, right about now, the flowers begin to open. I usually bring them in while blooming to enjoy the display which lasts about two weeks.

Unless you have a really  sunny southern exposure its best to grow these on a balcony or patio. Give them lots of water while actively growing, in fact boggy conditions will suit them fine. In fall, I allow the leaves to die down and then throw the pot into my basement storage room until late spring when I bring them out again. Once new growth emerges I start watering. I throw on some timed-release fertilizer(for flowering plants) every spring, and occasionally top-dress the pot with fresh potting mix. That’s all there is too it. The plants only bloom once a year, but have attractive foliage.