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Schefflera arboricola Flowers/Berries

Although more common as a houseplant, Schefflera arboricola (aka Dwarf Schefflera) has many qualities that make it a good foundation shrub in Florida Zone 9/10. It is salt tolerant, pest resistant, and with a maximum height of 10ft, easily shaped into hedges/topiaries.  Unfortunately, shaping requires pruning, and pruning robs the plant of it’s greatest feature: beautiful drupes of autumn berries.  This year I let nature take its course, with excellent results:

Schefflera arboricola growing wild in the landscape

Left untrimmed, these shrubs produce flowering umbels from July to October—>tiny, white-to-green and inconspicuous, but still worth a look:

S. arboricola flower close-up

When the flowers become berries, the plant’s true ornamental nature is revealed:

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Dwarf Schefflera is a native of Taiwan and member of the Aralia family. Like most exotics, it grows best in bright light, humid air, and well draining sandy/loamy soil.  Propagation of outdoor growers is best done from woody stem cuttings; use air layering if your S. arbicola is growing indoors.

S. arboricola full view

Until next time…..

:) :) :)

 

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Brassia Maculata in Bloom

Brassias are sympodial (bulbous) orchids whose large fleshy leaves and woody flower spikes emerge from oval pseudobulbs along the soil line. Each pseudobulb provides nutrients and water for a single bloom cycle in August/September.  The light was perfect this morning so I took a few pics of their incredible beauty.

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First Brassia maculata flowers of the season, 9/3/14

Their spidery appearance gives Brassias a distinct reproductive advantage. Parasitic wasps who typically lay their eggs on spiders, get confused by the orchid’s appearance and land on the flowers instead. As the wasps flit from plant to plant, they create one of nature’s best win-win situations: the wasps reproduce,  the brassias get pollinated, and a few very lucky 8 legged insects are saved in the process!

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Although my Brassias live outdoors, they also make great houseplants: read more about it here.

Until next time…

:) :) :)

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Wordless Wednesday: 8/13/14 (Siam Tulip)

My smartphone’s charging port crapped out after my last post (no smartphone = no camera/photos.) I finally got it repaired and can’t tell you how good it feels to take pictures again. :)  The blog is back in time for Wordless Wednesday.

Siam tulips are Florida late summer bloomers and I look forward to their arrival every August!

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Curcuma alismatifolia, Maejo Mont Blanc

Although the inflorescence resembles a northern style tulip, this plant is a member of the Ginger family specifically Curcuma alismatifolia with bracts ranging from pure white to deep purple. Mine are a pink tinged hybrid named Maejo Mont Blanc.

For more on Wordless Wednesday, click the WW blog/linkup at the Jenny Evolution.

Until next time….

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Flame Lily Update: It’s Opening!

A few weeks ago, my Gloriosa superba vines were barely in bud.  Now they’ve branched in several directions and even started opening.

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G. Superba, 8/5/14

Each Flame Lily is borne on a single leaf axis and typically takes 17days to complete the flowering cycle.  The photo above was taken yesterday at 8:30AM and the one below around 3:00PM.  As the blossoms mature, the tepals elongate and wrinkle, eventually arching upward as seen below.  Six stamens encircle a longer “eyelash” pistil that points to the side in an adaptation that discourages self fertilization: any pollen released from the stamens will fall below the pistil.

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Looking at it this morning, it’s easy to see how G. superba got its common name!

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G. superba, 8/6/14

It really DOES resemble flames against the sky!!

Until next time…

:) :) :)

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Wordless Wednesday: 7/30/14 (Verbena Surprise)

I love when flowers appear unexpectedly!

This “volunteer” is a phlox variety  although the leaves seem a bit veiny?  I’ve included additional pics from different angles so let me know if you can I.D. it!

(Edit: 8/3/14: The comments overwhelmingly identified this plant as a Verbena, specifically Verbena canadensis ‘Rosea.’  See comment from Theshrubqueen below)

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Somehow it grew in a perfectly located forgotten container! Such a nice accent for the pink Fingerpaint brom (Neoregelia spectabilis.)

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…here’s another view with Gaillardia Torch Red Ember in the background.

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Seed germination in unexpected spots is not as easy as you might think! Recently, my blog friend–a felllow Treasure Coast resident–George Rogers wrote a VERY informative, entertaining post on the subject.

For more on Wordless Wednesday, click the WW blog/linkup at the Jenny Evolution.

Until next time….

:) :) :)

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Gloriosa Superba (Flame Lilies)

After hobbling along for 4 yrs, my Gloriosa superba vines are going the distance!  Finally, some healthy, sturdy growth.

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Flame lilies are herbaceous perennials in the Colchicaceae family, native to tropical Africa, Asia and India. They love hot sun and heavy rain so adapt well in Florida Zones 9-11.  Mine were germinated from seed but they can also grow from tubers, a wiser choice if you prefer flowers within the first or second season.

When ready to bloom, greenish capsules appear between the leaves and stem, so I was excited to see a bud among these upper leaves!

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G.superba are scandent vines, meaning their leaves taper to curling tendrils that cling to anything they encounter.  In the picture below, the tendrils are using  V.bonnariensis for extra support.

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Word of caution: all parts of G.superba are poisonous, especially the mature tubers that look A LOT like sweet potatoes!  If you choose to grow both, make sure you recognize the difference, or plant them on opposite ends of the yard to be extra safe. You’d hate to sit down to dinner and be dead by bedtime! :eek:

I’ll post about the Flame Lily’s extraordinary, unusual flower shape as soon as they open!

Until next time….

:) :) :)

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New plants :)

I recently placed an order with PlantDelights.com and I’m so impressed!  They packaged their stock with care and shipped it quickly: all three plants arrived in perfect shape and much larger than expected!  This is the Gaura I just popped in the ground. Isn’t it huge for 12.00?

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Gaura lindiheimeri “Pink Cloud.” 7/19/14

G. lindheimeri “Pink Cloud” (aka Bee Blossom) was created in 2001 when Loleta Powell, of  North Carolina crossed G. dauphine with G. siskiyou pink. The result was a solidly upright growth pattern with brilliant pink flowers from early spring to late fall.  If you like the informal look of long, wispy stems and spider-like flowers, this one’s for you!

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Gaura lindheimeri “Pink Cloud.” flowers, 7/19/14

I was equally impressed by the size of the ornamental pomegranate, although I believe it was mis-identified on the Plant Delights website.  If you go by their catalog descripition/photos, Punica granatum “Nochi Shibari” should instead be P. granatum “Mme Legrelle.”   Both shrubs look similar until huge double blooming flowers appear:  Legrelle’s are orange with white variegation, and Nochi Shibari’s a deep solid red.  So which did i buy?  I emailed Tony (Plant Delight’s owner) for clarification.

Right now the mystery plant is strictly stems and foliage, but look how strong and thick it looks. Mis-labeled or not, I LOVE this nursery’s quality stock!

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Punica granatum (unknown) 7/19/14

I also purchased a Gloxnia variety named Sinningia “Bananas Foster” but haven’t placed it yet. As soon as I do, I’ll post pics!

Until next time…

:) :) :)