Thursday, January 31, 2013

Aechmea weilbachii forma pendula

Aechmea weilbachii forma pendula is one of the few bromeliad species that has truly pendulous flower spikes. Many other species have lax or arching spikes, but these hang straight down far below the crown of the plant. That makes this Aechmea a perfect choice for hanging basket culture.
Aechmea weilbachii comes in three distinct forms and this is the pendulous one. The length of the bloom spike can be more than 2 feet.
Flowering occurs in winter and the inflorescence keeps good color for many weeks. Bracts are a rosy-pink color and flower petals are pale lavender. The bracts become darker as the bloom spike ages.
The leaves are long, narrow and flexible, giving a grass-like appearance to large clumps of the plant. Individual leaves are about an inch wide by 12-18 inches long. They are spineless or have only soft flexible spines near the base, making this a good choice for people who are turned off by more heavily armored species.
Offsets are produced on short, thin stolons.

Related reading: Aechmea weilbachii forma viridisepala

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tetradenia riparia (Iboza)

Tetradenia riparia is a shrubby plant with highly fragrant foliage and spectacular winter flowers. The leaves are thick with a scalloped edge. Glandular hairs cover both sides of the leaf, giving it a sticky feel. They emit a strong scent that remains even when the leaf dries. In its native Africa, the leaves are added to stored seeds and grains to keep out weevils and other injurious pests. There are also many traditional medicinal uses. Simply inhaling the scent of the crushed leaves is supposed to relieve headaches. A tea made from the leaves is used for colds and flu.

In winter the tip of every branch is covered with clusters of snow-white flowers. Even the smallest of plants bloom. I've had them flower in a 4-inch pot with a flower spike taller than the plant itself. The blooming period may extend for more than two months as new buds continue to open at the branch tips. The species is semi-deciduous, depending on the climate, so in some locations the plants will be nearly bare when they come into bloom.
Tetradenia can grow to 8 or 9 feet in height, but is cold-sensitive, and only recommended for USDA Zones 9B-11 when planting in the ground. At 30°F the plant completely defoliates, but will leaf out again from the bare stems. Fortunately, it thrives in containers. In slightly colder zones it may be grown as a perennial (it's supposedly root-hardy to Zone 8), but frost may come before the bloom. Even then, it's still worth growing for the scented foliage and medicinal uses.

The species name, riparia, means growing on the banks of rivers, and that is where the plant is frequently found in its native habitat, as well as in dry wooded valleys and on hillsides. It grows well in full sun, but in hot climates it benefits from a little shade during the middle of the day.

The common name Iboza is a native Zulu word referring to its aromatic qualities, and that name is sometimes seen listed as the genus for the plant. Other common names include misty plume and ginger bush. Cultivars supposedly exist bearing pink or lavender flowers.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Aechmea kertesziae

Aechmea kertesziae is a colorful bromeliad that blooms en masse during the short days of winter. The plant grows about a foot tall and 12-18 inches wide. Multiple orange and yellow flower spikes emerge from plant clumps all at the same time making for quite a display.
Foliage is apple-green in color and has minimal spines along the leaf margins. Plants grow well in exposures ranging from full shade to mostly sunny. During the summer the plants look best if they get a little mid-day shade.
In the winter, the plants tolerate brief periods as low as 26°F without damage, as long as no frost forms on the leaf surface.
Buy Aechmea kertesziae plants