Hen and Chicks

Plant Highlights

October

  • Neoregelia chlorosticta

    Highlight Month:

    Nativity:

    There are 116 accepted species in the genus Neoregelia, all native to Brazil, Peru, and Venezuela. N. chlorosticta is native to forests in Rio de Janeiro to Paraná, Brazil.

    Growth Habit:

    This striking bromeliad has year-round interest with burgundy leaves splotched with lime green. Individual tank rosettes are comprised of a funnel of overlapping leaves that hold water, collect organic matter for nutrients, and serve as habitat for frogs and other organisms. Small flowers develop in the cup and emerge just above the water surface with lavender-blue petals. Like many Neoregelia, this species is best viewed from the top down so the flowers can be observed, but the leaves are also showy when backlit by the sun.

    Growing Requirements:

    In habitat, most Neoregelia grow epiphytically in trees but can also grow in the ground in the landscape. They prefer filtered light in part shade. Vivid leaf coloration can be achieved by growing plants in brighter light but not full sun as they may sunburn. After blooming the main rosette of the plant will die but it produces offsets or “pups” off the main rhizome, or stem. These offsets can be removed and planted elsewhere when they are about 1/3 the size of the original plant or can be left on to form a clump.

    Features:

    The genus name honors Eduard von Regel (1815-1892), a German botanist who was director of the Botanical Garden of St. Petersburg, Russia, and founder and editor of ‘Gartenflora,’ a monthly illustrated botanical magazine. The specific epithet refers to the green dots on the vinaceous (wine colored) leaves. Because of its impressive coloration, N. chlorosticta is frequently used in hybrid crosses or cultivated selections. The Bromeliad Society International lists 196 registered cultivars with N. chlorosticta parentage.

    Where at Lotusland:

    N. chlorosticta can be viewed in both Bromeliad Gardens at Lotusland. The Lower Bromeliad Garden hosts impressive clumps of this species mounted on tree stumps as well as in the ground.

  • Aristolochia fimbriata

    white-veined dutchman’s pipe

    Highlight Month:

    Nativity:

    Bolivia, Paraguay, S. Brazil, Uruguay, and N.E. Argentina

    Growth Habit:

    This small Aristolochia displays charming maroon/yellow flowers with otherworldly fringed edges and rounded leaves featuring dramatic silver veins. A. fimbriata is native to Bolivia, Paraguay, S. Brazil, Uruguay, and N.E. Argentina. It is a food source for pipevine swallowtail butterfly caterpillar. The stems die back to an underground caudex during the winter but will spread to 2’ during the growing season as a groundcover. This plant can also grow as a specimen in a hanging basket or looks nice spilling over a rock wall. Because this species is deciduous, it is easy to control and will not take over the garden like other Aristolochia.

    Growing Requirements:

    This species is hardy to USDA Zones 7a to 9b and prefers shade but can handle morning sun.

    Features:

    The common name “dutchman’s pipe” refers to the flower shape resembling Dutch meerschaum pipes made from the clay mineral sepiolite. The genus Aristolochia comes from the Greek aristos, meaning “best,” and locheia, meaning “childbirth or delivery,” in reference to the flower resembling a human fetus in the womb. Species in this genus have also been used as an ancient Greek treatment for pain and infections related to childbirth. The flowers are pollinated by flies who become trapped in the long floral tube by downward pointing hairs. The following day, these hairs wilt and the flies are released covered in pollen to bring to another flower. The mature brown fruits resemble upside down parachutes filled with small triangular seeds.

    Where at Lotusland:

    Upper Bromeliad Garden

  • Bulbine natalensis

    broad-leaved bulbine, rooiwortel

    Highlight Month:

    Nativity:

    This plant is native to KwaZulu-Natal in eastern South Africa where it grows on sandstone cliffs and dry river valleys. It is considered a pioneer species in habitat and will readily colonize disturbed areas.

    Growth Habit:

    Bulbine natalensis is a soft, spineless succulent that resembles an Aloe. It forms solitary rosettes about 1’ wide and flowers in the late winter/early spring. Flowers are yellow, lightly fragrant, and are held on an unbranched inflorescence 1-2’ above the main rosette. The filaments of the stamens are bearded, making the flowers appear fuzzy.

    Growing Requirements:

    It is easy to grow in well-draining soil in full sun. Plants usually live for 5-8 years but will seed around the garden.

    Features:

    The Afrikaans common name for this plant is rooiwortel (red root) in reference to the orange/red color of the lower stem when it is damaged and exposed to light. The sap of this plant is used medicinally and as an aphrodisiac and testosterone booster.

    Where at Lotusland:

    Bulbine natalensis can be found in the Succulent Garden at Lotusland growing below the Pachypodium.

  • Ficus carica ‘Panache’

    Striped Tiger Fig

    Highlight Month:

    Nativity:

    Garden Origin

    Growth Habit:

    Ficus carica ‘Panache’ will grow 12-20’ tall but can be pruned for ease of picking.

    Growing Requirements:

    Full sun, will need supplemental water in extended periods of drought.

    Features:

    This fig cultivar produces unique variegated fruit with yellow and green stripes! New stems and leaves display a slight variegation as well. Striped tiger figs ripen late in the season compared to other fig selections and our plant at Lotusland is just now producing tasty edible fruit with strawberry-pink, sweet tasting interior flesh. Fig “fruits” are a type of multiple fruit called a syconium, a fleshy, hollow structure lined internally with multiple flowers. Tiny pollinating wasps enter the syconium through an ostiole, the opening on the underside, to pollinate the flowers which later develop into single-seeded fruits (drupelets) that line the interior.

    Where at Lotusland:

    Deciduous Orchard

  • Bauhinia yunnanensis

    Yunnan bauhinia

    Highlight Month:

    Nativity:

    South-Central China, Myanmar, and Thailand

    Growth Habit:

    Vines reach 15-20’ long and require a structure or another plant to climb on.

    Growing Requirements:

    Sun or shade

    Features:

    This vining Bauhinia displays light pink flowers from late summer into fall. The genus name honors twin botanist brothers Johan and Gaspard Bauhin and references the two identical lobes making up the leaf.

    Where at Lotusland:

    Fern Garden entrance from Staff Parking Lot

  • Clerodendrum bungei

    cashmere bouquet

    Highlight Month:

    Nativity:

    China to Vietnam and Taiwan

    Growth Habit:

    A shrub up to 6 feet tall. It spreads quickly by underground runners, and can cover a wide area if new sprouts are not pulled up. It is deciduous, and the stems can be cut to the ground after the leaves drop.

    Growing Requirements:

    Full to partial shade

    Features:

    Clusters of very fragrant rosy red/purple flowers from mid summer to fall. The leaves are dark green, sometimes veined in purple.

    Where at Lotusland:

    There is a large planting of C. bungei in the Fern Garden, behind the wall alongside the pool.

  • Dalechampia dioscoreifolia

    purple wings, Costa Rican butterfly vine, bow tie vine

    Highlight Month:

    Nativity:

    SE. Nicaragua to S. Tropical America

    Growth Habit:

    This is a twining evergreen vine growing up to 25 feet long.

    Growing Requirements:

    Grows best in full sun to light shade with moderate water.

    Features:

    The leaves are heart-shaped, dark green on top, and fuzzy on the underside. D. dioscoreifolia is in the euphorbia family, and like its relative the poinsettia it has very small flowers but large, colorful bracts. The bracts are bright purple and are arranged like wings in pairs of two with the tiny yellow flowers blooming between them. After the flowers, a red fruit forms. Bloom time is nearly all year, with heaviest flowering in the summer months. It flowers best in a warm sheltered location, and is hardy down to 20- 25 degrees.

    Where at Lotusland:

    There is one specimen at Lotusland, planted in a large pot in the Pavilion Patio.

  • Vriesea fosteriana

    Highlight Month:

    Nativity:

    Southern Brazil

    Growth Habit:

    A perennial forming a loose rosette. The leaves can reach up to 3 feet long and the flower spike grows over 5 feet tall. The flowers bloom at night and are pollinated by bats in habitat.

    Growing Requirements:

    For best color V. fosteriana should be grown with filtered light but not in direct sun. The plant grows best in a well-drained soil as it is shallow-rooted and may rot in wet soils. It also obtains moisture collected in the “cup” in the center of the leaves.

    Features:

    This bromeliad is grown for its impressive foliage which has striking wavy patterns on a dark green background. The pale yellow bell-shaped flowers are arranged in rows on a spike that emerges from the center of the plant. There are several varieties and cultivars including ‘Red Chestnut’ which has the same striking markings but with dark red coloring.

    Where at Lotusland:

    There are several V. fosteriana and clumps of ‘Red Chestnut’ in the Upper and Lower Bromeliad Gardens.

  • Encephalartos ferox

    Tongaland cycad

    Highlight Month:

    Nativity:

    South Africa, Mozambique

    Growth Habit:

    This cycad is typical of many African species of Encephalartos. It has a rosette of very tough and spine-tipped leaves that arise from a large stem. The stems may be one and a half feet in diameter. This species grows in coastal areas in grass and other scrub vegetation from KwaZulu Natal north to Mozambique. It often occurs within 50 yards of the beach.

    Growing Requirements:

    E. ferox does best with full sun and regular water. It must have excellent drainage to prevent fungal problems in our cold, wet winters. Cycads are slow-growing.

    Features:

    The brightly colored red cones of E. ferox as well as the glossy green foliage make this a very handsome garden specimen.

    Where at Lotusland:

    Cycad Garden

  • Metasequoia glyptostroboides

    dawn redwood

    Highlight Month:

    Nativity:

    Sichuan, China

    Growth Habit:

    Dawn redwood has a conical shape that resembles the coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, to which it is related. The cones are distinctive and the dawn redwood is deciduous in winter rather than evergreen. It is the only species in its genus, but was originally described in 1941 from fossilized remnants with living material only noted in 1948. While initially fast growing, it only attains its ultimate height of 200 feet after many years.

    Growing Requirements:

    Metasequoia is quite frost tolerant; down to minus 10° F. It requires regular water, but grows in most soils.

    Features:

    In spring, the bright green foliage emerges and in fall, the entire tree becomes clothed in shades of rust before the leaves are shed.

    Where at Lotusland:

    Insectary Garden

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