Showing posts from 2014

Monstrous Palm Starts to Die

Monstrous Palm Starts to Die Our iconic and long-lived Talipot Palm at Pinecrest Gardens is starting its flowering cycle and will die completely in the next 15-18 months. This palm, Corypha umbraculifera, is one species which has but one life to give its visitors, a trait that is called monocarpism. The species is well known to grow for 40-80 years, and somewhere in that time frame the palm will mature, flower, then die. In the flowering process, the palm will produce one of the largest and most spectacular inflorescences in the plant world, producing as many as 200,000 flowers, which in turn will set several thousand single-seeded fruits. There are urban myths that the palm can produce millions of fruits; a curious idea because if the palm did so, the resulting mass of fruit would weigh something on the order of 200,000 pounds ! The well-branched inflorescence will grow 20-25 feet tall in the next 6-12 months, and when mature will rain down a slow-motion snowstorm of white flowers. Th…

Plants We Love to Grow-Flowering Gingers

Flowering Gingers  Gingers are a staple in the art of tropical landscaping, or should be, if they are not already used in your garden. There are dozens of varieties from dwarf to giant, and many are undemanding. Flower colors range from pure white to deep burgundy, there are species for just about every landscape site except bone dry, and in some cases, the blooms are edible and fragrant at the same time ! 

Plants We Love to Grow-Hidden Gingers-Part 1

 Hidden Gingers- Part 1-Curcuma
Hidden Gingers are a fascinating group of fast-growing plants with spectacular flowers. The genus Curcuma is one of the most popular genera of Hidden Gingers, and the flowering stems are both spectacular and surreal. Recently, several Miami nurseries have released a number of varieties of Hidden Gingers, named as such for the group's habit of going leafless when dormant, and when dormancy is over, the flowers and foliage often arise together. 

Many of theseplants are rather new in cultivation, courtesy of both tissue culture labs and via bulk importation of rhizomes from Asia. The plants are quite easy to grow, provided they get plenty of bright light ( up to all day sunlight), are constantly moist and well fertilized during their rapid growth period, and are allowed to go rather dry and warm when dormant.  

    Many of the Curcuma group can be ordered as rhizomes through the Internet, and the rhizomes can be grown in almost any area where there is a…

Plants We Love- Double Orange Shrimp Plant

Sid's Double Orange Shrimp Plant

Some plants just have charisma, and this species is one of them. Some years ago, Sid Gardino from Gardino Nursery in Delray Beach, Florida brought this plant to plant sales. He is widely accorded as being the "originator" of the plant, but its true provenance is a bit fuzzy. Usually considered the double form of the nearly-weedy single-flowered J.spicigera, this variety is much more manageable. It has been in cultivation for some 20 years or more, yet is still fairly uncommon.  This plant has been such a good performer in our gardens, whether in light shade or strong sunlight, that I started planting them in many other gardens. I recommend them to other gardeners locally, and with few complaints, the responses have been quite positive. The only negatives I hear about the plant is that it can grow quite large, therefore it needs to be pruned every few months. The plant tolerates pruning very well, and quickly make a bushy specimen. Hummi…

A Small Flowering Tree with Promise

The Kunming Tree Jasmine 

The Beautiful Butterfly Tree

The Amazing Erblichia Tree

As the old saying goes, "good things come to those who wait". Fortunately, after waiting for nearly a decade, the amazing Butterfly Tree, Erblichia odorata is becoming more available in the landscape trade. What makes this tree amazing is the combination of bright orange-colored flowers, surprisingly large blooms measuring over 7" across on a mature tree, and a tree size small enough to allow the owner of it to see the blooms without using a telescope. 
I recall seeing this flower at a Flowering Tree Society meeting a decade ago, and IF seedlings were available, they were quite expensive and were quickly sold. Now that some of those original trees have borne seed, small plants are becoming reasonably priced, and can be obtained without too much trouble, although far from common just yet. The tree grows easily in a sunny spot in the garden, and doesn't get TOO tall, about 30 feet when mature. The flowers are almost unusually larg…

Stromanthe 'Charlie'

Charlie's Stromanthe

About a dozen years ago, a really interesting plant showed up in a collection of a plant collector in West Palm Beach, Florida. It is believed that Charlie McDaniels collected the plant in Peru and Ecuador , and it grew quite well in southern Florida. In the last few years, the plant has been released from Silver Krome Gardens in Miami, and is beginning to show up in landscapes, including ours here at Pinecrest Gardens. In the world of colorful plants for shade gardens, this plant has a LOT of potential, if grown only for its foliage. I was quite pleasantly surprised to see the bright orange flower stems showing off above the foliage. S
  The plants have grown quite nicely for us over the last 6 months, with no evidence of pest problems, nor even a touch of damage from snails or slugs. It will be interesting to see how the plants fare through the coming years of storms, dry winter winds, near-freezing temperatures or occasional droughts. I know some …
Colonel Sumawong's Fabulous Fan Palm

About 30 years ago, Thai plant collector Colonel Watana Sumawong introduced this palm into American horticulture, especially in the palm world of Florida. It would be safe to say that the palm has made quite a hit, and is more commonly available than ever before. The palm has a lot of good qualities, and most growers who cultivate this species would accord it a better status than its oft-used relative, Licuala grandis.
On a personal note, the plant in the photo is one growing in Pinecrest Gardens, and which I planted about 5 years ago as a small plant in a 10 inch pot. It grows near a stream, and is surrounded by tall trees, rhizomatous begonias, heliconias and a substantial bamboo. These provide wind protection and serve also to boost humidity, both of which this palm enjoys. The palm is now over 7 feet tall and 8 feet wide, has withstood low temperatures just a few degrees above freezing, and has shown no special needs for fert…

Mr. Colville's Glorious Tree