Blooming Tropical Plants
Houseplants of the month of May 2016: The Blooming tropical plants Anigozanthos, Gloriosa and Medinilla. Eye-catching, summery and something a bit different.
The story behind
Anigozanthos grows wild in south-west Australia around Shark Bay and Mount Baker. This rugged, dry environment is perfect for the Kangaroo paw, as it is commonly known because of its unusual flowers which resemble the paws of the eponymous animal. The red and green variant is the symbol of Western Australia. The name Anigozanthos is derived from the Greek Anises = uneven and Anthos = flower. This houseplant is a ‘long day plant’. That means that the plant only flowers when the days provide more than 15 hours of daylight. Gloriosa is native to India and the central and southern part of Africa, where it grows as a climber. Nowadays the plant is found throughout the tropical belt.
Gloriosa is a member of the Liliaceae family. The underground tuberous rhizomes are elongated and have eyes from which runners grow. Gloriosus means ‘illustrious’, and this fabulous eye-catching plant radiates that virtue in all directions. Gloriosa’s tendrils can reach the substantial length of some 5 metres, on which the characteristic flowers grow with the petals curving back and the distinctive stamens.
Medinilla is native to the mountainous regions of the Philippines, where you can find more than 200 different species. The plant is called Kapa-kapa in the Philippines. There are more than 400 species worldwide, particularly in Southeast Asia, around the Pacific and in tropical Africa. Medinilla grows in trees as an epiphyte - that means that the plant does not draw any nutrients from the host. The best-known amongst the houseplants is Medinilla magnifica. The genus name Medinilla is derived from J. de Medinilla, governor of the Mariana Islands in 1820. The species epithet 'magnifica’ suggests that the plant has magnificent flowers, and that’s no lie. The plant produces sprays of flowers which can reach a length of 30 cm.
What to look for when buying Blooming tropical plants
As with most flowering plants it’s a good idea to pay more attention to the ripeness in the winter months. Too unripe can mean that the plant will not fully flower or that buds can easily be shed or droop.
Check that the plants are sturdy and have an attractive shape. The more buds and stems there are on the plant, the longer you will be able to enjoy it.
The height of the plant combined with the number of tendrils, their length and the number of flowers determines the purchase cost. The plants are attractive to aphids, so pay extra attention to this when buying.
Check carefully that the leaves are not damaged. A storage and transport temperature of above 15°C is important.
Choice of Blooming tropical plants
The range of these remarkable flowering plants is growing rapidly, and the market is seeing an ever greater number of colours and flower shapes.
This houseplant is offered in various colours: red, grey, green, pink and yellow are the most common, usually offered in mixed trays. Bush is the best-known series and consists of attractive branched plants in various cultivars. The Garden Jewel series is a widely available garden plant.
In pots this houseplant is offered in G. rothschildiana’s traditional original red colour with yellow edges on the petals. In recent years the range has been expanded with new colours in yellow, salmon and orange particularly as a result of breeding in Japan, such as ‘Exotic Orange’ or bicoloured ‘Twin Colour’.
Years of breeding mean that there are now multiple cultivars on the market. The best-known is Medinilla magnifica with its pink flowers. However, there are also new varieties available such as the Medinilla ‘Flamenco’ with a bright pink flower and dark upright leaves, and Medinilla ‘Dolce Vita’, with extra large and full sprays of flowers which continue to flower for longer and have a better lifespan, particularly in the winter months.
- Likes a warm, sunny spot which is not too wet, either indoors or outside.
- Because of its origins in well-draining soil, this houseplant cannot tolerate damp soil. It should therefore be watered sparingly.
- Keep the temperature around 20°C.
- Remove old branches in order to encourage the plant to flower again, but this will only work in periods with long hours of daylight. Overwintering the plant requires a temperature which remains above 20°C.
- Can be kept both indoors and outdoors, although the temperature must be above 18°C.
- A sheltered and light spot is important.
- Regular watering, avoiding standing water and feeding once a week will help Gloriosa to keep flowering lavishly through to the autumn.
- To retain the plant, keep the soil a little drier after flowering. The aboveground parts of the plant will then die back and the tubers can be dug out of the soil and stored dry. In the spring, plant the tubers in fresh soil at a depth of around 3 cm with the growing tip pointing upwards. Keep the soil damp and give it higher temperatures again so that stems and buds can form.
- Requires a light position; in winter months the plant can even tolerate direct sunlight. Don’t place in full sun in the spring and summer because of leaf scorching.
- Water the plant moderately: the soil can dry out a bit between waterings. It’s better to be a little too dry than too wet.
- The houseplant needs no food and does not need to be soaked.
- The ideal temperature for Medinilla is between 17- 25°C.
- To get the plant to flower again, the exhausted flowers should be removed and the plant should be left in a light and cooler (16-18°C) spot for 2 to 3 months. As soon as the plant shows new buds, move it to a warmer location and give it more water and some food once a month. Source: BBH