Plant Find: My Florida plant acquisitions

While in Florida I got a LOT of plants.  Most of these were either aroids or orchids.  First, let me show you the aroids I got.

Anthurium ottonis
Anthurium ottonis

Anthurium ottonis

This little Anthurium attracted me with its lanceolate leaves.  It is a very healthy little plant and I look forward to seeing this grow into a mature specimen.

Anthurium crystallinum
Anthurium crystallinum

Anthurium crystallinum

This is one of the velvety Anthuriums with prominent iridescent veins.  Again, this is just a small plant, but if it likes my growing conditions then it will become a beautiful large plant within a year or two.

Aglaonema modestum variegated
Aglaonema modestum variegated

Aglaonema modestum variegated

This is actually the only Aglaonema I purchased at the show.  There were a couple others that I eyed, but ultimately I ran out of packing room (and money), so I stopped with this one.  It is one of the few variegated Aglaonemas in cultivation.  Most Aglaonemas have interesting leaf patterns, with various shades of green and some silvers, but few have white patches like this one.

Alocasia 'Maharani'
Alocasia 'Maharani'

Alocasia ‘Maharani’

This is one I had never seen before.  It is a beautiful Alocasia with dark leaves that have a rough texture and a rigidity unlike any of my other plants.  I’m really hoping this isn’t a high maintenance plant, but it might be.  For now it seems pretty happy, sitting in a very shady spot on the floor of my greenhouse.

Dieffenbachia oerstedii – no picture

I hadn’t heard of this Dieffenbachia before, but it was a species and it was from Dr. Croat, so how could I pass it up!?!  Dieffenbachias are a really neat genus of aroids that I enjoy, though I don’t have too many in my collection.  This particular species develops a strong white midrib at maturity, which is striking in contrast to the otherwise dark green leaves.

Philodendron gloriosum and Encyclia plicata
Encyclia plicata (in mesh basket) and Philodendron gloriosum

Philodendron gloriosum

Christie and I both fell in love with this Philodendron and decided to buy it out of our general budget, rather than my plant allowance.  Since then it has gone by the moniker of “family plant.”

The IAS show and sale is set up with the show plants in the middle of the room.  Along one wall are vendors with plants for sale and along another wall are plants for sale that will benefit the IAS.  Dr. Croat brought a bunch of items from the Missouri Botanical Garden for sale at the IAS show.  These plants are either species that were wild collected or propagated from his wild collections.

Pinellia pinnatipartita (IAS show)

The one exception, I believe, was a big trash bag full of Pinellia pinnatipartitas, which I think Dr. Croat had yanked out of his yard to thin out his own crop.  There was a sign on the bag, boldly announcing “Guaranteed success!”  As if that weren’t enticing enough, they were marked $1.  So, naturally, I got one.  Taylor picked through the bag for me and found a really nice, large tuber and it was one that had just fruited, so I have a bunch of seeds in addition to the healthy tuber.

tubers of Pinellia ternata (IAS show) – no picture

Pinellias are one of the aroid genera with several varieties hardy in my zone.  For now, I have potted these tubers of Pinellia ternata and put them in the greenhouse.  However, I plan to plant them outdoors next spring and then let them stay outside for good.  I want to develop a little garden of hardy aroids.

Rhaphidophora hayi
Rhaphidophora hayi

Rhaphidophora hayi (IAS auction)

This is really my first shingling aroid.  I made up a tentative list of plants I would like to purchase at the IAS show before I left.  Not really knowing what I would find, it was just a wishlist of things I was hoping to find.  One of the items was “a shingling aroid.”  There were some for sale, but I was overlooking them for other plants.  Then there was one available at the auction and I ended up getting an excellent deal on this little plant, donated by Palm Hammock.  It is now propped against the back wall of the greenhouse, where I am hoping it will start to shingle up on the brick wall of the house.

Now, here are the plants I purchased, which were not aroids.

Encyclia plicata blooms
Encyclia plicata blooms

Encyclia plicata (above) and Encyclia tampensis (below) – both from Ruben in Orchids

As mentioned in a previous post, I purchased two Encyclias at Ruben in Orchids.  One of them (Encyclia plicata) had a long bloom spike with these really neat flowers (above) and was growing in a mesh basket.  The other (below) was on my wishlist of plants to purchase in Florida.  It is the “Florida Butterfly Orchid” (Encyclia tampensis) and the plant that I kept seeing all over my everglades boardwalk.  It is a mature, mounted plant and had already finished blooming, with several dead bloom spikes on it when I purchased it.  Next year I hope to have as many spikes as it had this last summer.

Encyclia tampensis
Encyclia tampensis


Dendrobium nobile
Dendrobium nobile

Dendrobium nobile (from R.F. Orchids)

I purchased two cheap orchids at R.F. Orchids – one a species Dendrobium nobile (above) and the other a hybrid Vanda. The Dendrobium was a collection of keikis that had been cut off mature plants and bundled together for $8.   The Vanda is young now, but someday it should look like a mixture of the parents, which are pictured below.

Vanda hybrid
Vanda hybrid

Vanda hybrid (V. Crownfox Black Forest x V. Judie McKemie) (from R.F. Orchids)

Vanda hybrid parents
Vanda hybrid parents
A nice Dendrobium in bloom
A nice Dendrobium in bloom

Dendrobium in bloom (from The Banyan Garden in the Keys)

There are still a couple of “trip reports” I plan to write in the coming weeks about special planty places I visited while in Florida.  One of those places is called The Banyan Garden, which is located on the island of Islamorada in the Florida Keys.  I bought this cheap and beautiful blooming Dendrobium there.

My favorite cheap Phalaenopsis
My favorite cheap Phalaenopsis

Phalaenopsis in bloom (from Redlands roadside stand)

I already told you about my steals in south Miami – orchid country.  Here are their pictures, again.

Harlequin Phalaenopsis
Harlequin Phalaenopsis

Phalaenopsis (harlequin) in bloom (from Redlands roadside stand)

Harlequin Phalaenopsis are the “in thing” right now.  The name refers to the spotting pattern on the flower petals.  I’m told this is a generic term applied to dog and horse breeds, as well.

Silver Buttonwood cuttings
Silver Buttonwood cuttings. I really hope these are rooting, but I just don't know.

Silver Buttonwoods

There were Silver Buttonwoods (Conocarpus erectus var. sericeus) everywhere in Florida.  Most were trees, but quite a few were bushes or well-manicured hedges.  We stopped to admire this beautiful tree at our very first lunch stop in Miami – on our way to the Everglades.  On the last day of our trip, I took some cuttings from a couple trees in the Keys.  The cuttings are now in a jar of moist vermiculite, hopefully rooting.  I put some other cuttings directly in water and they quickly wilted.  Since the cuttings in vermiculite still look fresh and happy I have high hopes that good things are happening.  We’ll see in a couple of months.

Three little Tillandsias
Three little Tillandsias

Tillandsias

Tillandias grow everywhere in southern Florida.  I have never grown any myself, but I am hoping I will have some luck with these.

Zamia furfuraceae hedge with seedlings at the base
Zamia furfuraceae "hedge" with seedlings at the base

Zamia furfuraceae seedlings (from Key West, Florida)

Cycads are very common in southern Florida.  In many places they are grown so thick that they can be cut into hedges.  The above picture is from our hotel in Key West, where they were being trimmed into rectangular hedges.  These plants were “coning” like crazy and the seedlings were thick at their base.

Yes, I really did pack all of this in suitcases to bring home!

Trip Report: West Martello Tower

Strangler fig covering a section of wall at the Martello Tower
Strangler fig covering a section of wall at the Martello Tower

On the island of Key West, not far from the marker for the “southern most point in the continental US” is the West Martello Tower and gardens, which is maintained by the Key West Garden Club.  This beautiful garden is the site of a never-completed fort, which is really just a great setting, with brick walls of various heights and wandering paths through what is not a lush tropical garden.

Christie at the Martello Tower gardens
Christie enjoying the beautiful Martello Tower gardens

I have to admit, I enjoyed visiting here much more as it is today than I would have if it had been completed and now stood as a military historical site.

Bromeliads planted around a collapsed portion of wall
Bromeliads planted around a collapsed portion of wall

The grounds are filled with nice compositions, including the nice spot above where some chunk of brick wall has collapsed and lays half buried, book-ended with a spreading bromeliad.

Gorgeous Plumeria rubra blooms
Gorgeous Plumeria rubra blooms
Interesting Plumeria seed pod
Interesting Plumeria seed pods

Many people are familiar with the Plumeria pictured above. This is sometimes called Frangipani. It has a beautiful flower, which has been bred for different colors. But the tree is more or less the same for each of these different bloom colors. The Martello Tower Gardens had another species of Plumeria (below), which I hadn’t seen before this Florida trip. Plumeria pudica has a different shaped leaf and the flowers are pure white, with the slightest bit of yellow in the center. (It’s hard to see the yellow in my image due to the bright sun.)

Plumeria pudica
Plumeria pudica
Lots and lots of Ruellias
Lots and lots of Ruellias!

I have seen Screwpine trees (Pandanus) in just a couple of places.  They are known for their network of stilt roots, which are usually spiny.  The first time was in the tropical dome at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis.  The second time would be in conservatory at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, where there is a large Pandanus whose huge stilt roots reach into the water of the adjacent pond and fragment into a million tiny roots.  That was a site to see.  There are also quite a few Pandanus growing at the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens in Miami.

Pandanus sanderi tree with amazing tripod roots
Pandanus sanderi tree with amazing prop roots
Dark pink canna
Dark pink canna
Traveller palm (Ravenala madagascariensis) in bloom
Traveller's palm (Ravenala madagascariensis) in bloom

The tree pictured above is called the Traveller’s Palm, although it is not really a palm.  I have seen these trees in just about every tropical, beach front area I have visited and always just assumed they were in the palm family (Arecaceae) or possibly the banana family (Musaceae).  But when I saw this tree at the Martello garden I realized it had to be in the same family as the Bird of Paradise (Strelitziaceae).  The bloom bracts are unmistakeably similar.  Reading the wikipedia page confirmed my conviction and also mentioned that this tree was once upon a time placed in the banana family – just as I would have put it, without seeing a bloom.  It belongs to the monotypic genus, Ravenala, and is native to Madagascar.

Rose cactus - Pereskia grandifolia
Rose cactus - Pereskia grandifolia

The plant pictured above is called “rose cactus” because it has nice blooms and some killer thorns.  It is actually a cactus, which kind of surprised me, since it does not have the normal succulent look to it.  We saw Ixora all over southern Florida and I really liked their profusion of blooms – usually coral in color, like the plant pictured below.

Ixora
Coral colored Ixora

I think the Jatropha (below) was probably my favorite blooming plant at the Martello Tower, with dark leaves of interesting shapes and vibrant and contrasting blooms.

Jatropha integerrima
Jatropha integerrima

Well, the first half of this post was the colorful half.  The rest is shades of green only.  These happen to be some of my favorite plants.  I was really excited to see that the Key West Garden Club has a nice collection of Dieffenbachias and Aglaonemas inside their tower walls.  The plants are exposed to the elements and natural sunlight, but are inside a bricked area, so they are probably a little more sheltered.  Also, these plants were all growing in pots, whereas most of the rest of the plants in the gardens are growing in the ground.

Pellionia
Pellionia repens

But before we get to all of the Dieffenbachias, check out this large Pellionia repens.  I thought it was interesting to see how the leaf colors vary on this plant.  I have this species myself, growing in a tall glass terrarium.  It is sometimes referred to as “Trailing Watermelon Begonia,” but it is not actually from the Begonia genus.  Good thing, because I have more luck with this plant, than I do with Begonias, generally speaking.  This species is probably the second most common Pellionia, after Pellionia pulchra.

Dieffenbachia
Dieffenbachia oerstedii
Dieffenbachia
Dieffenbachia maculata

I didn’t know the ID of any of these Dieffenbachias for sure, but I had a pretty good idea about the one that turned  out to be Dieffenbachia amoena ‘Tropic Snow’  because my mom has that one.  I consulted with my Dieffenbachia enthusiast friends and got help on the other names.  It turns out that the speckled plant pictured above is the species Dieffenbachia maculata and the plant below is a cultivar, Dieffenbachia maculata ‘Rudolph Roehrs’.  In some cases, the cultivar reverts to the original species, as shown in this picture by my friend, Russ Hammer.

Dieffenbachia
Dieffenbachia maculata'Rudolph Roehrs'
Dieffenbachia
Dieffenbachia amoena 'Tropic Snow'

The Martello Gardens also had a small, but happy collection of orchids and a small collection of bonsai trees.  The bonsai trees were all mislabeled, which I found to be interesting, but not surprising.  I bet they were all repotted at some point and then the labels got put back in the wrong pots.  I did notice that one label was in the wrong pot, but some of the labels didn’t match any of the plants I saw.  Regardless, I could appreciate their appearance and really enjoyed my time at this garden!

Trip Report: The Audubon House

While in Key West last month, we visited “The Audubon House.”  You would think with a name like this that the house would have once been under the ownership of someone with the name of Audubon.  It turns out the connection is a little less direct.  John James Audubon, the well known historical figure for his art depicting American birds, traveled to the Florida Keys in 1831 in order to paint the native birds of Florida.  While he was in the Keys, he stayed at the house next door to this house.

The Audubon House
The Audubon House
John James Audubon's travels through Florida
John James Audubon's trip to the Florida Keys

The house has been preserved and connected with Audubon because he admired the gardens while he was in the area and supposedly painted some of the trees and plants into his portraits of various Florida birds.  The gardens have been kept in great condition as a tribute.

Roseate Spoonbill portrait by John James Audubon
Roseate Spoonbill portrait by John James Audubon - my favorite from the Florida collection.
Tree loaded with blooming orchids in front of Audubon House
Tree loaded with blooming orchids in front of Audubon House

The house is now a shrine to his work and has a very nice garden outside.  We toured the house and gardens outside, enjoying the beautiful setting.  I think Christie and I could settle into this house just fine.  The trees outside are covered in orchids, and many of them were in bloom for our visit.

Brassavola orchid
Brassavola orchid
Crinum lily bloom
Crinum lily bloom

Other interesting plants filled the flowerbeds, including a couple of large Crinum lilies, some yellow Walking Iris (Neomarica longifolia), and a nice Chenille plant (Acalypha hispida).

The yellow walking iris - Neomarica longifolia
The yellow walking iris - Neomarica longifolia
Chenille plant - Acalypha hispida
Chenille plant - Acalypha hispida

There were lots of Calatheas scattered throughout the gardens, and concentrated here and there.  I have seen these growing in many botanic gardens, but not very often in an outdoor setting.

Calathea Peacock (so the sign reads)
Calathea Peacock (so the sign reads)

The gardens also contain some Florida native plants, which would have been important to Audubon, as he preferred to paint his birds sitting on authentic trees and plants to the area where he would find them in nature.  One of the natives I really liked was this cycad, Zamia floridana.

Florida native cycad "Coontie" - Zamia floridana
Florida native cycad "Coontie" - Zamia floridana
Christie under a nice Staghorn fern
Christie under a nice Staghorn fern
Philodendron stenolobum
Philodendron stenolobum

There were also some nice aroids, including this large Philodendron stenolobum (above) and Alocasia portei (below). I loved the pendant Anthurium vittariifolium, with its pink berries showing (two below) and now have a small seedling plant from a recent plant trade. I hope my plant is this attractive some day.

A large Alocasia portei
A large Alocasia portei (in the center of the image)
Anthurium vittariifolium with berries on spadix
Anthurium vittariifolium with berries on spadix
Chamaedorea metallica
Chamaedorea metallica

My second favorite palm in the entire family is Chamaedorea metallica, which is called the Miniature Fishtail Palm, or Metallic Palm.  It has silver-blue leaves and striking orange flowers and berries.  It is small for a palm, with a maximum size of only 5 or 6 feet tall, and it is therefore usually growing as an understory tree.

Bed of Sansevierias
Bed of Sansevierias - probably Sansevieria metallica.

You probably already know that I like Stapelias. Am I crazy or do the buds of the Stapelia below look just as cool as the open bloom? Yes, I did bend down and stick my nose into the flower to smell the pungency. And yes, I did request Christie do the same. She grudgingly did so – after a third or fourth request.

Stapelia leendertziae
Stapelia leendertziae in bloom.

The Audubon House sits on a lot large enough to have several wandering paths through the gardens and 2 separate set-aside gardens: a water garden and an herb garden. The water garden was very tastefully designed, with some heron statues in the pond. I’m sure JJ Audubon would have liked to sit and stare at these nice statues.  The setting of this garden is similar to what I have talked about doing with a portion of our backyard, with the ground paved in either bricks or rock and a shallow pond or other small water feature.  Just a relaxing place to sit and enjoy the outdoors.

The appropriately decorated Audubon water garden
The appropriately decorated Audubon water garden.

Florida plants revealed

On our trip to Florida I was introduced to a number of plants that I formerly had not seen before.  Some of these made an impression on me and I thought I would talk about those plants a bit.

Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum sanctum)

The common name for this tree sounds more like a Latin genus and species.  Mainly that is because it is Latin.  The words translate to “wood of life.”  The wood of this tree is very strong and has had many uses over the years, including structural and medicinal.  I found these trees growing in a couple of planted settings at specific gardens, including Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens and the West Martello tower gardens in Key West (post coming soon).

Lignum vitae
Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum sanctum) with red seeds showing.

Apparently the tree has very nice royal blue flowers, but we were there after the trees had bloomed and they all had little yellow fruits with red seed pods bursting out of them.  At first I thought the fruits were flowers – yellow with red centers – until I got a closer look.  It wasn’t until I came home and looked up photos that I learned the flowers are actually a blue-purple.

Silver Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus var.sericeus)

Two of the plants on my short three plant list fall in the silver-blue foliage category.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for this color foliage.  We hadn’t been in Miami for an hour before we pulled over and admired this tree.  I did my normal hands-on inspection and found the leaves to be fuzzy and soft like the Lamb’s Ear plant (Stachys).  Christie really liked the texture of these leaves.  Buttonwoods were growing everywhere in south Florida, in several different habits.  Sometimes they were small trees, ranging from 10 to 15 feet tall.  Other times, they were grown as little bushes, either natural or trimmed to shape.  Other times they were growing in a pruned hedge.

My lone, lousy picture of a Silver Buttonwood was taken at a nursery which had small shrubs for sale.  I can't imagine how I didn't get a better picture on the trip... They were EVERYWHERE!
My lone, lousy picture of a Silver Buttonwood was taken at a nursery which had small shrubs for sale. I can't imagine how I didn't get a better picture on the trip... They were EVERYWHERE!

On our last day of the vacation we were driving from Key West up to Miami.  We stopped on the side of the road and took cuttings of some Buttonwoods and I am really hoping they root for me.  If so, I will try to keep one or two happy in a pot, while transplanting the others in Galveston.  However, I am a little worried that it is not quite hardy enough to handle the Galveston winters.  Maybe I should keep them all in pots at home!

Since I didn’t get a very good picture, you should look here and here to see what a mature tree looks like in all it’s glory.

Bismarckia

Bismarckia is a monotypic genus that is found all over south Florida, the sole species being Bismarckia nobilis.  Since I love silver-blue foliage, this is my favorite palm.  At one point we drove past a tree farm that was just Bismarckia nobilis planted at regular intervals as far as the eye could see.  It was pretty amazing.

Field of Bismarckia
Field of Bismarckia palms in south Miami
Young Bismarckia tree
Young Bismarckia palm in a parking lot in Everglades City

I am going to try to find one of these palms to plant at the Galveston house.  I wonder what the best size is for starting a palm tree on a budget?  Maybe something like the one pictured above.

Oeceoclades in bloom

I’m going to interrupt my spree of Florida trip posts (yes, there are more coming) with a quickie of one of my orchids in bloom.

Oeceoclades maculata in bloom
Oeceoclades maculata in bloom

This is Oeceoclades maculata, which was given to me by my friend Jude after he traveled to Florida for the IAS show last year.  He said that he found them growing all over the place.  They are not native to Florida, but grow very well in the south Florida climate.

Oeceoclades leaf - looking an awful lot like a Sansevieria
Oeceoclades leaf - looking an awful lot like a Sansevieria.

The plant itself looks much like a Sansevieria – dark green leaves with some lighter green mottling.  The leaves also have thick sturdiness of a Sansevieria.  I know the blooms are small, on top of a tall spike, but I think they are really quite cool looking and have some neat colors to them.

Oeceoclades maculata bloom close-up
Oeceoclades maculata bloom close-up