Tag Archives: Justicia

Trip Report: This and that in northern Arkansas

For our six year anniversary, Christie and I went to Eureka Springs for the weekend.  It was a relaxing weekend getaway.  Here are some snapshots of different plants we saw on our trip – ones I don’t see often (or ever).

Red Monarda
Large flowerbed of red Monarda

One plant that I have never seen before in person (that I can recall), but have seen in the plant catalogs is Monarda.  There were a lot of these in Eureka Springs.  They are really attractive when in bloom, but are tall and gangly.  They could be mistaken for a weed, if not obviously planted in a well-maintained flowerbed.

Canna at the Crescent Hotel
Canna at the Crescent Hotel

The canna above was growing in the gardens of the hilltop Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs.  We toured the notoriously quirky Quigley’s Castle, known as “the Ozark’s strangest dwelling.”  I debated writing a whole post about this place, but decided to just include it in this post with other plants from the area.  This house has flowerbeds inside the house around the entire perimeter, with plants growing up against the windows two storeys high – Bougainvillea, Hibiscus, Epiphyllum, Asparagus fern and others.  The most impressive plants (by virtue of their health and attractiveness) were the African violets and relatives.  The Flame Violets (Episcia) were particularly striking.

Various African violets and Flame violets
Various blue, purple and pink African violets (Saintpaulia) and red Flame violets (Episcia) in bloom.

The house – excuse me, “castle” – is surrounded by really nice gardens with some neat plants.  One of them looked a lot like Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum) to me, but was obviously something different.  It had some seed heads developing on it, so I had missed the flowers, unfortunately.  I posted photos of this plant on a forum and also sent pictures to a friend who lives in NW Arkansas.  They told me this plant is Uvularia grandiflora.

Unidentified plant
Uvularia grandiflora (Bellwort)

I looked at some photos online and it is really neat when in bloom.  I liked it even out of bloom for the interesting way the leaves attach to the stem.  They are called “perfoliate” leaves, which means that the leaf (or foliage) is seemingly pierced (or perforated) by the stem – perfoliate.  Perfoliate leaves are a subcategory of “sessile” leaves.  Sessile means that the leaf is attached directly to the main stem without a stalk or peduncle leading to the leaf base.

Unidentified plant
Uvularia grandiflora (Bellwort). Check out the unusual (perfoliate) way the leaves attach to the stem.

On our way home we passed through Bentonville (headquarters of Wal-Mart), following our outdated GPS directory to a once-existent location of the famous AQ Chicken House.  After finding this location was no longer opened, we headed to Springdale, the original location.  Thanks to this detour, we happened upon a nice nursery, which Christie let me enjoy, giving our bellies a little more time to get hungry for lunch since it was still early.  The blue-gray leaved plant below is now on my landscape plant wish list.  Isn’t it awesome?  I just need to find a place to plant it.  Then I need to find one for sale closer than Arkansas!

Fothergilla major Blue Shadow
Fothergilla major Blue Shadow

At our most recent MidAmerica chapter meeting of the IAS several members were discussing hardy plants (to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas) that have that tropical look, with large, glossy leaves.  There was a plant growing at this nursery (below) that, upon first glance, I thought was a Philodendron.  Pretty quickly I realized it was not a Philodendron, and not even a tropical.  It is Acanathus mollis ‘Oak Leaf’, commonly called Bear’s Breeches (what a weird name for a plant…).

Acanthus mollis 'Oak Leaf' aka Bear's Breeches
Acanthus mollis 'Oak Leaf' aka Bear's Breeches

The nursery had these large Begonias going for $30 each.  That’s more than I want to spend for a Begonia, but they were very mature and an attractive variety – in nice pots, no less.

Begonia
Begonia

And yes, I did buy a couple of small plants at the nursery – a yellow shrimp (Pachystachys lutea) and a red shrimp (Justicia brandegeana).  I’ve had both of these in the past, but lost mine.

True blooms of the Squirrel’s Tail

The little purple buds encased in the white blooming bracts of my Justicia betonica have opened.

Justicia betonica true blooms
Squirrel's Tail (Justicia betonica) blooming bract with true blooms emerging near the base. Other buds can be seen inside the bract.

Do you see the 3 lower petals and the throat?  They are actually pretty neat blooms, although they are small.

The single blooming stalk has gotten heavy and is laying on it’s side now.  I wonder what the chances are of the blooms pollinating…

Squirrel Tail in bloom

I have been growing my “White Shrimp Plant” or “Squirrel’s Tail” (Justicia betonica) for a year and a half now.  Since I got to see this plant growing in its natural habitat in Hawaii, I knew the conditions that it prefers, so I figured that it would bloom fairly regularly for me.

It has been growing steadily, but no blooms.  It’s not the most attractive plant when it is not blooming, so I’ve been kind of annoyed with it.  It just gets these really long, lanky stems with few leaves on them, except for the tips.  I prop up the stems so that they don’t break off under the weight or get broken off by me moving around in the greenhouse.  I have wondered whether I should cut the plant back to encourage new growth that might be more full and bushy, so that it at least doesn’t look so silly, but I have decided to let it be.  It is potted with a couple of other Shrimp plants (Justicia), so I get those to bloom on occasion and get to enjoy them.

Every time my White Shrimp produces a new set of leaves, I think “This it is!  It’s finally a bloom!”  They just start so small and look just like the beginning of the blooming bract.  After all, the white blooming bract is just a bunch of modified leaves.   But then a couple of days later the leaves get larger and stay green and I realize that it’s not a bract, just another set of leaves.  Well, a couple of weeks ago I had my normal realization that this could be the first blooming bract when a new set of green “leaves” began to grow from the tip of one of the longest stems.  A couple of days later the two little leaves had turned white and the green veins were showing.  I could tell this was finally it!

Beginning of the bloom bract - Justicia betonica
Beginning of the bloom bract - Justicia betonica - Jan 16, 2011

The bract continues to grow longer with more pairs of white petals, making it look like a shrimp or a long squirrel’s tail – although not the right color to look much like either.  Eventually, the actual flowers will stick out between the white petals that make up the bract.  The blooms are light purple or pink and look like most other flowers from the Acanthaceae family.

Justicia betonica - Jan 28, 2011
Justicia betonica - Jan 28, 2011

For now, it just continues to grow longer and a new bract is beginning to form next to the first.

Justicia betonica - Feb 8, 2011
Justicia betonica - Feb 8, 2011

Just to further show that the bract is a bunch of modified leaves, you can see that the set of leaves just below the bract is half colored the same as the bract itself.

Justicia betonica - Feb 8, 2011
Justicia betonica - Feb 8, 2011

I’ll post a photo update when the actual blooms peak out of the bract.

New blooms in the greenhouse

Some of my plants have been surprising me with blooms lately.  I figured the lower sun angle would be enough to trigger dormancy in some plants, even in the 65 degree temperatures of the greenhouse.  But none of my plants are going dormant and some of them are blooming for the first time.

Our neighbor across the street (the one who gave me the Begonia cuttings) is letting me overwinter her variegated Bougainvillea in my greenhouse.  It is in a hanging pot along a rod I installed in the top of the greenhouse and has just been hanging in there.  It didn’t have a lot of leaves when I took it from her and I haven’t seen very many new ones form.  But all of the sudden, it is blooming!  I think I will have to run it over to her house soon (on a warmish day) and show her the blooms.

First blooms from my Bougainvillea plant
First blooms from my Bougainvillea plant

I also have a Bougainvillea that was my Mom’s.  She gave it to me about three years ago.  It has had moments of rapid growth and lots of new leaves, but always drops its leaves and looks really sad in the winter – until the greenhouse.  It has been pretty happy this winter in the greenhouse and is actually  producing the first blooms that I have seen on it since it has been in my care!

New blooms on my purple shrimp plant
New blooms on my purple shrimp plant (Justicia scheidweileri)

I bought several Shrimp plants last Spring and Summer, most of which were blooming when I bought them and have continued to do so.  One of them, the Purple Shrimp Plant (Justicia scheidweileri), has been particularly difficult, though.  It wilts quicker than another other plant that I grow.  But it also bounces back quickly and is blooming for the first time since it lost its initial blooms.

After forming some small white flowers, which I didn’t photograph in time, my Ying Yang Bean plants (Phaseolus vulgaris) are now forming pods of new beans.  I hope to get a decent crop from these plants, so that I can keep a bean or two myself and share the others with other local greenhouse owners.

Newest bloom on my yellow Datura
Newest bloom on my yellow Datura

My lime tree and yellow Datura continue to bloom on a regular basis.  I dropped seeds from the Datura parent plant onto the soil under the same plant and some of the have sprouted and are producing new little plants.

Seedlings of my yellow Datura plant
Seedlings of my yellow Datura plant

I am anxious to see some of my Hawaiian ginger plants bloom, but that might have to wait until this Summer.  Some of them are quite large now – over 4 foot tall.  I would expect those are pretty close to blooming size.


 

Another shrimp in the bucket

Just after writing about my shrimp plant collection, I ran across another shrimp plant that I had to have. 🙂

The purple shrimp plant (Justicia scheidweileri) goes by many different common names, including Rose Pine, South African Acanthus, Jade Magic and Maracas Brazilian Fireworks.  Mine was labeled with only the last common name and no genus and species names.  But I remembered that it was in the Justicia genus from my research last week when I wrote about shrimp plants.  My collection now contains 5 plants from the Justicia genus and 1 from the Pachystachys genus.

Purple shrimp plant (Justicia scheidweileri)
Purple shrimp plant (Justicia scheidweileri)

This plant is very cool, with deep purple sheaths for the long magenta blooms.  In addition to the vibrant blooms, this plant has cool leaves.  There is a prominent silver stripe going down the center vein of each leaf and fainter silver stripes highlighting several other veins on the leaves.  It is not as prevalent in my picture, but you can see some more here.