Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bleeding Heart Vine

Flower completely open.

You can see the red heart showing through the white.
The first time I saw a Clerodendrum thompsaniae was at Cobo Hall in Detroit. BloomFest was going on, and the Garden Club of Michigan was hosting a judged flower show. I saw those white flowers with the red centers and I thought it was one of the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen.  
I never saw one again, until last Spring. I help run my husband's family's garden center, and am in charge of ordering the annuals and the tropicals from Florida. When they showed up on the plant availability from Florida, I was so excited! I ordered a box of 6 hanging baskets. My salesperson called and told me I had a minimum order from that grower, so I ordered another box. Unfortunately, I was one of a few that appreciated them. I sold a couple, gave a couple to other fellow plant geeks as gifts and eventually threw the others away. I tried keeping them in the office over the winter, but they defoliated, and looked unsellable, so they had to go. Since I already have a number of houseplants, I couldn't bring them all home. The one I did bring home also defoliated, but I kept it with the hope it would reawaken in the spring. It did! Here are the pictures to prove it.
The white part of the flowers are the calyx and the red part are the true flowers of the plant. It is native to West Africa, and would like temperatures between 60 and 65F during the day with a drop of 5-10 degrees at night. 
It blooms on new growth, so prune in the early spring before new growth begins to promote heavy flowering. Common names include bleeding heart vine, glory bower, and bagflower.
  It was named by Rev. William Cooper Thompson, a missionary in Nigeria, to honor his late wife. 
The name Clerodendrum comes from the Greek word 'kleros', which means "chance or fate" and 'dendron', a tree. (I'm not sure what that means, but thought I'd include it. It probably has something to do with medicinal properties.) It needs plenty of fertilizer, as it is a heavy feeder. Extra calcium is a good idea, as well.

The red flower peeking out.

It really is a very beautiful vine and if you can find one, you won't be disappointed with the beauty of the flowers. It may be unattractive in the winter, but comes alive in the spring, as you can see. I think it was well worth the wait.

Monday, May 27, 2013

These Aren't Your Grandma's Violets

My mini African violets on the counter with a light under cupboards above.
I love African violets! I think that might have been established by now. I'm in two African violet societies and a member of the African Violet Society of America. I'm a little obsessed. I think that might have been mentioned before, as well. I know some people still think of them as "Grandma plants" and wouldn't have one in their home, but I'm going to show you  plants your Grandma could have only dreamed of. Following are some pictures of the violets that have been blooming here in the last couple of months. I have many more pictures, but thought you'd probably fall asleep if I showed you all of them. They are beautiful....

'Cabbage Patch' African violet from the back.

'Harmony's Frilly Dealy'
I have to admit that I have plenty of pink and green varieties. They are my favorites. 'Harmony's Frilly Dealy' is probably at the top of the list. I also like variegated foliage. When the flowers are out of bloom, they are still attractive.

'Irish Rose'
'Rob's Antique Rose'
One of Optimara's MyViolets
This violet is only 2' across.
'Festive Holiday' mini violet.

'Rob's Combustible Pigeon'

I especially appreciate the mini violets. They take up less room in a house already crammed full of plants and they are just so cute!

'Gleeful Elf'
Love this foliage!

Yellow violet.

If you still think African violets are old fashioned and not your style, I'm sorry. You don't know what you are missing. Having plants in your house which are almost constantly in bloom and only ask to be watered, fertilized, and have the right light is a no brainer in my opinion. I'm going to keep collecting them and I hope you see the beauty and buy a couple , as well.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Leaning Tower of Croton

Leaning toward the light
I'm working 13 hour days at this time of year, and so, understandably,  my plants are suffering a bit. I throw water on them when I can and hope they survive until the spring rush is over. This croton is in dire need of rotation, as it is definitely leaning toward the light. Every time you water, you should rotate your plant a quarter turn, so it will have symmetrical growth.
Why do plants lean toward the light? It involves a chemical called auxin in the cells of plants. It causes the plant to have elongated cells on the side away from the light. Growth toward the light is called positive phototropism and growth away from it is called negative phototropism. Usually roots have negative phototropism. I have discovered, when looking on line, that philodendron and monstera seedlings also exhibit negative phototrophism as they are looking for a tree to climb. By finding the shadow of a tree, they will eventually be lead  to the tree which they need for support. How interesting(You learn something new everyday!)
 I'm going to pay attention, and notice how long it takes my croton to turn back toward the light. Will it take a day, a week, or longer?

Turned away from the light.