Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Zebra Basketvine

I bought this plant on a whim at a local grocery store. I knew it was an Aeschynanthus, in the Gesneriaceae family. I did not know what its flowers would look like. I didn't really care, as the mottled foliage would have been enough for me. Today, I took it to the sink to water, and low and behold, it is flowering! Not everyone would be excited for these unassuming, greenish/yellowish/orangish, red splotched flowers, but I am. It was blooming on the side that had been facing the window, (makes sense) so I hadn't noticed them until I took it down to water. The flowers also helped me make the correct identification.

This is the Aeschynanthus longicaulis, formerly marmoratus. Its common names include zebra basketvine, lipstick vine, and basket plant. It originates in Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia. These  plants grow as epiphytes, ( a plant that derives its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain and usually grows on another plant) on large trees. Their name comes from the Greek aischyne, meaning shame, and anthos, flower. I don't know why it has anything to do with shame..... anyway, the foliage is a mottled green on top with dark red undersides. The foliage is why I bought it. Quite often, if I like the foliage I'll buy the plant, not caring if it ever flowers. I use the hashtag #whoneedsflowers a lot on my Instagram account.

As you can see, the flowers are mottled like the foliage, making it hard to notice the flowers. They are tubular, with a slight curve. I love the purple anthers! In your home, they need a bright indirect light, such as an East or West window. Mine is in the East window hanging in an antique bird cage holder. They should be kept evenly moist, growing in a humus rich soil. I really liked the foliage of this plant and was pleasantly surprised when it flowered.

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