January 4, 2015


I keep thinking about my visit to the University of Connecticut greenhouses last week, and while revisiting my photos, I am even more inspired to track down some plants which I have yet to grow, or want to just add to my collection. Many of the plants that I saw at Uconn were too tropical for me to try, but a few of the Chilean and South African plants might do well in my greenhouse. Here are a few which I am looking at tracking down:

1. Dermatobotrys saundersii

I've seen this strange epiphytic shrub a few times now in collections, and I think that it is something that I will try. A South African native in the snapdragon family, it might do well for me as I keep many South African plants which seem to like the same conditions as this plant does ( nips of frost). The blossoms are pollinated by sunbirds in Africa, which seems to include about half of the plant species in my collection as well - maybe I should look into getting a few sunbirds? (Don't tell Joe, or he will comply!). I found the plant available online at Kartuz Greenhouses, so it will make it onto my next order in the spring.

2. Streptocarpus wendlandii

These large, single-leaved South African species of Streptocarpus have been on my wish list for some time now. Occasionally I see seeds for them available, and I have even seen them for sale on EBay, but I have resisted. After seeing some of the specimens 

3. Ecbolium viride ( Ice Green Crossandra)

OK, how did I ever miss this one as I think I have grown most every teal colored flower that there was - Ixia viridiflora, Lachenalia viridiflora, Strongylodon macrobotrys and Puya berteroniana , but I digress - the problem with most of these odd pale green or teal colored flowers is that they photograph terribly, and most people color correct them in Photoshop which makes what already seems like an un-natural color appear, well…..alien. And so, that is my excuse for not buying this gem - which ( you can't tell in this horrible image) is ever so slightly more teal-ish than Ixia viridflora, but not nearly as teal-ish as Lachenalia viridiflora. Must get, and hey, look - it's also available at Kartuz Greenhouses. Score.

4. Coelogyne speciosa

Most Coelogyne species do well for me, but I do not have this one. Generally cool growing orchids, or moderate at least in their needs, they seem to thrive in my greenhouse. I am not certain if this one will, but it may inspire me to add to my collection. I do prefer orchids which are more interesting, and those that grow well in baskets make good greenhouse specimens, and use space which is currently not in use.

5. Athanasia pinnata

What looks rather like a pillar of Spanish Moss with a name that, well, might be one of the best Latin names to say out loud ever since Streptocarpus,  is this South African native from the Eastern Cape that I really want to try growing. OK, I must admit to you - that I have tried it twice now, but failed. Once due to the dogs yanking it out of the pot, and the second time because I tried to bring one home in a suit case from Annie's Annuals ( who sometimes has it in stock- they will again, because Annie is awesome).. Look for it, as I will again - this time, raising it in a pot as a summer pot plant and a winter greenhouse gem.

6. Tilandsia usneoides 'fine form'

Since I mentioned it, why not this micro-teensy Spanish Moss  since I have all of the other forms including a giant one, this one is spectacularly wiry and delicate - gotta get. Don't know where.

I suppose I could have 'borrowed' some, but I was chicken. I may have to beg Dr. Matt Opel for some at one of the Cactus and Succulent Society meetings.

7. Alluaudia species ( any one will do, most likely A. procera but A. humbertii will do, too)

Always a softie for spiny plants, it's time that I amp it up and start trying to grow some Alluaudia's. Native to Madagascar, these deciduous thorny dudes are fast growing and have this remarkable foliage which Glen Lord explained to me have a curious habit of either growing vertical when the sunlight is strong, such as here, or horizontal if the light quality is poor, such as on a a window sill. At least, that is how I understood it.

8.  Pachypodium horomboense

Speaking of thorny things,  (and Madagascar for that matter) - I might as well add this thorny beast to the collection. Now - I've tried Pachypodiums before, with some luck if I wintered them over in the cold, dry studio and not in the wet and cold greenhouse, but this one might be worth the bother. A rarer species of Pachypodium of which I can only find seeds for ( and which I won't attempt from seed), I think that I can attempt this once I find it somehere for sale. Pachypodiums are one of those caudex plants - caudiciform succulents which drive collectors of such things crazy - and if you don't believe me, just Google the word Caudiciform and see what these collectors are all about.

I have yet to fully be bitten by the Caudex bug, again, saving that for my retirement years or for another life). Really. Look, when I run out of things to collect, I may consider Caudex plants as a collection, only after I have exhausted orchids or gesneriads. That said, I have about a dozen already, so it's not as if I am that innocent. These things do tend to creep up on you like extra pounds during the Holidays.

9. Oxalis gigantea 

I know, right? This is and Oxalis. I couldn't believe it either, until I saw the foliage ( see below). Of course, as a rather exuberant Oxalis collector ( God knows why, but then again, mostly the tuberous forms), this one intrigues me. It's not pretty, not even a little bit, but it is a curiosity, which by itself is merit enough. Now, I need to find it. Seems like Annie's Annuals sometimes has it, but if anyone has a connection, please let me know - I always have good things to trade.

Oxalis gigantea

10.  Blue Fern - Microsorum thailandicum

This is the second time that I have seen this blue iridescence leaved fern in a collection. More like, motor oil glistening or that rainbow-on-a-slice-of-deli-ham effect, but it does appear blue. It is thought that this effect enables the plant to be selective in its absorption of light. Native to Taiwan and Vietnam, my greenhouse may be too cool for this fern, but it is cool.

The greenhouses at the University of Connecticut

Cochliostema odoratissimum, from Ecuador is another stemless epiphytic plant that has a floral display rivaling most orchids, but I fear this plant demands hot house conditions. I just had to share the image with your though, anything to warm these cold, January days.

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