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Kelly’s mishap

This is an update on my Anthurium scherzerianum ‘Kelly’. Yesterday, I found my plant in this state:


…something munched the mottled spathes. On further inspection, I found the culprit; it was a brown slug we called dila-dila in vernacular (a descriptive word for tongue.)  Also, I  saw some slug eggs among the potting medium. tsk..tsk.. and to think I thought this garden critter was harmless…

unwelcome garden visitor
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Anthurium scherzerianum ‘Kelly’

Meet Kelly, my Anthurium scherzerianum plant. Each of its mottled-red greenish spathe is about 6 inches long and 5 inches wide; each curly golden-yellow spadix is about 7 inches long and 5mm in diameter.

When this Anthurium scherzerianum came to my garden via Manila last October 2011, I thought that the single spathe attached to the plant was a fake; that it was just sprayed on with red paint to have a mottled effect. However, Kelly proved me wrong with a series of new inflorescence (new spathes sprout non-stop since October 2011); it turns out that each  spathe has a different mottling effect.

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Purple flower

Purple is my favorite color. My eyes automatically zoom in to anything or anyone wearing this hue. Maybe that is why I noticed this plant on a rainy morning last August 6, 2011. (It’s not the first time that this plant produces flowers but every time it does, it always looks fresh.) Honestly, for five long years I still don’t even know its name but I know that my friend Tasing gave it to me.

I just put it in an area where it could get morning sunlight and partial shade. Also, I potted it with loam soil and watered it regularly, except for rainy days. I observed that its shoots grow from the base of the plant and each slender stems are about 0.5 cm in diameter. The 3 to 6 inches long stems hold patterned-leaves and purple flowers. The ovate-shaped leaves have green, greenish-gray and black markings.Meanwhile, the purple flower had a cruciform shape (that is, 4 petals are in right angles to one another) and the bloom lasted for about 2-3 days.

So if you know the name of this plant, I would really appreciate if you’ll tell me so I’ll know how to care more for it…

Succulents

My ‘Earth Stars’ in wet season

'Water Falls'
'Pink Starlite'
'Cafe Au Lait'

While some parts of the globe have fun under the summer sun, my garden endures the prevailing winds and downpour. It’s the peak of the wet season around here in the Philippines; while some of my plants gladly receive the rains, others “drown”. Some that unwelcome the wet season are my Cryptanthus plants.

Plant enthusiast give them nicknames such as Earth Stars or Starfish Plants due to their distinct shape and exotic colors. [Cryptanthus belongs to the Bromeliad family. Though the genus name “cryptos” (hidden) and “anthos” (flower) is Greek, the species are endemic to Brazil. (Wikipedia)] I acquired some species or hybrids of Earth Stars from the private gardens in Dalwangan and Camp Phillips, Bukidnon in the 1970’s.

'Ruby Star'
'Red Star'
'Green Star'

I’m often cautious when handling their foliage because their leaves are tooth-edged.These plants have rosette forms with about 6 to 20 colorful leaves. In addition, their leaves are about three to twelve inches in length with spoon-shaped, lance-shaped, or triangular shapes. Various Cryptanthus plants show an array of colors — pink to red background colors; strongly banded with sharp zigzag patterns or frosted with gray, white or bronze. The white (sometimes light green or pink) flowers appear in the center and from between the leaves, a few at a time.

Here’s some general description on my Cryptanthus plants:

  • ‘Waterfalls’ – The slightly wavy green leaves have yellowish irregular markings that resemble like falling water.
  • ‘Pink Starlite’ – All leaves have 5 stripes. The central stripe is olive-green or a paler hue; next, candy pink stripes on both sides; and at then maroon stripes at the edges.
  • ‘Cafe Au Lait’ – Each miniature leaves has the color of coffee-and-cream brown.
  • ‘Ruby Star’ – All leaves have 3 stripes; maroon stripes at the center and hot pink stripes at the edges.
  • ‘Red Star’ – Basically its leaves have at least 3 stripes; olive-green bands at the edges and rose-pink bands at the center. However, as each leaves mature, additional thins stripes of pinks and greens appear in between the central  and margin stripes.
  • ‘Green Star’ – All leaves have green stripes at the center and yellow-green to cream stripes as margins.
  • ‘Corrine’ – Each miniature leaves has ruby-red to rose-pink color.
  • ‘Zebrinus’ – All leaves have maroon central stripes and olive stripes at the edges. Also, silver-grey or white irregular markings appear across the leaves.
  • ‘Elaine’ – The leaves have maroon stripe at the center and hot pink stripes at the edges. Also, bronze zigzag patterns appear across the leaves.
  • ‘Ruby’ –  Its leaves 5 stripes; at the edges and center are dark maroon stripes ( This fades to green in poor light or dark olive-green in high light.), and 2 stripes appear on either side of the central stripe in rich ruby-red to rose-pink (This changes to cream or creamy green in low light).
'Corrine'
matured 'Zebrinus'

These tropical plants definitely require sufficient sunlight. With too little light, their foliage color and strong markings fail to develop. On the other hand, too much light bleaches foliage colors. They’re happy when placed on areas where they could get morning or afternoon sun. They also perform well when grown on pots and placed among ferns or begonias. I often plant these terrestrials in at least five or six-inch pots filled with loose peat moss or organic material. I noticed that they accede well when given abundant fertilizers such as slow-release fertilizer or liquid fertilizer.

'Elaine'
'Brown'
matured ‘Ruby’
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Ribbon grass: love ’em or hate ’em

grass blades are about 14 inches long and 1/4 inch wide, more white than green pinstripes

Common ribbon grasses (Phalaris arundinacea) and its variegated variants are quite an attractive addition to any garden.  They are perfect as ground covers or borders in landscapes. Yet, these plants are infamous — gardeners “love them at first sight” but ended up hating them. Hmmnnn…

16 inches long and 3 mm wide green blades with white margins

How often do I hear incidents of gardeners trying to kill them? Perhaps, dozen times. Precautionary measures must be taken to those who would want to accommodate these aggressive plants. Like most grasses, they are pretty, hardy and very invasive when left on their own. Given the perfect garden condition, they spread out quickly — occupying any available space in a matter of weeks.

grass blades are about 4mm wide and 15 inches long, white leaves with green margins (foreground)

To avoid this, I planted my ribbon grasses in medium-sized pots with large holes at the bottom (to avoid water-clogging). I used loam soil as potting medium though these low-maintenance plants would thrive on any type of moist soil. Water is essential to them especially in dry season; drought could kill them. However, during wet season, I withhold water for the rain would suffice to keep the soil moist. Over-watering would often result to “drowning”.

1mm wide and 11 inches long green blades

Also, sun exposure is important for them to thrive. So, I put them in an area where they could get plenty of sun and some shade. Too much sunlight would often result in scorched leaves while full shade is detrimental to their growth and their coloring.

At the end of the day, I still like these remarkable plants and so are the little sparrows residing in my garden. I notice that the sparrows often make numerous trips to pick the choicest dry leaves of ribbon grasses; they use the dry blades as nest-material.  Anyway, as long as there is growth management, these grasses wouldn’t be a nightmare to me.

Succulents

Jelly Bean Plant

Most of the kids who visit my garden take an interest on my potted ground-creeping Sedum pachyphyllum.

“Makaon na? (Is it food?)” is their constant query.

And I would automatically answer yes to that question for it is indeed edible. However, I would often find missing leaves of my plants if I leave the kids unattended as a result to that reply. Well I couldn’t blame them; the succulent commonly called Jelly Beans, Many Fingers or Jelly Bean plant are quite attractive especially when the tips of the leaves turn red under the sun.

I have these plants since the1980s and I could say that they are easy to grow. They just require sun and adequate water. Jelly Beans could even tolerate shady areas, dry soil (they could survive without water for a week!) or moist soil (definitely okay during the summer). However, precaution must be taken against water-clogging for the root of this succulent is rot-prone.

Also, I notice that these succulents are healthier when they get more sun than when left in a shade. The light green with bluish-tinged leaves are about 1-2 cm long, less than 1 cm thick and have finger-like shape. 

These Jelly Bean plants are also easy to propagate. I just cut the top rosette with 1 inch of stem and plant it in sandy soil, or sometimes I opt to start new plants with leaf cuttings to multiply my Sedum faster..

Foliage

Caladiums

For years, I find the versatility of Caladiums (Caladium bicolor) as colorful accents in my garden.  I like to mix several varieties of their colorful foliage in borders, pots and planters. These ornamental plants have arrow-shaped or lance-shaped leaves which could have combination of colors such as red-green, white-green, pink-green, green-white-pink, purple-green, etc. There is so much varieties available in the market to choose from.

My Caladium-mix plants thrive well in a shady area in my garden; I notice their  leaves usually wilt when exposed to full sunlight.These plants also like damp soil and require slow release fertilizer once every 1 1/2 months. However, I also encounter some problems such as rotting, and pest infestation of aphids and spider mites. Anyway, these are some photos of Caladiums growing in my garden: