Friday, March 9, 2012

Walkaways Part 17

A few interesting plants from the ex-job:

Calliandra emarginata.

They were selling Calliandra emarginata as a bonsai (or at least a bonsish; I don't think they've ever had actual bonsai bonsai), which guarantees that I will never buy it, but it's an interesting plant. No clue what they're like to grow indoors; I don't even have any idea what they're like to grow outdoors.

Kalanchoe 'Fantastic.'

I've had mostly-bad experiences with the Kalanchoe genus in general, and consistently bad experiences with Kalanchoe luciae specifically, in the past, so this wasn't particularly tempting, but it was new (to me), and I can't argue that it's not a cool-looking plant.

I don't know whether this is K. luciae or K. thyrsiflora, and it appears no one else does either: Google results are split about 50/50. The tag, for the record, said K. thyrsiflora, not that that means much.

Loropetalum chinensis.

Loropetalum chinensis is another bons-ish; I include it here mostly because I'd never heard of it before and it's kind of pretty.

Polypodium formosanum var. cristatum.

I intend to try this plant someday. I've had some ups and downs lately with footed ferns (two of my three Davallias have taken a recent hard turn for the worse, over nothing in particular that I can see; one has died as a result), but Phlebodium aureum is one of my favorite plants, and Polypodium grandiceps seems to be working for me so far, so P. formosanum seems worth a try even so.

It's possible that the correct name is Phlebodium formosanum, not Polypodium formosanum; Glasshouse Works gives both names but appears to favor Phlebodium. If that's the case, then I'm even more interested.

Philodendron 'Pink Princess.'

Finally, Philodendron 'Pink Princess.' For most of the last few years, I haven't seen it for sale anywhere around here (I think I saw them at Wallace's once), and now all of a sudden the ex-job has gotten them on two separate shipments, as 6" (shown) and also as 4". It's an interesting-looking plant, but I'm not terribly interested in 'Pink Princess' because it's super expensive, and everything I've heard about it suggests that it's really slow-growing. The two things are probably related.

I don't remember what the ex-job wanted for the 4-inch plants, but it was definitely over $10, maybe something like $15. They paid a lot to get them in, I understand (don't know how much, but I know how they calculate these things, and the retail prices reflect wholesale), but $10 for a 4-inch tropical plant is never going to seem acceptable to me.


Ginny Burton said...

Nice article about orchids in yesterday's Washington Post:

nycguy said...

The calliandra is easy to grow and a relaible bloomer---I had one for a long time. The main annoyance is that the leaves fold at night, just when a person with a day job wants to enjoy the plant. It doesn't look anywhere near as pretty with its leaves folded.

Anonymous said...

Loropetalum chinensis is a popular landscaping shrub in the south, though it isn't hardy enough to grow where I live. Profuse, showy pink or white flowers for a long time in winter, leaves are evergreen where winters are mild enough, related to Hamamelis (witch hazel). There's a cultivar with pink flowers and dark maroon leaves that's become very popular over the last decade.

Though I can't cite you a proper reference, I've read that the Kalanchoe thyrsifolia of commerce is actually K. luciae, and that what a botanist would call K. thyrsifolia is rarely found in the trade. Another case where you're better off calling it by its horticultural name, K. thyrsifolia (hort.), rather than by its botanical name, if you want the reader to understand you. The new variegated cultivar is a smash hit among those of us who use them as outdoor container plants, as the leaves get bright red tones in full sun---I've seen near-riots break out among landscapers when our wholesaler runs low.

And though I have no personal experience growing C. emarginata, I know that Calliandra (fairy duster) is a genus of xeric shrubs native to the American southwest, popular there in low-water landscaping for their pretty flowers and their lack of spines.


Anonymous said...

Oops, that's thyrsiflora, not thyrsifolia, of course.


mr_subjunctive said...


I have to stop and check thyrsiflora / thyrsifolia every time I write about the stupid plant, so I feel your pain.

Emily said...

I love the footed ferns! I would've thought you'd be less than enamored of the furriness though since I vaguely recall you dislike old man cacti?

mr_subjunctive said...


Yeah, you're right: it doesn't make a lot of sense. It might have something to do with the hairy ferns having relatively short hair; it's more like fuzz than like hair. Going along with that theory: I don't like the hairy Sempervivum (arachnoides?) either, where the hairs are so long that they pretty much cover up the whole center of the plant.

Jordan in Oregon said...

I got really lucky with TWO 'Pink Princess's. One of our suppliers regularly has 6" Philodendron erubescens, but on this one delivery, there wasn't one but two that had obvious variegation. $4.99 ea. So I bought one, then got the other one the next day when I started to realize what they are. And as near as I can tell, 'Pink Princess' is just a variegated cultivar of erubescnes; haven't found anything contradictory to that, but let me know if you know anything. Either way, both are doing fantastic now, doubled in size and climbing up their posts. Great plants, and I thought all Philos were supposed to be difficult (silly internet rumors)

Jordan in Oregon said...

Also Lorapetalum is a pretty nice landscape plant, at least here on the west coast. I'd say anything south of Washington, but it seems like it likes a little bit of shade. I've seen it have powdery mildew issues, but no more than most other shade-loving broadleafs. Western Sunset makes a good point that the newer cultivars with purple-blushed leaves actually downplay the bright blooms, and the original green-leafed ones look nicer.

mr_subjunctive said...

Jordan in Oregon:

I looked around the internet briefly before I posted this, to see if there was any consensus on where 'Pink Princess' came from, and I saw sites saying it was an erubescens cultivar (about 40%), sites saying it was a hybrid (10%), and sites that punted and just said Philodendron 'Pink Princess,' without any attempt to define its origin (50%). So I punted too.

Tom said...

Philodendron 'Pink Princess' seems to be really prone to reverting to solid green. I don't think I've ever seen one grown much taller than a foot that still has variegation. The first time I saw it I was all "OMG!!!! IT'S SO DIFFERENT" and about 10 minutes later decided it wasn't worth my time. And in case you ever feel compelled to try Loropetalum, my experience is that they're horrible houseplants.

Emily said...

Yeah, I can see where you're coming from on the sempervivums, but that's mostly because it looks more "other" than part of the plant, if you're talking about the ones like a spiderweb:

But I do like the sort of hybrid plant-animal feel and I do totally get it from footed ferns. (I guess unlike you from your above comment since they aren't style-ably long-haired. Which sends me off on this anecdote - my neighbors have been remarkably good about not messing with my outdoor plants with the exception of my old man cactus which got a punk spike hairstyle one night from what I can only assume was a mischievous, inebriated neighbor.)

I freely grant the furry plants being a little creepy, but in the same way that Mimosa pudica is creepy/awesome. Plus, when I feel sad that I don't have the space or time for a cat/dog right now, I can pet a rhizome or give a cactus an affectionate pat and get a furry handfeel in return. Or a soft spiked handfeel in the case of my styled old man cactus now.

Loona said...

whoa! I totally want that Kalanchoe O___O
I kave a K. thyrsiflora (or what, I'm also confused now :D I got mine as a present from someone who also got it from someone (maybe as a present :D ) so the tag didn't make its way to me), and I love it, so it doesn't make me surprised that this one also caught my attention.

but I can't help thining this one looks like a cabbage :D

Anonymous said...

Philodendron erubescens---the straight species---is one of my favorite plants. Tough, durable, tolerant of neglect and dark corners, fast-growing under good conditions, the leaf sheaths are a showy red and very long persistent, and the red tints on the petioles add distinction. If it climbs too enthusiastically, just cut it back.

In my opinion, it's nicer and longer lived and MUCH easier than the self-heading hybrids, which gradually develop a woody trunk that then topples.

And in comparison with that, I think the variegation or its loss to be a minor consideration.


Kapt'n Splash said...

I don't really know anything about any of the others, but I have tried 3 different types of calliandra indoors now and all have been perfect for a short time. Then suddenly within days they whither up and die on me (ok, one of them I was away and had to leave care instructions for, which weren't followed). I'm not sure why I can't keep up with them, but I can guarantee it's my own fault they don't survive with me. Also, as nycguy said about the leaves they do indeed fold, although one of mine never fully folded up. I kind of liked them folding just because in comparison to my other indoor plants it was unusual.

houseplantguru said...

I've found that pink princess grows well in my sunroom/greenhouse. (It would be considered a sunroom if it weren't completely full of houseplants, so I call it a greenhouse.)Anyway, it has grown quite large and could use a very tall moss pole, but hasn't received one yet. When I have time.....