Friday, August 19, 2016

Unfinished business: Strelitzia juncea

I was surprised to find out that the last time I mentioned my Strelitzia juncea seedlings was in May 2014. Back then, there were only two of them: I thought that was all I was getting, but then a third came up in a pot of Coffea seedlings a few months later (I'd reused the soil without taking the Strelitzia seed out.).

The three aren't setting the world on fire with their beauty or speed of growth or anything, but they're all still alive, and nearly at their third birthday now. I don't have a photo of the three of them together, because I don't have a large enough background for that (as it is, I can barely photograph either of the larger two), but they're pretty similar-looking anyway so I'm not sure it matters. Here's one of the first two, in February, in a 6-inch (15 cm) pot:


And here's the late arrival; its pot is 4 inches (10 cm) along the diagonal:


In both cases, it looks like there's one leaf that's much longer than the others. This is partly a matter of perspective, but the two larger plants have been making dramatically longer leaves recently. I think this is how they're supposed to work, and not a sign of inadequate light, but I have to admit I don't know what normal looks like with this species.

As a houseplant, S. juncea isn't meaningfully different from S. reginae or S. nicolai. They had a minor scale problem quite a while ago, when they were small enough to wipe down with rubbing alcohol, and thrips were a problem once too. I don't actually know how I got rid of the thrips; they just kind of . . . stopped.1 A miracle, perhaps.

Flowers are unlikely. Every year, I think about maybe putting them outside for the summer (which wouldn't guarantee blooming but would make it more likely), and every year I come up with plants that deserve the honor more. (Space is limited; I have to prioritize.) But maybe someday, if the seedlings last long enough.

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1 (They never did much visible damage; my suspicion was that they were landing on the Strelitzias in the course of running around the house but not actually feeding on them. Either that, or they were trying to feed and it just wasn't working.)


2 comments:

Pat the Plant said...

I gave away some year-old S. reginae seedlings to a friend of my mother (also the mother of a friend) when I went to University. Ten years later she invited me round and surprised me with the flowering plants.

Patience ;)

Marius M said...

I got one Strelitzia juncea seedling which I started myself. It is almost 2 years old. First year it grew rapidly with 6 leafs, this year I transplanted to bigger pot and just 1 new leaf appeared. Growth turned to extrealy slow. Overall plant height 12 cm. I got Strelitzia reginae which grows way way faster.