Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Plants (and one Walkaway)

Here are the plants of interest from the trip to Cedar Rapids on Sunday, including the supercool one I was so excited about on Monday.

I bought this first one at Lowe's, because I thought it was an orange bird of paradise, Strelitzia reginae. I've been looking for a decent S. reginae for quite a while, so this was exciting. What got me thinking that it was a reginae (even though it was tagged S. nicolai, the white bird of paradise), was that a couple of the leaves have sort of orangish midribs, which I knew happened with reginae but I didn't think happened with S. nicolai, plus the leaf texture was a bit heavier and stiffer than on my nicolais at home. True, the tag said otherwise, but since when do we believe the IDs on the tags at Lowe's, right?

So I was pretty certain I had a reginae when I bought it, but the more I thought about it after getting it home, the more I was like, don't the orange BOPs have grayer leaves than this? And narrower? And it was tagged as a white. Maybe the leaf texture is just because they're grown in better conditions. This could be a white BOP after all.

But! I had noticed that the UPC sticker said that the plant was produced by Costa Farms, a company in Florida who I sort of knew, by virtue of following their account on Twitter. So I thought, okay, I'll just harness the power of social networking and tweet them the question and we'll see if it's plausible that I could have a 6" orange BOP, easy-peasy.

So I tweeted, and their first response was to tell me that they thought I had a Heliconia. So then I had to send another message explaining that no, it didn't actually have orange flowers on it, I know it's a Strelitzia, I'm just trying to figure out which species of Strelitzia. And then while I was waiting on the response, I realized that they surely had a website, and I could just look at the website and see whether they grew orange BOPs and find out that way. So I went to the website, where I found . . . "Strelitzia reginae [White Bird of Paradise]." Which is to say, they had mismatched the names, so I still didn't know.

And then they tweeted an answer to the effect of, "Yes, we sell white bird of paradise" and asked me to refer future questions to an e-mail account, which made me think I was probably pissing them off, so I let it drop there even though that didn't answer my question either.

So but I still don't know. Do Strelitzia nicolai plants grown in high light get orange midribs? Are Strelitzia reginae leaves always grayish, or can they be as green as nicolai? And does Costa Farms produce both species in 6" pots? Just the white? Just the orange? These really shouldn't be difficult questions to get answers to, but my whole day was like that on Monday.

Even if the new plant is just another white (I already have three of them, so a fourth is really not necessary), it was crazy cheap ($8-something), and there are four plants in the pot, so it was a good deal. And it's a plant I like, see above re: already had three of them. So whatever. But I do kind of need to know whether I should continue questing for Strelitzia reginaes or not.


The one notable walkaway from the trip isn't pretty or interesting so much as bizarre and unpleasant: it's a cigar plant (Cuphea ignea) with white flowers.

To me it looks ten kinds of wrong. I mean, Cuphea ignea is pretty worthless without the flowers (and even more worthless indoors, by the way: I'm having a really bad experience with it so far, and it's not thrilled with me either), and the flowers are so tiny that they have to be a bright, screaming color in order to be noticeable. This just wasn't a good idea at all.

But it's different. So now you've seen that.

TANGENT: Speaking of plants in wrong colors, has everybody seen the picture of the dark-purple Catharanthus roseus at Greensparrow Gardens? Equally wrong, but I really like those. They're very nearly cool enough to make me forget that I hate Catharanthus roseus intensely and for many reasons. (Bad work experiences.)

And then finally, we have the plant I was so excited about. I'm not thrilled with the way this picture turned out, but it's as good as they got:

It's a Dracaena deremensis 'Malaika.' I'd had it on the want list in the sidebar for a long time, because I'd seen pictures on-line and thought it was neat, but I'd never seen it for sale around here and didn't think I probably would anytime soon, and anyway I have a gazillion variations on D. deremensis already so what do I need with another.

But Frontier Garden Center had one. For way cheap, too (it was $9.73 after tax). It's sort of a backwards 'Lemon-Lime,' or a yellowish 'Warneckei:' the margins are very dark green, with a gray/chartreuse center. The picture doesn't really do it justice. This is maybe a little better:

The plant's tag had a link to a website in the Netherlands, which I think may be the least helpful plant-related website I've ever seen. More animated dragons per page than any plant-related website I've ever seen, and so few plant sites think to include a page for children to color anymore, so I appreciate that. But in terms of finding out anything about the plants, disappointing. Monday was just a bad internet day, apparently.


Ginny Burton said...

Both of your new plants are very handsome, indeed. But can you really get a BOP to flower indoors? I grew one from seed once, but never got it to flower.

I agree that the white Cuphea is unattractive. I checked out the picture of the dark purple Catharanthus, but don't share your enthusiasm. And why is it called an annual? Vinca is definitely a perennial around here. In fact, it's pretty hard to get rid of it. Do its roots freeze up north?

Joseph said...

Eww on the white cuphea... and isn't the catharanthus cool? Ginny, I think you might be getting confused between the genus Catharanthus, which goes by the common name vinca, and is an annual (well, maybe not in Florida or somewhere like that) and the genus Vinca, which also goes by the common name vinca, and is a fairly invasive perennial.

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Love that new Dracaena! It's beautiful.

mr_subjunctive said...

Ginny Burton:

No, I doubt that either plant would flower indoors, but that's not the point. I just want to collect the whole set, and that means I have to get a reginae.

I actually had one once a long time ago, when I was in high school, but didn't have a good spot for it so it died: I suspect trying to make up for that is a lot of the motivation here.

Paul said...

What is wrong with the cuphea? "Eww"?! It's cute and reminds me of a iochroma, just w/stunted blooms. Don't hate- appreciate.

Steve Asbell said...

From a design standpoint that website was the most horrible thing I've ever seen. Its as if someone was just learning how to use flash and had their kid do the illustrations... and still no info!
BTW they white cuphea is the most pointless cultivar ever. Why would someone want that?

Kenneth Moore said...

Oooooh, I want...! All of 'em. Because I think of plants like Pokemon too--gotta catch 'em all!

BTW, I love how the dragon burns away the option you didn't choose. "You want English? Nederlands will DIEEEE!!! Hah, I burn it for you!"

Kimberly said...

Your Dracaena is gorgeous! I really like this variation. The BOP pictured looks like a White Bird to me. The Orange Bird that I'm familiar with isn't as deep green as the white...more of a grayish green. The orange also has skinnier leaves...more sword/spear like vs. paddle like. And of course, there's the size difference. Additionally, in my experience, the orange BOP is about double the price of the white. They take several years to flower, even when planted outside in a tropical region (I've had mine for 2 years...I've been told it takes about 5).

Ivynettle said...

Ahahahahaaaa - I knew it was the 'Malaika'! I'm not on twitter, but I occasionally have a look at your page, and I knew it as soon as you mentioned - I went there once to get an ID for the two plants I'd got from work - that's a site you never forget.
'Malaika' is my favourite cultivar - I remembered you wanted it because it was one of the few plants I had and you didn't.

Liza said...

Are the leaves on your Dracaena going to do that twisty curl around thing that they've got plants doing these days? That would be AWESOME!

Ivynettle said...

Also, I just discovered that this website does have a bit more info in the Dutch version -(which I can more or less understand, since it's close to German, and I've just been to the Netherlands again). Nothing that'd be of any interest to either of us, but at least more than the English version.

Thomas said...

There is a White Bird of Paradise – Strelitzia alba (syn. S. augusta). Both Dave's and GardenWeb have had questions posted on how to tell the difference between this and S. nicolai. And here's a grower who specializes in Strelitzias: (be warned, if you go to the home page, it has a loud soundtrack intro)

telipogon said...

Have to say, I'm pretty certain that plant is a Heliconia. Having seen quite a few Heliconias around this year (yes, in England!), it's very similar to them.

Strelitzia reginae has much more glaucous foliage than that and holds it very stiffly. The leaves tend not to sit flat and are never shiny, either. I'm not convinced about S. nicolai either but i only have t'internet to refer to here, since the British houseplant market is unadventurous to say the least.

Han said...

I bought a Strelitzia reginae 7 years ago. Since 2 years I've been trying to let it flower with warm and cold over wintering, but no sigh of flower. It looks terrible after the experiments. Now I just put it at any corner. Really disappointed from it. But last year I bought another Strelitzia. Strelitzia juncea! I saw the plant in the botanical garden in Dublin, what a beauty! Perhaps you want to put it in your collection too.

This week I bought two new plants too; Echeveria multicaulis and Cylindropuntia recondita. Just call them beauty and the beast. I couldn't find reasonable photos on the net, thus I uploaded the photo of mine for your viewing.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am Agnes Scheffers vd Linden , from Dracaena Nursery "De Plaats"bv in the Netherlands, I would like to say something about the Dracaena please, it is called Dracaena Malaika and is one of the 14 varieties we made in the last 20 + years, our website is vintage, and as soon as we have the means we will make it more modern, but it is up to date, for information you could look at our Facebook page, everything you need and want to know is there, and i you think you miss something , just ask me, i will answer the same day.
Thank you for the compliments and we hope to see you on our FB page.
Best regards, Agnes. Dragontree-Dracaena Kwekerij "De Plaats"bv , The Netherlands.