Friday, April 4, 2014

Random plant event: Breynia disticha

I now have three Breynias in the house: the original, and two (barely) smaller plants from cuttings of the original. If they were easier to propagate from cuttings, I would have even more than that, because I like them,1 but a lot of cuttings fail. (Cutting failure is a good thing in this particular case, though, because they get big quickly, and if all the cuttings had been successful, we would probably have had to give them all their own room.)

I happened to notice a couple months ago that the original Breynia had decided to bloom. The flowers are small and inconspicuous, to the point where although I know I've seen them once before,2 I could easily believe that my plants have flowered several other times without me noticing.

This has no real practical application to anything -- I doubt I could pollinate them successfully. Nor is it particularly decorative, appealingly fragrant, or otherwise desirable. But it is news, technically, in that it is something that has happened. So make of that what you will.


1 They're easy, except that they always seem to need water. With a lot of plants, you could just move the plant up to a larger pot and get some relief, but Breynia roots fill any additional room they get almost instantaneously. So I've learned to just check for wilting more often, and water them out of turn if they need it.
Otherwise, Breynia is a good plant for me: not overly demanding of light, not prone to bugs (so far, though there have been brief minor spider mite infestations), copes well with indoor humidity and temperature. It's not my favorite plant or anything, but I like it well enough to have three of them.
If you live in a more tropical climate, be advised that Breynia disticha will propagate itself throughout your yard/garden, as well as those of your neighbors. If you live in Florida or Hawaii, in particular, you should not be growing Breynias outdoors. Not that it's going to bring back the native ecosystems, but you can at least try not to make things worse.
As houseplants, obviously, the damage to the ecosystem was done when the house was built, so grow whatever you want, just keep it inside.
2 Those photos are better than these photos, if you care.