What is an epiphyte?

". . . a plant that grows upon another plant (such as a tree) non-parasitically or sometimes upon some other object (such as a building or a telegraph wire), derives its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain and sometimes from debris accumulating around it, and is found in the temperate zone (as many mosses, liverworts, lichens and algae) and in the tropics (as many ferns, cacti, orchids, and bromeliads) — called also air plants."[1]

From wiki

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hoyas


Hoyas are evergreen vines that grow as epiphytes in trees in the tropics from India to

Thailand,across Indonesia and into Australia, named for botanist Thomas Hoy.
They are members of the dogbane family and cousin to our common milkweeds here
in the temperate regions,as well as the stapelias ,hoodias,and other starfish cacti succulents
of Africa, Flowers are born in umbels on peduncles, tiny stems that hang from the main stem
and re bloom periodically.

Characterized by their bright color schemes and geometric
pentagonal designs , the most special thing about hoyas in their scents, which range from root beer to cinnamon , from camphor to grape juice to milk and honey,or rotten chicken!! Many of their scents are hard to describe.
Truly the scent mimics of the plant world, their scent has developed according to which pollinators they wish to attract.
Hoyas are easily grown in a hanging basket or along a trellis or hoop, and many are very rewarding generous bloomers once they are established, you can usually find at least one variety in any nursery or nursery dept you visit.

Here is my hoya lacunosa in full bloom, these monarchs were so in love with
the thing that they decided to stay and lay eggs on it, I found a few cocoons
when I went to bring it inside for the winter season,and I had to carefully trim them out
and attach them in the nearby shrubs.
The flowers of hoya lacunosa drip with sweet nectar that smells heavily of
milk and honey, imagine the taste of milk and honey,and that's the smell,that is.




This is hoya ds-70, what an attractive name, I know right.
There are many many hoya species and lots of them got the short end
of the stick where names are concerned, a beautiful deep red orb
with a yellow and red waxy star in the center,this one reeks of gamy
raw chicken,or like boiling old chicken bones for soup.




Hoya carnosa is one of the more common varieties,
and often has a strong chocolate smell



Here is hoya Mindorensis, photo by Phillip Tan




And this is Hoya Bella, with a sweet perfume fragrance


and here is hoya cinnamomifolia, so named because of its leaves
resemblance to those of the cinnamon tree, and I assume the smell is sweet.

And a personal favorite of mine, the lilliputian Hoya serpens,
with a sweet milkweed scent.


Here is a link to a site with further names and details and droolin
pictures of hoyas
, look to the left for the galleries
most of these guys are so easy to keep although
there are a tricky few, and all of them set pods full
of milkweed fluffed seeds that blow away in the breeze.
A good hoya can live 100 years and get huge on a loop or trellis.




Monday, October 5, 2009

Night Bloomers, The sweet Queens of the Night.

Epiphyllum

You may have heard of the illusive Queen of the night cactus,

which may bloom only one night a year ,if your lucky that year,
and only for a few hours.
That would most commonly be Epiphyllum oxypetallum, Queen of the night,
Moonflower cactus, Christ in the manger, she has many names, and most people go
their entire lives without ever seeing one blooming, or having the pleasure
of breathing in that intoxicating ,sweet heavy nectar that fills the night air through
the neighborhood, drifting in the windows and teasing at your nose to go and take another
deep,long,breath of this magical scent.
Mine Bloomed twice for me this year, I missed the first one, but i caught the second!

Epiphyllum Oxypetalum



Another Epiphyllum species i keep is the epiphyllum Strictum, also
known as the queen of the night(in fact,any night blooming cactus ,you will find,
is quite ambiguously called "queen of the night".
She bloomed for the first time this year,and also gives off an amazing
scent , this one took 3 years from cuttings to bloom, well worth the wait.
You can sometimes find either of these at the garden center of any giver big box
stores, although most people overlook them in their non blooming, messy mass
of flat tentacle like stems.
Epiphyllum Strictum

Here is another species,photo from wiki commons. This one is very inportant
in creating hybrid epiphyllum because of its diurnal blooms(day blooming)
Epiphyllum Crenatum.

There are many many species of Epiphyllum,all native to south and central america,
where they cling to rocks and trees ,growing as epiphytes in the jungles.

There Are even more hybrid epiphyllum than you could want to remember!
they come in many colors and forms, and contain parentage of epiphyllum
crossed with other epiphyllums or another closely related epiphytic cacti,such as
disocactus, hylocereus, selenecereus,et.c. Thousands of named hybrids are registered
and many more unknowns , please watch the epiphyllum slideshow at the top of this post
but beware,you are about to start a serious plant addiction with epiphyllums,
there is something incredibly alluring about these over the top blossoms, and once you have one
you won't be able to stop, i have known people to order hundreds of cuttings at once from an epiphyllum supplier.

Here is a hybrid that bloomed from the cutting itself, though allowing it to
do this usually kills the cutting, as it did in this case.

Epiphyllum hybrid "miss america,red form"


And if you're not totally hooked on looking at epi photos ,
or worse on the way to eBay or the nursery to look for cuttings,
here are a few more up close pics of epiphyllum
hybrids, photos from wiki commons.

This beautiful yellow is named for the man who hybridized it,
"George French". George recently passed away and the epi-community
continues to mourn him, he brought us so much knowledge
and so many beautiful things, rest in peace George, and thank you!
wiki George French

This beauty is named for the fabled King Midas of Macedonia, Greek mythology.

King Midas
And another showing the multivariation in flower form
among epi hybrids, a sad looking pink,what a beauty.
Anton Gunther

We'll now you've seen what many believe to be
the worlds most beautiful flowers, flowers so fragrant,
so gorgeous, some just plain gaudy,even tacky, you want to tell them they look like
french prostitutes from moulin rouge, and they should take it down a notch, then you want to stick your nose in for another
deep breath of their sticky sweet aroma.

If you need any help getting your collection started, let me know!lol!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"True" Air Plants , the Tillandsias

Tillandsias are the truest air plants available, only sometimes needing a good spray of water and seldom very diluted fertilizer, Those fake "air ferns" you sometimes see are actually dyed& dead creatures from the sea related to corals and jellyfish. Tillandsias are bromiliads,This t.bergerii is my own favorite specimen,here shown in bloom over the winter indoors, you just take a single tillandsia and wire it to upside down and take good care of it, which means completely neglecting it except to spray it down once in a while and voila! a few seasons later you have a basketball sized clump of living plant suspended from a wire in mid air,no soil included, probably one of the cleanest plants ever,it rarely sheds either. These live through modified root cells that cover the surface of the leaves,allowing absorption of water and nutrients.


And here is a stock photo of a regularly seen tilandsia planter,
often times thay come as one specimen on a magnet for a fridge
as pretty as it looks,ideally you would pull them off and hang them
some place bright and humid so their but ends wont be smothered by the
hot glue usually used,which rots them,because their but ends still grow
anchor roots to hold them in place.


Two very common forms everyone knows of Tillandsia are
spanish moss and ball moss, all of them bloom,
if you've ever been to the deep south
of the u.s you may have seen either clinging to phone poles,
fences,trees,and anywhere else they can gain foothold.
spanish moss(stock photo)

Ball moss(stock photo)

Get yourself some tillandsias next time your out at the store
and happen to see some and follow the hanging instructions,
they are a true conversation piece worth ignoring!!