Up until now, I have introduced a Queen, some princesses, and other royal and semi-royal personages in the form of various Jewel Alocasias. However, the one that is the subject of this article is the Emperor and an Imperial Highness. Of all the Jewels, this one is arguably the most beautiful and difficult to grow. Difficulty notwithstanding, anyone who loves Alocasias will have to try this one, even if the prospect is daunting. . .
If you guessed "cinnamon", you're right! Hot cinnamon rolls are great for breakfast and cinnamon powder is amazingly effective for stopping rot in stored tubers, rhizomes or corms. Plus, it smells good! Read on . . .
Many lovers of tropical plants are smitten with the very large leaved Alocasia species, and many of them lust after a plant as large as Alocasia robusta is reputed to grow. One result I have been seeking in my breeding work, a holy grail of sorts, is a giant-leaved Alocasia that is easy to grow for all. Here I'll share about what I've come up with so far . . .
"A gleaming, cold battle machine is on patrol, red glowing eyes ever searching for the enemy. The slightest movement focuses the attention of this guardian, enabling it to determine if the intruder is friend or foe. Suddenly, a stirring in the soil alerts those ever-watchful burning eyes. A tentacle is seen extending furtively towards an unprotected root, intent on infecting, dissolving, digesting and destroying it. Instantly, the T-22 springs into action, training weaponry on the invader and dooming it quickly to a vapory oblivion..." Science fiction? Not any more, because gardeners today can call on a real live T-22 that can help protect their valued plants. Read on. . .
Mushrooms growing amongst pines in a forest can be indicative of much more than merely the rotting of organic matter. Many fungi have symbiotic relationships with vascular plants. These relationships involve trees such as pines, oaks, and eucalyptus, and include your garden vegetable plants and flowers. Knowing about mycorrhizae, what they do for plants, and how you can grow them with your plants can enable you to obtain their benefits for yourself in your own garden plot or yard.
With the interest in tropical gardening surging amongst people who live far north of the tropical zones, anything that makes this easier is a boon. For those who don't have a greenhouse, a warm, lit basement or an extra room in which to overwinter their favorite tropicals, a garden consisting of tropical-looking plants that go dormant in winter can be the next best thing . . .
As your plants grow, so will your enjoyment and interest. Soon the day will come when you will want to be able to grow your plants year-round. For most, that will mean getting a greenhouse. Below is an overview of some of the more affordable and easier-to-build options for your new greenhouse.
While the genus Rafflesia may hold the record for the largest individual flower, the Titan Arum takes the award for largest unbranched inflorescence. However, the size of the inflorescence is not the only strange thing about this plant; read on to learn more . . .
If you've ever lost something you valued, then years later found it unexpectedly, you'll understand how I felt that day when I was out in my garden and noticed a small Alocasia plant growing up near where recently I had planted a Heliconia plant. If something is yours, it really does come back to you . . .
Some plants have unusual or strange flowers, while others have interesting leaf shapes or branching patterns. This plant, however, is bizarre and strange all around, practically exuding paradoxical characteristics. Read on to discover more about a plant that could win the title, "most likely to have originated on another planet . . ."
For many, many years, the plant known as "Philodendron selloum" has been a mainstay in tropical landscapes and indoor plantings. The plant is quite tropical looking, relatively easy to grow, and large. In fact, it grows very large at maturity. For indoor decor and interiorscaping, a smaller plant with somewhat the same look would be ideal. Such a plant became available when Philodendron 'Xanadu' hit the market . . .
Did you know that the southern hemisphere is warmer than the northern hemisphere? Ever wonder why a plant or tree that can survive in the snow of southern NSW, Australia, can't make it in the snow of Virginia, USA? The answer lies in understanding the effect of land and water on climate. Read on to learn more. . .
As leaf shapes among the Alocasia species go, this particular one is hard to beat. Although it is a challenging plant to grow, this Alocasia is well worth your effort if you have a warm greenhouse and can give your plant the attention it needs . . .
When I was a child, I remember thinking that when I grew up, I was going to get live Christmas trees in pots each year, and then after Christmas, plant them out on my land. This way, over the years, I would grow my own Christmas forest, each one with a unique holiday story to go with it. Well, I never did get land up north where I could do that, but I still think about it. How about you? If you have land in a state where you can grow Christmas pines, you can do this for yourself, starting this year!
As a fan of science fiction, I've read a lot of interesting and thought-provoking stories over the years. Back in the 1960s, I remember reading a few stories that featured peculiar new kinds of organisms developed by what was at that time a wildly fictional technology called genetic engineering. Well, science has now overtaken fiction with a vengeance - read on to see why . . .
Impossibly huge leaves and plants are often the Holy Grail for tropical plant lovers, whether their gardens are in the deep tropics or in temperate zones. None other is more sought after than Alocasia robusta, the plant with the record for the largest undivided leaf in the plant kingdom. However, I venture to state that none other has broken more tropical gardener hearts than this plant. Read on to see why. . .
The plants featured in this article are quite desirable, but much less familiar to the Alocasia enthusiast. They are also likely to be more difficult to find. Those facts notwithstanding, each of these plants deserves to be more widely grown and appreciated.
This plant was the result of one of my earliest hybridizations with Alocasia plants. The cross was done in the late 1970s and this plant is now grown in gardens around the U.S. and in other parts of the world. Here I'll share how this plant came to be . . .
Herbaceous plants and exotic flowers are impressive enough in a tropical garden, but to really complete the look, you need some genuine trees with the tropical look as well. You don't need a greenhouse for this because the palette of trees you have available is sufficient to the task; read on to learn more . . .
Weather conditions are extremely important to us as gardeners. If you are like me, you keep an eye on the weather for signs of heat, cold, rain, snow, or other possibilities that will impact your plants. In this group of articles I'm going to help you understand some of the "what" and "why" of weather phenomena. This is knowledge that you can use to get better gardening results. . .
For many people, winter means gray, cold days and much pining for warmer weather. However, not only can you grow some interesting plants in winter, here is one that will grow and bloom for you in winter! You won't have to worry about it in summer because it will be dormant then! Read on for more about this wonder . . .
Sometimes things are not as they seem, and especially so in the natural world. Camouflage and mimicry abound in the insect world. For example, flies that look like bees, butterflies appearing as wasps, and caterpillars that resemble animal guano rely on these visual illusions to evade predators. On Aroidia, however, the swapping of roles in structure and function is for filling niches with abundant diversity, and not a necessity for survival. . .
What we eat varies according to the time of day. While our modern diet is often a blend of necessity and impulse, the plant world has a natural dietary cycle that is meaningful to the point of maximizing growth and survival. Let's take a moment and learn from the cycles of field and forest. . .
Ah, another tropical morning! Time to go inside the greenhouse and see the nice new leaves emerging on my prized Anthuriums. So I unzipped the door, poked my head in and. . . AGHHH! The new leaves were gone, chewed off at the stem, and no sign of the culprit anywhere. Such is the kind of hit-and-run damage that rodents can wreak on your favorite plants. I didn't really want to set those vicious traps, I just wanted the pesky critters to go elsewhere for gourmet snacks. Alas, a serendipitous tip came my way and it really worked! Read on. . .
If there is any image that can be considered iconic of the Deep South, it must surely be the sight of Spanish Moss drooping lazily from a Live Oak tree. I remember seeing this sight when I was much younger, and even remember seeing this adaptable bromeliad festooning power lines as well. Alas, it seems that one doesn't see the plant around as much as before, and there is a sobering reason. Read on for more . . .
Banana plants have captured my attention for a longer period of my life than aroids have, so it is only natural that at some point, I would imagine the ideal melding of both into one plant. On Aroidia, the ultimate example of this fusion is found, but on Earth, a very close approximation can be seen in the aroid genus Typhonodorum . . .
After flowers, many gardeners grow plants in the hope of obtaining fruits. Wait a minute, what about vegetables? Well, much of the vegetable produce that we are expecting from our gardens is actually fruit! When is a fruit the same as a vegetable? Read on . . .
"Take two aspirin and call me in the morning," is a phrase not often thought of as applicable to plant diseases. Recent research, however, has shown that acetylsalicylic acid, the ingredient in aspirin, has a surprising use in the protection of plants from infections. What is even more exciting is what this research revealed about the response of plants to pathogenic infection. . .
The genus Alocasia is one place to look if you are in search of the ultimate lush tropical garden. Unfortunately, so many of the most desirable species are also too tender to grow for very long in temperate gardens. With that in mind, I began hybridizing Alocasias with the objective of producing hardier, easier to grow tropical specimens for all gardeners. This hybrid is one of the newest I've developed.
While this time of year brings thoughts of silvery stars for the holidays and confetti for the New Year, elemental silver has a use in the garden that has been almost totally overlooked. Read on to learn the amazing facts . . .
These are among the largest of the plants in the genus Philodendron, producing thick trunk-like stems and cord-like roots that can wrap around nearby trees or anchor to the ground like guy wires. Known also as "tree philodendrons", they are spectacular in the tropical landscape but can become unwieldy indoors . . .
The beauty we enjoy in our gardens and indeed, in the entire natural world, seems so awe-inspiring at times that it brings us to speechlessness. But what if you learned that, instead of "evolutionary" origins, we should be looking for "iterationary" origins of the world and all in it? In this article I will introduce you to the fascinating and wonderful world of fractal geometry as it relates to the natural realm . . .
Few of the Jewels have the startlingly exotic look that this plant has. Seeing one of these transports you to a tropical nirvana where every plant is like a fantasy. You, too, can grow one of these, if you know how. . .
Few other plants say "tropical" as clearly as plants in the genus Alocasia, and few Alocasia plants are as exquisitely beautiful as the ones I have chosen to call the "Jewels". They are jewels because they are almost all small growers whose spectacular beauty makes up for their size, if only you can keep them alive - read on to see why. . .
Think of flower pollination and most often, bees come to mind. After all, they do the lion's share of pollination, especially in our agricultural and garden plants. However, some of our plants don't attract bees at all. What they do attract, and how they do it, may surprise you . . .
Whether your garden is large or small, in the ground or in pots, you are likely to need a garden hose and accessories of some type to water your plants from time to time. But with all the sizes and hose-end doodads out there, how to choose the right one? Read on for some tips . . .
Most of the Alocasia species that I consider to be "jewels" are small growers suitable for a windowsill or small conservatory. However, not all Jewel Alocasias are so diminutive! Read on to learn about this Giant of the Jewels . . .
Several new Alocasias have appeared on the market in the recent year or so. One of them is Alocasia princeps, also known as 'Purple Cloak'. With my interest in this genus of plants, you can be sure I got my hands on one, and it is now blooming. Read on for more about this Jewel . . .