A cold north wind and much lower temperatures have arrived, following the warm wet weather that we had experienced when the fringes of Hurricane Sandy blew past Chester. Now that a hard frost has finished off most of the annuals in the garden and fall’s colourful foliage is no more than a memory, some gardeners are turning once again to indoor plants.
A novice’s experiment with orchids has resulted in a growth spurt of large leaves emerging from a repotted mystery plant, along with a corresponding gradual loss of blooms from a lovely fuschia Phalaenopsis. When the latter was bought in May, it sported a single stalk of blooms and later developed another stalk without help from the owner! Now that the flowers are dropping off (six months later) it is time to seek advice concerning the care and feeding of orchids. The next step will be to contact the local orchid society and, as usual, surf the net.
Christmas cacti are now beginning to add their exotic floral contributions to this indoor display. Somehow, early November seems a little early for a plant tagged “Christmas” but mine always appear about the same time every year.
The orchid on the right, seen against the background of a snow-covered lawn, was photographed in a past winter. There hasn’t been a snow-fall here yet!
One of the less common house plants in this community is the Anthurium, a tropical plant that does best in medium light. Having recently received one of these plants as a gift, it seemed appropriate to find out how to care for it, which is why I turned once again to the internet. There, I found the www.ExoticRainforest.com site, a comprehensive source of information devoted to several species of tropical plants including Anthuriums as well as Spathiphyllums and Orchids.
Written by Steve Lucas, with credits to professional botanists, the site provides detailed information on the basic factors to consider when growing any of those tropical plants. Sections describing the best soil composition, preferred light conditions and considerations re humidity and watering are clear and consistent. Botanical terms are provided in a lengthy glossary; photographs illustrate the varying species; and, throughout the different sections, one basic theme concerning the feeding and caring for these tropical plants is repeated : “Listen to Mother Nature. Her advice is best.”
I learned that the “flower” of the Anthurium pictured above, is more like a “flower holder” since it is a modified leaf, or bract, known as the spathe. Together, the spadix (a sort of tongue that grows up from the spathe) and the spathe form a collective structure called the inflorescence. Actually, the spadix at its centre can grow a group of very tiny flowers but, as Steve Lucas writes, most people need a magnifying glass to see them.
There is a wealth of information on this site, which owes much of its photography to the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis although the author’s own botanical garden is in Arkansas. The information ranges from helpful hints for creating an ideal composition of loose soil, to the importance of avoiding limestone for the pebble base underneath plants that are sitting in a water-tray, to tips on building your own rainforest habitat. The site covers so much material that I felt I was studying for a Master’s course but it also provides other useful (if more mundane) content, such as the simple definitions that clarify the difference between a “stem” – which is the plant’s base or axis – and a “petiole” – which is the stalk that connects the leaf blade to the stem.
The site also includes the option of a virtual tour through a private botanical garden, complete with the sounds of tree frogs and a waterfall. And once you’ve come back to reality, ready to face Chester’s grey November landscape, remember to hightail it to the club’s Annual General Meeting on Monday, November 19, where Brenda Hiltz will discuss some of the native and imported species of flora in our area. As for the fauna, we hope those deer hightail it out of our yards too!