Monday, June 1, 2009

Gardening: Back Porch Beauties


This exotic beauty is Sprekelia formosissima, native to Mexico and a member of the Amaryllidaceae family. We planted a pot of ten of them on the back porch, where we can enjoy the blooms from our dining room.

This flower is about 7 inches tall and wide, borne on a short stem. It emerged from the bulb before any leaves; the remaining nine are sending up leaves but no flowers yet. We hope we get more than one bloom, but if that's it, then I will definitely be lifting these in the fall and overwintering them in the garage for next year. Those of you in USDA zones 8-10 might have luck leaving them in the ground, provided you mulch them well and they have excellent drainage. We are considered zone 8 here, but we do suffer some winter damage to plants that are marginal, so I think storage is the way to go.

Right next to the pot of Sprekelias we have a small pot with one of the tropical rhododendrons, Rhododendron suaveolens, a heavily perfumed member of the Vireya subgenus of rhododendrons. Vireyas, which number around 300, are generally found in tropical climates. This is the fourth year we've had ours, putting it outside each summer, and letting it overwinter in the house. This will be the first year it's bloomed.

The flower truss, once released from its cap, will spread out in a starburst of pure white, fragrant flowers. More pictures to come!

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