Spring has really gathered steam over the past week, and for the first time in a couple of months, I had to select from among a wide array of flowers for this Six on Saturday.
This week, I’ll start in the greenhouse and then move outside.
1. Phalaenopsis mannii
The range of this small Phalaenopsis species extends from Assam to Vietnam and southern China. In common with some other Phal species, you should never cut the inflorescences when the spring/summer flowering season is finished. The old inflorescences will remain green through the winter and will produce new flower buds the next year. At the same time, new inflorescences will sprout, so as the plant gets older you’ll have more and more flowers each year.
2. Vireya hybrids (two for one)
Vireyas are a group of Rhododendron species from the old-world tropics, with the greatest diversity New Guinea, Borneo, Sulawesi, Sumatra, and the Philippines. The majority of species are from high elevation, so they prefer mild temperatures and do not appreciate the warm summer nights in North Carolina. In the USA, most vireya growers are on the west coast and Hawaii.
I have had long-term success with a few heat-tolerant vireyas whose ancestors come from lower elevations They do not tolerate frost, so in North Carolina they are definitely greenhouse plants. I’ve been growing these two plants since 2004.
3. Ornithogalum dubium
Ornithogalum dubium is commonly sold by supermarkets and hardware stores as a throw-away flowering plant in late winter. Most people will probably treat them like cut flowers and toss the pot when the foliage starts to yellow. To keep the plants for another year, store the dormant bulbs dry and warm (or even hot) over the summer. Occasionally, bulbs will fail to sprout in autumn. As long as they remain firm, give them occasional water through the winter and then another hot dry summer. Often, they will sprout after the second dormancy. I have maintained these for five years, so there’s definitely no need to buy a new pot full every year.
And now, outside for the remaining three plants this week…
4. Tulipa clusiana var. chrysantha
Tulipa clusiana is reputed to be the best perennial tulip for the southeast. I first saw them blooming in Coker Arboretum at the University of North Carolina and was thrilled to find that they are very inexpensive from internet bulb vendors.
T. clusiana var. chrysantha flowers open in mid-morning and close back into tight buds in late afternoon. Although they have been flowering all week, I have seen only the orange buds when leaving the house and returning from work. Today was the first time I saw the bright yellow open flowers.
5. Saruma henryi
The fuzzy stems of Saruma henryi are just starting to emerge from the mulch, and the first flower is still wrinkled. S. henryi is related to Asarum, hence its genus name. Saruma is an anagram of Asarum. Those crazy botanists…
6. Scilla peruviana
Despite the name, Scilla peruviana is from the Mediterranean–Portugal, Spain, and southern Italy–not South America. The large bulbs produce their leaves in autumn, remain green all winter, and flower in spring. When I planted the bulbs last autumn, I wasn’t sure if they would survive outside, but they tolerated 3.2 F (-16 C) with only minor damage to the leaf tips.
To see what’s growing in gardens all around the world, head to The Propagator for his Six on Saturday and links to those of other garden bloggers.