The lipstick plant is an air plant with eye-catching flowers
Aeschynanthus — which sounds more like sneeze when you pronounce it — is a Southeast Asian genus of about 150 species of evergreen plants. These epiphytes grow in clumps of rotting and half-rotten fallen leaves that collect in the nests of large forest trees.
The most famous Aeschynanthus plant is A. radicans, known as the lipstick plant because its developing buds look very much like lipstick coming out of its tubes. The lipstick flowers are almost always on drooping stems, but very heavy blooms occur at intervals throughout the year – and the result is dazzling.
Don’t confuse the lipstick plant with the large tropical American shrub (Bixa orellana) with which it shares its common name. The lipstick plant is ideal for hanging baskets in bright, indirect light. The planting soil should be well-drained and not allowed to dry out completely. The stems of this vigorous plant can cascade several feet, which — depending on its location in your home — may require periodic pruning.
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So why not use some trimmings to propagate new plants? The cutting should be six to eight inches long and include several knots. Other lipstick plants include species with orange flowers, crinkly leaves, and cream and green coloring. Plants are available online.
Fuchsias are hardy in Florida
Native to tropical America, fuchsia plants come in countless varieties and offer drooping flowers in an array of colors. So it’s no surprise that I receive inquiries every year about growing these wonderful perennials – especially after they have appeared on the covers of magazines and TV gardening programmes.
Unfortunately, there is a climate problem: fuchsias’ native habitat is on wooded mountain slopes, where conditions are cool, wet and shady year-round. In Central Florida, our cold seasons are usually dry, and our warm seasons are hot and humid.
Domestic gardeners are most likely to have success if they use fuchsias as cool-season annuals in hanging baskets, preferably under trees where they can be misted and watered frequently. When a freeze is expected, plants should be hung in sheds or brought indoors.
A small cousin of papyrus that can grow almost anywhere
Cyperus Alternifolius, commonly known as umbrella sedge and gulingale, is a 2- to 4-foot-tall perennial plant that can be easily grown in Africa.
Cultivated for its foliage, galingale features triangular stems topped by broad tufts of leaves. Its ability to grow in a range of natural environments is unparalleled, native to sun or shade, boggy sites and average garden soils. However, the wetter the location, the faster galangal spreads, which sometimes requires control measures.
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Loved by flower arrangers for its unusual, umbrella-like leaves, this type of sedge does flower, but its small flowers are inconspicuous. Plants damaged by freezing grow back from the roots. Propagate galingale by division at any time of the year.
Plant for Meditation: Bolivian sunset
Regarding African violets, the Bolivian sunset (Gloxinia sylvatica) is a 2-foot-tall rhizomatous shrub that blooms throughout the cool season. Provide organically rich, well-drained sites in filtered light. Propagation by division.