Bloom Highlights

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Sources for "What's in Bloom: Bloom Highlights" listings include the Chicago Botanic Garden's staff and database, as well as the publications and records of other botanic gardens, institutions, and the scientific community.

Masai Spurge

Masai spurge is a colorful, perennial, succulent plant with miniature, orchid-shaped, bright red blooms with yellow centers that form 1½-inch dense, multi-flowered clusters. The ¼-inch yellow-green stems arise from tuberous roots and grow to 2 feet tall, bearing thick, green leaves. Native to Tanzania and hardy in USDA Zones 9b-10b, the easy-to-grow Euphorbia neococcinea thrives in bright light and well-drained soil. Outdoors during Chicago summers, it is drought tolerant and resistant to deer. It also does well indoors in a sunny location. However, the seeds and all other parts of the plant are poisonous if eaten. Handling the plant may also cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction because all members of the Euphorbia genus produce a milky sap called latex that ranges from being a mild irritant to being very poisonous.

Mello Yellow Ground Orchid

This non-hardy terrestrial orchid features months of broad yellow flower petals outlined in purple. A great selection for seasonal displays needing a bit of tropical flare.

Paper Flower

Miss Alice™ paper flower (Bougainvillea 'Singapore White') is a low-thorn cultivar covered in exceptionally large white bracts (often mistaken as flowers) throughout the winter months. In locations with low humidity and lots of sun, this bouganvillea can be coaxed to bloom year-round.

With a compact (maturing at 4 feet in height and width) and slow-growing habit, this plant makes a great specimen in a large container, if Chicago-area homeowners have a frost-free, sunny location in which to site it. The Garden's Miss Alice™ paper flower is being trained to cover a low fence surrounding the checkerboard in the temperate Greenhouse.

Bougainvilleas are almost entirely pest-free and have very low watering needs, making them a great pick for a larger container plant.

White Candles

Whitfieldia elongata is commonly called white candles for its never-ending display of 2- to 3-inch pure white flowers surrounded by a petaloid calyx. Glossy leaves with prominent drip tips are all indicative of its origins in tropical rainforests. In cultivation it requires relatively warm temperatures and high humidity, and grows equally well in a large container or planted in the soil of a conservatory. Bright light is preferable.

This genus was named in honor of T. Whitfield, a nineteenth-century collector of African plants. The species was discovered by the intrepid explorer Vogel in a region known as Fernando Po in equatorial Guinea. Its range extends across much of equatorial West Africa.

Ylang-Ylang Tree

Ylang-ylang is a tropical tree that produces long-petaled flowers virtually year-round that emerge lime green and mature to lemon yellow. In its native Philippines, it is pollinated by moths and so the fragrance is most intense at sunrise. The highly prized fragrance is used in a number of colognes and perfumes and is also sprinkled on clothing before placing in long-term storage since it repels insects. In tropical humid climates, it can grow to 100 feet in height; however it is amenable to container culture, as long as a few key environmental factors are provided: bright indirect light, moisture-retentive soils that do not dry out, and high humidity.