This tropical perennial thrives in low light, high humidity, warm temperatures, and growing conditions where it produces magenta "flamingo flowers" throughout the year. It is pollinated by a number of tropical bees that visit the pollen sacs in a spiral up the inflorescence. The seeds are contained in a berry with juicy, sticky sap that birds try to remove by wiping their bills on surrounding woody surfaces and in the process distributing the sticky seeds on to suitable growing environments.
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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.
Dark, bluish-purple, trumpet-shaped flowers feature a golden throat to contrast with the petals on this tropical shrub. It grows best in well-drained, humus-rich soils in full sun and high humidity. If the atmosphere is too dry, it can be prone to spider mites.
This bird of paradise features golden-yellow, exotically shaped flowers accentuated with blue flags. It's a cultivar of a South African native named in honor of Nelson Mandela. Grow this plant in moisture-retentive, well-drained soils in full sun and high humidity. The mature size is a bit smaller than the straight species, making it more adaptable to container culture.
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 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.