What's In Bloom

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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.

Amalfi Amaryllis

The large, neon pink flowers of Amalfi amaryllis (Hippeastrum 'Amalfi') bear a white central star, and are produced in clusters atop stout stems that can reach 2 feet in height. This cultivar is ideal for forcing indoors in the winter, as the bulbs reliably come into flower six weeks after the onset of watering.

Plant bulbs in well-drained soils in a container 2 inches wider than the bulb. Leave the neck of the bulb sticking up above the soil level. Once the leaves and flowering stalks start to emerge, move the amaryllis to a bright location, and rotate the pot to discourage the flowering stalk from falling towards the light. Amalfi produces two scapes (flowering stalks) whose buds come into flower sequentially, provided an extended period of bloom.

After the amaryllis flowers, keep it in the sunniest possible location, and move outdoors after the danger from late spring frosts has passed. Water and fertilize as for any container plant during the summer. In September, begin to decrease watering to encourage the bulb to enter dormancy, and bring indoors to a cool, dry location prior to the first killing frost. Once indoors, cease watering and remove dried leaves. Bring back into a sunny, warm location, and resume watering about six weeks before flowers are desired.

Christmas Carol Aloe

With parents native to Madagascar, Aloe ‘Christmas Carol’ is a small succulent that produces rosettes smaller than 1-foot tall and wide with 6-inch-long leaves. The deep green, lance-shaped leaves have soft but spine-like, vibrant, dark red, raised markings down the center and along the leaf margin and are stippled with creamy white dots. The flowers, which bloom in fall and winter, are reddish-pink, though their color is often described as orange. This Kelly Griffin hybrid is what Kelly calls a multigeneration hybrid that possibly includes the legendary and beautiful Aloe 'Doran Black' as a parent, or at the very least, shares some of its characteristics. Christmas Carol aloe has all the beauty of 'Doran Black', with the addition of vibrant red colors in the leaves. It is successful when used as small-scale ground cover in rock gardens or containers. It thrives in full sun, where its color will be brighter, but it can also be planted in light shade. It requires well-drained soil with occasional irrigation in USDA Zones 9 to 11.

Jade Plant

The jade plant (Crassula ovata) is native to South Africa. A member of the stonecrop (Crassulaceae) family, it is a popular, indoor, branched succulent shrub that can grow to 6 feet tall but usually reaches a height of 18 to 30 inches. As it matures, its trunklike succulent stems and branches often take on the appearance of a miniature tree. Two-inch oblong, fleshy, shiny evergreen leaves may acquire red tints when grown in direct sun. Tiny white-to-pink flowers may appear from midwinter to spring, but rarely on indoor plants, which should be planted in a well-drained, loamy potting mixture. Jade plants are intolerant of moist, poorly drained soils. Water moderately, and allow the soil to dry between watering. This plant needs bright light but appreciates some afternoon shade and thrives in relatively low humidity. The jade plant does not require winter dormancy but appreciates a resting period with reduced watering from fall to late winter. It is well known for its potential as a bonsai specimen, because it forms a bonsai very easily when pruning is done correctly. Many who learn bonsai begin with this plant because it is durable, easy to put through the pruning process, and attractive.

Mayumi Cattleya Orchid

A hybrid between the Brassavola nodosa and Cattleya bowringiana orchids, 'Mayumi' produces vibrant lavender pink flower clusters with darker markings on the lip in winter. The flowers are fragrant at night and tend to fade to a lighter color after several days.

The orchid family consists of a large number of genera, each with its own unique characteristics. A common characteristic, however, is the basic form of the flower, which consists of three petals surrounded by three sepals, often in dramatic and contrasting colors and in a variety of shapes and sizes. Although some orchids are native to temperate zones, most orchids tend to prefer a semitropical or tropical environment (USDA Zones 9-11) and have epiphytic roots, which means they derive moisture and nutrients from the air and support from another plant; few orchids grow in soil. Orchids usually prefer a diurnal temperature fluctuation, meaning warmer days and cooler nights, though the absolute temperature range (cool, intermediate, or warm) varies by genus and is consistent with their natural habitat. While requiring adequate sunlight for a stunning bloom display, most orchids will not tolerate sustained direct sun.

Many varieties have pseudobulbs, a portion of the stem between leaf nodes that stores water to help sustain the plant through dry periods. Other varieties are monopodial, meaning upward growth is from a single growing point.

There is an exception to almost every general statement one can make about orchids. The family continues to challenge taxonomists.

Odette's Moon Lady Slipper Orchid

Odette's Moon is a cultivar of lady slipper orchid with uniquely colored flag, petals and cup featuring various combinations of white, light and dark green, chocolate, pink shading to rosy pink colors, blushes, spots and veins. Lady slipper orchids, in general, prefer the kind of growing environment that African violets often favor - that is constantly moist but never soggy soil, bright light, relatively high humidity and moderate to cool temperatures. At the Garden this cultivar is featured in the carnivorous bog.