Many of you love to discover and decorate with rare or unusual plants. Here are five uncommon plants you can find here:
1. ‘Little Redhead’ Indian Pink
Indian Pink (Spigelia) is underutilized in the landscape due to limited availability, but it’s poised to make an explosion in popularity. Why? It grows naturally in either sun or shade. This perennial can be found growing in the wild in woodlands and along streambanks throughout the Eastern United States. It’s wildly popular among wildflower enthusiasts and highly sought after. ‘Little Redhead’ is a superior selection of the species, vegetatively propagated to ensure uniformity. This variety requires good drainage to thrive, so do not plant in areas with standing water. Loved by Hummingbirds, and a Northeast native!
There is a rare, relatively new hybrid of succulent called Mangave. It combines the fast growth rate and interesting patterns of Manfreda, with the habit and refinement of Agave. These plants can grow to be quite large, with the ‘Mission to Mars’ variety reaching 3 feet wide! Mangave like full sun, a well-drained, dry, average soil, and should be situated in containers just slightly wider than the width of the rosette. Mangave can also be planted directly in the ground as annuals and add tremendous landscape value. It can be kept indoors if you have a very sunny location. We currently have the ‘Mad About You’ collection of Mangave available, and you can learn more about those varieties here.
The whimsical Albuca ‘Frizzle Sizzle’ or Corkscrew Albuca has thick, tightly curled leaves on short stems that arise from an underground bulb. Fragrant yellow flowers appear in spring on flower spikes that are adorned with10-20 blooms per spike. The blossoms have a light vanilla fragrance. Grow in full sun and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. There are no pest or disease problems with ‘Frizzle Sizzle’ so it makes an ideal home or garden plant that’s distinctive and eye-catching.
Special note: Albuca ‘Frizzle Sizzle’ is a spring bloomer. When it sends up flower stalks, it often causes the tips of the leaves to brown. This is a natural occurrence. If you don’t want this to happen, simply remove the flower stalks as soon as they start to grow to prevent leaf tip browning.
4. Bromeliad Neoregelia
These compact plants feature striking foliage, and typically form a “cup” in the middle which gathers water and debris for nutrition. Their leaves are often spotted, banded, or marbled, giving them a gorgeous accent of color and a lot of character. They are commonly cultivated as houseplants by Northern gardeners, or as landscape plants, often grown in tree branches, in warmer climates, like Florida. As houseplants, they like indirect, bright, moderate light, good humidity, and to be misted in winter. Feed them a light fertilizer for better foliage color, and water them in the center of the cup to keep them moist, but empty out excess water so as not to cause rot.
Fun fact: In the wild, Neoregelias are utilized by many species of poison dart frog to reproduce. The frogs raise their tadpoles in the security of the water-filled cup in the bromeliads’ rosettes, allowing them to stay in the relative safety of the treetops and not have to venture to a pool on the ground where predators are likely much more numerous. Waste products from the frogs and their offspring, once deposited into the cup, are utilized by the plant for nourishment.
Abutilon, commonly known as Flowering Maple or Indian Mallow, looks a lot like a dwarf Hibiscus, or even a type of Hellebore, with leaves that resemble a Maple’s leaves. Their blooms have delicate, papery petals. These plants love high heat, so Northern gardeners will need to either keep them inside, or keep them outside only in the full sun and heat of July and August. Northern gardeners may wish to grow these sub-tropical specimens in containers so that it is easier to bring them indoors in the fall, where they will be grown as houseplants during the winter. During winter, it will not need a lot of direct sunlight (just a few hours per day). Grow it in a relatively cool room in your house. You should also cut back on watering at this time, supplemented by occasional misting.