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Saintpaulia ‘Optimara Hiroshige’

African Violet Hiroshige

Scientific name: Saintpaulia ‘Optimara Hiroshige’

Common names: African violet

Family: Gesneriaceae

Nativity: Eastern tropical Africa

Location: Houseplant at Oakleaf Woods

Date: November 17, 2015

Notes: This African violet is one of my absolute favorites. Because Optimara does not tag their plants with cultivar name, I made a guess from their list of what was available when I bought mine. The African Violet Society cautions against trying to ID violets from pictures though, so we’ll have to consider ourselves warned! Whatever it is—it does look identical to their pictures of Hiroshige—I love it! The two-toned flowers and the petal shape are so delicate and beautiful. I’m only recently getting more serious about AV growing, so I don’t know how typical it is, but Hiroshige has bloomed about twice a year for me.

Hiroshige is named for the Japanese woodcut artist, Utagawa Hiroshige, and is part of Optimara’s Artist Palette series.

Nepenthes ‘Lady Luck’

Nepenthes Lady Luck 1


Scientific name: Nepenthes ‘Lady Luck’

Common names: pitcher plant, monkey cups

Family: Nepenthaceae

Nativity: Asia

Location: Houseplant at Oakleaf Woods

Date: November 12, 2015

Notes: Lady Luck’s parents are from the Philippine highlands (N. ventricosa) and the islands of Southeast Asia (N. ampullaria). It is reported to have hybrid vigor and be adaptable to more conditions than either parent. I have had my plant for several months now, and except for an adjustment period during which most of the existing pitchers dried up, I’ve had no problems. I’m guessing the humidity level in my house was much lower than it was used to at the nursery. Even so, it continued to rapidly produce new pitchers and seems to like my window where it gets direct sun for a couple of hours a day, even though most recommendations are that it be protected from that. I do keep the soil moist, which might give it a little more sun tolerance.

Cuphea llavea

Bat-face Cuphea (Cuphea llavea)

Scientific name: Cuphea llavea

Common names: Bat-face (or bat-faced) cuphea, Mexican heather, mouse ears

Family: Lythraceae

Nativity: Mexico

Location: McMillan Greenhouses courtyard, UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, Charlotte, NC

Date: October 12, 2014

Notes: Small subshrub for sunny area. Can be grown quickly from seed; some cultivars look less like bats than the species. Hardy in zones 9 or warmer, usually grown as a container annual north of that. Blooms profusely for months. Hummingbirds and butterflies are frequent visitors.

Begonia ‘Phoe’s Cleo’

Begonia ‘Phoe’s Cleo’ in bloom at the McMillan Greenhouses at UNC Charlotte

Logee’s says about this rhizomatous begonia cultivar that it is perfect for a windowsill, growing to about 12 inches high. It will enjoy spending the summer out of doors in the shade, but bring it inside before the temperatures drop below 60°. The pretty pink flowers arrive in winter.

Merry Christmas

Amaryllis 'Merry Christmas'

You’re looking down the throat of an amaryllis with me. This one is called Merry Christmas, but even though I potted it in early October, it didn’t bloom until now. I would rename it Happy Valentine’s Day, but no one’s asked me.

Amaryllis 'Merry Christmas' in bud

An amaryllis is welcome whenever it blooms, though, and intense red is a nice jolt of energy on a cold and windy winter morning.

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