Ferns, flowering plants, freaks of nature; they may not eat insects but these plants are strange and beautiful enough in their own right!
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Companion Ferns -$6
Ferns are favored for their tropical looks, and often great ease of growth and tolerance to shady conditions. A wide variety of fern species have popped up over the years from various soils in the greenhouse and other places, and I have more than a few to offer. Most are variants of the maidenhair fern group, with delicate, highly branched fronds and can get quite large over time.
Amorphophallus variabilis -$20
As the name suggests, while the leaflets look fairly similar, the patterning and colors of this plant can vary immensely, with the thick petioles sporting anything from solid shades of green to blotches, to mottling, or even a mix of them all. Individual clones tend to retain particular appearances, but can vary some between seasons even. Though none of mine have yet matured enough to bloom, they will eventually produce spectacular flower stalks up to 4 feet tall with lengthy white or pinkish spadixes surrounded by similarly variable, slender spathes, and they are reported to smell something like ripe durians.
Two clones are available, Clones D and E, tubers between 1-2" in diameter.
Epidendrum radicans -$10
An easy to grow, even weedy terrestrial to semi-epiphytic orchid in the right conditions; this plant develops clambering, branching stems that can grow 2-3 feet tall, with short solid leaves sprouting alternately up the stem. Long roots grow out the sides to anchor the plant on moist substrate, and once established each main branch will send up a tall stalk topped with potentially dozens of brilliant yellow and crimson red blooms, which give it the common name of "fire star orchid."
Available plants are rooted cuttings developing new growth points, between 4-6" in length.
Cynorkis fastigiata -$6
A perfect beginner's orchid with unusual flowers. Plants grow from underground tubers, producing a pair to three tapered green leaves up to almost a foot in length. From the center grows a tall, lanky stem that may hold up to a dozen or more blooms that look somewhat like a person wearing a hood, with two narrow bottom and two side lobes on the lower lip, and a pair of triangular projections on either side of the "hood" covering the reproductive organs. The whole bloom is washed in white to pale lavender and edged in deeper purple. In winter, the plants die back, resting in drier conditions as tubers.
Available plants are young seedlings with leaves up to 1.5" long.
Ponthieva racemosa -$14
Common through the American tropics but rare in the US, the "Hairy Shadow Witch" orchid (among other names) is a swamp-loving terrestrial that produces rosettes of broad, spearhead-shaped leaves and spreads by branching from the short subterranean stems it produces. FLower stalks are tall, thick, and hairy (hence the name), sporting often dozens of tiny but beautiful white flowers.
Limited availability, plants semi-mature with 2-4" leaves.
Theobroma cacao 'Forastero' -$40
There are few trees more unusualand yet iconic than the one we get chocolate from. 'Forastero' is the most common genetic cluster in the species from which most chocolate is made. Trees can begin fruiting at under 10 feet tall, and be maintained pruned at 10-15 feet or can be allowed to grow to full size of 20-30 feet tall. They form huge, papery leaves and tiny white flowers along the trunks naturally pollinated by gnats, that then grow into pods up to a foot long filled with a citrus-fruity white pulp and the seeds that become cocoa.
This is a plant that expects warm temperatures and moderate humidity, year-round; it prefers semi-shade rather than direct sunlight, and will not tolerate temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit for any extended period.
Available plants are seedlings approx. 10 inches tall, with 6 inch leaves.
Theobroma cacao "white pod" -$60
There are many genetic and morphologic variations in Cacao trees, this one is a semi-mystery that may prove to be superior to the most common forms. These seeds came from a pod that was white rather than the usual yellow to reddish colors, and reported to be less tannin-rich so may make a smoother chocolate (or even be able to be eaten unprocessed more readily). It is likely to grow to similar sizes, 15-30 feet tall unless pruned, as the regular form, and expects similar constantly warm, humid, and moderately bright conditions.
Available plants are seedlings approx. 4 inches tall with leaves 2-5 inches long.
Inga edulis -$30
Referred to by the common name of "Ice cream bean," this is a tropical tree from the legume family (meaning it will fix nitrogen into the soil wherever it is planted). Adult trees can grow to more than 60 feet tall, though if heavily pruned can be maintained at 20 feet or less, and form branches covered in winged, multi-part glossy and fuzzy leaves. They are most famed for their fruits, bean pods up to 2 feet long (more commonly just over 1) filled with not only seeds that can be cooked and eaten but also a white fluffy pulp that surrounds them that is purported to taste like vanilla ice cream. This is a species that will tolerate light frosts briefly, but otherwise is tropical and expects warm, humid, and sunny conditions year round, best for a greenhouse.
Available plants are seedlings approx. 3-5 inches tall with 3 inch leaves.
Inga spectabilis -$50
This is a less common species than edulis, with similar growth habits (winged multi-part leaves on trees that can reach 60+ feet tall when mature), but the pods that carry edible pulp and seeds are different, being broader and curved with "sharper" edges, lending to it the nickname "Machete ice-cream bean." They can reach up to a foot long when mature, the pulp inside with a supposed vanilla ice cream flavor. Plants are mildly tolerant of light frost once established, but prefer constant warm, sunny conditions.
Available plants are seedlings approx. 5 inches tall, with 3-5 inch leaves.