Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A is for Alocasia

We were so excited when we moved into our new house.  It had a pool and we envisioned a lush “tropical garden” surrounding it.  Unfortunately for this particular dream, we don’t live in a tropical climate.  So we’ve created a tropical looking garden that includes some “hardy” and some “not so hardy” plants.  The Alocasias are some of the “not so hardy” members of that garden.

Alocasia 'Variegata'
 Alocasias are commonly known as elephant ears.  There are actually
 three type of plants, Alocasia, Colocasia, and Xanthosoma, that are called by that name.  

Alocasia 'California'
Alocasia 'Mayan Mask
Alocasia 'Polly'
 They can have very attractive leaves and some of the cultivars can have leaves that get HUGE.  This is why we have them.  Their leaves add a lot of tropical flair to our pool side oasis.
Alocasia 'Portora'
Most of the cultivars are not able to make it through a North Texas winter, being hardy to zone 9-11, so they are dug each fall and potted up safely in our greenhouse.  The majority of the foliage is cut back and they are minimally watered.  The goal is to keep them alive, not to create some type of conservatory display in our backyard.

Alocasia 'Stingray'
Our first Alocasia was Alcocasia 'Stingray'.  We found a gigantic specimen at a local nursery and sort of bought on an impulse.  It lived on our deck at the old house sending up lots of off shoots.  We've potted them up and given away countless baby 'Stingrays' to friends and coworkers.
Alocasia 'Sarian'
Alocasia 'Regal Shields'
Alocasia 'Hilo Beauty'
Alocasia 'Malaysian Monster'
Even though we have amassed a small collection, we are always on the search for new and interesting Alocasias (as well as other interesting plants) to add around the pool. How do you add a tropical flair to your garden?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Advertures in Hybridization: Starting Seeds

After a few weeks siting in our refrigerator our daylily seeds had been chilled enough that we could attempt to germinate them.  In the southern part of the country refrigerators are commonly used to trick plants into thinking they have had a winter season.  We did a lot of research on how to collect and germinate daylily seeds.  We concluded that there are approximately 1000 different ways.  Most follow a similar path: chill the seeds, germinate the seeds in a liquid (mostly water, but usually with something added), put into pots and let the plants grow.

We put each cross and used a peroxide water solution (with a little soap to break the surface tension) to germinate the seeds.  The seeds stayed in the water until we saw a radical some out of at least one of the seeds.  Once one was ready, they were all ready.

The seeds are small, black and wrinkly.  Diploids have smaller seeds than tetraploids.  They also produce more seeds in each of their seed pods.

Each cross gets planted in it's own pot.  We use a potting soil with mycorrhizae and a bio-fungicide, but that isn't necessary.  Now they are out in the greenhouse and we wait again.