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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Checking up on Torch Gingers

Went by Malifa yesterday to check up on the plants, water them and see how things were going.
The Torch Ginger's (Etlingera elatior) at the back overlooking the river. Well ok ... we call it a river in Samoa but in reality its a creek that runs dry during the dry season.

Anyway the Torch Ginger was doing ok. There was only one flower in its early stages. There were also quite a few suckers that could easily be removed for transplanting. I will do that when renovations at the house at Alafua are complete and I move there. They will require careful watering after transplanting. The only way I can be sure that this will happen is if I am there to do it. I will be transplanting a whole bunch of other plants there too including some blue irises.

The yellow rattlesnake plants (Calathea crotalifera) I planted next to the water tank have really grown alot in a year and need to be thinned out. The only problem is that doing this is not that easy because the soil there is very rocky and digging them out and cutting the rizhomes loose is hard and frustrating work.
Last time I took some I ended up pretty much destroying half of what I cut loose. I planted some between us and the neighbours to create a barrier against their dogs and two of the 5 plants that I planted took. The others kept getting uprooted by the dogs. Here are the two survivors.
Unfortunately my sister did some "cleaning up" along the boarder between us and the neighbours mainly to get rid of the annoying fue that grows over everything and as usual ... cleared other things as well. Typical Samoan style clearing as in cut everything down INCLUDING the two plants that had survived and were begining to grow quite well. They grow close together and very thickly and would have eventually developed into an inpenetratable barrier against the dogs. Now ... well ... I dont know. The roots are still in the ground at least so hopefully they will recover and send up shoots.
Here is a before picture I took a few days before to show how well they had recovered and were growing.

An interesting fact about these plants is that they are part of the Marantaceae or arrowroot family which is also known as the prayer plant family. the reason for this name is that in the evening their leaves fold up as if in prayer. Then in the morning they spread open again. These are not the bright yellow I have seen elsewhere. I have one small clump of brownish ones which I planted far far away because it appears to have some sort of leave infestation which has not cleared up.

Another plant that has had set back due to people indicrimitaley chopping them down or cutting back their leaves are the giant helliconias on one side of the property.
I think these are Helliconia caribaea "Jaqcuini". Well I think it is Helliconia caribaea Jaqcuini it looks alot like this one which that say is Helliconia caribaea Jaqcuini. There is also of stand of pale yellow ones.
What I find frustrating is that no matter how often I explain to some people that you need to just let the plants grow and that if you keep "trimming" them they will not flower. Also I planted them to act as a screen / barrier and provide shade. Once they attain their full growth then the will provide shade and still let breezes through which will be cooled by the shade. Geeze its simple physics ok thermodynamics but still ... I don't understand why it is so complicated for anyone. All you need to do is take note the difference between a breeze that flows through a well shaded area and one that does not pass through any shade.
It never ceases to amaze me that when its blazing hot and people are outside they gravitate to shade trees and YET even though they have used those shade trees they will still go ahead and chop them down or "prune" them within an inch of their lives and then complain  about how hot it is.
Sorry tree killers are one of my major sources of headaches.

Anyway some Zephyranthes that were transplanted a month or so ago have obviously recovered and are growing well. You can see them at the bottom right. An earlier group in the centre just before  the purple grown orchids have been happliy multiplying and flower every now and them. When the whole lot flower it looks fantastic. these are the pink ones which grow the best being resistant to African Snails (Achatina fulica) and grow well by dividing as well as seed.

I have some white ones which only grow by dividind and slowly at that. Very very slowly although I am planning on some experiments with different soils to see if that has any effect. I'd say the pink zepheranthes multiply 4-5 times faster. As for the yellow ones ... well I'm nursing the few I have along hoping to get more. Of course the fact that the African Snails so obviously love them is a problem that I am going to have to resolve.

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