An interesting plant has come into bloom for the first time in the Arid Greenhouse. Turquoise puya (Puya alpestris) produces brilliant turquoise flowers accentuated by intensely orange anthers. The species is native to the high desert mountains of southern Chile, and obtains almost all of its water from the morning dews that briefly precipitate water before sunrise. The long, thin, arching leaves are protected by spines along the margin that discourage herbivores from taking a bite. Learn more about this and four other plants in this week’s Bloom Highlight. http://www.chicagobotanic.org/inbloom/highlight.php
Orchids are reaching their peak in The Greenhouses. The dragon mouth orchid is native from Guatemala to Panama, where the subspecies rosea is found. This dragon mouth orchid (Encyclia cordigera var. rosea) is in the Tropical Greenhouse, lower level, east epiphyte tree. The flower spikes can produce flowers for up to three months, and each of the flowers smells like chocolate. This species requires very bright light whether grown in greenhouses, on a windowsill, or under artificial lights. During the summer growing season it prefers a moist, humid growing environment, but in the winter the watering should be reduced and diurnal — the difference between night and day low temperatures — with temperature fluctuations of 10 degrees to initiate flower production. Learn more about what’s in bloom here. http://www.chicagobotanic.org/inbloom/highlight_archive/highlight_022812.php
Garden scientist Nyree Zerega shows us the breadfruit tree we have planted in the Tropical Greenhouse at the Chicago Botanic Garden and talks about her research to find the relatives of this under-utilized plant. Then Mary McLaughlin from Trees That Feed tells us about her work to feed hungry people by planting these trees in tropical regions. For more information on Dr. Zerega’s research, click here. For more information on the Trees That Feed Foundation, visit www.treesthatfeed.org.
In this video, Boyce Tankersley takes us on a tour of what’s in bloom in the three Greenhouses in the Regenstein Center. We’ll learn about carnivorous plants, a Sago Palm and some giant aloe plants. He also shows us a plant that blooms outdoors even in winter. Visit http://www.chicagobotanic.org/inbloom for more information.
Ecologically friendly gardening isn’t as tough a commitment as you might think. In fact, you won’t just be saving the planet, you’ll be saving time and money. Watch Eliza Fournier’s video for tips on how easy it can be or read on for the highlights.
- Repurpose packing materials by filling the bottoms of large pots with leftover styrofoam and packing peanuts. You’ll reduce the amount of potting soil needed, and make your pots lighter and easier to move around.
- Replace chemical herbicides with a natural mix. Boil 1 gallon of white vinegar with 1 cup of table salt, then cool. Add 2 or 3 drops of liquid dish detergent and pour into a sprayer.
- Reuse! Instead of buying cheap tools every year, consider investing in quality tools and maintaining them properly. Your tool-sharpening kit should include WD-40, a rasp, coarse sandpaper, and a clamp.
- Recycle garden pots at garden centers or at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s World Environment Day on June 4, 2011.
- Reinvent your garden to include native plants and organic vegetables. Native plants attract pollinators to make your veggies more productive. Natives are also low-maintenance.
Visit www.chicagobotanic.org for more information.