May 31, 2008

Tapeinochilos for Ultra Tropical Gardeners

Tapeinochilos are rhizomatous herbs from New Guinea, Indonesia, Australia and the Solomon Islands. The flowers can be either borne basally or terminally depending on the species. The stems are bamboo like varying from banded brown and white as with T.xdensum to vivid red as with T. moluccan. The day flowers peak out of hard coned bracts that vary in color from black to red to yellow.
T. ananassae is the most commonly cultivated of the tapeinochilos. More specifically, the variety from Moluccas which has bright red bracts wrapped around the stems. This red coloring distinguishes it from the varieties native to New guinea and Australia. It has been in cultivation for over 100 years and like most tapeinchilos makes an excellent cut flower.
Other taps are relatively new to the horticultural scene. For my money T.xdensum is an excellent tap to try. It is one of the quickest to flower and in addition to it's deep amber flowers has extremely attractive stems. T. moluccan is also very quick to flower and easily flowers
in pots. The vivid red stems are striking and the flowering prolific making it a must have tap.
One of the most unusual tap is T. dahlii with it's blood black flower and black and white stems. It's a little slower to flower but well worth the wait if you're looking for a truly rare and unusual flowering plant. It also has a particularly long lasting flower with one lasting at the Flecker Botanical Gardens in Cairns lasting for more than a year.
Tapeinochilos are extremely tropical and water loving creatures. They look best when either massed or made a feature of. We have a small dedicated area underplanted with variegated mondo grass that shows the stems and flowers off to their best.
We'll be adding more varieties to our online plant store as they become available.

Happy Gardening!! Ann

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