My collection of warm-weather plants grows more and more every year.
As many of you know, I have a sizable collection of tropical plants at my Bedford, New York farm. Yesterday, I shared photos of the specimens now stored in my newest hoop house located in front of my vegetable garden. Across the carriage road is another hoop house, where I keep many of my sago plants, dendrobium orchids, and other palms. During the colder months, all these plants are tucked away in their designated temperature and humidity controlled structures and checked every day to ensure they are doing well.
Here are a few more photos of my thriving potted tropical plants.
If you follow my blog, you may recognize this plastic greenhouse where many of my tropical plants are now stored. They actually spend about seven months of the year in these heated shelters. The entire structure is built using heavy gauge American made, triple-galvanized steel tubing.
These greenhouses work by heating and circulating air to create an artificial tropical environment. The temperature in a tropical plant greenhouse should never drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is Oxalis triangularis, commonly called false shamrock. It is a species of perennial plant in the family Oxalidaceae. The trifoliate leaves resemble a shamrock and can be green to variegated to deep maroon in color. The leaves close up at night or when disturbed.
And the white to pink five-petaled flowers bloom in clusters in spring to summer on stems held above the plant and also close at night.
Lysimachia nummularia, commonly called moneywort or creeping Jenny, is a low-growing, creeping ground cover native to Europe, but has naturalized in parts of eastern and northwestern North America where it can be found growing along stream banks, lake and pond margins, roadsides, ditches, and other moist, undisturbed areas. I often like to use it as underplanting around my larger plants. Mature plants form a leafy mat only two to four inches tall. It features rounded, slightly ruffled, leaves.
This is one of my sago palms, Cycas revoluta. I love sago plants – sago is a popular houseplant known for its feathery foliage and ease of care. This very symmetrical plant supports a crown of shiny, dark green leaves on a thick shaggy trunk that is typically about seven to eight inches in diameter, sometimes wider.
These are younger sago plants, which I have nurtured from small pups. Sagos are very slow growers, reaching mature heights between 10 and 12 feet in about 50 years.
Adiantum, the maidenhair fern, is a genus of about 250 species of ferns in the subfamily Vittarioideae. The genus name comes from Greek, meaning “unwetted”, referring to the fronds’ ability to shed water without becoming wet. Maidenhair ferns have delicate fan-shaped leaf segments, typically clustered on wiry black stems, and their leaves are smaller than other types of ferns.
A very different looking fern is the narrow sword fern – a lush evergreen known for its bright green, sword-shaped fronds. Each leaf is made up of many narrow, overlapping, sometimes twisting leaflets. And look closely, each of the leaflets has toothed edges.
Colocasia, or elephant ear, will switch energy resources in colder temperatures from producing leaves to flower and corm production. Do you know the difference between colocasia and alocasia, the other elephant’s ear plant? The easiest way to tell the two apart is by the stem attachment and the position of the leaves. If the leaves point up, you are looking at an Alocasia variety, while if those shield-leaves are down, it’s likely a Colocasia.
Here is another Colocasia – I bring a number of these plants to Maine during the summer months.
Lady palms have broad, dark green, fan-shaped foliage on tall stalks. They need to get east-facing exposure, out of direct sunlight, and thrive in comfortable indoor temperatures around 60-degrees to 80-degrees Fahrenheit.
On this shelf, made from boards and stumps of felled trees grown here at the farm, are dendrobium orchids, all evenly spaced to allow every specimen ample air circulation. Raising plants on shelves helps vary plant levels and saves much needed space. And, like many hoop houses and greenhouses, light from the sun enters the plastic and is trapped, keeping the interior several degrees warmer than the exterior.
The heater is checked a couple of times each day to make sure the temperature remains comfortably warm inside. On this day, the temperature was at 60-degrees Fahrenheit – still perfect range for these potted plants.
The foliage of philodendrons is usually green but may be coppery, red, or purplish with parallel leaf veins that are green or sometimes red or white. Shape, size, and texture of the leaves vary considerably, depending on species and maturity of the plant. I have many philodendrons that are growing so well here at Bedford.
The kentia palm has arching evergreen fronds that form from crowns. Leaves are pinnate, or feather-shaped, about seven feet long, with unarmed leaf stems. Leaves have a number of leaflets that bend downward in a graceful fashion and are about two feet long, dark green on top, and lighter green on the bottom.
This is a Bismarkia palm, Bismarckia nobilis, which grows from a solitary trunk, gray to tan in color, and slightly bulging at the base. The nearly rounded leaves are enormous and are divided to a third its length into 20 or more stiff, once-folded segments.
Bismarckia is a monotypic genus of flowering plant in the palm family endemic to western and northern Madagascar, where they grow in open grassland. The genus is named for the first chancellor of the German Empire Otto von Bismarck and the epithet for its only species, Bismarckia nobilis, comes from Latin for ‘noble’. I just visited the nation of Madagascar and will be sharing many photos of my family’s trip in coming blogs.
Inside the hoop house, we put a lot of attention into proper placement of each plant so we are able to fit many inside – without any of the plants touching.
Old hay bales, grown right here at the farm keep the structure extra insulated. I am fortunate to have these roomy hoop houses to keep my many plants looking their best until spring, when they are all brought out again.