Bloomin’ Update 62: The Glorious Gloriosa Lily


I’ve become a little bit obsessed with the Gloriosa Lily ever since I spotted it casually rambling over my friend Neil’s shrubs. The vining plant was so intertwined with the neighboring plants that it looked as if its exotic flowers were part of the shrubs. On top of that, the flowers last a very long time when cut and placed in a vase. Even the cut buds eventually open!

Neil shared some tubers with me, but for whatever reason, they never sprouted — at least not until the last set of tubers, that is. I planted them in a large pot on the patio and added a tuteur-style trellis — actually, a thrift store purchase that was once a floor-standing pyramid for a pillar candle. I placed a glass dome from an old ceiling fixture on top, where the candle should be, and use a battery-operated candle at night.

Once planted, I examined the pot each day for any sort of growth. A few times, I was even tempted to dig them up because nothing was happening — and just when I was about to surrender, the first sprout appeared, and others soon followed.

The stems climbed upward and I attached the curling leaf ends to one another — a sort of buddy system to support them as they continue up the tower. To date, the tendrils are doing an excellent job of keeping the plants secure, even on windy days.

By the time the plants reached the top of the trellis, the first bud appeared. My morning ritual then included an examination of the bloom for any changes. Heck, whenever I walked passed the pot, I studied the blossom and noticed how the seams appeared to pucker and ruffle.

Shortly thereafter, it looked like a lantern.

Within a few days, the seams of the blossom opened and the two-toned petals stretched outward and the stamens dangled downward. I think my heart skipped a few beats — but the show was just beginning.

By the following day, the ruffled petals had reached upward, taking on the appearance of one of its other common names: Flame Lily.

I refuse to cut off this first flower and to place it in a vase to be brought into the house. While that will eventually happen with other Gloriosa flowers — so I can enjoy my obsession while inside — I’m too excited to watch what this one does on the vine.

Besides, other buds are beginning to open and it looks as if flames are dancing on the tips of each stem. . .

. . . and that is oh, so glorious.

This cultivar is a tropical species, and despite its name, it isn’t true lily. Gloriosa Lily is a member of the Colchicaceae family and does well in zones 10 and higher. A winter mulch in zones 8 & 9 help it survive winter. In colder regions, the plant should be treated as an annual vine. Gloriosa Lily requires 6 – 8 hours of sunlight a day, as well as a trellis or wall for the leaves to grab onto. Plant the delicate tubers about 2” – 4” deep. As a houseplant, Gloriosa Lily requires a bright, sunny window and should be forced into dormancy (by withholding water) after it blooms. For more information, visit Wisconsin Master Gardener.

Bloomin’ Update 60: An Autumnal Interlude


If the transition from winter to spring in South Florida is subtle, the one between summer and fall is practically invisible. While autumn is already a few weeks old — according to the calendar and posts from northern gardeners — the weather forecasters in Zone 10 say that anything resembling fall (temperatures below 70) will not arrive until sometime in November — and that will most likely happen while I’m fast asleep.

Continue reading

Bloomin’ Update 59: Twenty Years To Life


It’s difficult to believe that it’s the first day of winter, WordPress has added snow, the holidays are upon us, and 2017 is coming to an end. For many, this time of year is an opportunity to look back and reflect.

My day of reflection, though, happened on December 12, the 20th anniversary of my car accident.

Continue reading

Bloomin’ Update 56: Going Bananas!


Banana

Ever since Joe first noticed the flower stem emerging from the crown of our banana tree, I’ve been singing the song “Going Bananas.” Madonna sang it during her Dick Tracey years and it pops into my head whenever I walk by the tree and observe the changes in the inflorescence.

Actually, I don’t even know the words — just the chorus, and even that’s a bit shaky. So all I really ever sing is “I’m going bananas” and then I add a few la-la-las and a couple of boom-chick-a-booms.

Simply put, I’m going bananas because I’m growing bananas.

Banana

Within a few days, the flower stem is pulled downward by the weight of the inflorescence, so that it’s peeking below the dark green foliage and looking a lot like the Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors.

Banana Fact: This flower stem is actually the plant’s true stem, growing from the rhizome below the ground and pushing its way upward through the false stem or pseudostem, a very fibrous, water-filled stem of tightly packed leaf sheaths.

As it grows, modified leaves or bracts curl back to reveal rows of young fruit.

Banana

Each of these are tipped with a pale yellow female flower. The male flowers are contained in the reddish-brown bud at the end of the flower stem.

Banana

Soon, more and more bananas are revealed. Each bunch is called a hand, and each single banana is called a finger.

Banana Fact: Each hand can have between 10 and 20 fingers.

Banana

I’m so enamored of the plant’s structure, I find myself wanting to photograph it each day.

Banana Fact: because they are derived from a single flower with more than one ovary, bananas — like tomatoes, kiwi, and pomegranates — are berries.

Banana

Banana

The pale yellow flowers begin to fade.

Banana Fact: A banana plant is actually classified as a perennial herb.

Banana

Banana

And all that’s left for me to do is wait for the harvest.  (Notice the smaller male flowers at the bottom of the photo below.)

Banana

Banana

I’m not exactly sure when that harvest will be. All I know is the flower stem will continue to elongate, creating more space between the hands. At some point after that, it will be time to not only remove the fruit, but also the plant itself to make room for the pup that’s already sprouting next to the mother plant.

Banana Fact: Until then, rest assured, I’ll be going bananas.