Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thrives on neglect

Sometimes I take plant descriptions too literally. I have learned that “drought-tolerant” doesn’t mean the plant will necessarily look great during a drought, and it doesn’t mean the plant won’t need at least a little bit of supplemental water during a drought.

But occasionally I run across a plant that seems to truly thrive on neglect. Rosemary, which I love and have lots of, is fairly notorious for loving to be ignored. I’ve never given my rosemary supplemental water or food, and I only cut it back when it gets in my way.

My mysterious spidery flower receives even less attention than my ignored rosemary, and yet it sends up three days’ worth of these exotic blooms every July. My neighbor found these left over from one of her catering jobs and gave them to me several years ago. Neither of us knew what they were.

More recently, I thought it might be a spider flower (Cleome hassleriana), but mine doesn’t really look like the images I’ve found online. Oddly, the only other place I’ve ever seen these (although they were twice as big) was in northeastern Australia, near the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it! Anyone recognize this tropical beauty? Edited 7:15 p.m.--Thanks to comments from Laura and Eoin: it's a Spider Lily-Hymenocallis "Tropical Giant"!


SomeLikeItHot said...

It looks like a spider lily to me (don't know the official name). I had those at my last house and I never watered them, yet they always bloomed.


Eoin said...

You have Hymenocallis "Tropical Giant" a hybrid of probable Caribbean origin.This is one of the best passalong plants for Austin and anywhere else it is hardy.Planted in shallow water or in a bog garden it grows into large clumps and flowers heavily for months but can thrive even in dry conditions.Everyone should have one.

Iris said...

Hi Laura and Eoin,

Yes! Thank you! It's definitely a Spider Lily-Hymenocallis "Tropical Giant". I'm so glad to know.

(I guess if I watered it a little more, I'd get more blooms, huh?)

Lancashire rose said...

Nice to know the name of your tough plant. As long as a plant makes it through the summer it's good for my garden.

TexasDeb said...

Wow - I am now actively on the lookout for some of those for our beds. What gorgeous blooms. I'd seriously consider establishing a bog garden just for that plant alone.

Anna said...

You are right, they are growing in a lot of gardens here in Queensland ( north eastern Australia). They love it here. It's good to finally know what they are. They are commonly grown in the traffic island gardens in the middle of the road.