Vanda and Cattlea Orchids

Vanda and Cattleya Orchids

Like any other plant, orchids require light, correct temperature ranges, humidity, water and feeding. Orchids are variable in their light requirements depending on genera and variety.

The Vanda was first discovered in 1613 by Alvin Semedo and the name Vanda comes from the Sanskrit word for orchid. Vandas do not need soil to grow, in fact, potting them in soil would cause their roots to rot. The Vanda orchid’s natural habitat is tropical. They require a very high level of humidity and light shade is needed. You will be able to determine just how much light your Vanda orchid requires by identifying the type of leaves your orchid has.

There are 3 types of Vanda orchids, each with a different type of leaf. The first type is the strap-leaf (broad, flat leaves), the second type is terete (round, pencil-like leaves), and the third is semi-terete (hybrid of strap-leaf & terete leaf). Terete leaf Vandas need full sun, semi-terete leaf Vandas need a bit less sun, and strap-leaf Vandas need even a little less light.

Cattleya orchids originate from Central and South America and were named for the English orchid collector William Cattleya. They have been widely hybridized, resulting in a large variety of colors and forms. Cattleyas thrive with humid conditions and in medium light. In hot weather, keep them shaded sufficiently ensuring the leaves are cool to the touch. If a Cattleya orchid is kept in excessively moist conditions, disease and rot can set in which will cause damage to the plant.

There are a number of orchids blooming in our rainforest right now, stop in and check them out.

Amarylus

I Spy…In the Garden

What Might You See Around the Garden this Month?

Here’s a collection of interesting plants, artists, gardeners, flowers and critters that you may spot when you visit the gardens at Heathcote.

Heliconia

Heliconia at Heathcote

What’s blooming in our rainforest today?

Heliconia Humilis Illustration

Heliconia humilis (Jacquin, 1804)

Heliconias, also popularly known as lobster-claw, wild plantain or false bird-of-paradise, are an unusual looking tropical plant with banana-like leaves and beautiful, long lasting inflorescences composed of showy bracts which contain the true flowers.

They are native primarily in the American tropics from the Tropic of Cancer in Central Mexico to the Tropic of Capricorn in South America, including the Caribbean to tropical South America, as well as the Pacific Ocean Islands west to Indonesia. There are between 100 and 200 species in the genus.

These plants are not necessarily a good choice for every yard. They will need an area where they can spread 3 feet or more. If you have the room, let them naturalize an area for a very unique and tropical look.

On average, Heliconia can grow to about 3 or 4 feet tall, though some varieties can get much larger. The “Lobster Claw,” with its unique claw-like flowers, can grow 6 feet tall, and other types as much as 15 feet.

Heliconia is named after Mount Helicon, the seat of the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts and sciences in Greek mythology.

Come visit our rainforest to see the heliconia in person.

Surinam Cherry Bonsai detail

The Surinam Cherry Bonsai Tree

Surinam Cherry Bonsai Tree

The Surinam Cherry bonsai is a sub-tropical evergreen with dark green ovate leaves formed in pairs and thin, tan-colored, peeling bark. In the spring it bears small white flowers which are followed by red edible fruit. It is a popular landscape tree in the southern part of the United States and is highly recommended for those wanting an outdoor tropical bonsai as it has a long life and is relatively easy to grow.

Surinam Cherry Bonsai Tree

Surinam cherries, also known as the Pitanga, are small, red, ribbed berries that look very similar to a cherry. Their taste, however, is very different. Some say they are tart and acidic with a taste much like a green bell pepper, others say it tastes like a mango. The fruit is also rich in antioxidants and an excellent source of vitamins A and C. The tropical Surinam cherry is related to the guava, clove, allspice and eucalyptus plants. The name is deceptive since it’s actually not related to sweet or sour cherries.

The Surinam cherry is named for the northern country in South America where it is believed to have originated. It naturally grows in neighboring French Guiana and Guyana and can be found as far south as Uruguay and Argentina.

The leaves of the Surinam cherry contain various essential oils such as turpentine in the form of polyterpenes and sequiterpenes; citronella which is known to repel insects.

 

Come and visit the James J. Smith Bonsai Gallery here at Heathcote and see this beautiful bonsai for yourself.

 

Peace Lily

Blooming in White

Here are some of the white flowers currently blooming in Heathcote’s gardens.

The Queen Emma Lily (named for the consort of King Kamehameha IV) is a type of crinum lily, or spider lily.

The White Geiger Texas Olive tree is native to Mexico and Texas and commonly called the Texas Wild Olive. In Southern Florida it is referred to as “White Geiger.”

The Peace Lily is named for its flamboyant white blooms, which resemble flags of peace.

Delphiniums are perennials grown for their showy spikes of colorful summer flowers in gorgeous shades of blue, pink, white, and purple. Very young delphinium plants and delphinium seeds are poisonous. If ingested, they can cause nausea, twitching muscles, paralysis, and even death.

Water Jasmine is the common name for Wrightia Religiosa, the variety we use for bonsai. One of the reasons this tropical bonsai is popular throughout the world is due to its beautiful flowers which smell “as sweet as jasmine.”

Come visit these beautiful white blooming flowers and much more. We are open Tuesday – Sunday. View our hours, admission prices and pet policy here.

Monarch Butterfly

Blooming in the Butterfly Garden

Planting a butterfly garden is a great way to beautify your yard and help attract many of the different butterflies found in Florida. Most butterfly gardens are also a magnet for hummingbirds and beneficial insects. A productive butterfly garden does not require a large land area—even a few key plants can make a huge impact.

To generate a list of host plants for a specific area, visit Florida Native Plant Society’s website.

Here are a few of the plants currently blooming in Heathcote’s butterfly garden.

There are more than 765 species of butterflies found in North America north of Mexico. Florida boasts over 180 verified butterfly species representing some 170 native or newly established species and 17 tropical vagrants. Within that mix, around 40 are considered either unique to the state or occur mostly within its boundaries. This diverse butterfly fauna is the highest of any state east of the Mississippi River and helps make Florida a premier location for butterfly gardeners.

Butterfly information from document WEC 22, one of a series of the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date December 1990. Revised February 2008. Reviewed October 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.