Dendrobium Smilliae aka Bottlebrush orchid

The flower and the extra long stalks are a show stopper once the plant fills out. It’s pretty cool even now.

Epiphyte, warm growing (70’F-86’F), bright, filtered light, high humidity. Keep wet in summer months, a bit drier in the winter. The drying in the winter is a trigger for blooming. It’s planted in semi-hydro ( small pebbles in a shallow glass container with about an inch of water at the bottom)

Australian and New Guinea native, typically found in low land areas growing in the branches of trees and rocks in a bog forest.

This is one of a few orchids that is pollinated by birds, the yellow honeyeater is a small, yellow, hummingbird like bird that hovers near the flowers, feeds on the nectar and pollinates the orchid in the process.

I’ll fill in more details after I have more time with this one, It was just acquired it at the orchid show last month.

Encyclia Green Hornet ( cochleata x trulla) aka octopus orchid


I first saw this at the Houston Orchid Show and was lucky enough to find a vendor with one for sale. It reminds me of little space aliens descending.

I’ve only had it a month, so I’m still relying on basic orchid care for Encyclias: keep warm, medium light. I have it potted in a glass container with clay pellets ( semi-hydro ). Most orchids require cooler weather to bloom, time will tell if this one does as well. One greenhouse claims it is a winter bloomer, which means a temperature drop will be required. Others claim it is a year round bloomer, in which case no temperature drop is required. Time will tell.

It should max out between 12″-18″ in height

It is supposed to be a scented orchid, I haven’t noticed any scent yet.

The forums claim it is a fast growing, easy to care for plant

I’ve seen it listed as a cross between cochleata x trulla and cochleatum x lancifolium

I’ll upload better photos and care tips after I have time to see how it does.

Lycoris radiata ( Red Spider Lily, Hurricane Lily, Corpse Flower )

Hurricane lily blooming 3rd week of Sept

Like most flowering bulbs in Houston this is a member of the Amaryllidaceae family. It only flowers after heavy rainfalls. I had forgotten all about it, and there it was blooming as I left for a morning run. It’s been a rainier year than usual. The total rainfall is typical, the frequency is much higher.

First brought to US in 1854 when Japan and the US opened trade. They are planted in Asia along the edges of rice patties to keep rodents out of the rice.

Prefers full sun, this one is in shade with dappled light only.
Not frost hardy, but this one has been out there for several years, through several cold winters.
Toxic: I think all lilies and Amaryllis are toxic
Prefers lots of water, does best along the edges of rivers
Blooms in Autumn after heavy rain
Propagate by division
Planting depth ~4″

Origin: China, Korea, Nepal

Acer macrophyllum aka Big Leaf Maple aka Oregon Maple

This plant caught my eye along a pathway through the woods. I’d swear I’d never seen it before but now that I’ve ID it I seem to keep finding it. Every one I’ve found has been along a pathway at the edge of a heavily wooded area.

Its leaves are the largest of any maple, fitting its large size when grown in the right climate

It can grow over 150′, usually tops out at about 20′, spreading wider than its height. Not suitable for home gardens because of its size and water demands.

Native to wet areas along the western coast and mountains of the US. Doesn’t handle frosts well or droughts

Zones 5-9
Full sun to full shade

The Wild Garden, Acer mactophyllum
Fire effects of Acer macrophyllum

Justicia chrysostephana “Orange Flame”

This is a pretty easy plant to grow. I’ve had it in part sun – full shade and it happily grows and flowers all summer. Drought tolerant, but like most plants prefers damp, well drained soil. It starts blooming as soon as it leafs out and keeps blooming until well into winter.

It’s rated to 20’F but I find it dies back to the ground if winter temps go below freezing, and returns from the roots mid-spring.

There is also a yellow flowered variety, old Victorians claim there is also a pink variety

Loved by hummingbirds and bees

Grows rapidly
Grows 4′-6′ tall
Rated for zones 9b-11

Easy to grow from cuttings, plant in spring

If you’re in the Houston area it can often be found at Master Gardener Plant Sales

Vanilla planifolia

Vanilla cuttings getting started outside[/caption]

I’ve grown this off and on for years and have yet to manage a single flower. As a vine it is easy to grow.

Grow in dappled shade to shade, burns easily in direct sunlight. Keep planting medium moist, loves high humidity.

Propagate from stem cuttings

Warm climate orchid 65’F minimum – 85’F. I keep it outside in the summer where it handles temperatures as high as 100’F. In the winters I bring it in and curl up the vine inside large terrariums

Native to Mexico, West Indies, Cuba where it grows wild in forests

Why One Island Grows 80% of the World’s Vanilla

Kew Science, Vanilla planifolia

Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

This is a deciduous shrub in zone 5 through 10. It blooms early summer with fragrant white spherical flowers. I’ve only seen it at the edge of wetlands growing wild.

The branches were used by Native Americans in arrows and stick games

Leaves contain glucosides, may cause skin rashes, severe toxin if ingested – keep from humans and pets

Sun to part shade
5′-15′ tall
4′-8′ spread
prefers wet soil, wetlands
Attracts butterflies, bees and hummingbirds

Easily grown from stem cuttings, challenging to grow from seed

Native to US