Every now and then fellow gardeners have been incredibly generous with me, donating bromeliads, spiderlilies, cuttings and seeds, leading me to believe that gardeners are the kindest people on earth. I start the seedlings and cuttings on my balcony until they're tough enough to brave "The Rainforest Garden" 30 minutes away, and hope to make my gardening friends proud by telling them I successfully grew them to maturity.
I also use my balcony to grow my more tender varieties of bromeliads and orchids, but hope to try them outdoors when I have enough divisions, when they have acclimated to our winters. For example, I have taken a whole bunch of rhipsalis cuttings and hope to try them in the garden , in a protected spot, of course.
The other day I did a lot of dividing and cleaning up on the balcony, separating bromeliad clumps, repotting, and reorganizing my collection. I had a sad looking container of schefflera arboricola, dracaena and some bromeliads in the living room, and mercifully repotted them outside individually so I can give them the individual attention they need. I repotted my lady palm, and brought it back inside where the poorly planned container was.
I also refurbished my epiphyte centerpiece!
The vrieseas were getting a little too big, and my encyclia cordigera orchid was declining as a result. You can see in the photo to the left that it really used to be a happy orchid. Hopefully the increased light and circulation will go a long way in rejuvinating it. I also removed some shriveled "backbulbs" to remove some of the strain, and I hopefully I can even use the old pseudobulbs to create new orchids.
I also added an encyclia tampensis to the centerpiece. It was doing great nestled in the crown of my japanese birds nest fern, but it can't really stay there, or else it will block the fern's emerging fronds! I also have a little colony started on a piece of driftwood.
This native "butterfly orchid" has really been taking off with minimal care on my part, just an occasional drenching during my watering rounds. I plan on growing this one outdoors at some point, as they are native all the way to St. John's county in Florida... the same county that my garden's in! Rest assured that I'll give it a protected spot just in case.
I've placed all of the vrieseas from the centerpiece in a pot for now until I get some more orchid bark, and the backbulbs of the encyclia are resting in a pot with a tipuana tipu seedling I acquired from the very generous Grower Jim of Garden Adventures. I really hope I can keep the seedling alive, since this is one of the hardier tropical flowering trees. No documented success that I know of in Jacksonville, but when it grows up maybe I can slowly acclimate it. You can also see two of the pups from my huge alcantarea "inferno" against the window, which are already quite large considering they're just pups! I still have five more pups attached to the mother plant just in case the divisions don't work out.
"The Citrus Guy", all planted in a cellpack donated by my fiance's mom! This tray of seedlings is the very embodiment of a "passalong plant", and I plan on sharing the surplus plants with other gardeners to complete the cycle.
You'll notice that I planted the rain lily seedlings in the same cells as the swamp hibiscus, and this is so a drift of rain lily bulbs will automatically be created wherever the hibiscus is planted. Rain lily's grassy foliage easily blends into lawns, where they'll bloom right after rain showers, turning the lawn into a magical field of flowers for a while before returning to green.
Here's a nice little assemblage of seedlings and tillandsias, which will be used in our wedding as centerpieces and boutonnieres. In the left hand corner, my Surinam cherry has gotten bigger, and the two itty bitty pots below it contain pineapple seedlings started from a fruit. The bromeliad to the right is my new Aechmea "Del Mar", which is too tender to plant in the ground. I know my limitations. The big pot in the middle contains dragonfruit seedlings, also started from a fruit. The container was filled with them but I divided them a while back, into many individual pots, and giving some to coworkers.
Here are some of those pots! I now have 27 individual plants, which I can share as my own passalongs when the get older. It does look like they could use a bamboo stick in each one to serve as a trellis, though.
Passalong plants are a great way to share the wealth and build friendships. Its also a great way to see how your plant does in another environment, like when I sent Danger Garden some bromeliads and they responded to the cool summer by coloring up brighter than I've ever seen before! How rewarding!