Jungle Journal: A Lazarus Palm, Drought, and Stapelia Flowers

Lots to go over today!

-  Still in a drought
-  Birds nest fern is struggling
-  Bismarck palm returning from frost?
-  Did another flower arrangement
-  Hurricane bromeliad in bloom
-  Starfish Flower Almost Blooming!

Rain, Rain, Come Our Way!
I haven't been able to get out to the garden lately, and as a result I've focused my energy designing and learning the ropes of Twitter, and its been a while since I've been able to do a nice and lengthy "Jungle Journal" post. 

Maybe its the designing bug that bit me, or it might be that the awful drought has been bringing me down, but I haven't truly been able to enjoy the garden in a while!  Tomorrow I'll take a trip over there and take some pictures, but I have to say that a garden just isn't the same without the ample thunderstorms and rain showers we normally get by now, stirring the voices of treefrogs and kicking up that wonderful earthy smell that accompanies a long awaited deluge.

At least there's a slight chance for rain in the forecast, but my usually swampy garden is having a hard time.  Here's a shot of the back of the garden, normally flooded by now.  The elephant ears (colocasia) are severely stunted.

Bone dry.  Also above is a shot of my swamp dwelling leather fern, also suffering and stunted.  The fronds should be at head height. 

Now here's how this area looked last year with standing water for months.

Birds Nest Fern Overwatered
The opposite fate has befallen my Japanese bird's nest fern! About a month ago I repotted it in a larger pot, not noticing that it had no drainage holes.  We then had some torrential rain, and the fern was located where runoff collects from the roof, which is great... assuming it had drainage holes.  I soon smelled a rotting smell and realized that it was sitting in gallons of water, and since then it hasn't been looking too good.  Either that or it needs fertilizer, got too much sun... I dunno.

You'll notice that the new fronds are a bit stunted, and brown at the edges.  I think it's going to be okay though, since its unfurling new fronds daily and has plenty of healthy fiddleheads in the crown.  Any ideas?

Bismarck Palm, Dead or Alive?

In our record breaking winter, one of the few plants that actually died was my small bizzie palm... or did it?  I was dumping some dirt from the Rain Garden project when I noticed a new spear just starting to come up.  Now, mind you, this is September, and we're beginning to feel the cooler days of fall by now.  Not only that, but the spear pulled out, which is supposed to be the kiss of death for palm trees in a freeze.  Look for yourself:

I don't expect it to live or anything, but the fact that its still alive is pretty amazing.

Another Flower Arrangement

Remember Stuart from MadTV?

I did a little "Stuart" jump after making this simple arrangement.  It only took a few minutes and used two heliconia flowers, an alocasia leaf, liriope berries and liriope flowers.  Its been a couple weeks since I took this photo and only now do I have to throw them out, so I guess they are pretty long lasting.

For other arrangements I did, click the links.
Tropical Flower Arrangement
Floating Gardenia Blossoms
Floating Passionflowers

Billbergia Pyramidalis in Bloom

I know that these are among the more common bromeliads in the area, but they're still some of my favorites and I'm really happy to have one in bloom.  The cell phone pics don't capture it well, but the velvety purple tips are iridescent.

Starfish Flower Starting to Bloom!

Look closely and you'll see a multitude of flower buds, not to mention the many outside the reach of this photo.  The flowers will eventually be huge psychadelic monstrosities that will supposedly smell like carrion.  Unless the smell is overpowering, the bizarre coolness of this milkweed relative is worth it.  See you guys next time!

For more Jungle Journals,
Coral Reef Succulent Container Update
Crinum, Tabebuia and Tibouchina
Heliconia, Passionflower and Gloriosa Blooming!


  1. I feel your pain over the dryness of your usually boggy area. Mine is the same way. Last year I completely re-did the plantings to accomodate flooding and now....no flooding. I sure hope that birdsnest fern dries out and perks up for you.

  2. I too can never get enough of the hurricane bromeliads - and the bloom lasts so long :) Brids nest ferns live in the branches of trees here, so yes I think it needs plenty of free draining material in that pot. It looks very healthy to me, and I am sure will recover from its overwatering in no time.

  3. I've always heard too that the bird's nest needs well-drained soil. I just planted mine in-ground as that's the way I see them in gardens down here.

    I love starfish flowers, though I have nothing so exotic in my collection. How exciting that yours is blooming! Love that minimalist flower arrangement too! I could certainly never get the courage to cut my heliconia...well, maybe next year, if I get more blooms.

  4. Hey, Steve! I'm surprised your 'wet' garden is so dry! I've been enjoying rains most every day, even if just a 5 minute shower. I'm excited about your Bismarck...maybe there's hope?! I like your startfish bloom too...very cool! Can't wait to see it!
    Question...one of my broms has a top/center leaf that came out in my hand when lifting out fallen bougainvillea leaves from the center of the brom. Does this mean the brom has rot? The other leaves still felt firm, but admittedly I didn't tug too hard. What do I do?

  5. Our rain has dried up here too the last couple of weeks. It's so nice in summer when i don't have to worry about turning the sprinklers on. Glad to see your bismark is making a recovery...my angel trumpet is just now coming back from above-ground roots. good luck with the bird's nest.

  6. NanaK:
    Yeah, its funny but the part that was wettest in years past is now the driest! I guess those big trees drink a lot of water!

    You're right, it is starting to recover already. The new fronds are unrolling and they look just fine. I keep it in its container for added drainage.

    I checked on the starfish flowers and it should only be a matter of days! I'm so excited! Yeah, don't cut your heliconia if you don't have to. Mine has become rampant so I have plenty to spare.

    Yeah, I notice that areas further south have been getting plenty of rain, but not me. BTW, it looks like your brom has vase rot, and I would remove the center leaves and rinse out all the stinky water. When I do this I still get pups eventually, so don't trash it altogether, just the mushy leaves and stinky water. Which kind was it?

    We've needed sprinklers all summer here! I still can't get over how drastically different the rain was up here. I'm glad your angels trumpet is returning! This winter is supposed to be a mild one but we'll see.

  7. Can't wait to see your stapeliad blooms!!!

  8. I also feel what you feel when my garden also been into dryness. I was sad all about it especially when most of my plants died. Now I was craving to harvest tomatoes before the summer ends.


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