Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Friday, July 31, 2015

July Favorites Wrap-up

The last Friday of the month has come and it's time to review my favorite plants for July. Loree of Danger Garden hosts the Favorite Plant in the Garden meme at this time every month, where you can see a few of her favorites and those of other gardeners in the comments.

I only did a couple of official "Favorites" posts this month, but quite a few plants caught my attention. The butterflies demanded I write a post for Echinacea purpurea. Not wanting to offend them, I acceded to their wishes. I was afraid of what might happen if I didn't. No one ever suspects the butterfly. Last week, I shared the tiny solar flare that is a blooming Rebutia arachnacantha. The flames are extinguished now, the cactus returned to little purplish domes. I also paid homage to some of my favorite weeds -sorry, "volunteers", still getting used to that. Thinking about it, pretty much everything in my posts for GBBD and Foliage Follow-Up were also favorites.

This week I'm revisiting a favorite from February. Normally I would try to avoid naming a plant my favorite again so soon, but this is a special occasion.

Back in February, I shared the emergence of a pup on my Quesnelia marmorata. It's grown almost 4 inches since then...


...but wait, that's not the most exciting part. Bromeliads usually produce pups around bloom time,sometimes before, sometimes after, depending on the species. In Quesnelia marmorata, the pups evidently precede the blooms. I had been checking occasionally because I knew it had to be coming at some point, but it still caught me by surprise, appearing suddenly with no hint of what had been developing deep in the narrow vase of leaves. I first noticed the bloom spike when it was still 4 or 5 inches from the top of the vase, but couldn't get a decent picture of it in the depths. I didn't have to wait long, though, to get the photo below as the bloom spike rocketed up into the open.


A couple days later, I could see the first flower buds.

And then the buds emerged from the hot pink bracts, some of which folded down gracefully while others arched up.

Then things seemed to halt. I could see the flower buds, but they weren't opening. I was beginning to think those soft lavender cones were the flowers.

Then the petals started to expand, with glacial speed.

The flowers don't open very wide, remaining narrow and tubular with a slight flare at the tips.

Just wide enough to give access to the pollen and nectar inside. They also don't last long, only a day. You can see the old flowers in the background, shriveled and turned from blue to a sort of red violet.

In the span of about two weeks, the inflorescence emerged, bloomed, and now looks like this.

The lavender cones from which the petals emerged have turned hard and a sort of ochre color, rather fascinating in their own right.

As entertaining as it was to watch this high-speed blooming, the real reason I grow this bromeliad is the elegant, narrow, upright vase of leaves marbled in green, grey, and purple.

It's not just my favorite this week, but one of those plants that is a constant favorite. My one complaint is that it only produced a single pup, this time...


8 comments:

  1. That's a beauty, foliage and flower. My flowering bromeliad has also produced a cute little pup. Oh and you're right, no one ever suspects the butterfly, or the pug.

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    1. Bromeliad blooms are so much fun, even if they don't last long.

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  2. Bromeliad flowers are always such a surprise. I love the vivid blue of yours. I discovered that my Billbergia nutans bloomed too, probably following that surprise rain we got this month.

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    1. Interesting. My last Billbergia nutans always bloomed around Christmas. I have a dwarf selection now and I'm still waiting to see when it will bloom.

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  3. How beautiful, the blue and pink together. Blue is such a rare flower color, too. The flower colors look good with the frosted green color. Butterflies generally get their larvae to do all the dirty work for them. I especially hate seeing those white cabbage butterflies flitting around trying to look so innocent.

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    1. Maybe that's one of the reasons I like bromeliads so much. Many of them have blue flowers. Those cabbage butterflies! GRrr! Though we've found a few eggshells scattered around the kohlrabis and other brassica crops is enough to keep most of them away. The butterflies think the eggshells are other butterflies that have laid their eggs and don't want competition for their own offspring, so they leave.

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  4. Well done on getting it to flower Evan. It's a beauty, both foliage and flower!

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  5. Thanks! Though I think our hot summer deserves the real credit.

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