Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I have keikis!

From the Hawaian for "baby" or "child", literally "the little one"*.

Normally it's applied to young plantlets that develop on orchids but it's also used for the plantlets that can develop on the spent flower heads of Hedychium greenii.

Have I mentioned that this 2013-14 winter has been very mild?  Mild enough that those of my Hedychiums that would normally be evergreen in warmer climates have overwintered with foliage intact. Rather tatty, I admit, but present.  H.coccineum 'Tara', H. gardnerianum, H.'Pink Hybrid' and H.greenii still have last year's leaves.  Which means they are shooting early - normally it's at the end of May - and that last year's flower heads from H.greenii are developing the adventitious plantlets that, if left to develop and then removed and nurtured, will produce new plants.

Keikis on Hedychium greenii

A first for me.

I've grown H.greenii outside for about fifteen years now.  I thought I'd lost it in the bad winters about ten years back and again three and four years ago but it's tougher than often credited and enough of the rhizomes survived to provide a nucleus for recovery.  Outside in the UK flowering is a bonus, often occurring so late in the year that it risks wipe out by the first frosts.  Container growing helps but even this can be overtaken by events.  Not this winter.  This was mine last November.

Hedychium greenii in flower in November

However attractive, Hedychium flowers are fleeting.  A brief fortnight - sometimes as little as a week - and most of them are done.  No problem if successive stems are developing but in cool wet England it's a once a year opportunity.  But all Hedychiums are attractive in foliage and H.greenii is one of the best.

Pseudostems elongate during the summer to an eventual height of about 4ft / 120cm or more, with broad, glossy, dark green leaves stained dark red on the underside unfurling progressively as the stems lengthen.  They have a definite tropical appearance.  Planted en masse - as with the shot below - they are extremely attractive without ever needing to flower.

Hedychium greenii foliage at Coleton Fishacre, Devon
It helps to have space to develop a substantial clump, warmth and constant moisture - these are subtropical marsh plants in the wild - but even a small group of stems produces a very interesting effect in the summer and autumn garden.  And for colder climates they respond well to pot growing and a frost free winter home.

*Thanks Wikipedia

1 comment:

  1. Hurrah for a frost free winter! I’d love to have many more of them :-) Congratulations on your keikis, I didn’t know you could use the word about anything else than orchids either, so I learned something new. The frost free winter here in London has meant that all my fuchsias, hardy and tender, have skipped the dormant period they were supposed to have, they stayed green and in flower all winter outdoors and have just continued to flower. I have never had Fuchsia flowers in March, April or even May before!