In the Crosby Perennial Garden 3 things are of note . . . The old-fashioned “Pass Along” plant Clerodendron paniculatum (Pagoda Plant) is beginning to bloom – its common name comes from the shape of the flower – pagoda-like. It is called a pass-along plant since it has been “passed along” from person to person for many decades. This plant has a large tuber which multiplies in a “polite” fashion over several years, and so provides a nice patch which can be thinned for gifts. It is free of most pests, but aphids can cause the blossoms to be small and deformed – to rid the plant of aphids, just spray with horticultural oil several times over 3 weeks.
The ornamental banana Musa velutina is in bloom. It's interesting to note that the name velutina refers to the velvet-like seed pod coating of the fruit. Do not allow your curiosity to taste this banana – it is filled with seeds and slimy gel – I know this from experience !!
In Bed 1, the bright purple Thunbergia erecta (Kings Mantle) in beginning to bloom. This plant will get quite large (6 feet), but can be pruned severely, and still come back quickly. It might get some frost damage in colder spots, but will recover from the roots.
In the Ginger Bed, there are several species of Kaempferia (Peacock Gingers) blooming. They are all small, ground-cover plants with flowers which mostly look like African violets. Their leaves are their crowning glory, since they are patterned differently with very dark green spots. Each species is labeled, so you can distinguish one from another. This type of ginger is not happy with any amount of sun. They also multiply easily, but not aggressively.
Another type of ginger blooming now, is the Costus spicatus or spiral ginger. So called because of the way its stem grows – in a spiral manner, rather than straight up toward the sky. A third type of flowering ginger is the Heydichium coronarium var. chrysoleucum. This tall ginger has a fairly showy pale yellow/white blossom at the tip of its stem.
All of the gingers are semi-tropical, and most will go dormant during our winter. Their flowers generally last a long time when used in cut-flower arrangements. They are quite easy to grow, and can take more sun than you might think. However, the more sun they have, the more water they may require. If you are thinking of transplanting gingers, now is the time, since they are actively growing. Just be sure that you have a “growing tip” part of the tuber as part of your transplant.