Monday, November 1, 2010

Petrocosmea update....

"A garden is never so good as it will be next year." Thomas Jefferson

The quote above, by one of my favorite American Founding Fathers, reminds me of my experience in studying the genus Petrocosmea for the past few years now. And, P. parryorum is a prime example.

I posted a couple of months ago, how my original specimen of P. parryorum, which has spent a decade with me now, is still teaching me lessons and revealing its secrets with each new season. This year, it bloomed twice...once in January and again, starting what has been a very long and productive season of bloom in August. It continues to flower its last few remaining buds, three months later. That means that to date, this glorious species has been in flower for me nearly one half of the year! And, it is still going!

Pictured above, the now quite ragged and tired plant is still supporting the last few buds, remaining on the final 11 inflorescences. Here's the progress report so far.... it began with a rosette of leaves that was well over 14 inches in diameter when the first buds opened. Now, it has dropped the outer ring of leaves...likely due to the redirecting of energy into the flowers. It has produced 14 inflorescences, with as many as 57 buds on each inflorescence!!! Yes, that's correct...I removed one, pictured below, so that I could count the buds and also to preserve it in my private little "Petrocosmea herbarium" where I press and dry the various structures of each species Petrocosmea in my collection. SO, at around 50 buds each...I estimate that this plant has now produced around 500 flowers in one flowering season!!!! I've been amazed at this plant!
A dried Petrocosmea parryorum inflorescence. Some of the buds in this photo are underneath other buds, and a couple accidentally broke off, as can be seen on the left of the photo...but this one, and one other that I removed, each sported over 50 buds...the one above had 57, the other 54. I would surely love to get this influence incorporated into some Petrocosmea hybrids, but alas, I have not yet found a single flower on the plant that had pollen!! Attemps to pollinate it's flowers with other Petrocosmeas has resulted in no success. I have to wonder if the fact that it flowered during the late summer, when we were quite warm, might have affected the pollen production. I've consistently had better pollen production and better success with hybridizing in the middle of winter when temperatures were quite cold.... The flowering of this plant last January did produce pollen in the flowers.

A close up of a few of the current inflorescences on the plant above...showing a mix of spent flowers, open flowers, and a last few remaining buds.
I wonder what next year will reveal about P. parryorum...the Petrocosmea from India.