Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Costus Propagation

Costus are my favourite plant.
Out of my 40 plus collection my favourite  has to be Costus barbatus also known as comosus or more commonly as ‘Red Tower’.

Costus make for a bold tropical foliage effect in your garden and Comosus more so than most.
This Costus originates from Costa Rica and is for the most part cold tolerant but not of frost, perhaps in the really cold places it could be placed in a protected spot.
It will grow in full sun or shade but best in an understory location with filtered light.
It is not fussy about type of soil it will grow in.
The leaves when stroked underneath feel like the softest velvet, and no I do not have a fetish about this plant.
When in flower it has quite large red bracts with small yellow flowers protruding, these yellow flowers are edible and have a beautiful refreshing taste.
As with most Costus they are not affected by pests or disease.
This is the only Costus flower that actually tastes good; they are also very nice in a salad.
The red flower bract can last for up to six months.

To propagate
It is easy to propagate.

When the stem has finished flowering cut the old flower head off and strip the fibrous matter from the stalk with a knife, then cut the stem into several pieces leaving at least three notches or segments showing, cut the bottom straight and the top at an angle, this is done so you know what part of the stem is top or bottom.

Place the cut stems in a pot using good quality potting mix, you can put several in one pot if you want or you can lay the stems flat in a foam box, the new shoots will appear on most of the notches.
You can just put the whole length of the stem under some compost and wait for the new shoots to appear; also you can just split the rhizome if you wish.
With the Asian type Costus known as Cheilocostus (Pink Shadow, Speciosus) the propagation is much easier as they throw off lateral shoots which can be cut off and planted straight into a pot.

Friday, February 03, 2012

January 2012 Garden News

January started off very dry then came one of the worst heat waves I can remember. It really affected the garden and all plants and lawns were stressed out from the heat.
I started to wonder if we were going to have a January without rain.
Then behold the clouds came and well and truly opened and dumped over 400mm (16 inches) of wonderful rain.
All our tanks are now completely full (107,000 litres) and because the rain had been constant without any real heavy downpours the sub soil was able to receive the moisture.
It’s all good news.
I attended an ‘Open Gardens Australia’ meeting at Kenmore and offered to have the next meeting at our house where there’s plenty of room.
Next month starts to get very busy with three bus tours coming here.
The beehive gingers are quite spectacular this month; they one of my favourite plants.

The black lily grub is a pest at the moment; they love Hippeastrums, Cliveas and Crinums. I have to spray all of these plants with a systemic insecticide otherwise nothing would be left.
We were very lucky to see John and Genny Catlans Amorphophallus titanium prior, flowering and after. This was probably the only time we will get to see this wonderful plant in flower.
I also finished the retaining wall, what a shocking job, the worst part was removing the old vertical sleepers with a crowbar.

At the end of the month Channel 10s ‘Totally Wild’ came here to film and it was all about the garden and our grand children. We are looking forward to seeing the segment in the next couple of months.