DC Tropics

Most wouldn't think it, but DC is pretty damn tropical. Its summers were not terribly different from the Saudi summer I experienced--although I was on the more temperate area along the coast of the Red Sea, that just meant it was schorching and humid. In any case, I wouldn't want to be outside more than a few minutes in either heat.

Many plants, however, love that wet, oppressive heat. And there's a Yahoo group dedicated to growing those plants in DC: the DC Tropics group. I went to their swap last Sunday with some chocolate babka to share and walked home with more plants than I'd have space for even if I didn't have any other plants vieing for the space on my steps and in my community garden plots.

About 15 folks came to the swap with a wide variety of plants to share. Now that I see the type of plants that people swap, I'm totally bringing some next time--and next year, I'll have plenty to share after all the ones I picked up this year grow up!

I got an Amorphophallus konjac in bloom. The spathe was damaged, but it's a blooming-size bulb--and perhaps I'll get seed from it!

I also picked up an Arum italicum. Y'know. Because. It was during that plant-grab haze, but it'll also be happy in my shady front step area, I think.

I picked up various Colocasia plants and tubers. C. esculenta 'Jack's Giant' is in a pot hopefully rooting. It will grow larger than anything else I have in my garden. This black-petioled Colocasia will also get fairly large, I was warned.

To balance the size of the Colocasia, I picked up a Tricyrtis of some sort. Its leaves are variegated (or, at least, the more mature parts of the plant I ripped this off of was well variegated), but I'm not sure what the flowers will look like. Beautiful, yes, but what colours?

I was told that this Passiflora was vigorous, a prolific bloomer, and lots of other "uh oh, keep an eye on that plant" words. It'll grow in a pot to keep it under control.

Another "keep an eye on that plant" is this 3-foot-tall division of Tetrapanax 'Steroidal Giant.' In no way is it possible for me to grow this in any reasonable fashion--I don't have a yard, I don't have a mini swimming pool to pot this in, and I don't have much sun in my yard. Perhaps all of those combined will help keep this baby in check! For the moment, I don't have a container even large enough to root the division in--so I just moistened the bottom of the bag of potting soil and wrapped it around the bottom of the plant. I poked a few holes to let out some excess water, and I'm hoping for the best.

I also picked up a red stripe Canna, a Streptocarpus, and some Fatsia japonica seeds. The heirloom Hungarian peppers and tomatoes from that swap took a walk home with me, too, but they were generously donated for today's DC State Fair Seedling Swap!

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2 Responses to DC Tropics

  1. At least they're honest with the name of the tetrapanax...


  2. Thanks for your appreciation! I feel very strongly about the plight of our native bees and hope that this blog will help people identify them and want to help save them by growing nectar-rich plants in their gardens.

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