Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Shirley Temple Plant: Tillandsia streptophylla

'Tis true, I have never seen such a curly plant in my life! What do you think??
Tillandsia streptophylla, MRobb, 2016
Tillandsia streptophylla, aka, the Shirley Temple Plant, hails from Central America. It grows mostly at sea level to about 800m and the name means, guess, "twisted leaf". Well, that's easy to remember! The plant curls more tightly the drier the weather, then straightens out somewhat after heavy watering or a good soak.
T. streptophylla, soaking. The leaves straighten a bit.
It's a very easy care Tillie; the only thing to watch out for is rot. After a soak, it should dry upside down so the leaves can drain. I water mine once a week and give it moderate light. When it begins to bloom, it will turn bright pink! I add bromeliad fertilizer to its soak once a month to keep it green and growing. That's about it. What a beauty.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Caribbean Leaf of Life in Bloom!

During my course in Herbalism, I was given one leaf of a Leaf of Life plant from Jamaica, which is a quasi-native of this region. The plant propagates by growing tiny miniatures of itself all along its leaf edges. So all you have to do is place a leaf in a protected area of your garden, right side up, sprinkle some dirt over it, and a few weeks later, you've got dozens of little ones! It's growing all over my garden now. Leaf of Life (Bryophyllum pinnatum) is a well known medicinal herb from the Caribbean islands; it was brought to the islands from Africa centuries ago.  It's used for respiratory conditions such as colds, bronchitis, and asthma, and for hypertension. It's mainly taken in tea form. I use it in teas and tinctures and it has been quite helpful for my family. Now it's in bloom, in January. Well, it's been a really weird winter....
Leaf of Life in Bloom, MRobb, 2016