Mitraria coccinea is a climber that has been in full flower for several weeks now. It is a loose shrubby plant with relatively weak stems which root if they fall onto the ground. It is an evergreen spreading shrub from the moist woodlands of Chile and Argentina.
Mitraria coccinea prefers cool, humid climates. Grow in a woodland garden or sheltered shrub border. In gardens where frosts are severe, grow in a cool greenhouse. The spectacular red flowers appear over a long period from late spring to autumn. The flower is followed by small reddish fruit which contains the tiny seeds in a gelatinous mixture. Seed is rarely available as it is difficult or impossible to separate from the pulp of the fruit.
In frost prone gardens grow in a glasshouse in a lime-free potting compost in bright filtered light, with moderate to high humidity. While it is growing , water freely and apply a balanced liquid fertiliser monthly, water sparingly in winter but do not allow to dry out. In frost free gardens, grow in moist but well drained, humus rich acid soil in light dapple shade. Shelter from cold drying winds. Keep the roots cool and shaded, but allow the top to grow into sunlight. We grow mitraria coccinea on a north facing brick wall of a glasshouse with shelter form westerly winds. It is a plant that requires minimal pruning, trim or lightly cut back shoots to reduce size from mid to late spring.
Deadhead regularly to prolong the flowering season, unless the fruit is required. The plant is propagated by means of semi-ripe cuttings with bottom heat in summer. It is a delightful plant that suits a partially shaded, sheltered position that will provide you with lots of colour over a long period of time.
Shrub of the week
Heliotropium arborescens is a plant guaranteed to enhance any garden all through the summer. Heliotropium is a genus of about 250 species of erect, bushy annuals, perenials and shrubs that come from dry open sandy habitats in Mexico, South America and the Canary Islands. They are grown for their hairy leaves and tiny sweetly scented tubular flowers which are produced in summer in clusters that form flattened flower heads. In frost prone areas grow in a cool greenhouse.
In warmer gardens grow heliotropes at the front of a border or in containers outdoors. In the greenhouse grow in full light with shade from hot sun, provide moderate humidity, just keep moist in winter. Outdoors, grow in any fertile, moist but well drained soil in full sun.
Heliotropium arborescens (Cherry pie) is a variety that we have grown for a number of years. It is a bushy, short lived shrub, with lanced shaped wrinkled dark green, sometimes purple tinged leaves. It has produced lavender blue flowers in dense flower heads over the last six weeks and is still producing more new flower-heads. The flowers are strongly scented. It is a native of Peru. It is a shrub that grows about 4 feet tall. Numerous hybrids of heliotropium arborescens are used in summer bedding. ‘White Lady’ is a compact shrub, producing white flowers tinged with pink, that grows about 12 inches high.
Bulb of the week
Zantedeschia (calla lily) is a bulb from South Africa in full flower now. They are grown for their unusual, white or brightly coloured flowers. The leaves are green or speckled and spear shaped. The flowers are funnel shaped and come in a variety of colours that range from white to pink, yellow and various other colours. The plant flowers from July to October. Calla lilies are best grown in a humus rich, moist soil in full sun or partial shade. The plant is suitable for border beds or containers. In frost prone gardens protect the bulbs with a deep mulch.
Jobs for the week
Collect seeds from your favourite perennials and store them in a cool dry place.
In the greenhouse continue to pinch out side shoots in tomatoes and when the plant reaches the roof pinch out the growing tip and continue to feed.