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Scadoxus nutans

This is a close look at the rare Scadoxus nutans, an unusual member of the Amaryllis family that's virtually unknown in cultivation.  Its vivid, brush-shaped flower clusters curiously arch downward, unlike other Scadoxus species, which face upward.  The foliage is very attractive, looking much like a mini banana plant.  This is an easy and fast-growing plant that is fun to grow.  It comes from mountain rain forests in Ethiopia, where it is very rare and close to extinction.

Scadoxus nutans

 Scadoxus nutans (pronounced ska-DOKS-us) is closely related to Clivia and Haemanthus.  Its rhizome sends up evergreen foliage from 1 to 2 feet tall (30-75 cm), and multiplies readily with many pups.  It's usually found growing as an epiphyte on trees, but it adapts well to soil culture in my experience.  Each spring and summer, it sends up its drooping flower cluster, which resembles a shaving brush.  The cluster contains about 20 to 30 blooms.  The color is normally orange-scarlet but my form has pinkish-red blooms.  Once berries form, the flower stem curiously straightens upright.  Perhaps this helps display the red berries to animals.  Like in so many parts of the world, the forests of Ethiopia are being destroyed at a rapid pace.  This species is believed to be nearly gone in the wild.

Scadoxus nutans

The plant comes from 1000-2000 meter elevation, where temperatures are mild all year.  It is reported to grow well in warm conditions.  Its roots probably can handle down to the mid-20s (-4C) but it's best to protect it from frost.  It can go dormant in cool temperatures.  It is easy to grow in a pot in a loose soil mix.  A typical mix is 1 part potting soil, 1 part orchid bark (fine- or medium-grade), and 1 part pumice or perlite.  Keep the soil moist during periods of active growth, and feed regularly.  This forest plant prefers filtered sunlight or bright shade.  Protect it from strong afternoon sun.  Over about 40% humidity is recommended.  The leaves and berries might be toxic like some other Scadoxus species, so keep pets and small kids from munching on them.

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Turquoise Puya

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