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Hedychium coronarium. Kamia, white ginger, ginger lily. 1 at P100. This native of India has green stalks which grow to 1.5 m. Its beautiful rich green foliage makes a great background for smaller plants. Its flowers are white, spicily fragrant: a treat on warm evenings and through most of the day. Nectar-bearing, the flowers are attractive to butterflies. Stems that have flowered will remain green for a year or more, but they can be removed when the flowers have faded to promote new growth. Easy to propagate, it should be dug up, divided, with the roots cut into 20 cm pieces, and replanted. My kamia began flowering in mid-July 2003, a few days after the Yellow ginger; it was still blooming at end-September.

While the kamia is said to thrive in moist shade and rich soil, mine almost died under the big leaves of a vigorous philodendron. I have had some stalks with their roots transplanted to the front of a shady border and they are picking up now. I miss the smell from the open window near where they used to be. Photo source: www.nautralselections.safeshopper. com

Hedychiumflavescence. Yellow ginger. A native to the eastern Himalayas, this was once thought to be a form of H. coronarium but is now recognized as a species in its own right. A tall plant growing to about 2 m, it produces a cone-like spike of large, creamy yellow flowers that are reddish yellow at the base. The flowers have a spicy, citrus-flower scent. Like the kamia, my plants began flowering in mid-July and were still blooming at end-September. Flowering again by mid-March 2004. They have since disappeared.


Heliconia rostrata. Hanging lobsterís claw. I started out with three of these. This native of the American tropics needs rich soil (which should be manured frequently according to the books), plenty of water (but good drainage) and sunlight. Each plant stalk flowers once and should be cut to the ground when the bloom fades. The Heliconia is propagated from rhizomes, which spread rapidly. It has striking pendent inflorescences, which may be up to 30 cm long, with yellow-and-green-tipped red-orange bracts. Photo: Leni Sutcliffe, 20.03.04.


My small planting of 7-8 clumps always had 3-5 spectacular blooms at any one time since April 2003 (8 in March 2004). In December 2004, it had no blooms. Is it being swallowed up by the rhapis growing next to it?






Heliconia wagneriana. Lobsterís claw. The inflorescences of H. wagneriana are borne upright. As with all Heliconias, the bracts carry the fairly insignificant flowers. Mostly native to the Americas, Warren says that the Heliconias are pollinated exclusively by hummingbirds. They bear fruit inside the bract and carry seeds when this happens. Propagation is by germination of seeds, or from rhizomes.

My plants grow alongside the rostratas; planted at the same time, it took a year for the wagnerianas to bloom. In March 2004, my patch had 5 spectacular inflorescences. Pity about the absence of hummingbirds. Perhaps the olive-backed sunbirds which visit the papaya plant nearby will take over? No blooms in December 2004.


Hibiscus. Gumamela. I started out with 5 local and 5 imported varieties in 2003. These include types with a single row of petals: white; pink with pink-red centre; dark orange with red orange centre and yellow stamens (single); light peach with dark peach-pink centre; yellow-orange with light yellow-orange centre, dark orange stamens; light yellow with pink veins and pink wash towards centre, yellow stamens. I have a double yellow type. All varieties flower frequently throughout the year: I have seen them blooming in March, May-July, November. According to The Philippine Star, hibiscus can be used as cut flowers without an external source of water. Harvested early in the morning before the buds open, they will remain turgid for about 12 hours. For evening use, they should be stored in the vegetable compartment of a refrigerator.


The hibiscus likes the full sun and should be protected from strong winds. It should be watered regularly (and certainly when the foliage begins to flag a little) but should not be allowed to waterlog. Regular use of soluble complete fertilizers and with chelated trace elements will ensure healthy growth.


Flowers are produced on new growth. Plants can be pruned at any time to remove damaged limbs and to manage plant size. Plants with aphids and mealing bugs can be sprayed with a soap solution in the late afternoon. Malathion and Lannate should never be used on hibiscus as they result in leaf yellowing and shedding.


The hibiscus can be propaged by seeds, tip cuttings, eyebud cuttings, marcotting (about a foot and a half from the tip of a branch when the rains start) and grafting. Cuttings root in six weeks and flower in nine months. Buds appearing on cuttings should be removed to promote healthy growth.


The local hibiscus species attract sunbirds. I now have three resident olive-backed sunbirds in my garden and I have seen them sipping (while hovering) at hibiscus nectar. They also like using the hibiscus as a perch. Ý(Main info source: The Philippine Star, page on Philippine Gardens, 4 June 2005.)





Hyophorbe lagenicaulis, Mascarena lagenicaulis. Champagne palm. Bottle palm. 3 at P3,000; 1 at P1,500. This small palm will grow slowly to a height of 3.5 m. The trunk is a rounded bulge in young specimens and gradually elongates and flattens somewhat as the palm matures. It bears cream male and female flowers on the same inflorescence, with the flower stalk coming from below the crown shaft. The flowers are followed by black oval fruit of about 4 cm. My plants have leaves that are yellowing. I am told this is caused by the infestation of black spots (fungi? bugs?) which can simply be brushed away.

Some sources say this palm prefers light shade and moist soil. However, luckily for me, it can take full sun if it is given adequate water during dry periods. It adapts to many soil types as long as they are well drained. It should be fertilized three times a year if it is not grown in rich soil. It needs good moisture to look its best. ÝMain info source: Floridata.ÝÝ


My palms have grown about 30 cm taller in a little less than 2 years.







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