Looking for Shady Friends? Part III

Continuing our recent feature, we recommend three more species known for their dependability in settings where lighting is muted:

Bird’s Nest Anthurium (Anthurium hookeri): There’s a bit of mystery connected with this very popular aroid. What has been grown in southern Florida for many years as A. hookeri is probably something different, a hybrid. On top of that, the term ‘Bird’s Nest Anthurium’ is applied to a number of species/cultivars that exhibit a similar growth habit. But no matter how that enigma is resolved, what’s clear is that our Bird’s Nest Anthurium is a very tropical-looking plant featuring elongated leathery, dark green leaves with wavy or ruffled edges. The distinctly-veined leaves, which in a mature plant reach several feet long, emerge radially from the center of the ‘nest’. Our Bird’s Nest Anthurium will make a striking addition to the shadier parts of your yard.

Coral Aphelandra (Aphelandra sinclairiana): Before you read further, you should know that this plant is not for everyone. However, if you are up to a bit of a challenge, you will be rewarded with rare beauty at flowering time. A. sinclairiana is a Central American shrub that matures at about 10 ft., but can easily be trimmed back to half that size.  It blooms in the winter, starting with orange-red bracts borne on spikes about 8 in. long.  That’s striking in its own right, but then the true flowers begin to emerge — and they are pink!  The unusual color combination provides a rich, unique accent to your garden, and the bracts will persist long after the flowers fall off.  The challenge to this species is that it does not like cold weather.  One way to overcome that limitation is to take advantage of microclimates on your property:  Plant Coral Aphelandra against a south-facing wall in a shaded location.

Firecracker Plant (Crossandra infundibuliformis): Some days it’s easy to understand why Latin is a dead language.  Why stumble over ‘infundibuliformis’ when you can say ‘funnel-shaped’?  That’s a reference to the flowers of this native of India and Sri Lanka.  The Firecracker Plant is an evergreen shrub reaching roughly 3 ft. high by 2 ft. wide.  Even when it’s not blooming, it catches the eye with its lance-shaped, textured, glossy green leaves.  Add to that the salmon-orange flowers that appear atop upright stems, and you have a very attractive plant that thrives in filtered light.  ‘Firecracker’ alludes to the pods which distribute seeds in an explosion that is one of nature’s ways of getting the plant distributed.  Crossandra grows easily in the ground in southern Florida, but also does well in containers.

All of these species are available in containers at Richard Lyons’ Nursery, 20200 SW 134th Ave. Miami, FL

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