Philodendron mellinonii

Plant for the shade. A magnificent self-heading plant, this can reach a spread of 2 meters, with leaves attaining 28 inches in length and 20 inches in width. The petioles are 28 inches long. The petioles have a reddish tint toward the leaf and so do the back main rib of the leaf. The mellinonii is a native of the rain forests of French Guiana, Suriname, Venezuela and Northern Brazil.

It is naturally an epiphyte but it can be grown as a terrestial. It pups easily. As the stems are covered with a dense fiber, the pups are best separated when the plants are small. One must dig down through the fiber to find the point of origin of the pups.

The plant is easy as long as the light levels are not too low. Large plants can easily weigh 75 pounds or more, but the rosettes are compact and the plants are well worth the space. Growth rate is moderate in strong, but not burning, sun. The petioles get a deeper color as light levels increase." (Text taken from

Plumeria pudica

Plumeria pudica, a species of the Kalachuchi, is native to Panama, Colombia and Venezuela. It blooms profusely and over a long period lasting as much as 185 days. It bears clusters of white flowers with yellow centres; it has unusual leaves which have been variously described as spoon- or fiddle-shaped.

It is not a fastidious plant, but it requires direct sun and drier conditions most of the year. It doesn’t like wet soil and good drainage is therefore important. Some authors say it can be watered as little as every 4 weeks or so.

This Plumeria bears leaves along its slender stems and at the stem tips. Broken stems produce a white sap. In the early stages of its growth, the Plumeria can be pruned three or more inches from the top to increase branching, canopy density and showiness.

It is easily grown from cuttings. Some sources suggest burying the cutting to a depth of about 4 inches. Flowers can be expected in the first year of planting.

Portulaca grandiflora. Moss Rose.

The Portulaca, a low-growing native of South America, has fleshy leaves and colorful cactus-like flowers in shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, purple and white (see photo). They open on sunny days and close at night or when it is cloudy.

They are eye-catching to both humans and butterflies. They can be grown in containers and hanging baskets, where the plants will go over the edges of the containers, making a grand display of their cylindrical somewhat moss-like foliage and vibrant-colored blooms. I have them planted in a fairly dry mixed flower bed and I hope they will cover all the exposed soil there, which tends to turn a dead grey when it is dry.

The Portulaca quickly forms dense mats. It prefers sunny, hot, dry, almost desert-like conditions. As they have shallow roots, light watering is all that they require when they have to be watered and they have to be watered to flower well. Remember, however, that over-watering will lead to root rot.

It self-seeds very readily. Seeds can be gathered and scattered where you want them. Internet sources say: do not cover the seeds as light aids germination. Also, the Portulaca does not like to be transplanted: if you do have to transplant the seedlings, handle them with care.

Stem cuttings can likewise be used for propagation. Just stick them into the ground, and away they should go. Pluck and plant is the advice given by an afficionado on the Net.

Aphids and root-rot nematodes are common problems. For aphids, use a stream of water or soapy spray to wash off the pests. If the problem is root-rot, there is not much to do except to give the infected plant a good send-off and plant a new one instead.