Rhapis humilis

Lady palm. 6 at P200. Native of southern China. Popular for indoor use and in gardens, especially in shady areas where other specimens are difficult to grow. Grows in clumps of many slender trunks, each covered with dark fibres, and has fan-shaped leaves divided into a number of leaflets. Can reach about 2 metres in height but is more often lower. Will grow in dense shade as well as in sun but prefers moist soil. Propagated by means of rooted offshoots. (IDEA: plant at the base of a taller palm, to give two-tier effect. In February 2004, a yellow-vented bulbul nested among my rhapis.

Rondeletia leucophylla

Panama Rose. 'Bush Penta' is another commonly used name for this plant because the pink blossoms look like those of pentas, and there are lots of them. The flowers have a light daytime scent which grows stronger in the evening, so they're especially nice planted near a patio or other area where you can enjoy the fragrance after the sun goes down.

Thriving in hot sunny spots, this is a good low-maintenance plant. A fast grower, it can be kept 3 feet tall with regular trimming. It grows almost anywhere - in full to part shade - and prefers well-drained soil. It is moderately drought tolerant once established, but regular watering will keep it at its best. Fertilize about three times a year. (Info source: http://www.south-florida-plant-guide.com/panama-rose.html)

Rosa Generosa 'Claudia Cardinale'

I love roses, especially the fragrant ones that resemble any of the extravagantly petalled, heartbreakingly romantic group called the “old roses”. I received a gift in late December of a Generosa ‘Claudia Cardinale’, and saw it put out canes swiftly. Here is its very first flower, photographed in mid-February, just a month-and-a-half or so after planting.

'Claudia Cardinale' is an upright shrub with long, arching canes and fragrant, bright-yellow quartered flowers that turn copper-red as they age. At the moment, it bears flowers only at the end of its canes, but I am told that eventually the roses will grow all along the canes, creating a “fountain of flowers”. Internet sources say that, like other Generosa roses, 'Claudia Cardinale' is disease resistant and a reliable rebloomer.

I have followed instructions about growing roses in the tropics. The soil should drain quickly—the addition of sand to the soil mix is advised for that reason. The plant should not be overwatered and the roots should not be allowed to stand in water. That being said, the plant should not get too dry either, with some authors recommending watering every two days. The full sun is good, and my ‘Claudia’ is in a pot that is in full sun about two-thirds of the day.

I placed a few pellets of Osmocote around the rose at planting and, though I read now that I should have left the new plant unfertilized, the Osmocote does not seem to have done any harm. The plant is now also sprayed with a blossom booster and a leaf-growth booster in alternate weeks.

Regular dead-heading and regular pruning throughout the year will be essential, I am told, to encourage new growth.

How long will ‘Claudia’ live? For a long time I wish, but we shall see what we shall see. While I have grown wonderful rose gardens abroad, I have not succeeded with one rose plant in the Philippines. But I am better advised this time, and hope springs eternal.

Roseraie de l’Hay

A modern hybrid Rugosa that bears clusters of large open crimson-purple flowers with cream-yellow stamens and the scent of cloves and honey. It is repeat-flowering. It has vigorous thorny stems densely clothed with disease-free tough foliage. It will grow in poor soil, salt-laden air and in exposed sites. It bears no hips.

Rubia ornamentale

Rubia. An internet source says that the Rubia ornamentale was introduced to the Philippines from Madagascar in 1957. A Philippine writer mentions the “common rubia” and ascribes to it the scientific name Carphalea kirondon.

The plants associated with these two scientific names are described very similarly on the Net. The photographs, too, show very similar plants. The only difference I note is that the Rubia ornamentale seems to have more reddish leaf stems. My plant vendor swears that what she sold me is the Rubia ornamentale and, that for the moment, clinches the ID for me.

The Rubia is a prolific bloomer, carrying showy globular clusters of red “flowers” throughout the year. These are in fact four-lobed, green-tipped linear calyxes, with one longer and wider than the other three. The real flowers are tiny, white and likewise four-lobed (not showing yet on the photo). The calyxes start their months-long life bright red, they then turn dull red and then brown. These have to be snipped off as they don’t fall off on their own.

A spreading shrub, the Rubia grows to about 2 m. Its 6-12 cm leaves are glossy green with reddish petioles.

It likes well-drained soil, full sun and should be watered moderately. It is claimed to be fuss-free. It is propagated from cuttings, though not always easily. (Info sources from the Internet.)

Ruellia britoniana

Ruellia. Dwarf Mexican petunia; Mexican blue bell. 44 at P3. Dwarf version (up to 20-30 cm in height) of taller plant. Native to the West Indies and northern South America. Has strong semi-woody stalks and attractive dark green lance-shaped leaves which grow opposite at the nodes. Under hot sunny conditions, the foliage assumes a metallic bluish cast that creates the perfect backdrop for the blue, pink or white flowers that appear profusely with the onslaught of hot weather. The blossoms are trumpet shaped and about 4-5 cm in diameter, borne at the tips of the stems. Attracts butterflies.

Ruella tuberosa

Meadow weed; Cracker plant. (A gift from Anihan.) Low-growing undershrub (to 30 cm) from tropical America. It has tuberous roots, opposite ovate to oblong leaves, and showy tubular, five-lobed purplish mauve flowers. Its cylindrical fruit capsule turns black with age. When ripe a drop of rain will break it open with an audible report (hence the name “cracker plant”), dispersing the seeds away from the mother plant. Flowers during the rainy months; prefers semi-shady moist conditions.