If you enjoy strange and unusual plants then this is the list for you. No two are alike, but each has its own strange attributes. From the dramatic polka dot begonia which looks as though it is suffering from measles and the artillery plant that puffs out pollen like a miniature cannon to the baby toes which blush pink in the heat. The shy mimosa is followed by the wicked devil’s thorn and the carnivorous butterwort. This slideshow has been assembled by Lorie West and is to be found on the Birds and Blooms website.
Sure, we love plants for their beauty and fragrance, but have you ever browsed the aisles of a garden center and felt your creative side, I don?t know, sigh just a little? That?s a huge problem for me: settling for the tried-and-true when I?m really craving a plant that belongs in a grade school science fair. Botanically speaking, I?m a sucker for a bizarre personality.
But committing to adventure often leads straight to disappointment. Either I can?t find a place to buy what I?m looking for, or I learn the hard way that the plant is too temperamental for the average gardener. Because of cost, size or the cultivar?s picky preferences, my plans usually end in grumbling defeat.
So imagine my excitement when our editor placed a copy of Timber Press? Bizarre Botanicals in my greedy hands! Authors Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross introduced me to the plant world?s friendlier eccentrics, focusing on varieties that, with a little work, anyone can locate and grow at home. This month?s Top 10 plants come directly from those pages: my must-grow favorites of the wonderfully weird.
Which means that, very soon now, my home will finally be jam-packed with living conversation pieces. So bring on the bizarre plants! I?m feeling brave.
Polka dot begonia(Begonia maculata var. wightii)
An impressive height of 3 to 4 feet provides a good view of this begonia?s striking leaves. The elongated-heart shape and ruffled edges make for lovely foliage, but the round, sparkly white spots steal the show.
Why we love it: It?s not just beautiful?it?s a brilliant example of nature?s engineering. It is believed that the spots scatter sunlight within the leaves, helping this begonia adapt to lower light below a forest canopy.
Artillery plant(Pilea semidentata)
It?s easy to grow this compact perennial indoors near a window or outdoors on a bright patio. With tiny green leaves on multiple stems, the artillery plant offers a pleasing mound of green year-round. Periodically, flat-topped inflorescences appear, tipped with tiny reddish buds. Watch carefully as they plump up.
Why we love it: Mist those fattened buds and wait about 30 seconds. Poof! Whoof! Puffs of pollen begin bursting out as the flowers open, wafting up like smoke from a cannon.
Baby toes(Fenestraria rhopalophylla)
Like other window-leaved succulents, this one has chubby leaves tipped with triangular patches of translucent pigment. These windows protect the plant from burning desert rays while letting in just enough light for photo?synthesis. A large white flower rises up from the sand to attract pollinators.
Why we love them: In bright light, baby toes produce a red pigment that gives them further protection from the sun. They take on a pink tinge, almost seeming to blush.