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Potting

Three Special Houseplants

By Dan Heims, President, Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.
Photographs courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.

Ok campers, every now and then a new plant comes by and simply stuns. Well, Dan has three of them! The first is incredibly special. If you lived through the first indoor plant boom in the 60s and 70s, you remember the zebra plant. Striped leaves, cool yellow flowers that look more like a bromeliad than a “normal” houseplant. Well, that plant has a few incredible relatives.

On one of his plant jaunts with Kelly Norris and Barry Yinger, Dan visited the King Rama IX Plant exhibition. Here you see row after row of 10x10 booths brimming with the rare, the unusual, and the rarely seen. Dan’s horticultural peepers scanned the proffered bulbs, and sticks, and plants and there it was. A unique form of Aphelandra with rich, thick, and large silvered leaves casting up the most astounding inflorescence of electric orange! Dan said, “I’ll take two, please.”

The roots got washed and the plant was cleaned and placed in front of the Thailand quarantine board. Off to America the package went, to be nearly killed by the Seattle Customs people who were short staffed and put the plants in a freezing warehouse for days. Luckily, the plants survived, and the Terra Nova Team (TNT) put the plant into tissue culture for generations to love.

Three years ago, Monstera ‘Thai Constellation’ commanded crazy prices. $1500 for a six-inch pot? Insane! While still a highly desired plant, the public can now buy this gem at greatly reduced prices. How? The TNT again! They took the very well-marked clone that Dan had picked up in Bangkok and were the first to bring the plant into the wholesale market and help reduce the price.

Offered by The Glasshouse Works in the 90s, Dan wavered over the horribly expensive $100 Philodendron ‘Pink Princess’ that shimmered in front of him. “OK, I’ll take it!” said Dan as he laid down a hundred-dollar bill. The TNT put it into tissue culture, but the sales were weak. Houseplants were not “in.” Fortunately, TN kept the culture going till it became red hot and tens of thousands of plants filled American households. Here are some details. . .

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Aphelandra NOVA® ‘Fuego’

Plucked from the exotic plants market in Bangkok, this sensational new houseplant introduction is a first for the North American market via virus-free tissue culture. Dramatic foliage is a deep green-black with a gossamer silver veil that shows on the youngest foliage. The undeniable star of the show is the flaming torch-like flower spike, thus the name ‘Fuego’. A special plant that requires no special treatment. Hardy in Southern Florida or California in frost-free areas. USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10-13. Our clone is exceptionally well marked. Part shade. Prefers acidic soil and likes to dry out between waterings. Height 12”, width 8”, height in bloom 16”.

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Monstera ‘Thai Constellation’

This rare mutation of green Monstera deliciosa is famous for its fenestrated leaves and stable variegation of creamy flecking and surprising swaths of solid bright cream. This plant has been the “it plant” for years. The unfurling of each leaf is an exciting event, with ever-evolving fenestrations and variegation patterns. Easy to grow and a must-have for any houseplant enthusiast. Stable variegation and quite vigorous. Leaves can get 2’ long and as wide. The plants can get 5’ wide and tall. Fruit is edible with a tart, banana-like taste. Hardy in Southern Florida or California in frost-free areas. Shade.

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Philodendron ‘Pink Princess’

An unusual black leaf Philodendron with hot pink variegation! We believe this wonderful foliage plant is an Australian hybrid but was introduced by the Greenhouse Glassworks guys. Good light is needed for the maximum variegation and pink shades. Plants can get 48” tall and wide. Jack-in-the-pulpit flowers emerge in April. Very rarely an all-pink leaf will occur. No particular care is needed, except for moderate light and home conditions. Hardy in Southern Florida or California in frost-free areas. Prefers acidic soil and likes to dry out between waterings.

Dan Heims is an award-winning author who lectures throughout the world. He was recently honored by The American Horticultural Society with the Luther Burbank Breeding Award, as well as the Perennial Plant Association’s Award of Merit. He was also honored in receiving the Royal Horticultural Society’s Reginald Cory Cup for advancements in breeding.

You may contact Dan at [email protected].


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