Geogenanthus undatus

Many people like to visit botanical gardens where they find inspiration galore. It is truly worthwhile to try and grow many of the attractive species one sees in such a place, even if they do look delicate. Geogenanthus undatus (syn. Dichorisandra undata) is listed in garden catalogues and yet it is also very tender, being particularly sensitive to drops in temperature below 16°C (61°F) and to low atmospheric moisture. Its introduction into cultivation, however, is to be welcomed for it is a plant of truly exceptional beauty which might be likened, perhaps, only to certain foliage orchids.

The species, one of the three members of the genus, is native to the Amazon region where it grows only in lightly shaded places on the forest floor, generally together with mosses. Because it is so delicate it cannot be grown openly in a room but must be put in a closed plant-case, demijohn or terrarium, where it does very well and where growth is surprisingly rapid. The best compost is a heavy loam mixed in equal proportion with peat and some sand is added. A full-grown plant is approximately 25 cm (10 in) high, the leaves about 10 cm (4 in) long and 7 cm (2-3/4 in) wide. The combination of the longitudinal stripes and cross ridges on the leaves is truly magnificent. The pale blue flowers are carried on a fairly short stem covered with rusty hairs.

The synonym indicates that this genus is closely related to the genus Dichorisandra, comprising some 30 species found in the same type of environment as Geogenanthus, chiefly in Brazil. They are beautiful plants. Generally cultivated are the hybrids, which have deep violet leaves with silver markings. Cultivation is the same.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
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