Hypocyrta x glabra

Let us go back for a while to Central and South America, home of the genus Hypocyrta, which is very similar to the already described genera Columned and Aeschynanthus. Some 9 species have been described to date, 8 of them found in Brazil and only one — H. nummularia — in southern Mexico, the remainder of Central America and possibly also the Antilles. All grow chiefly in the forks of branches, often also on rotting, fallen trunks.

All species have creeping or trailing stems and thick, fleshy or leathery leaves of moderate size. Both stems and leaves are often thickly covered with hairs (trichomes). From the leaf axils grow fairly large and beautifully-coloured orange or red flowers of a remarkable shape — the petals are joined to form an inflated, irregularly shaped flask with a narrow mouth. The tips of the petals are short and rounded. The reason behind this is that these plants generally flower in summer, a period of increased rainfall in their native land, and as the pollen is intolerant of direct contact with water it is excellently protected by the practically-closed corolla.

Besides the species from which the hybrid is derived, also cultivated is H. nummularia which has stems covered with red hairs, orbicular or obovate leaves about 3 cm (1-¼ in) long, and corolla about 2 cm ¾ in) long, coloured bright red with a yellow mouth. Similar but slightly more robust is H. strigillosa, with flowers about 2.5 cm (1 in) long and coloured dark scarlet with a yellow mouth. Several cultivars have been developed in the United States but these are not much different from the type species.

Hypocyrtas may be grown in the traditional manner in a light, well-drained peaty compost, where they make rapid growth and soon flower, as well as in the more natural manner as epiphytes. In this case, they should be grown on coarse cork oak bark in cracks filled with just a little sphagnum moss, where they will make reliable growth and be of compact habit. Unlike columneas, they can tolerate full sun as well as a dry atmosphere. They are readily propagated by cuttings.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles, House Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hypocyrta x glabra

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