November 2011


The genus Mirabilis is found in North and South America. The genus contains about seventy species, not all of which have tubers. Some are annuals, others perennials. Mirabilis jalapa comes from tropical America. It is a very easy plant to grow, not requiring specific temperatures, but NO frost. It will grow in most soils and is an ideal plants for collectors.
There are three main colours of flower: red, yellow and white. You cannot judge from the tuber what colour the flower is going to be, but once it shoots, the red one shows far darker leaves (see picture below). The white and yellow ones have pure green leaves and you need to wait for the flowers to see what colour they are. The flowers are fragrant and open in late afternoon. Allegedly they stay open all night, but I never lost any sleep trying to prove that, so cannot guarantee it.
The tubers normally grow underground, but you can raise them above the ground so you can see them. In the summer, the plant can be grown outside, but make sure to bring it back inside before it gets too cold.

 

Mirabilis jalapa

Mirabilis jalapa

 

Mirabilis jalapa tuber

Mirabilis jalapa tuber

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Ceropegia rupicola comes from Yemen; Ceropegia aristolochioides comes from an area between Senegal and East-Africa, in other words, from the tropical area just south of the Sahara. Normally these two species do not come into contact with each other, but in collections this is quite possible and this is what happened. The result is the cross of which you see the flower in the picture below.
The flower and stem are similar in structure to that of C. aristolochioides, but it is much larger. Barring the difference in size, the plant could easily be mistaken for an aristolochioides, but for the fact that the seeds were definitely collected from a rupicola plant. One of the reasons that there are not more hybrids from these two species, unlike for instance C. sandersonii and C. stapeliiformis which produce many hybrids, is because rupicola is difficult to keep in cultivation and you need to have a large plant before it flowers.
The C. rupicola x aristolochioides prefers conditions more like those in the natural habitat of C. aristolochioides, that is: hot and moist, rather than the dry heat in which C. rupicola grows. It can take drier conditions, but then it will not grow so very fast. In cultivation, it can also take cooler conditions, down to 15°C, but it does a lot better when it is kept warmer.

 

Ceropegia rupicola x aristolochioides