Pitcairnia ringens in California low water garden

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Pitcairnia ringens in California low water garden

Post Number:#1  Postby Stone Jaguar » Tue May 16, 2017 10:58 am

Pitcairnias are one of the "forgotten" genera of cultivated bromeliads, although they are beginning to attract a small following in the US as more spp become available in horticulture. From a subtropical or warm-temperate dry landscaping perspective the ones that are of most interest are a handful of show, red-flowered species from eastern Mexico and southeastern Brazil.

Pitcairnia ringens is a cold-hardy Mexican species distributed from southern Tamaulipas through to Chiapas, mostly in the highlands. Unlike a lot of closely-related pitcairnias from Mesoamerica it is not fully deciduous if kept well-watered, so it makes for a nice addition to the garden. For some odd reason, it appears to be a SF Bay Area specialty in gardens and is not widely grow outside of this general region. Would certainly excel in much of SoCal.

I have been experimenting with frost tolerance of a number of lithophytic bromeliads that mix well with landscape succulents for a few years now, and this one is one of the best since it can handle low temps and flowers regularly in mid-spring. My phone camera doesn't do the scape and flower color justice; they are a vivid, pure red.

Pitcairnia ringens in xeriscape.jpg
Pitcairnia ringens in xeriscape.jpg (240.28 KiB) Viewed 368 times


Pitcairnia ringens May 2017.jpg
Pitcairnia ringens May 2017.jpg (236.23 KiB) Viewed 368 times


This clone (reportedly from upland Veracruz) is tolerant of brief spells of -2.2 C/28 degrees F and wet winters. Not a fan of the wind, though, so requires a bit of shelter in blustery areas. Can take full summer sun all day in this area with the occasional hosing. During mild spells, quite tolerant of infrequent watering. Does well planted amongst rocks in free-draining areas. Not bothered by brief surges to ~38 C/100 degrees F late summer and fall, but unsure how it would do in Tucson and Phoenix area long-term. Perhaps someone here is growing them there.

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Re: Pitcairnia ringens in California low water garden

Post Number:#2  Postby Spination » Tue May 16, 2017 11:37 am

That's a tremendously appealing landscape scene, with artistic log, rock, and A. parryi Truncata, and of course the focal point of that Brom in bloom. Wonderful!
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Re: Pitcairnia ringens in California low water garden

Post Number:#3  Postby Stone Jaguar » Tue May 16, 2017 11:55 am

Thanks! The tumbled valley oak skeletons were already there, but were just cleaned up a bit. This planting is actually on the far edge of the landscape so is light on succulents and boulders.
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Re: Pitcairnia ringens in California low water garden

Post Number:#4  Postby AgaveGuy » Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:20 pm

I am lusting for P. ringens. Recently visited San Francisco and Bay Area. Visited Berkeley B G, Strybing and some local nurseries. No one could point me to a source. Saw a lot of them in the Berkeley BG. I am growing what may be P. angustifolia outdoors in San Antonio, Tx. About seven years in the ground. Survived two consecutive nights of 18 F this past winter. Lost most of its foliage and failed to bloom, but has recovered well and almost as full as it was pre-freeze.

I see P. ringens seeds for sale on eBay, but don't think I can pull that off. Any pointers on where I might obtain a P. ringens plant?
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Re: Pitcairnia ringens in California low water garden

Post Number:#5  Postby Viegener » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:00 am

What a beauty. The pitcairneas I remember from my bromeliad days had pretty drab flowers (white/green) and were grassy heaps. Does anyone know where to get one in the LA? (or the Bay Area - I'll be there at the end of the month)
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Re: Pitcairnia ringens in California low water garden

Post Number:#6  Postby Stone Jaguar » Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:14 am

I cultivate just over a dozen of the showier-flowered species of pitcairnias in California, and had about a dozen others in my quite extensive bromeliad collection in Guatemala. They are indeed given short shrift by the horticultural community but do have a quiet but enthusiastic following, more among rare plant aficionados than bromeliad collectors per se. There are several Mexican and Guatemalan spp besides P ringens that can handle quite a bit of cold (see P. heterophylla - spiny!! and P. sp. Guatemala below), but there a couple more that make great table top plants if they can be sheltered in the winter (e.g. P. tabuliformis). Even some of the cloudforest tropicals from southern Mesoamerica and the NW Andes show some cold tolerance. Many southeastern Brazilian spp. also show promise in xeriscapes and as landscape additions in this area and SoCal.

Pitcairnia heterophylla.JPG
Pitcairnia heterophylla.JPG (42.64 KiB) Viewed 273 times

Pitcairnia sp. Guatemala.jpg
Pitcairnia sp. Guatemala.jpg (116.67 KiB) Viewed 273 times

I will be busting up this colony of P ringens shortly for transplant/propagation and will have starts for sale. If interested, please send me a PM.

A couple other nice spp. (all three very tropical) from my collection on the US side, showing some of the range in terms of their floral diversity.

Pitcairnia cataractae.jpg
Pitcairnia cataractae.jpg (58.25 KiB) Viewed 273 times

Pitcairnia pseudoundulata.jpg
Pitcairnia pseudoundulata.jpg (127.5 KiB) Viewed 273 times

Pitcairnia andreetae - Copy.jpg
Pitcairnia andreetae - Copy.jpg (65.18 KiB) Viewed 273 times

Ciao,

Jay
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Re: Pitcairnia ringens in California low water garden

Post Number:#7  Postby Viegener » Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:35 pm

Beautiful plants with bold flowers, especially sp. Guatemala. I imagine they pass as quickly as Billbergia flowers, right?
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Re: Pitcairnia ringens in California low water garden

Post Number:#8  Postby Stone Jaguar » Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:43 pm

No, they're slow sequential, so they longer infls last a long time in color. Billbergias essentially emerge simultaneously from mature floral bracts and blast rapidly, hence huge disappointment the green ones afford newbies.
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Re: Pitcairnia ringens in California low water garden

Post Number:#9  Postby Epiphyte » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:01 am

Really nice collection! A few years ago my friend germinated quite a few Pitcairnia seeds and offered me a compot. I think he said the flowers were red, and I had never grown Pitcairnia before, so I accepted. I divided the seedlings into separate pots which I stuck in zip lock bags that I placed under lights in the garage. The seedlings grew ok but they seemed to appreciate a bit of moisture. They were basically sitting in wet sphagnum. So I hesitated sticking any of them outside. Around half a year after receiving the seedlings I asked Dave how his were doing. He said they were all dead so I asked if he wanted some of mine. He said, "Sure!" So I took him around three or four seedlings. His experience encouraged me to keep my seedlings in the bags. Another half year passed and I again asked Dave how his seedlings were doing. Again he said they were dead. Again I asked whether he wanted some of mine. This time he said "sure" a bit less enthusiastically. He asked me how I was growing mine and I told him in bags. I gave him a couple of mine. This last weekend, which is around half a year later, I learned that they had died and again I offered some of mine to Dave. At this point it's a running gag. I think that I could give him a seedling a year for the next 10 years. Or I could give them to people with a greenhouse. Recently I gave one to my friend Fernando. He has a greenhouse. I also gave him a Nephrolepis pendula that I grew from spore. It had also been growing in a bag.

My friend Michelle purchased a Pitcairnia from the Huntington that she's been growing outside for a few years now. I just texted her that Dave would probably be interested in a division if hers is large enough to divide. We're visiting him this Sunday.

The Huntington usually offers a few different Anthurium seedlings at their sales. Sometimes I'll ask, "will it grow outside?" I think it's a pretty good question. But they rarely know the answer. A few times I've told them that, if they have 100 seedlings of the same Anthurium, that they might as well stick a few outside and see how they do. Then they can provide people the information they need to make more informed purchasing decisions.

Several years ago I overhead a lady at a Huntington sale talking with Dylan about her Anthuriums. I asked her, "Which ones do you grow outside year around?" That's how I became friends with Michelle. She grows quite a few different Anthuriums outside year around. But she's also lost quite a few as well. Trial and error certainly isn't cheap. I wonder how much money I've spent trialing orchids.

I like the idea of members in a society being able to earmark some of their dues to trialing plants. This way the costs are shared just like the benefits are. But then there's the issue of deciding which plants to trial and who should trial them.

Michelle went to an orchid show yesterday at the Westminster Mall. She texted me a few plant names and photos and I offered her my opinions. One of the photos was of an ant plant, maybe a Myrmecodia, and I replied that it probably needs a greenhouse. I'm sure that the vendor, Andy's Orchids, is growing it in a greenhouse.

I'd love to know exactly how all your ant plants would do outside year around in your area. How costly would this experiment be? How beneficial would it be? Let's say that you're growing 100 different ant plant species. How many of them would survive the trial? Maybe 5 of them? How much benefit would be created by the knowledge that these 5 species don't require a greenhouse in similar climates? How many people would put this knowledge to good use? How much money would be saved by people not attempting to grow the 95 other species outdoors in similar climates?

We certainly make progress with the current haphazard and uncoordinated approach. But I can't help but wonder how much more progress we'd make with a more organized approach.
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