“Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.” - The Boston Globe

“…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.” - USA Today


NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.


NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.


New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.


Plant Profiles

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Sinningia 'Bananas Foster'



Without the off-season, would we ever find a deeper interest in a plant than its peak moments of flowers, fruit, or foliage? This hardy gloxinia—hardy at least in North Carolina and south—thrives in a large pot, and from June through October it's abloom with bright flowers in dancing spikes to three and four feet.


It spends Winter and early Spring in the greenhouse, where the action shifts from flowers to sprouts. Look beyond the three "full bore" shoots. There's a whole village of wannabes around them. There's no off-season for this plant; only a Winter of Darwinian competition will select the eight or a dozen shoots that, out of these scores of contenders, will be abloom next season.




Just above my fingers, an outrigger sprout.  It has the most room. 




This Sinningia hybrid develops a wide tuber, similar to the knobby ones of classic tuberous begonias or florist's gloxinias, that can originate shoots from almost anywhere on its upper surface. In contrast to the deep fang-like roots of another plant that specializes in a showy underground presence, "plow breaker" Erythrina, hardy gloxinia tubers are wide but shallow.  Even so, I couldn't expose the nether side of this one even after nuzzling through the root ball for several minutes. Just as the tuber sprouts from all over its upper surface, it roots from all over its lower surface. The density of roots was too great to permit even a tactile sense of the below-ground portion, let alone a visual one. 





So, back in the pot with it. By holding the sprouted tuber clump above the top of the pot with one hand, I could load in fresh soil beneath it with the other. The roots of the repotted Sinningia now have the maximum amount of soil, so they can feed this plant's ever-eager top growth.




Despite the profusion of sprouts, for the clump to overwinter reliably in the greenhouse, which is heated only to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it needs excellent drainage more than encouragement. I'll water only sparingly until later in February, when the days are longer and the sun much warmer.


This cultivar is 'Bananas Foster'. Beginning in late Spring, it will produce hundreds of pendulous tubular flowers that are pale yellow with a lip the color, appropriately, of caramelized sugar. Stay tuned.


Here's how to grow 'Towering Inferno', a red-flowered cultivar of the same Sinningia hybrid as 'Bananas Foster'.  Its cultural and handling needs are the same.


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