April 6, 2011

Petrocosmea forrestii

Part of a series highlighting some plants shown at The Gesneriad Society's 2009 Convention in Washington, D.C.

Entry No. 216, Petrocosmea forrestii, exhibited by LaDonna Hopson.
Commentary by Aarti Shah.

Entry No. 216, Petrocosmea forrestii

Look at that symmetry! It's like a perfect fibbonacci sequence. For me, that perfect spiral is what it's all about. This was the plant that got me hooked. One year I went to the National Capitol Area Chapter of the Generiad Society's show at the Arboretum on a bit of a whim. I was going through the exhibits and came across a beautifully formed Petrocosmea forrestii just like this one. I think my jaw literally dropped. To me, the perfect geometric spiral of the leaves seemed (and still seems) almost too perfect to be true. So, I was hooked and joined the chapter.

Over the years, I've tried a number of times to grow a plant this lovely, but haven't yet succeeded. I tell people that I think it has to do with my tendency to keep my home at a toasty 76 degrees or so (which is warmer than Petrocosmeas like, I think) though I suspect the real cause is my tendency to overwater. Oddly, my most successful try was also my first one. The first P. forrestii plant I ever had grew quite well for months, forming a gorgeous flat rosette about 2.5 inches wide. Then it put on the most stunning flush of bloom--at one point I counted over 70 flowers open on the plant at the same time. After that amazing flush the plant went into a slow decline and never recovered. Ah well, I'll keep trying.


[Editor's note: for more on Petrocosmea, check out this post, as well as Tim's blog, A Passion for Petrocosmea.]