Plants with unusual leaves have always held a strange fascination for me and I find they are also greatly admired by others. In the window garden, where plants are seen at close range, leaves that are different have great appeal.
For several years, the dieffenbachia, in all its varieties, has been found not only in the larger nurseries but in many big box and grocery stores all over the country.
Dieffenbachias have thick, fleshy stems and large, smooth leaves that are distinctly pointed. Perhaps the kind most often seen is Dieffenbachia amoena with its dark green leaves and irregular white spots. Having grown that, however, a person wants others with different markings and colorations, so I sent an order for two that were new to me.
Dieffenbachia bausei has been rather slow growing, which has pleased me very much. The central section of the leaf is yellow-green with occasional splotches of white and a dark green the same shade as that along the narrow irregular margin.
Dieffenbachia memoria Corsi has a broader, sturdier leaf; the center has mottled silver-gray coloring and the irregular edge is dark green, making an interesting contrast.
To see what it was like, I ordered Alocasia macrorrhiza Variegata. It has a thick rootstock and the leaves, no two alike, are a pure cream and medium green with irregular markings. Sometimes the cream appears as merely a splash and again as a large section of the leaf.
While this plant has grown larger than I anticipated, – about three feet, – I have had a delightful surprise. Its leaves are ideal for certain bold flower arrangements and last for a week or longer. Thus, I consider this plant quite a find.
The little Aglaonema costatum, which belongs to the same family as dieffenbachia, the Chinese evergreen, is a low-growing plant I had seen in conservatories and wanted for some time. Now part of my collection, it is all I had hoped it would be.
The leaves are as broad as long but quite pointy on very short stems about an inch or so in length. Their midribs and irregular spots on either side are so intensely white against the leaf background of deep green, that the contrast is striking. The little, white, solid blossoms, in keeping with the compactness of the plant, stay in good condition for weeks.
I give this group of plants the same care and exposure as the others I grow in my window garden. Planted in rich soil to which plenty of peat moss has been added and some sand, they have a north exposure during the Winter months.
Since I do not have enough space that is protected. They spend the Summer on an east porch where they get a little early morning sun to which they do not seem to object. They all like plenty of water, but good drainage.
Don’t Forget The Dancing Begonias
Although begonias are in an entirely different category, I must mention begonia Dancing Girl as one plant that runs the gamut of markings. Not only are there spots and splashes and dashes on the dark background of the foliage, but some of the leaves are almost entirely silver with dark veins.
Also, there is great variation in the shape of the leaves. All are quite pointy but sonic is much more slender than otters. and some twists and curves in most irregular fashion. Blossoms of a superb, clear red add to its attractions, but it is the foliage that makes it outstanding.
44659 by F. S. Kellenberger