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Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Christia obcordata :: 'Swallow Tail' Plant
Of all the plants in my garden it is the Christia obcordata 'Swallow Tail' that gets the most attention from onlookers these days.
The first time I spotted it, I was just as intrigued as everyone who has seen it since it came home with me. It was at my favorite local garden center in late July. Without knowing too much about it I snagged up three of them and knew immediately where they would be sited.
The three container gardens at the curvy pathway leading into the tropical pathway from the circle garden were in need of a switcheroo. Gently leaving the fillers and spillers in place the 'Swallow Tail' was added for the thriller element.
It's not like me to purchase a plant I don't know anything about. But with this one I had that inner-instinct it would work out. Besides, its winged leaves were so attractive it was worth taking the chance.
There isn't much information on the Internet about this one. But I did find this document confirming it would require the filtered sunlight offered in the location I had in mind.
With a fresh layer of potting mix added at the time of planting, the soil is kept moist allowing it to almost dry out in between watering. No fertilizer has been applied.
A close-by neighbor to the 'Swallow Tail' in the adjoining border, the broad-leaved chartreuse and eggplant-hued coleus of the Kong variety, complement the color combination.
From the back side it is easy to see how the leaves appear to be floating along in the air just as their living namesakes do.
Attempting to capture the flurry of actual swallowtail butterfly activity commonly occuring each day in the circle garden, the 'Swallow Tail' plant in the background mirrors the flight of nectaring butterflies. An unplanned surprise noticed when looking through the photos.
Miss Muffet Caladiums fill in at the bottom of the airy stems of 'Swallow Tail'.
And a favorite chartreuse coleus of an unknown name ~~ but it's chartreuse and that makes all the world right.
Gingerland caladiums pour over the sides of another container.
Interestingly, the references I've been able to find identify this uniquely colorful plant as a perennial and is noted to be in the bean family.
A few weeks ago Hoe and Shovel hosted a small get together of a few gardening friends and close-by Florida bloggers. Each guest took home a cutting of this wistful new-ish plant. Then when they got home I think almost every one of them searched their own garden centers for a mature 'Swallow Tail' of their own.
Photo courtesy of NanaK (thank you) of My Garden Path (not pictured sadly). I didn't take a single photo that day... too busy chatting away. It rained on us that morning, too, so we are all a bit weather-worn. You ladies are so fun!
From L to R standing in the circle garden: Susan of Simply Susan, Chris of The Great Wall, Janis of Graceful Cottage Gardening, Brando of A Ponderer Digresses, Me, Marie, Rhonda of Garden Almanac, and Sherry.
I've recently taken some cuttings to try the 'Swallow Tail' as a root cutting.
I do know it lasts very well in water as I've placed them in cut flower arrangements in vases with good success.
In the early morning streams of first-light beam through to spotlight the airy branches of one of the containers.
It has been an unexpectedly exciting addition to the garden for its unique characteristics and ease of maintenance (so far). But the mere vision of it brings lots of oooo's and ahhhh's and makes it a great conversational piece, too.