Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Plant: Midnight Among the Leaves

Every so often, my local Home Depot surprises me. Over the years, I've found it to be a decent place to find common houseplants, but not the place to go for anything exotic or out of the ordinary. But last week I found this plant, labeled, of course, as a generic "Tropical Houseplant"

Alpinia malaysianum, sometimes called Alpinia 'Midnight'

I've had one of these before, and it didn't fare all that well. Alpinia, and its relatives in the Zingiberaceae, (ginger family) like a lot of moisture, and wilt and shrivel and carry on if they don't get it. My first specimen was very small (only a few leaves) and wasn't vigorous enough to put up with my tendency to underwater. (My Alpinia zerumbet variegata, which was kind of large when I bought it, has flagged and bounced back a few times, after I cut off some pretty ugly old foliage. It's looking pretty good now.) I'll try to be more careful with this one.

New foliage, with its dark caramel color contrasting against the nearly black older leaves

And of course, it wouldn't be a weekend without a pet picture:

A spicy duo: Peppermint and the Alpinia. (Yes, the plant does have a gingery scent, if the stems are cut, or the roots are handled.)

If Luke had posed, I would have had a nice black and orange shot for Halloween. Also, a ginger cat with a ginger plant would be a nice visual pun. But the constant doorbell ringing from trick-or-treaters has scared my shy orange boy into hiding. The ever-intrepid Peppermint obliged by sitting next to the plant. but the effect is not quite the same.


Aaerelon said...

Gorgeous plant. I love the dark and redder shades. Thanks for sharing. Now I just have to find one of my own!

College Gardener said...

Beautiful plant, and Peppermint is really cute. I feel the same way about Walmart as you do about Home Depot: Most of the time their plant offerings are simply pathetic and then every once in a while I find an absolute treasure in great condition and at a ridiculously low price.

mr_subjunctive said...

Lucky you!

I've had mine over a year now, and I'm really happy with it. (Sort of ongoingly baffled that the ex-job hasn't managed to sell the rest of them, actually.) If I notice it's getting too dry, I up-pot, and that's worked fine for me so far.