Plants in the Garden: Hardiness of Fascicularia bicolor
Started by: John GoodGo to latest contribution by Sandra Rice, 14 January 2011, 12:51. Go to bottom of this page.
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Here on the mild N. Wales coast this tropical looking member of the bromeliad (pineapple) family, with its long spiny leaf rosettes, reddening at the base to brilliant scarlet in late summer, and subtending a tight bunch of duck-egg blue flowers in the centre, is one of the highlights of late summer into autumn. Many seasoned alpine gardeners are taken aback when they see it in all its glory! It comes from rocky ground in S. Chile and accordingly I grow it in a sunny, very poor dry scree, which suits it perfectly; I have also seen it growing well in a sunny vertical crevice in a dry-stone wall. I'm afraid I don't have a good digital photo. of it to accompany this note, can anybody out there help? And finally, if you grow this plant in a cold part of Britain with regular hard frosts in winter (or indeed in cold climates overseas) I should be very interested to know.
I don't grow this one but, as they say, I know a man who does. Chris Bowyer has a pot grown specimen which was seen at the Loughborough Autumn Show a few weeks ago. He lives in the Derby area and so it must survive down to about -8 deg C at least. I'm assuming he grows it in a frame in winter and he definitely doesn't heat anything. Whether it is capable of taking our usual British combination of wet and cold may be more doubtful.
Well yes, here's a perfect example of a plant which has always been seen as tender! My plant of it is grown in a pot as my soil is on the heavier side; planted in 100% composted bark it thrives on neglect, and is left outside through winter. I suspect the most important thing really is drainage- they are native to areas with free draining soils. There is a good specimen in the woodland at Powys Castle (NT) on top of a tree stump, and the plant photographed (hopefully) below is in an exposed spot at RHS Rosemoor. There is also a good plant in an open spot at Lanhydrock (NT). Now I know what you're thinking- Devon and Cornwall are nice and warm! Last year we had -12.5 on a couple of consecutive nights, plus snow cover a few times, and my Fascicularia was untouched. OK, you may be colder (or have frosts for longer periods), but I suspect if you give it really good drainage you could possibly grow it anywhere! Experiment! For information on more we can grow here in East Cornwall, try my website: bensbotanics.co.uk (I am an AGS member, but my website is not an AGS affiliate- it is entirely my own work and represents my own views etc...)
At 'Cotswold Garden Flowers' this plant is grown on a FLAT raised bed in a very free draining mix. It has been planted there for the last 2 winters (uncovered) and has survived temperatures of -8C.
This fascicularia was reclassified as F.bicolor ssp canaliculata in a flawed revision of the genus in the Plantsman in 1995. It is primarily from central Chile and epiphytic growing if forks of trees. It is hardy to well below -12oC. It is best planted on its side in shade in relatively humid conditions to show its full potential. That attached photo shows a specimen which is planted at the top of a rock outcrop and is over 2m top to bottom.
Fasicularia has survived this winter at temperatures to - 12 c at Ottery St Mary in Devon this year without any signs of ill effect. When i worked at Rosemoor in North Devon we grew a plant there at the top of a South facing wall but with protection from an overhanging shrub. This survived temeperatures of below - 15 c and I consider it to be fully hardy.
Our large plant has been outside for about ten years and happily survived all the Winter/Spring of 2010 threw at it at the top of a steep bank in south Warwickshire. Reasonable drainage because of the slope, but on heavy clay. It moved home with us last June (still south Warwickshire) and is now at the base of a 15ft south facing wall, again well drained. It appears to have come through the recent cold spell with -13C some nights. I hope I am not counting my chickens too early!