I found this beautiful specimen of Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) at the Bangor Flower Show yesterday. Although I had seen photos, I had never seen a real one before. I wasn't disappointed. These tropical plants can't survive the winter in Maine and must be grown in containers and brought inside during the winter.
This hibiscus flower looks lighter orange because it was under a light. Both photos are from the same plant from different angles.
I have added hibiscus to my wish list of plants and would love to give one a try in my unheated greenhouse this summer. Perhaps I will seek one out once the weather warms and we set up the greenhouse.
I tried an experiment with growing peppers in my Aerogarden and am happy to report that I have baby peppers just 66 days from planting them from seed. Those of you who have grown peppers from seed will understand my excitement as they typically grow very slowly inside the home.
As you can see from the photo the plant is "peppered" with blooms. I have been hand pollinating them with a small paint brush.
Update! Peppers at 74 Days
Hand Pollinating Pepper Plants
To hand pollinate a pepper bloom, use a small, artists paintbrush (or a Q-tip) to collect pollen from the stamens. There are several pollen-covered stamens inside the bloom. Gently brush the pollen you have collected on your paint brush or Q-Tip onto the stigma of the flower. This is located in the very center of the bloom. The pollen will stick to it and pollinate the flower. Move from flower to flower repeating the same procedure.
Once pollinated, the petals will shrivel and fall from the bloom and you will see a tiny, pea-sized green pepper beginning to form.
The largest pepper on my plant is 1 ¾ inches long and slightly more than 1 inch in diameter today, but it is growing rapidly. I first noticed the pepper about a week ago.
I'm not sure how much room there is for my peppers to grow, but I'm going to let them grow as long as their is room for them.
I trimmed the tops of the plant because it has outgrown the Aerogarden.
Queen Anne's Lace (Daucas carota) grows wild throughout Maine and many parts of the world. It can be found along roadsides, in open fields and along the edges of wooded areas. Also known as wild carrot and the bird's nest flower, these showy flowers are often used as cut flowers, especially in combination with Black-Eyed Susan flowers. At first glance the flower head appears to be one large flower, but this really isn't the case.
Unique Flower Head Can Be Deceiving
The flower head of Queen Anne's Lace is made up of clusters of tiny white or ivory flowers on short stems (called umbels) that splay outward like an inverted umbrella. The clusters of flowers give the illusion of white lace giving this flower part of its common name.
Legend of Queen Anne's Lace
According to Legend, the flower earned it's name when Queen Anne (wife of King James I) was challenged to make lace as beautiful as a flower. While making the lace, Queen Anne pricked her finger and a drop of her blood created the red flower in the center of Queen Anne's lace. While it is a fanciful tale, some claim the name Queen Anne belonged to another that gave this flower its name. According to this legend, Queen Anne refers to St. Anne (the mother of Mary) the Patron Saint of lacemakers.
Either way, botanists do not know the purpose of the dark flower in the center of the flower head. It can range from rosy-pink to dark red or purple. It is theorized that the dark flower serves as a mimic of an insect and encourages wasps and larger insects to visit the flower for a tasty meal, which in turn helps with pollination.
Seeds Trigger Flower Head to Curl
After the tiny flowers are pollinated and the seeds have formed the umbels curl inward giving the flower the appearance of a cup or nest.
Dried Flower Heads Look Like Bird's Nests
As the seeds dry they turn brown creating the illusion of a bird's nest atop a tall slender stalk. Seeds are dispersed by wind or by catching a ride in the fur of animals. Once the seeds have dispersed the remaining stems often take on a heart-shaped appearance.
For more nature photography, check out my photography site.