We are delighted to share a series of special timelapse films, showcasing the unfurling of some of the rare and popular plants in our Glasshouse collection.
Filmed over several days, these short films offer a unique glimpse into part of their life-cycle.
We hope you enjoy them.
The images have been taken using a Brinno TLC2020 time lapse camera, kindly donated to the Garden by Brinno.
Giant water lily - Victoria cruziana
Victoria cruziana or the Santa Cruz water lily, is one of two species of giant water lily in the genus Victoria, the other being Victoria amazonica. These giant waterlilies were first cultivated during the reign of Queen Victoria and are the largest of the water lily family Nymphaeaceae and native to South America.
Here at CUBG we start off growing our Victoria waterlilies in February/March by nicking some seeds and placing them in a jam jar submerged in a tank of water at 28oC in the Tropical Reserve house. The seeds must be kept wet at all times.
When leaves appear we pot them into small pots of loam topped with gravel and place them back in the tank. They grow quickly at this point, requiring potting into the next sized pot every 2 weeks.
In May we choose the strongest seedling and pot it into the huge 1metre diameter pot in our Tropical Wetlands pond.
Once in this huge pot we feed each week with 3 feed balls (we make these ourselves using several slow-release fertilizers and clay-loam to bind it all together) and its growth accelerates again – each leaf reaching over 1metre in diameter. By July the first flower bud appears – we usually get a fortnightly succession of solitary flower buds in July and August.
The first evening the bud opens with white petals, a beautiful pineapple scent and the female parts are receptive. At this point we get in the pond with a paint brush and pollinate it in that short window when the female parts are still receptive and the stamens are just starting to split (dehisce) and release the pollen.
The bud closes overnight and opens again the next day and this time the petals have turned pink and the male parts are ripe.
It closes one last time and sinks under the water. We put a net bag around the whole flower and label it with the date and accession number (unique identifier), before it sinks to the bottom of the pond.
Several months later we pull up the stalk bearing the flower (peduncle) and open up the net bag attached to the end to see how many seeds have been produced, usually several hundred per flower bud. By the end of the summer the plant has flowered itself out and we discard it.
We store the seeds in jars of water below 14 o C and wait till February/March to start the whole process over again.
One of our former Horticulture Trainees, Emily, chose this plant as one of her favourites in the Glasshouse Range – you can hear a bit more about it here.
Discover more about the Santa Cruz water lily and its beetle-kidnapping and sex-change antics in our other film here.
Jade Vine - Strongylodon macrobotrys
The extraordinarily-coloured jade vine, Strongylodon macrobotrys, is one of the most popular plants in our Glasshouse Range. Each spring it delights visitors with its striking flowers – borne in cascading racemes which can reach 90cm in length and combine to create a tunnel of colour in our Tropics House.
The individual flowers are a luminous jade green and resemble claws. They contain a pool of nectar to attract bat pollinators in their native habitat in Philippine rainforests. Reaching 20m in height this member of the pea family (Fabaceae) is under threat in the wild due to rainforest destruction.
One of our former Horticulture Trainees, Leah, chose this plant as one of her favourites in the Glasshouse Range – you can hear a bit more about it here.