About a dozen years ago, a really interesting plant showed up in a collection of a plant collector in West Palm Beach, Florida. It is believed that Charlie McDaniels collected the plant in Peru and Ecuador , and it grew quite well in southern Florida. In the last few years, the plant has been released from Silver Krome Gardens in Miami, and is beginning to show up in landscapes, including ours here at Pinecrest Gardens. In the world of colorful plants for shade gardens, this plant has a LOT of potential, if grown only for its foliage. I was quite pleasantly surprised to see the bright orange flower stems showing off above the foliage.S
The plants have grown quite nicely for us over the last 6 months, with no evidence of pest problems, nor even a touch of damage from snails or slugs. It will be interesting to see how the plants fare through the coming years of storms, dry winter winds, near-freezing temperatures or occasional droughts. I know some members of the Maranta family are surprisingly cold-hardy, re-growing foliage from underground rhizomes or tubers. I would be most interested to hear how this plant fares in cooler climates. In the world of "new" foliage plants, where a plant is introduced with a slight variation on an old theme, this plant has few predecessors, save for the old-fashioned Ctenanthe lubbersiana 'Tricolor'.
This plant deserves a try in the sub-tropical landscape, and I hope to see more of it soon.