Thursday, September 11, 2014

Scarlet Paintbrush Blooms!

This week Outdoor Horticulture Volunteer Monica shares an exciting accomplishment for the Life Sciences Department.

Last Sunday while doing our normal rounds to check up on all the plants, we noticed that some are developing buds and then we came across something even more exciting: one scarlet paintbrush is in bloom! This is definitely a proud moment for Jenn Purnell and the Horticulture Volunteers.

Earlier this summer we planted this wildflower in our upper pads’ color bowls to complement the larger plantings of our pollinator garden. The upper pads is a good location for some of the more sunshine-loving specimens.

The paintbrush plant was a bit of a gamble since this plant is primarily wild. It is native to very specific habitats, and has unusual adaptations which make it a challenge to cultivate in the garden.

Scarlet-paintbrush (castilleja miniata) is semi-parasitic; its roots form connections with the roots of other nearby plants, usually grasses. But these restrictions and challenges were not enough to deter our fearless horticulturist Jenn from trying to give the plant a good home! Fortunately we already had some well-established grasses (festuca roemeri) so we had some very good candidates for hosts. Where the grasses didn’t have a very strong presence, we planted more. Over the following weeks there were some tense times as the paintbrushes settled in. Some individuals looked as if they wouldn’t make it. However many recovered and look better and healthier every week.

Jenn’s research and the care provided by all our Outdoor Horticulture Volunteers have paid off. Hats off to them for coaxing this finicky but marvelous plant into bloom. May this flower be the first of many!

Monica Dennis

Monica is one of our many hard-working, enthusiastic Horticulture Volunteers who keep Pacific Science Center’s grounds and Tropical Butterfly House healthy and beautiful.

No comments:

Post a Comment