This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Greek, spiral stamens). Com-melinacese. Curious and gorgeous plants cultivated under glass.
Cochliostemas are epiphytes, with the habit of Bill-bergia and great axillary panicles of large flowers of peculiar structure and beauty. They are stemless herbs from Ecuador, with large, oblong-lanceolate leaves, sheathing at the base, and flowers which individually last only a short time, although a succession is produced for several weeks; sepals 3, oblong, obtuse, concave; petals 3, nearly equal, wider than the sepals, margined with long hairs; staminodes 3, villous, 2 erect, linear, the third short, plumose; staminal column hooded, with incurved margins, inclosing 3 spirally twisted anthers; style slender, curved. - Gardeners recognize 2 species, although they are considered by some botanists as forms of one. Recorded as the most beautiful cult, plants of the family.
These are handsome stove-flowering perennial plants, closely related to the commelinas, and are of comparatively easy culture, thriving well in ordinary stove temperature in a mixture of two parts loam and one part fibrous peat, with a little Well-decayed cow- or sheep-manure added when potting mature plants. They like a copious supply of water at the roots during the summer months, and at no season must they be allowed to become dry. Propagation is effected by division of the plants in early spring, or by seeds, to obtain which the flowers must be artificially fertilized. -They seed freely when fertilized at the proper time. Only a few of the stronger or larger flowers should be allowed to bear seed. Sometimes a simple shaking of the flower-stalk will accomplish the necessary work of fertilizing, but it is safer to employ the regular method to insure thorough impregnation. The seeds ripen within six weeks' time, and they can be sown soon thereafter, in shallow pans of light, peaty soil, and placed in a warm, close atmosphere until germinated. As soon as the seedlings are large enough, they should be potted singly into thumb-pots, and shifted on as often as they require it, when they will flower in six to twelve months.
The chief reason why cochliostemas are grown in America so little is, probably, that it is necessary to keep a much more humid atmosphere in stove-houses than in England, and this is very much against all stove-flowering plants, causing the season of blossoming to be very short. (Edward J. Canning.) a. Leaves red beneath: panicle hairy; flowers very fragrant.
Lem. Leaves lighter green above than in C. Jacobianum, and deep purplish red beneath, narrower, and with a similar margin: flowers very numerous; sepals more leaf-like, hairy, green, with a reddish tip.. I.H. 6:217. R.H. 1869, p. 170.
aa. Leaves green beneath: panicle not hairy; flowers less fragrant. Jacobianum, C. Koch and Lind. Height 1-3 ft.: leaves. in a rosette, spreading or recurved, dilated and sheathing at the base, margined brown or purplish, 3-4 ft. long, 6 in. broad at the base, 4 in. broad at the middle: peduncles stout, white, tinged purple, 1 ft. long: bracts large, opposite and whorled, 3-4 in. long, acuminate, concave: panicle-branches 4-6 in. long; flowers 2-2 1/2 in. across; sepals purplish; petals violet-blue. Autumn. B.M. 5705. R.H. 1868:71. G.C. 1868:323,desc. F.S. 18:1837-9.