Translated by Nick R
As you already know, plants bring great benefits to people, animals, and the environment. In addition, we adore decorating our homes and gardens with beautiful plants for the shape of their leaves, the colors of flowers, the smells of some, and other qualities.
However, our plants may be affected by pests, local temperature conditions, excessive watering, and other aspects. One reason that may influence this is that the plants aren’t native to the area.
These are known as exotic plants, and in this blog, I’ll talk about 5 of them along with their characteristics, care, origin, recommendations, etc. This way, you can learn more about these plants and be ready to have some at home.
Table of Contents
What are exotic plants?
As I mentioned before, exotic plants are those not native to the region where we live. They have been introduced either accidentally or intentionally to the place.
These plants aren’t purchased in nurseries commonly and that makes them more appealing to those who like this kind of flora. However, it’s fundamental to consider some aspects so that these plants don’t threaten the rest of the garden.
- The features and conditions of the exotic plants you intend to have must be understood. Factors such as temperature, humidity, climatic conditions, substrates, and others must be suitable for the plant species.
- Not knowing the type of exotic plant you’re planting could affect the garden or area where they’re planted. That is because the plant could invade space and kill other plants.
- They may require a little more initial care to help them adapt to their new environment. Otherwise, they will die.
- Sometimes exotic plants are implemented to reforest an area, they get mixed with native plants with the objective that they can relate well. But it’s vital to carry out previous and very exhaustive research to determine if it’s feasible or not to introduce exotic plants. Or else they would become invasive.
Do not panic though! As long as you take the necessary care and follow the specifications of each plant to the letter, you won’t need to worry. By doing so, they won’t become a problem for anyone.
5 Exotic Plants to grow in your Garden
As you may be aware, it’s possible to grow exotic plants in your area. You only need to learn about the conditions of each one. For that reason, I’d like to introduce the next 5 exotic plants that you’ll love and their traits.
Black Bat Flower or Tacca Chantieri
This plant is also known as Cat’s whiskers, voodoo flowers and devil’s flowers as its flamboyant and bat-like appearance draws a lot of attention from its observers. it’s an herbaceous perennial that originated in tropical areas of Thailand, Malaysia and southern China.
This plant can reach 50 to 70 cm high, and its leaves can grow up to 20 to 50 cm long. In addition, they have black or dark purple flowers 30 to 35 cm wide with “whiskers” that reach 60 cm long.
Clearly, the main attraction of this plant is its flower, which, as I said before, resembles a bat in flight. they’re called umbels since they grow clustered on the same stem and are equal or almost equal in height.
Cultivation of the Black Bat Flower
You can grow this plant in humid tropical climates, where temperatures vary between 15 °C (59 °F) minimum and 30 °C (86 °F) maximum. If the area where you live is cooler the plant may have trouble developing.
It reproduces by seed or rhizomes in spring. It’s advisable to use a mixture of peat or worm castings and perlite for the substrate. You can sow the seeds in seedbeds and place them in a warm place at approximately 25 to 30 °C (77 to 86 °F), with no direct sunlight.
After about 15 days or a little longer, the seeds will germinate and grow sufficiently to be transplanted into a larger pot. Remember to water the substrate to keep it moist but without waterlogging the plant. You can transplant it to a pot about 10 cm high so that the roots have enough space to grow until the new transplant.
You can reproduce this plant by using rhizomes, which are the plant’s subway stems. The substrate is the same as the one I mentioned before. You’ll take the rhizomes from an adult plant when transplanting to replant the Bat Flower again.
You should place the plant in a semi-shaded area if you have it outdoors; otherwise, plant it in a bright room with sufficient humidity. Watering has to be done every time the substrate is a little dry. You can check with your finger if it needs water or not.
Care of the Black Bat Flower
While the plant must maintain good humidity, you must consider the environmental conditions and the seasons of the year to determine the watering frequency. In hot regions or summer, water at least three times a week.
In winter or cold climates water it 1 or 2 times a week. Use rainwater preferably, although you can also use bottled water, the one you consume.
Do not forget that pots must have drainage holes. This way the plant won’t get waterlogged and its roots won’t rot.
You should fertilize the plant during all the warm months with liquid fertilizer. It can be one of your preference, so you can buy it in your trusted nursery and follow the indications of the product. The fertilizers used for orchids may also work.
The Bat Flower can be placed indoors or outdoors. Do not forget that always, at any stage of its growth, it should be in semi-shaded places. But with adequate humidity and temperatures between 15 and 18 °C in winter and 25 to 30 °C in the hot months. It can’t withstand heavy frosts.
As for pruning, removing dry and wilted leaves and flowers is enough. You should re-pot every two years and increase the size of the pots every time. You can start with one 8 cm wide, then one 12 cm wide, and when it is adult, one 20 cm wide.
Cattleya Mossiae or Easter Orchid
This is an orchid native to Venezuela proclaimed as the national flower on May 24, 1951. These plants have a rhizomatous stem that grows horizontally and contains fleshy roots that attach and go deep into the substrate.
At the apex or tip of these stems grow pseudobulbs stems, which store water, carbohydrates and micronutrients. In the Cattleya family, these stems can be unifoliate, that is, they develop a single leaf and have slightly large flowers.
Alternatively, they can be bifoliate, meaning that they develop 2 or 3 leaves. Regarding Mossiae, it’s a unifoliate and epiphytic plant because it grows on other plants, especially on trees. It grows best in temperate and humid climates.
When Cattleya Mossiae is about to flower, from the base of the leaf emerges a spathe, another leaf that differs in size and shape. It protects the forming flowers and when the pseudobulbs grow old, the spathe dries up before flowering; however, in new pseudobulbs, they can remain green.
The flower has three sepals, one dorsal and two lateral. As well as three petals and one modified petal called labellum whose coloration is yellow and violet at the petal apex with some striations. Flowering is from March to June and can reach a size of up to 23 cm.
Did you know? Colombia, Venezuela’s neighboring country, is known as the “land of orchids”, home to approximately 4,270 species of these fascinating flowers. If you are a nature lover, we invite you to explore Colombia’s exuberant biodiversity. Organize your tailor-made tour in Colombia and discover the unique beauty of its orchids and other natural treasures.
Cultivation of the Cattleya Mossiae
They can be planted in plastic pots, baskets, or coffee and ¨totumo¨ trees. If you want to grow the plant in pots the substrate you use should contain gravel, charcoal, patula pine or coconut husk. The substrate particle size can vary from 3 to 5 cm.
This substrate aims to ensure drainage, moisture retention and aeration for the plant. Now, you can reproduce the Cattleya using seeds or cuttings.
For the seeds, use a seedbed in which you’ll add orchid substrate. You can easily find this at your local nursery. Sow the seeds and place them in a shady spot with a nice heat source. Avoid direct sunlight as these plants grow in the shade of larger plants in the wild.
Water when the substrate is slightly dry, making sure it has sufficient humidity of 50 to 60%. With the help of a hygrometer, you can measure the environment’s humidity to guarantee the necessary levels for the plant.
When it reaches 5 to 7 cm tall you can transplant it to the desired pot so it continues growing with no trouble. It can take 2 to 3 years to flower, and although it can be a long time, it’s less compared to the time of flowering in its natural habitat, which is 7 years.
You can also grow Cattleya Mossiae from cuttings. Do this at the time of transplanting the mother plant. You’ll take pieces of the pseudobulbs and plant them in other pots to replicate the plant.
This can be done in early spring or when the plant has finished flowering. The cutting should have at least 3 pseudobulbs so that it can grow again.
With a gardening knife or previously disinfected scissors, you’ll cut these stems from the mother plant and carefully detach the roots. You must remove the broken or damaged roots and then plant the stems in the orchid substrate or the one I mentioned above.
Watering will be the same way as I explained when planting the seeds 1 to 2 times a week. Place them in a semi-shaded spot, and that’s it, you’ll only need to maintain the necessary care for the plant to grow.
Care of the Cattleya Mossiae
These plants need temperatures of 13 to 15 °C minimum at night and 22 to 29 °C maximum during the day, and 50 to 60% humidity. Although it likes abundant light, it’s better not to put it under direct sunlight, or at least not in the strongest hours, as it would damage it.
If the plant is indoors, you can place it near a window with the required light. Besides, it should be in ventilated places with no strong air currents. When outside, it can be in a semi-shade or under other plants.
You can water it 1 or 2 times a week depending on the substrate and the local weather. If it’s too hot you can water more frequently, in winter it won’t need to be watered so often. You can use rainwater or bottled water.
As for the fertilizers, they should be dissolved in water and used every 15 to 20 days. The fertilizer supply will vary depending on the stage in which the plant is. If you want to favor vegetative renewal, you’ll need a fertilizer high in nitrogen. It’ll be 30:10:10 (30 parts nitrogen, 10 parts phosphorus and 10 parts potassium).
During the flowering period, the fertilizer proportions should be 10:30:20, and the rest of the time, the substrate will have an equal amount of these elements, 20:20:20. Use 1 gram of fertilizer for each liter of water.
You can transplant every 2 or 3 years according to the substrate’s condition and the size of the plant and roots. You must be careful not to affect the roots, and water the plant after about two weeks to allow the roots to adapt.
This plant goes by the name of Spiral Aloe and is native to Lesotho in Africa. It’s on the verge of extinction, so it’s highly protected there, and because of that, it can be a bit difficult to get hold of.
it’s an acaulescent plant, that is to say, it has no stem, and its leaves grow as a spiral up to 40 cm in diameter. The leaves are fleshy, green in color with brownish tints, serrated at the edges and tips, and can have 15 to 30 leaves on each plant.
The Spiral Aloe flowers are spike-shaped, and their stem is tubular. It’s found in red, pale pink and even yellow colors. The fruit looks like an elongated capsule that contains tiny, flattened, dark-colored seeds.
Cultivation of the Aloe Polyphylla
This plant reproduces by seeds, so you can plant them in spring or summer using a seedbed. Use a substrate that holds some moisture but with proper drainage simultaneously
Spiral aloe can be vermiculite, and you should moisten it a little before planting the seed. After sowing, place the seedbed in a bright place and keep it moist, without puddling. In this way, the seeds will germinate after 10 to 15 days.
When the plant grows big enough, you can transplant it to a larger pot with pumice or kiryuzuna substrate, a microporous mineral. You may use clay or plastic pots with drainage holes.
Care of the Aloe Polyphylla
If you place the plant outdoors, make sure it’s in a semi-shade but receives good light. They can’t stand frost or temperatures below 10 °C, so protect your plant if you live in a cold area.
In case you have it inside your house you can place it close to a window and in a well-lit room. You must rotate the plant so that it can receive light evenly and not just in one part. Avoid drafts.
Watering for this plant is scarce, so in summer or spring water once a week. In colder climates or winter, water every 15 to 20 days. It’s fundamental to moisten only the substrate sufficiently; avoid at all cost wetting the leaves or they may rot.
As for fertilizer, you can apply it during the spring and summer seasons and when the temperature is above 15 °C. The special fertilizer for cacti and succulents will help this plant a lot. You can buy it at your trusted nursery and follow the product’s instructions.
Transplanting should be done in spring and only if the plant’s roots protrude from the pot, approximately every 2 to 3 years. You can use the same type of substrate and follow the same care. It can be affected by pests such as snails, so be aware of not letting them get close to your plant, and use Coca-Cola traps or homemade insecticides to prevent their arrival.
Hot Lip Flower or Psychotria Elata
It’s a shrubby plant native to the tropical forests of Central and South America. It likes humid climates and frequent rains and grows in the shade of other plants in its natural habitat. However, it’s an endangered plant as well.
The leaves of this plant are bright green and light green and can reach 13 cm in length. Then we find bracts or red lip-shaped leaves. Their purpose is to attract pollinators such as butterflies and hummingbirds.
The real flowers are inside, they’re white, tubular, small and with lanceolate petals. They grow in the middle of the bracts and get protection from them.
they’re not easy to obtain due to the situation of risk of extinction. However, in case you manage to get seeds of this specimen, take into consideration the cultivation process and the guidelines to follow.
Cultivation of the Hot Lip Flower
It reproduces by seeds, which can be sown in a seedbed with a substrate that allows drainage and moisture retention. It should be placed in a warm, semi-shaded place.
Once it germinates, you must wait until it grows enough to transplant it to an appropriate pot. It’s necessary to water frequently to keep the substrate humid but without waterlogging the plant. For the transplant, use a light, porous, and rich in organic matter substrate.
Care of the Hot Lip Flower
You can place it indoors or outdoors depending on your region of residence. In this way, you guarantee the required conditions for this plant, high humidity, semi-shade but still good lighting and no strong drafts.
Watering should be constant and abundant enough so that the substrate doesn’t dry out too much. It’s recognized for being a toxic plant so it is best to keep it out of reach of children and pets. That’s due to its psychotropic substances.
Duckweed or Lemna aequinoctialis
It’s an aquatic plant native to tropical and subtropical regions that, at times, is considered a pest. However, it’s also beneficial to the water ecosystem as it serves as food for the organisms around it or redfish.
Its growth is fast, and if not controlled, it could cause problems such as poor water flow or low lighting. they’re floating plants that grow as a small green layer on the water’s surface and small roots at the bottom.
The leaves can measure 1 to 4 cm and the root 1 to 2 cm into the water. They rarely produce flowers, but when they do, these are very small, measuring up to 1 mm in diameter. It can help prevent the appearance of algae in your water gardens.
Cultivation of the Duckweed
Like other water plants they don’t require to be planted in substrates; however, they can reproduce by germination or division. Their seeds are tiny, measuring from 1 to 8 millimeters.
To germinate seeds, simply place them on a damp cotton ball and wrap them into another ball. In a short time, they’ll germinate and you’ll be able to place it in the aquatic environment. In the case of division, the plant itself will be in charge of this process.
Care of the Duckweed
The duckweed needs medium-high light while growing, and a temperature of 15 to 18 °C (59 to 64 °F). It requires high levels of nitrogen and phosphate to nourish itself and grow fast.
To ensure that the nitrogen and phosphate levels are optimal, you can do a test. These are based on chemical reagents, and although it may sound complicated, it is not. Using specialized tests sold in aquariums it’ll be simple. You can find them in aquarium stores, and just by following the product’s instructions, you’ll be more than ready.
Control its rapid growth by cleaning and removing the plants from the water. It adapts very easily to other species of aquatic plants. As a water plant, it doesn’t require lots of care, but rather control to prevent it from becoming a pest to your garden.
We’re finishing this exciting blog about exotic plants that you can have in your garden. Maybe you didn’t know some of them, but as you can see, they’re beautiful and eye-catching. They’ll bring a great touch to your home.
You must follow the recommendations and care of each one to prevent them from dying or affecting the environment. There is a great variety of plants and species of each one of them that will surprise you.