This pretty blue flower is shoofly aka Apple of Peru (Nicandra physalodes), a strange solanum that I am growing for the first time this year.
I purchased the seeds last year at the Montreal Seedy Saturday but was unable to grow them as I quickly ran out of space. I’m STILL trying to find space for some of the seed I bought at that event. This year I wanted to make it a priority and sowed the seeds indoors quite early to ensure they would be a nice size by late spring. As you can see, they are already flowering.
Homegrown Mosquito Repellent?
Besides the beautiful blue flowers and Chinese Lantern-like seed pods, Nicandra is often grown for its insect repellent properties. Apparently people rub the dried seed pods, seeds, and chafe on their skin to ward off biting mosquitos. If this really works it could be a bit of revelation for me as I do not like using Deet and I am the first person to get bit (and viciously) no matter the size of the group I am with. Despite the fact that it is natural, I think I will do some more research into the plant’s chemical components before I go rubbing it into my skin or on my hands and face. If you’ve had any experience using this plant as a repellent please weigh in through the comments. I’d love to hear of your experiences.
Until I’ve done my homework and am thoroughly satisfied of its safety, I’m resigned to happily appreciate the look of the plant in the garden. As an added bonus (and despite its reputation) the flowers are attracting pollinators like this wee hoverfly. And I am in favour of anything that will bring in pollinators to our previously barren backyard.
Warning: Nicandra is a self-seeding menace and extremely invasive. I plan to keep on top of deadheading as I do not need the added hassle of weeding hundreds of seedlings next spring.
Furthermore, despite its resemblance to edible solanums such as ground cherry, Nicandra is NOT EDIBLE. The fact that it is considered a poison is one reason why I am not jumping to rub it all over myself until I learn more.
This unknown red variety bloomed a few weeks ago. I bought it at a garden shop in early spring, but it did not come with an accurate tag. I almost didn’t buy it as I was saving space for ‘Black Barlow’ a variety I had been coveting for ages. But wouldn’t you know it, I finally came upon the variety in bloom a few weeks ago and it was too purple for my taste. The photos lied!
A gift from my friend Barry, these white flowers have little green spots on some of the tips that make it just a little bit extra special.
In addition to transplants (there are more that haven’t yet bloomed), I also grew a few aquilegia varieties from seed. They are tiny little things right now and it will be another year before they bloom.
How is it that spring isn’t technically through, and I am already anticipating next year?
I’ve decided to take another shot at Wordless Wednesdays, and have failed. How can I leave it without words?
I saw these orchids several times through our Thailand trip, and naturally referred to them as “Fried Egg Orchids.” I think the reason is fairly obvious.
Before posting here I did a quick search for “Fried Egg Orchid” and wouldn’t you know it, that’s what other people call them, too! Dendrobium thyrsiflorum if you’re being botanically correct.
The new yard came with violets… lots and lots of violets. They’re blooming now and even though the yard continues to look like the excavation site of a dead body on a television police procedural…
I’m in heaven.
I have longed to have the space to grow enough violets to make cheerful springtime jellies. A few years ago I set about making this dream real by installing white and purple violet plants into a shady corner of my community garden plot. I began growing them in a large trough on the roof, too. Then we moved here and I inherited a yard of them.
Between all of these locations I should have more than enough to candy, make my jellies, and eat fresh in salads. I like the young leaves, too. Of course, we are currently in the process of digging up the yard, but I’ve been careful to dig around the violets and set each one (barring a few casualties) for replanting. I plan to carefully extract the plants from the grass that is growing around them, and replant them into their own swath along with the three other colour varieties I have collected over the last few years. You think I’m crazy for taking so much care with a plant that spreads like a weed, but I can’t wait for you to see it.
Man, do I ever love having a yard.
Remember months back when I wrote about lampascioni, the Italian wild onion bulbs that are really a muscari (Muscari comosum) that I purchased at my local greengrocer? Click here for a refresher and more details.
Well, here they are! Aren’t they fantastic? I love their feathery plumage (the tassel in their common name, Tassel Hyacinth) and the earthy-brown bells that flank the lower part of the stem.