Monday, September 27, 2010

The snake in the garden of Eden

I think there is no question why the Calathea crotalifera is called  the "Rattlesnake plant". Just look at how the bracts are arranged and it will remind you of a certain snake that rattles its tail when agitated or disturbed. No need to worry though, this Rattlesnake won't slither and bite, and carries no deadly venom either.

In my older entry "A case of mistaken identity" I narrated how we got the Cigar plants (Calathea lutea) in our garden. Mom thought it was the Rattlesnake I wanted. So when I went home to visit last May of 2009, I felt a slight disappointment when I saw that it was not the Rattlesnake (Calathea crotalifera) plant I was looking for.

Not to be completely disheartened, we set out on a quest to look for this plant. It was not the easiest plant to find. Most of the garden stores we went to do not sell it. We were able to locate it in one of those specialty garden stores, where plant prices are much higher than in the common garden stores.

Despite the hefty price, we purchased a couple knowing that it's all worth it. I knew that with Mom's tender touch and loving care she will be able to propagate and multiply the mother plants. And I was not wrong at all.

Propagating this plant was not as easy as the other Calathea. The Cigar plant just grew like its native to the place. It must have loved the garden so much that it almost dominated the other plants in the small garden space. The Rattlesnake was not as quick to acclimatize though. It was alive but not growing fast enough. It did not put out any bloom for so many months.

I'm happy to report though that now our Rattlesnakes are doing well. Mom was able to divide the mother plants and they are once again blooming, showing off their distinctive characteristics that earned them the name "Rattlesnakes".

Just like that of its relative, the flowers of the Rattlesnake is not significant. It's the way the bracts are arranged that makes this plant unique and a good specimen to have in the garden. Propagation is through subdivision of the mother plant.

Now this is a "snake" that you will certainly not avoid or run away from.