Clianthus

There arc a number of these more unusual plants that the keen plantsman may have difficulty in acquiring, but seed is often more easily obtained and can be an excellent means of building up a collection of the rarer plants. The seeds should be sown in the conventional manner, but it is essential that the temperature is adequate, and not less than 20°C (68°F) is recommended. When potting it is important to ensure that a free-draining compost is used, and that the pots are adequately provided with "crocks' so that compost does not become totally saturated for long periods.

The fern-like foliage of the clianthus is attractive in itself, and there is the added bonus of exotic flowers that resemble large claws - hence lobster claw being one of the common names. Probably better suited to the heated garden room rather than average room conditions, the clianthus may be grown as a conventional pot plant, as a climbing plant against the wall or trellis, or as a hanging basket subject.

Good light is essential, and regular watering of plants that will dry out quickly in warm summer conditions is something that must not be neglected.

Clianthusformosus (syn. C. dampieri) has a weak root system and is often grafted on to Colulea arborescens. It is well worth looking for such grafted plants when acquiring a specimen. C.puniceus is a more vigorous variety which makes a good climbing shrub to a height of 12 ft (3-5 m). C. puniceus is summer flowering, C.formosus flowers from spring onwards.

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