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Raphiocarpus petelotii

I'm not sure why Raphiocarpus petelotii isn't widely grown, but this beautiful African Violet relative deserves to become very popular.  Originating from mountain forests of Vietnam, this foot-tall perennial has outstanding foliage that changes color depending on the lighting.  Its pretty, purple-striped blooms appear in summer & fall.  The plant is easy to grow, and reportedly hardy to Zone 7-8.  Raphiocarpus plants are very rare in cultivation and hard to find.

Raphiocarpus petelotii

Raphiocarpus petelotii grows from underground rhizomes, which send up numerous succulent shoots.  The leaves grow to 6 inches long and typically have the variegated pattern seen above.  But in strong lighting, they darken up, looking almost like black satin!  The underside of the leaves are a beautiful burgundy, and both sides are covered with soft hairs that are purple!  The trumpet-shaped blooms are about 2 inches long.  They are creamy white or butter yellow, with purple & yellow stripes inside.

Raphiocarpus petelotii

Raphiocarpus is easy to grow.  It is said to tolerate heat well, and reportedly can handle several degrees of frost, with new growth emerging from the roots in spring.  It grows well in bright, filtered light.  Protect it from strong afternoon sun.  It seems to make the black leaf coloration best in 15+ hours per day of lighting.  It likes well-draining soil that is kept evenly moist, with average fertilizing.  Over about 50% humidity is recommended.

Raphiocarpus petelotii

Note the purple hairs on the left

 

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Turquoise Puya

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