Spiral ginger, an unusual Florida flowering plant.

At our UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County office—and in my home landscape—we have several unusual flowering plants. They are so amazingly strange-looking that you would want to stop and look again. We thought you might appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of a few of my favorite funky flowering plants. These plants include spiral ginger, Dutchman’s pipe and Hoya carnosa.

Spiral ginger, Costus barbatus: This is a fast-growing perennial that can reach a height of 6 to 10 feet and a spread of 4 to 8 feet. It prefers partial shade/partial sun and can perform well in full shade or full sun. The undersides of the leaves are very soft, and the flowers remind me of a red wax sculpture with yellow bird bills protruding. Flowering occurs from summer through fall. This plant grows well in North, Central and South Florida.

Dutchman’s pipe, pipevine, Aristolochia: This is a fast-growing vine that can reach a height and spread of 10 to 15 feet. It prefers partial shade/partial sun and performs well in full shade. The flowers are white/purple from summer through winter. This plant is the larval food plant for several swallowtail butterflies. This plant grows well in Central and South Florida.

Wax plant, Wax flower, Hoya carnosa: This is a slow-growing vine whose height and spread depend on the structure utilized. It prefers partial shade/partial sun. This plant produces large, round, hanging clusters of cream-colored or pink flowers in the spring and summer and performs very well in containers or hanging baskets. Propagation is by cuttings. For more information, please see the University of Florida publication “Hoya carnosa Wax Plant, Wax Flower” by Edward F. Gilman at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp257.

Next month, I will share three more of ‘My Favorite Funky Flowers.’ For more information about the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program and to register for upcoming workshops, please view our calendar of events at https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough/upcoming-events/. You can contact me at the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County at 744-5519, ext. 54105.

Hope you can get outside and garden. Be well.

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