Hilo Beauty

cannacrazy(8 SC)April 24, 2009

Has anyone in central SC had luck over-wintering the Hilo Beauty (Spotted Elephant Ear) if left in the ground? I planted 3 last year and they thrived well beyond my expectations. My plant tag says hardy to z7b but I've also read hardy to z9 or 10. I just need to know whether to be patient or give up the vigil and plant again. Can anyone help?

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karen__w(z7 Durham, NC)

Believe the z9/10 sources for that one, not the tag. I lose my Hilo Beauty if I don't bring the pot in before nighttime temps hit 40 degrees. For more hardy aroids, you need to keep up the vigil because they're late starters, though you'd think 90+ degrees over the next few days should ring their alarm clock.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 9:21AM
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cannacrazy(8 SC)

What do you think about sinking the pot and digging up for winter? I have limited space for over-wintering indoors but I've totally fallen in love with the Hilo. Can you recommend another aroid with as much beauty but more hardy to the zone?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 11:27AM
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Try Mickey Mouse Elephant Ears - They should do well for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mickey Mouse EE

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 11:58AM
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karen__w(z7 Durham, NC)

There are so many beautiful colocasias now, most or all of them should be hardy for you in zone 8. If you like the patterning of Hilo Beauty, in addition to the Mickey Mouse you could consider 'Nancy's Revenge', 'Yellow Splash', C. affinis 'Jenningsii'. 'Elepaio' is one of my favorites, though I find it to be a little fussier than some of the others.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 9:51AM
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cannacrazy(8 SC)

I ordered an affinis Jenningsii and it should be here next week. Last weekend I purchased a Black Stem and Imperial. I may add a Mickey Mouse or one of the other varigated-type varieties you mentioned. Have you tried growing the Black Stem and/or Imperial in our area? The big question is whether to plant into the ground or keep in pots? I know some people plant the whole pot so it's easier to dig up in the fall but if they will be hardy in the ground, I'd much prefer doing that. The Columbia area is right on z7b and z8. What do you think will be best for my plants? BTW, I uncovered one of my Hilos and the bulb is soft. That probably means it's rotten, right?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 5:07PM
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karen__w(z7 Durham, NC)

I grow most of mine in pots here. Even the ones that are hardy for me come into growth so late that they don't make much of an impact. My soil is too dense with clay and rocks to submerge the pots, and I kind of like the extra height they get when I just plop the pot down into the garden, so that's what I do. Not that I don't still try them in the ground, but only if I have a pup potted up to overwinter in the garage. You'll have better success in SC than I do, so if I were you I'd keep them in pots this first year so they can bulk up, then late next spring after the ground warms up I'd plant a division in the garden. Mulch that one well going into winter and be sure it's in a spot that doesn't stay wet through the coldest weather. Keep the reserve plant inside in case it doesn't work out, but I bet you'll do fairly well. The question will be, is it worth having them in pots to get an earlier start.

If the bulb on Hilo is soft, it's probably toast. Just make sure the whole thing is soft before you toss it. I've had a few cases where part is soft, but if I can debride and treat with sulfur dust I can save the tuber. I used to think that if Hilo Beauty went dormant at all it was a goner, but I had a dryish dormant bulb from indoors just come into growth last week so I'm revising my opinion.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 6:49PM
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cannacrazy(8 SC)

I think it's obvious I have much to learn about growing these plants. They like lots of water when growing but not when dormant. Got it! My Hilos are buried under a heavy layer of pine straw and that holds the moisture in so I may be rotting them as we speak! I will dig up this weekend and see what happens. Not sure if I know what the tuber part looks like though. I'm very familiar with canna rhizomes but what does the tuber portion of the bulb look like?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 7:14PM
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cannacrazy(8 SC)

I dug up the only Hilo I could find. It appears to be lots of little tubers(?) attached to a bunch of roots but no stem. Some of the tubers are mushy but others are not. What do I do now? I've got the tubers and roots drying out in my garage right now.
While digging for my Hilos, I discovered my 2 Black Magics have sprouted out of the ground! Yay!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 12:55PM
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karen__w(z7 Durham, NC)

I would cut out the mushy parts and dust any cut surfaces on the remaining tubers with sulfur. Give them a couple of days to dry/cure and then plant in a pot with well draining soil mix. The idea is to arrest any rot at the surface without letting the tubers or roots dry out completely. I wouldn't water much at all until soil temps are warmer and nights are reliably over 50 degrees, or until you see growth starting.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 2:09PM
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cannacrazy(8 SC)

Thanks Karen! I'll give it a try.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 2:25PM
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According to an article on page 126 in Aroideana. volume 32, 2009, the plant known as Hilo Beauty is a Caladium. An article written by Dr. Wilbert Hetterscheid he explains the species is relatively new to science and was never properly identified. The correct species name is Caladium praetermissum and its own origin in nature is still unknown. All references to this plant being either an Alocasia or a Xanthosoma do not take into consideration the requirements for that genus.

However, it does fit the genus Caladium. From the Kew's CATE Araceae the requirements for the genus Caladium are:

Distinguishing Features: Tuberous geophytes; leaves usually peltate, blade often variegated, cordate-sagittate, sagittate or rarely trisect, fine venation reticulate, inframarginal collective vein present; spathe strongly constricted, blade withering immediately after anthesis, tube persistent; spadix fertile to apex; flowers unisexual, perigone absent; male flowers forming a truncate synandrium, pollen shed in monads. Differs from Scaphispatha in spathe tube always convolute at anthesis, well developed sterile flowers between male and female zones, stylar region as broad as ovary (Caladium paradoxum has discoid, coherent stylar regions), placentas 1-2 (-3), parietal to subbasal.

It appears the name Alocasia Hilo Beauty dates back to an incorrect entry in Graf's Exotica.

Aroideana is the journal of the International Aroid Society.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 6:07PM
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