Tag Archive: violet flower


If you like plants with purple blooms, then you’ll surely fall in love with the King’s Mantle, also known as Thumbergia erecta. I still remember the first time I saw this plant. We were on our way to a friend’s house when I caught sight of this small shrub with intense purple flowers. I wanted to stop because I thought maybe I could ask the owner where he bought it. In case he or she was feeling magnanimous, I was thinking of asking for a cutting too. (I really like plants, and wherever I go, my eyes are usually alert for growing things that I like.) Anyway, we were in a hurry, so we weren’t able to stop. But I kept thinking about those royal violet flowers for a very long time.

IMG_5467The King’s Mantle plant was hard to come by. I went to the local nursery, and I couldn’t find it. The vendors kept offering me purple orchids, but these weren’t what I was looking for. Maybe I just wasn’t able to convey to them what sort of plant I was searching for. Until just a year ago, my husband, daughter and I decided to take a short walk. There was a private nursery/garden just a few houses from our place. We decided to check it out. And guess what greeted me when we came up the gate? Yes, there were pots of Thumbergia erecta. At last, I can have a pot of my own.

King’s Mantle (Thumbergia erecta)
There are so many things that I love about this plant.
– For one, it has the most beautiful deep violet flowers with cream/yellow centers.

– Second, it is a resilient plant. I placed it in an area where it can get some sun and some shade. And it just grew and bloomed, and bloomed, all year. I also noticed that it had more flowers after I water it with diluted urine. You won’t notice the buds because they are quite hidden in the foliage. But once they blossom, you can’t miss them.

– Third, it was easy to propagate. How did I discover this? Well, the pot I bought had a few branches already. After a while, one of its branches grew straight up. It grew to about 6 feet, and I didn’t have the heart to cut it because I wasn’t sure if the plant grew from cuttings. Then, a storm did that for me. After a windy night, that long stem got bent and broken. So, I got a pair of scissors and cleanly cut it. I put the cutting in a pot filled with rich soil. I left it in a shady part where it can get some sun. I wasn’t sure if the cutting would grow because the part that broke off was a younger stem. It was still a bit green compared with the darker and tougher skin of more mature stems. The cutting wilted. It shed a couple of leaves, and I thought it would die. But I left it in the pot and hoped that it would root and grow. A month or so later, the plant started to stand up again. Then, it grew bigger leaves, and after a few more weeks, it gave me flowers. So now, I have two healthy pots of King’s Mantle.

– Finally, another great thing about this flowering plant is that it doesn’t seem to get infected by aphids or other pests. My garden is teeming with red fire ants. Some of my plants have aphids in them and others have died because of the black soot that is caused by the honeydew produced by the aphids. But even though it is surrounded by all these pests, it is healthy and blooming. No sign of aphids on its stems, flowers or leaves. No sign of black ants on its flowers too.

For now, I am encouraging the plant to grow lush and vibrant. I am planning to transfer this in the yard once the fence is done. I know it will be beautiful there and it will provide cover too.

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I bought 2 pots of ground orchids almost three years ago. One had purple flowers and the other white. I liked them because I thought growing ground orchids would be easier than cultivating hanging orchids. I haven’t had luck with hanging orchids even if they seemed to grow just about anywhere here. Even my dancing-lady orchids haven’t bloomed, and it’s already been a year when they were given to me. These kinds of orchids just seem too delicate, and they really need your time and attention. Plus, they are pretty expensive, and they could die if you don’t take care of them properly. So, I opted for ground orchids, which were hardier.

Spathoglottis Plicata
Terrestrial orchids, which are also known as Spathoglottis plicata (commonly known as “Philippine Ground Orchid), look delicate but they are very tough and easy to propagate. Even with my inexperienced gardening skills, my ground orchids still offered me their gorgeous blooms every few months or so. I just watered them regularly, twice a day during very hot summers.

After a while, however, I noticed that the plants have become too overcrowded in their pots. I thought, “Maybe I should repot them to allow their roots to breathe.” So, I set a Saturday for that.

What I Did Wrong
I told an acquaintance that I was going to repot my ground orchids. She was pretty helpful in giving me instructions on how I needed to go about that task. I absorbed what she said because I thought she knew what she was talking about. She said, “You should cut off some of the roots to allow more to grow.” Okay. I know this seems stupid, but I took that seriously. So, even though it was a bit painful for me to snip those delicate roots away, I did. She was supposed to be the expert; and I was the green gardener. She even came over to show me how.

The Result of My Folly
My plants didn’t die. (Thank goodness!) But I guess it took awhile for them to recover from my cutting spree because they didn’t blossom for more than a year after my foolhardy job. My plants were just sitting there, day in and day out, not blooming. It just seemed to me that they were a bit cross with me for hurting their life source.

Anyway, after awhile, I decided that they needed another bout of TLC. So, about 2 to 3 months ago, we repotted the ground orchids in rich soil. We placed some in pots and we also planted some directly in the ground.

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Here are a few tips to planting ground orchids:
– If you want to propagate them, divide the tubers or bulbs. You can plant each of them in separate pots. I tried this and it worked. Before, I only had 1 pot each of both the purple and white ground orchids. Now, I have lots. I even gave some away to my neighbor yesterday.

– In case you want them to really grow big, try directly planting them in the ground. In my experience, the ones I planted in the ground grew bigger leaves and they had thicker stalks where the flowers are.

– Are you thinking of using fertilizer? Well, you can. For me, I used urine. Sometimes (usually when I notice that my flowering plants aren’t blooming), I collect my daughter’s early morning urine. (She’s 2, so she doesn’t mind.) Then, I mix this with a bucket of water. I use this in all my flowering plants, and it actually works. Do not use concentrated or undiluted urine because this can harm plants.

The Result
I am really happy that my ground orchids are blooming again. The whites are more abundant than the purples. My first purple bloomed a month ago, but it wasn’t able to fully blossom as its buds were infested with black ants. Thankfully, it bloomed again, and there’s even a bigger one waiting to open.

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