Facts

  • This is a popular ornamental plant thanks to its unusually soft, brightly coloured flowers.
  • In cultivation, only female plants are likely to be seen and it is the female part of the flower, the stigma, that gives the red colour to the hanging tails.

Where it grows

Tropical dry forests in Papua New Guinea.

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Lots of people kill pnatls with kindness; keeping the soil moist (rather than wet) is a good rule of thumb unless it's something like bamboo. Don't fertilize for the first 2 3 months, as most nurseries/suppliers pot their new pnatls in a soil/fertilizer mix. After that, I like to fertilize most pnatls each time I water with a quarter-strength soluble fertilizer. Light can be an issue for some pnatls. If you see leaves turning brown or getting VERY light green, they're probably getting too much sun; if they lean toward the light, they probably need to be a bit closer. Very few pnatls can take direct sunlight, particularly from a west- or south- facing window. If you must use these windows, try putting a sheer curtain on the window to cut down on the intensity of the sun. Humidity is also a factor to be considered; if the tips of the leaves get brown, or if they wilt quickly, it may be too dry. To combat this (without using a humidifier), try setting the pot on a tray or saucer filled with pebbles, into which water has been poured so that the pebbles are just sticking out. As the water evaporates, the air immediately around the plant will be more humid. If you are having pest problems, a good drench will sometimes take care of things most nurseries can point you at a good all-round product (Safer Soap is a good one). These are all very general suggestions, obviously, but hopefully they'll get you back on track with your pnatls. Good luck!
Submitted by Riliwan on

Glossary

  • Axil: angle between the stem and the leaf.
  • Perennial: lives for at least two years.