The Costus laterifolius I bought last year has finally produced some blossoms for me! This uncommon African Costus species first came in as a small division and due to the long shipping process, all the leaves fell off from the stems and what I was left with was a miserably bald and sad plant. I spent much effort to get it to grow to its current size now. I think my plant is still young after referring to the information that was posted on Dave Skinner’s website. The stems on mature plants can grow up to about 3 feet and longer!
My Costus laterifolius in bloom!
What is interesting about this Costus species is that it is epiphytic in growth habit as most of the other species we have here are all terrestrial! I grow it in a soilless mix that is very porous in consistency. When the plant is hung up in a hanging basket, the long arching stems hang down so elegantly! The small oval-shaped leaves with sharp tips are a glossy green in appearance.
Like some of its relatives, the Costus laterifolius has this curious habit of being able to produce flowers terminally on a leafy stem or basally on a short leafless stem or direct from the rhizome at soil level. My specimen of Costus laterifolius did both for the first time!
The single flower produced terminally that was open.
The terminal inflorescence – one flower has opened while two more are in bud.
The terminal flowers of Costus laterifolius are produced from the leaf axils that hang down in clusters like Christmas lights! The lip (labellum) is a bright yellow color which is somewhat similar to that found on Monocostus uniflorus. Each flower features reddish spots on the stamen as well as on the corolla tube.
The basally produced flower that was opened on the same day as the terminally produced one shown above.
The buds of basally produced flowers.
The flowers that are produced basally can be difficult to spot if the plant is grown in a pot with a tall rim. To make things worse, basal flowers can be totally forgotten when the plant is hung up above eye level! The basal flower that was opened luckily managed to perch itself over the rim of the pot and hence was able to reveal its full glory. The basal flowers and terminally produced ones look alike and sizes were similar too. Unfortunately, the beautiful flowers of Costus laterifolius do not last beyond one day.