"Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. " ~Lindley Karstens

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One Unknown Plant , Some New Blooms and A Feast for Tomato Hornworms

Need some help to identify one self seedling from my garden.

The seedling appeared near to my Brazilian Red Hots (Alternanthera), so I assumed it was Brazilian Red Hots. Once the seedling got a little bigger, I transplanted it, and waited for its vibrant variegated foliage with purplish centers and fuchsia edges to show up. Now the plant seems already grew to a mature size, but that expected color is still not shown.

Can somebody identify it for me (above, located at the left side of the oyster plant)? Or it is just a weed that I have been nurturing from the beginning? I did not see any flower buds so far, so not sure if it is a flower plant or just foliage.  I don't see any other plants in my garden that look like this one.

Meanwhile, there are some new flowers blooming in the garden.

Very first a couple of blue butterfly flowers on this very young plant!  Love its unique shape and beautiful blue color! 
Clerodendrum ugandense (Blue Butterfly Bush)
 I really loved beautiful Cleome flowers planted in mass in Chengdu Panda Research Base in China.  After I came back, I happened to see this Proven Winners Senorita rosalita Cleome Hybrid for sale in the big box store, just could not resist bringing one home. 

Proven Winners Senorita rosalita Cleome Hybrid  (Spider Flower)
It was said this type will not self seed, and is not sticky and doesn’t have thorns, but the flowers are smaller than classic cleome.  Although I think I still prefer the bigger flowers :)

Three different colors of Torenias were bought for my new partial shade garden.  I know they are annuals, but will enjoy them as much as I can, and hope they will seed themselves for next year too!

Oh, I have to show you what happened to my Datura metel (Devil's trumpet).  It was blooming very well with half dozen of buds waiting to open as well.  It looked great in my new flowerbed.

Until tomato hornworms found it...  I actually found there were 13 of them on this plant!!!   This time, I decided to leave them alone to expect they will become beautiful moths someday...

In just two days, my bush looked like this, no single leaf was spared!  What a feast they had!

My question is after they finished the leaves, where did they go?  I can not find any cocoons anywhere nearby.  The nature is a real amazing thing!


  1. Gosh those tomato hornworms are voracious eaters arent they? The torenias are very pretty - I picked some up a couple of months ago and they have never stopped flowering.

  2. Good morning Ami ~ I don't know what your mystery plant is but I'm sure someone will be able to help you.

    I love your torenias. What a mess the tomato hornworm made of your plants, but it's all part of the gardening cycle.

    Enjoy the loveliness of your gardens. They are always a treat to see.


  3. Your plant looks like an alternanthera to me. Perhaps the 'red hots' seeds don't come true to their parent plant. It has pretty leaves, just not as colorful as the 'red hots.' I know my zinnias don't reseed the same as the original ones. Those torenias are beautiful. I might have to look into those for some containers I'm planting for my porch.

  4. Those torenias will certainly brighten up your shady border Ami with their pretty little flower heads - as for those hornworms - they certainly are hungry little critters. Maybe they went off looking for a datura in someone elses garden for seconds.

    Lovely photos of the clerodendrum - its a favourite houseplant of mine.

  5. Hey, Ami! Love your Clerodendrum! Too bad about your Devil's Trumpet...I suppose the cats have to eat too. And I don't know what the plant is, but NanaK's info sounds good to me...regardless, it has really pretty foliage.

  6. Oh, wow, they really did devour your plant. Hungry little beasts they are. I've never seen them on any of my plants...only tomatoes. Sorry, that I can't help identify your plant. It's very nice looking though. I hope someone else recognizes it for you.

  7. That plant looks like an alternanthera to me as well. I planted 'Purple Knight' many years ago, and it became a huge weed problem in my garden. Took three years to completely eradicate it. I'm scared of that genus now. Torenias seed all over in my garden as well, but they don't really bother me. They do it in a sweet, polite way. Hope your devil's trumpet returns soon. The flowers are so beautiful!

  8. Africanaussie: I also hope that torenias can last much longer into the winter here. Its color is much needed in winter months.

  9. FlowerLady: Yes, I am surely learning all those gardening cycles now. But I think the Datura metel will come back since I can see the leaves are emerging. Yay!

  10. NanaK: I do see some similarity between that plant and the red hots. I believe what you said makes sense. I also have some zinnias did not come back same as the parents. Well, I will keep this plant whatever it is since it does have nice foliage even it is not as vibrant as "red hots". Thanks!

  11. leavesnbloom: I had some torenias last year in a deep shade container and it did not last long. This time I put them in a partial shade/sun area hope they can last longer. Love the colors!

    wow, did not know clerodendrum is a houseplant in your area since it could grow quite large here I believe. Living in Florida, lots of houseplants can be grown in the ground, and I have better luck for them in the ground than in the container.

  12. Kimberly: Yes, those hornworms must be very hungry. This time I left them alone since I know they will eventually become hummingbird moths. Hope they made it to the end though...

  13. Susan: I only see Hornworms on my Angel's trumpet and Devil's trumpet. The first time I saw them on my Angel's trumpet, I thought they are very harmful, so I took them away. After I learned about them, I decided to leave them alone on my Datura metel :) Fortunetely the plant has the new leaves emerging already, so I guess it is okay.

  14. FG: I googled 'Purple Knight' images and they look very pretty, sure can add some nice color into the garden. Hmm, did not know it created such problem for you. My "Red hots" bloomed last winter, but did not have much seedlings, other than a couple of what I showed here. I think both NanaK and you are right, it is some kind of transformed "red hots". For now, I will keep them, hope it won't create the same problem for me (finger crossed). Thanks!

  15. Hello Ami,
    Well, at least caterpillars tend to stick to only one or two plants of choice, so it looks like they have left you lots of beautiful blooms!
    I do love those delicate blue flowers on the Blue Butterfly bush, but sadly I don't think they would grow in my garden!

  16. Ami,
    I read that if you plant Borage herb plants as a companion plant that the Hornworms will be repelled. Don't know if it works but its worth a try.

  17. Gippslandgardener: Yes, those cats seem only eat my angel's trumpet and devil's trumpet, which made it not too terrible. Clerodendrum ugandense is a warm weather plant, not sure if you can grow it as houseplant like Leavesnblooms mentioned in her comment.

  18. Sanddune: I looked up Borage herb over the internet, and they do mention it is a good companion plant for tomatos. Definitely worth trying, especially it is pretty with blue flowers too! Thanks for letting me know this!

  19. You blooms are pretty gorgeous, all of them. I love my torenias too. My blue ones has self seeded and the little babies are found all over my garden, from front to back. I guess the seeds have been dispersed far and wide since I only had 1 torenia plant in the front portion. Some torenias ended up sharing a pot with my jasmine, kaffir lime and even the pineapple and I love it!

    Does your butterfly bush attract bees and wasps besides the butterflies?

  20. Hi Ami,
    Your poor Datura ... 13 hornworms!!! Wow. I found 1 on a penta the other day and left it alone to turn into a moth but I would not be so kind with 13.

    Love your blue butterfly ... they are so unique. I've finally been successful rooting them from cuttings. It wasn't that hard I just hadn't had any luck with it until this summer.
    Enjoy your weekend.

    (really enjoyed Part 3 of yourChina trip, too)


  21. Ami, You are correct that your volunteer is from Brazilian Red Hots, a variegated plant found growing in Brazil and introduced 5 years ago to Florida and the US. I am glad to know that it does not reseed like Purple Knight for you as it is the same species but a different selection. Thanks for all your posts and information.

  22. I have your mystery plant in my garden, definitely an Alternanthera Dentata, my neighbor calls it a copperleaf. In full sun is beautiful because of the color, it can be a little invasive.


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