[Each week I will check in with a staff member to find out what they have been up to, what they recommend seeing, and what advice they have for gardeners. Horticulturist Alan Schroder is profiled this week.]
With a degree from CSU in Landscape Horticulture and Nursery Management, Alan Schroder came to the Gardens about three years ago to help care for our Tropical Collections. When you see him in the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory, he gladly takes the time to answer questions or point out a plant he is particularly excited about.
Alan’s weeks don’t vary much with the seasons. He says, “Every morning the [Boettcher Tropical] conservatory gets hand-watered for approximately two hours. This time is not only a great time to water, but it also gives me an opportunity to focus on individual plants while watering. I probably split my week with twenty hours in the conservatory and around twenty hours in the greenhouses. Daily maintenance is required for both the conservatory and the greenhouses with little time to spare.”
Alan offers this tip to the home gardener growing indoor plants: "Make sure to cut fertilizer rates in the winter in Colorado, along with how much you water. With less sunlight there will be less need to water and fertilize because the plant is slowing down growth rates for the winter. Pick back up fertilizing, and water more heavily in the spring when the weather begins to warm."
Look Out For: Alan suggests numerous Boettcher Tropical Conservatory plants to look for this week:
• Platycerium grande protruding from the trunk of Dypsis decaryi. Also known as staghorn fern for its shape, fertile fronds of this species can reach 7 feet long. These plants are epiphytes: plants that don’t need to grow in soil and generally attach to trees.
• Lasia spinosa in the pond in the Boettcher Tropical Conservatory. This unusual aquatic aroid is a neat plant to see in bloom.
• Calliandra hematocephala ‘Nana’ is a dwarf variety of the species with unusual pink powderpuff flowers. This plant is in the bean family.
• Pandanus utilis has recently flowered for us and a couple of cones can be seen dangling from the rosettes of leaves. This plant is native to the tropics from the old world.
• Bismarckia nobilis is one of the largest palms we have in our collection. This palm has recently flowered and seeded for us and the seeds can still be seen.