HOW TO GROW DIPTERACANTHUS

15 deg C/59 deg F

The Brazilian Dipteracanthus makoyanus (syn. RiteUia rnakoyana), the monkey plant, is a low-growing plant with a tendency to ramble, and is best grown in the half-pots sometimes used for alpine plants. It does well when trailing over the edges of pots.

The leaves are spear-shaped, purple below and olive-green above, with the veins in contrasting creamy-green. It has solitary deep rose-pink flowers. Rather similar is Dipteracanthusportellae, (syn. KueUia portellae), but only the central leaf vein shows much contrast. The flowers are of a similar colour. It can be grown as an annual from seed, and although it may sometimes continue to grow it seems to be short-lived. D. portellae can be propagated from cuttings taken in spring. The young plants should be stopped to promote a branching habit, but established plants are best left alone as much as possible. To get good winter flowering, a temperature slightly higher than the recommended minimum must be maintained. These plants are unsuitable for chilly homes, or where central-heating is used without humidilication. In chilly conditions they soon deteriorate, and the leaves turn yellow and fall.

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