ID and care needed

north53 Z1b MB(zone 1b Canada)March 28, 2011

I care for about 40 plants at our local library. I don't have any special knowledge of houseplants, I'm just a volunteer. Anyway, there's one plant I can't ID. When I first took over the watering of their plants this particular one was laying half dead on a heater. I thought it had potential, so I re-potted it and have attempted to give it better care. What's bugging me is that the old leaves are a rich green solid colour, but the new growth is pale and streaky and the leaves don't improve with age. I give it a weak solution of 20-20-20 about once a month except during the winter.

I've included a close-up of the stem, the odd looking flower and the whole plant. Any suggestions?

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It looks like Setaria palmifolia..Common names are Palm Grass and Malaysian Palm Grass.

It's a perrenial grass, not a true palm.

Palm Grass or Malaysian Palm Grass does best in bright light to full sun. In summer, if sun is harsh, Palm Grass does best under a tree.

Soil should be semi-moist, but not soggy.
Prefers medium to high humidity.
pH, a little on the acidic side, but not too low.
They grow 3-6' tall. If kept in a container, it probably won't grow any larger than 4-5' tall.
It tends to grow wide, too.

I used to work at a plant store...we'd get Palm Grass in periodically..I'm sorry I didn't get one back then. They're very pretty plants, especially when flowering, but impossible to find where I live. Good think you saved it. Is it in a window? Toni

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 11:54PM
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Toni, I grow San. and they have flowers like your palm grass, I am so glad that you posted a picture with the leaves incluuded. If you had only shown the flower I would have guessed incorrectly. It's needs are that of a Sansevieria as well. Norma

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 3:38AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I don't know what this plant is but it doesn't look to me like Setaria palmifolia. Wrong foliage and completely wrong inflorescence.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 3:50AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I am beginning to think along the lines of Hedychiums ....

Here is a link that might be useful: Zingiberales

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 1:37PM
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Norma, it's not my Palm Grass, lol..Wish it was.

How often do your Sans flower? Over the years, only one of my Sans bloomed, but I pretty much neglect them, and they get very little light in winter..Adjacent an east window. During summer, 'when other plants are summered outdoors,' Sans are placed directly in east windows. What's your secret?

Flora, you don't think the third picture looks like Palm Grass? It's hard to tell in pic 1, however, in pic 2, the flowers resemble Setaria. Toni

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 2:08PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Nope - sorry, the inflorescence does not look at all like a grass to me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Palm grass

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 4:56PM
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north53 Z1b MB(zone 1b Canada)

Gee Flora, I don't know. I've looked at the pictures of the Hedychiums and can't match up the flower to any of them. Also, I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but I don't recall the leaf having a prominent central vein. It does have parallel lines the length of the leaf, if I'm remembering correctly. I will check next time I go to water it.

Who would have thought it was an unusual plant! Another interesting plant we have is the amazon lily. I think people see plants there, so think we are a plant rescue center or something. All the plants have been donated in one form or another. The library has windows on all sides and the plants thrive in those conditions.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 7:14PM
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This particular plant has really intrigued me! I'm not sure at all. I don't post often but this one...hmmm. Can you tell us is this a fragrant plant? Is it coming from a bulb at all? Is it evergreen or deciduous? Im really intrigued here. My first guess was a ginger as well. Could it be a crinum of some sort? Ive never grown crinums nor ever seen one in person... zone 5 or 6 not sure. Yipee for me. I hope you find an answer. I would love to own one of this plant someday.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 9:42PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I'm finding this fascinating too. I am going to cross post on the 'Name that Plant forum' if you don't mind.

I can say pretty certainly that it's not a Crinum - it doesn't appear to have a bulb and the leaves aren't right.

It actually looks like a Spathiphyllim with a Hedychium flower stuck in the pot!

Let's keep hunting - it's a lovely plant. Whoever donated the plants clearly had an interesting collection.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 4:44AM
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elsier(z6 KY)

Has anyone considered the cast iron plant, Aspidistra elatior? Mine has never flowered so I can't compare the bloom, but the leaves look similar to me.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 8:26AM
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saltcedar(Sunset zn 30/usda 8b)

Dracaena thalioides.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 9:37AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Thanks Saltcedar .... the cross post to Name That Plant worked beautifully.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dracaena thalioides

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 10:13AM
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north53 Z1b MB(zone 1b Canada)

Thank you very much, saltcedar! That's it for sure. Now I have a name for it, maybe I can provide it better care.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 10:24AM
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