New Castle News

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December 28, 2013

Sweet treat: Candy corn plant will brighten up garden — if you remember

NEW CASTLE — It is said everyone has some kind of talent. My biggest talent is forgetting stuff.

Back in November, Kylee Quarterson sent me a photo of her neighbor Mary Lou’s unusual plant. I was supposed to go see it, but I forgot.

If I was supposed to go and see your plant, and didn’t show up, it’s just me using my natural talent.

The plant Mary Lou had growing on the corner of her porch was the Manettia (man-ET-ee-uh) inflata.

It was named after that good looking Italian botanist, and director of the Botanic Garden of Florence, Saveria Manetti (1723-1785). I don’t know if he sang tenor or not, but he should have with a name that melodic.

Kylee and Mary Lou knew the plant by its common name, candy corn plant. It has a few other names, including cigar plant and firecracker plant.

Although it was named after an Italian, it grows naturally in the rain forests of South America. The inch-long flowers have a red base with a yellow throat and look like candy corn, one of my favorite candies. That’s what I need, a plant that makes me want to eat more candy corn.

Mary Lou purchased the candy corn plant at Andy Byler’s Pine Hills Greenhouse. Andy had several unusual plants, such as the popcorn plant, growing this year.

The candy corn plant is an annual vine that will grow to 6 feet tall. Like your ex-wife, it will need support.

It is also a swell flowering plant decoration for Halloween. The kids will love it. The birds and the bees love it too, along with some butterflies and hummingbirds dropping by once in a while.

It will flower almost continuously, if kept well watered.

The plant will not overwinter in our area, but you can take it indoors. Should you decide to take the plant in, place it in full sun in a south or west window.

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