New Castle News

December 28, 2013

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

Gary Church
New Castle News

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.

During the winter months, you can cut back on the watering. In the spring, cut the stems back half-way if it is getting too large, but try not to cut the buds off.

It is also advisable not to handle the leaves too much or they may wrinkle. I think that is what has happened to my neck.

Although you are supposed to take the plant in when the temperatures get in the 50s, Kylee said the plant was doing fine outside in November.

If you want to go into the candy corn plant business, you can take tip cuttings and root them in sand.

I can say that this forgetting stuff is not because of old age.

Back when I was 16 and dating my first girlfriend, I was invited up to her house Christmas Day to exchange gifts.

It was Christmas Eve before I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to buy her anything and it was too late.

Yes folks, I sort of lied to her. I told her I had left it at home and would take it up tomorrow, which I did — as soon as I went out and bought the thing. It was a stuffed dog that I bought at Treasure Island for $3.50.

For what I was making back in the ’60s, that was half of my weekly salary.

Perhaps you may remember me from the job I had then. I cooked the hamburgers and french fries at Morgan’s hamburger stand on top of State Street hill. I would have been the guy who forgot to put the hamburger in your bun.

Make your space a green space.