Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cave Begonia as Indoor Plant

Limestone hills at Bau near to Kuching, Sarawak

Limestone hills offer many microhabitats and niches such as open rocky surfaces, drip lines, cave interior, etc. As such, many different kind of plants have evolved and adapt to the different niches. As a result, many limestone plant species are endemic – meaning restricted in distribution to a particular area and no where else in the world.

In Sarawak, limestone hills are mostly found in Kuching and Miri region. Limestone plants are difficult and problematic to establish and grow because they require basic (high pH) substrate or soil, are slow growing and seeds are difficult to germinate because they might require unique and specific mycorrhizae fungi.

I have the opportunity to collect and grow Begonia from Bau limestone cave as indoor plant. Cave plants make ideal and good indoor plants because they need low light intensity.

Here I will share how I establish the limestone cave begonia which I have grown for three years now.

First of all, choose limestone rock of a suitable size.

Next, collect begonia from limestone caves. Try to collect the plants together with the natural substrate or soil in the vicinity of the plants.

Then place the begonia together with the substrate on the limestone rock.

Place the limestone rocks in a container filled with water. The capillary action will pull the water up the limestone rocks. This will help to establish a limestone cave-like habitat as the cave is always everwet with water dripping.

Such method of establishing limestone plants can be used for artificial limestone landscape in your garden or on walls. A mist fan or mist-forming nozzle can be added to create the cave ambience.

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