GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION OR ORIGIN:
MINIMUM TEMPERATURE: 10 °C
IDEAL MINIMUM TEMPERATURE: 15 °C
ETYMOLOGY: So called because it has hairy, bristly flowers (Lat. hirtus).
So called because it has hairy, bristly flowers (Lat. hirtus).
I have not yet had the good fortune to admire the famous hairy flowers of this species, as I am still waiting for my specimen to bloom. However, I have been able to appreciate the elegance and beauty of its leaves. Indeed, I must say that, even without flowers, this Ecuadorian plant is really interesting.
The leaves have an unusual shape and they are about 7 cm in length and about 5 cm in width. If the lower half were observed, they would appear to be whole in a lanceolate shape. However, the apex is not made up of a single cusp but three, the central one being slightly more protruding.
The three main ribs accompany and give support to this shape, and are highlighted by a contrasting linear yellow colour, but with irregular and almost serrated edges. The rest of the upper leaf blade is dark green with shades of bronze, the underside a dark violet.
There are also the characteristic foliar glands (a deterrent for the deposition of eggs by butterflies), aligned in an orderly fashion in the space between the two lateral ribs and the main one. I believe that this species has sought any means to distort the shape and colours of its leaves to render them unrecognisable and therefore inedible.
The flower, with a diameter of about 4 cm, is whitish, consisting of 5 hairy sepals on both surfaces and 5 petals also hairy on the reverse. The corona, equally whitish, is made up of 2 series of filaments. The small spherical fruits are also covered with fluff.
P. hirtiflora is small in size and can also be grown in small pots. It can be used as a hanging plant, but if it is offered something to grip onto it will stretch and launch itself in all possible directions.
In winter, it requires a minimum temperature of at least 10°C, so the most suitable method is to grow it in a pot, even just 15 cm in diameter, equipped with supports.
It can grow
in soft, diffuse light, making it a useful houseplant. The soil must be rich,
but well-drained. It does not tolerate excessive watering and suffers from root
rot, which is signalled by sudden leaf loss. It propagates from cuttings or