This in from Kirsten at Ventnor Botanic Garden. Ed
Ventnor Botanic Garden is delighted to announce that following the successful creation of a new cultivar of Giant Waterlily, it has begun to flower.
The new hybrid, as yet an un-named cultivar is entirely new to the world as one of its parents had a unique flower colouring.
First flower now open
Today, the first flower of the new species of Giant Waterlily has opened. It will later close up and then reopen once again on the following night having changed sex and colour.
Further flowers are expected to appear over the next week.
To celebrate this special occasion, VBG shall be hosting a series of special Midnight Tours and private viewings of the Giant Waterlily. Guests will enjoy a private tour with the Garden’s Curator Chris Kidd who propagated, hybridised and grew the Giant Waterlily.
Chris is also the Guinness World Record holder for having grown the largest Giant Waterlily, with its leaves reaching nearly 3m in diameter.
Due to the unpredictable nature of the Waterlily’s flowering cycle, Midnight Tours will be announced on the afternoon they are due to take place. Visitors will need to register their interest in attending the event in advance and be prepared for a call at late notice. Midnight Tours are £5 per person and can be booked by contacting VBG.
About the Giant Waterlily
The Giant Waterlily, Victoria spp has such a remarkable growth rate, it develops from a pea sized seed to a plant, with lily pads nearly 3m in diameter; within a few months, it is even able to bear the weight of a child!
Each individual flower only opens twice. On the first night the flower is white in order to attract its natural scarab beetle pollinators. The beetles are attracted to the whiteness of the petals and the strong scent the flower produces. At this stage the flower is receptive female. The flower then closes which traps the beetle inside. The flower then changes its sex, and releases pollen onto the imprisoned beetle.
On the second night the flower opens again, but this time it is pink in colour. The beetle is freed from the flower and free to move onto another plant, again attracted by the white flower and strong scent. Pollination is complete and the lifecycle of the lily starts again.
Making the cross is difficult as the timing of flowering is crucial. The flowers last for two nights and change sex during the day inbetween.
On the first night the white flower is a receptive female, the second night it has changed to pink and becomes male. In order to make a successful cross, VBG therefore needed two plants, a V. cruziana to be pink on its second night male flower to coincide with a V. amazonica female white flower on its first night of opening.
The Giant Waterlily is located in The Tropical House at Ventnor Botanic Garden which is open daily. Standard Garden Admission fees apply.