The long dark days of fall and winter mean fewer flowers in the Costa Rica biome, but these dreary days are when Brunfelsia looks its best. A member of the nightshade family, Brunfelsia is a tropical shrub that thrives in shade and prefers rich soil. These preferences lend to its success in the Costa Rica biome, where the light is scarce. Commonly known as Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, this plant’s showy flowers stand out against the green foliage of the biome. The flowers are a saturated purple color when they open and fade to white over several days, giving a blooming plant a multicolored effect. This is also where the common name comes from, today, purple and tomorrow, white.
Another winter show-stopper is Aphelandra. Aphelandra Are shrubs native to the neotropics and The Aphelandra in the Costa Rica biome has vivid red flowers that stand out against its green leaves; a perfect Christmas color combo. Aphelandra is a butterfly favorite. Anytime it blooms when butterflies are present, they flock to the flowers to feed.
Finally, the Ludisia discolor, commonly known as Jewel Orchids, look phenomenal. Native to the Old World, these orchids are currently showcased in mounted pots in the biome. Jewel Orchids are terrestrial, meaning they root directly into soil and they prefer a humid environment with indirect light. Jewel Orchids are typically appreciated for their unique veined foliage, but their flowers are also a treat. Their dainty white flowers are prolific and eye catching. Next time you are walking through the biome keep an eye out for these blooming beauties.
Sadie Smith joined Holden Forests and Gardens in November 2021 and oversees the Costa Rica and Madagascar Biomes at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. She has a B.S. in Environmental Resource Management from Penn State University. Her horticultural background includes agricultural research, trialing new perennial cultivars, and managing a butterfly conservatory. In the biomes, she works to create an environment of plants and animals that give guests a taste of two wonderfully different locations beyond Cleveland.