Great excitement in our nursery at the moment. For the first time, since we started taking an interest in this species, our Worsleya rayneri ( Empress of Brazil) is flowering for us. This magnificent native of Brazil is not one of the easiest plants to grow, and to flower. It is very exact in its requirements, regarding its potting medium, care and position.
This large spectacular plant is unfortunately rare in cultivation, which is a pity, it would make a splendid pot plant. With its clusters of gorgeous lilac-blue flowers, speckled mauve within, in mid-summer on stems up to 1.5 meters tall, it makes a real show-stopper. Fertilization only occurs when pollen of another clone is present or required.
In its native habitat these plants grow on steep granite cliffs, fully exposed to wind, rain and sunshine, constantly subjected to mist from waterfalls. Successful cultivation depends on providing suitable conditions. A position in bright light, not necessary full sun, ( morning sun) would suit best.
Opinions on the medium and how to grow this beautiful plant, range from a very fibrous mix of tree-ferns, to coconut husks, with alternative layers of scoria chips to orchid bark, or mixed with peat, pumice or rock-chips, supplemented with slow-release, well balanced NPK (+ trace-elements) fertilizer. As long as the (soil) -potting mix is well-drained, aerated and slightly on the acid side, this should give excellent results.
Worsleya rayneri makes a suitable container plant, the medium should be watered sparingly in winter, gradually increasing the moisture supply as the temperatures rise, until flooding regularly in mid-summer.
Fresh seed when available is the best method of increase, it should be sown 20-25°C and covered lightly. Germination takes about 4 weeks, but will be about nine years before the first flower appears.