• The Plantsman’s Advent Calendar Day 23: Crinum ‘Menehune’ (Purple Dream™)

    I’ve decided to wrap up the last three days of this Plantsman’s Advent Calendar with three distinctive and vastly different plants.  Today’s plant is also the first and only tropical species on the list.  Let me explain.

    Many gardening friends have frequently heard me espouse my barely tepid interest in tropical plants.  “If it’s not hardy, throw it back,” I’ve often retorted, suggesting that the pool of plants I cultivate need not include those that can’t withstand a brutal Iowa winter.  I’ve never had much of a knack for tropicals as houseplants either, much preferring to grow plants in the free outdoors than the ever-too-dry containers of my bedroom and living room.  While I like the idea of living among my plants, I’d just assume live in the garden instead.

    But ever in search of a plant that makes my head turn, I’m smitten with Crinum ‘Menehune’ (marketed under the name Purple Dream™) for its sultry, seductive, and purple foliage set against sprays of pink flowers.  Crinums are pretty awesome to begin with, especially if you live in the south (shout out to my buddy Jenks Farmer, the Crinum dude).  Beyond the tenderness of Zone 8 and above, this plant has great potential to light up a container garden with two dashes of zing like you couldn’t believe.  While I don’t take charge of making container gardens at our nursery, I’ve always had opinions about how I’d like to see them done (hint, hint mom).  Random trivia–the name Menehune comes from an elusive, forest-dwelling, dark-skinned race of Hawaiian island natives.

    This Sean Callahan hybrid of C. oliganthum x C. procerum ‘Splendens’ may not make a huge play in the American market, given its limited hardiness, but it’s well worth the effort to find one.  Despite my advocacy of hardy garden plants for temperate gardens, I think there is a real place for tropicals in garden design, a way to spice things up, change up the texture, and artistically transport the viewer to another environment.  Whether that happens in the open garden near a bog or in a large container to accommodate its 20″ x 20″ dimensions, I’m open to the possibilities.


    Hines Nurseries (wholesale)

    Pond Megastore

    Crinum 'Menehune' Purple Dream™, photo courtesy of Garden Media Group

    Crinum 'Menehune' Purple Dream™, photo courtesy of Garden Media Group

8 Responsesso far.

  1. I got a crinum at Garden Writers in August, have it potted up and sitting in a sunny window, where it has leafed out.
    The foliage is green, not that dramatic purple that you have.

  2. Scott Weber says:

    I admit, I’m totally not into tropicals (for the most part). I don’t really know why…just never found them appealing (for the most part). I do agree, however, that on occasion, they really can make amazing focal points. Love the dark foliage of this one.

  3. Kelly Norris says:

    JEMS–no doubt snagged from Jenks’s booth? There are some hardier spp. that I need to try again. I grew C. bulbispermum in my apartment several years ago but let it drift away to another plant lover who’s probably taken far better care of it than I would have (see houseplant note above! ha!)

    Scott–I’m giving this one a shot. What I’ll do with it after the growing season, I don’t know. Probably pawn it off to a friend who likes houseplants! 😉

  4. Jenks Farmer says:

    Hey, this is a great plant– grown it for years in the ground, in water and in pots. I like it best as a container plant. cold hardy here in Zone 8. I despise the whole renaming thing though. This is Crinum ‘Menehune’ a great name with a great story. I wonder if Hines would consider renaming me? I mean, I have a perfectly good name, lots of people know it and like it and workd hard to remember it. I want to be Purple Doves Sprouting Dream Wings.

  5. Kelly Norris says:

    I’m with you Jenks….the renaming stuff is sketchy. Glad to hear the Crinum master’s words on this plant! Thanks for commenting!

  6. lisette says:

    I found a Purple Dream at a Home Depot in Crescent city, the northmost coast of Calif. I am most excited to try a Hawaii bog plant as I think I have tried all of the new Zealand bog plants…all the rage! I come from southern California where this form has always been used and I love to work with it.

  7. Kelly Norris says:

    Nice find Lisette! Good luck!

  8. Zac says:

    Thank you Kelly!

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