The giant water platter Victoria has captured the imagination
of the world from the very first glimpse of it in its wild South
American home in l801. Named for Queen Victoria, it was nearly
50 years later that it was first brought to bloom in "captivity"
in England, inspiring a wave of enthusiasm for its size and the
beauty of its flowers.
There are two species in the magnificent genus Victoria. V.
amazonica, once called V. regia, grows in quiet pools
and inlets of the mighty Amazon River. V. cruziana, sometimes
formerly called V. trickeri, inhabits cooler climates
of Argentina and Paraguay.
V. amazonica, from its tropical home, tends to have larger,
redder pads with rather low rims. V. cruziana is greener,
has higher rims, and is thought to be more tolerant of cooler
temperatures than its equatorial cousin. All Victorias are
night blooming, scenting the afternoon and evening air with their
pineapple-like fragrance in anticipation of the first night flower,
huge and white. The second night cruziana flower is
delicately flushed pink. V. amazonica becomes cotton candy
pink to ruby red depending on the individual plant.
The plants are armed, everywhere except the top surface of the
pads, with thorns. The undersides of the leaves are a marvel
of structural engineering, support for the highly buoyant pad
In 1961 Longwood Gardens successfully made the first, and until
recently, only cross of the two species with cruziana as
pod parent and amazonica as pollen parent. The resulting
V. 'Longwood Hybrid' possesses the best attributes of
both parents -- large pads with nice rims and a reddish edge,
and tolerance of cool temperatures.
V 'Longwood Hybrid'
In 1999, we and several others independently made the reciprocal
cross of the two species, naming it Victoria 'Adventure'.
In general, the pads of both primary hybrids are larger than
either parent and plants tend to bloom earlier, making them ideal
display plants for botanic gardens around the world.
Victoria is generally regarded as an annual in most
climates. It grows only from seed (no tubers or rhizomes to perpetuate
it season to season). Because the seeds don't keep well, the
seeds must be remade every year and the plants must be regrown
from those seeds every year except in exceptional circumstances.
It grows from a pea-sized seed to a huge blooming plant in a
matter of months, fruits, declines and dies as weather may dictate.
to the Amazon in the spring of 1998 led to greater availability
of amazonica seeds, allowing more people to grow parent
plants for making Longwood Hybrid' and to experiment with
other possible crosses. Collections of cruziana seeds
in 2001 and from Argentina
in 2002 have provided greater genetic diversity for that
species in cultuvation.
We are hobbyist gardeners in Cocoa Beach, Florida, (family
physician and horse trainer) with no background in botany, undertaking
this project for fun, the challenges and to learn. Our personal
odyssey with Victoria began with the 1998 summer season
and is chronicled in "Our
Adventure". We have learned a great deal about this
magnificent plant and share it here, along with contributions
from experts and specialists around the world.