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One day bloom

Each July, Petra Diaz diligently checks beneath her porch stairs every morning as she goes out the door to work, as living under the stairs is an ordinary-looking green leafy plant, seven to eight feet tall with a thick trunk that she has tied up to grow along the wall. Every day is exciting, as she never knows when the special transformation will occur. But she does know when it will end. Every year one or two buds will burst gloriously into bloom and close just as suddenly 24 hours later.

“They open one day and they close the next day,” she said. “I have checked year after year.”

Diaz received the plant as a get-well gift from a co-worker when she had surgery several years ago. She transplanted the bulb from the pot into the ground beneath her porch, but though the plant grew, it didn’t bloom for the first four or five years.

“Then one day, I saw it had this flower,” Diaz said. “I was really happy and amazed so I called my husband.”

The remarkable bloom was a creamy white lily that faded to a brilliant pink in the center. But by the time her daughter dropped by the next day, the beautiful flower had already closed.

Diaz estimates that the flower opens between 5 and 6 a.m., blooms throughout the day, but closes sometime in the night.

“By the next morning it is all the way closed,” she said. “When it closes, it goes so tight you would have to break one of the leaves to open it.”

This year, Diaz said she placed a small cardboard matchbox inside one of the blooms to see if she could keep it open longer than the usual 24-hour period. The flower clamped so tightly around the box she had to pry it free, but the bloom remained somewhat open when she left for work the next morning.

This year, the plant has five buds, the most it has ever produced. Diaz has also separated the bulb into two more plants which she hopes will bloom in the next several years.

“Maybe many people don’t know this plant blooms,” Diaz said, noting that it looks like a regular plant, and it was many years before the first flower appeared. Many homeowners may have missed these gorgeous one-day blooms, especially if the plant is in an out of the way corner of their property.

“It’s such a beautiful thing, it’s worth it,” she said.

Diaz, who has been unable to discover the name of the flower, said she has considered taking the plant to an exotic nursery to be identified, but has not made the time for it. She welcomes any ideas on what type of plant this might be.

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