Monday, October 5, 2015

Anthurium no. 0596 "Alisa Summers"

Meet Alisa.

(22 August 2015)

That's not a 100% unique spathe color; we've seen something along those lines in three other seedlings --

Clockwise from top left: 0041 "Anna Graham," 0097 "Colin Ambulance," 0596 "Alisa Summers," 0328 "Polly Esther Blend."

-- but it's still pretty unusual, and therefore nifty.

Alisa is also unusual in that she's the first seedling from the NOID pink parent to bloom (you'll see the second of its offspring in a couple days). I was not expecting anything like this from the NOID pink; if I'd known it would produce something other than a bunch of boring pink / pinks, I might have worked harder to pollinate it.

The overall plant isn't amazing, but it's nice enough.

The leaves are what I'm coming to think of as "quilted," with a few very heavy veins that are sunk below the rest of the leaf, but I'll have more to say about foliage fairly soon so I don't want to get too sidetracked on that right now.1 In any case, they seem fairly healthy, attractive, and relatively unbothered by thrips.

Which is actually kind of weird, because the thrips love hanging out around Alisa -- I almost always find some when I go over her spathes with adhesive tape.2 They just don't do much visible damage, somehow: either they're eating her but she's colored in a way that makes the damage not show up, or they're not eating her. Either way, good characteristics to try to breed into subsequent seedlings. Haven't managed to pollinate her yet, unfortunately, but I'm still working on it.

(19 August 2015)

The blooms are also fairly long-lived: they're beginning to dry out and die now, I think, but the pictures in this post were taken about six weeks ago. Six weeks is a respectable lifetime, especially considering that the plant produced two blooms more or less simultaneously, and the first blooms already looked good: they should be awesome in another six months or so.

(20 August 2015)

(6 September 2015)


1 I think I finally have the words with which to describe Anthurium foliage. I've been able to identify five types of venation -- not so much the actual arrangement of the veins, which I think is essentially the same for all the plants, but the appearance: which particular veins are most visible. The five terms are "flat," "fishbone," "star," "quilted," and "lizard," and I'm sure I'll explain further at some point in the future
I've also gotten workable classifications for the different leaf shapes. I know it sure looks like "heart-shaped" should cover everything, but there are, y'know, nuances.
Currently, everything fits into six categories: "heart," "square" (a broad, large heart), "spear" (a long, narrow heart), "triangle" (heart with significantly reduced lobes), "short lens," and "long lens." All of these have actual botanical terms to go with them: heart and square = cordate, spear = sagittate, triangle = deltoid, short lens = elliptic, long lens = lanceolate).
I use my own terms instead of the botanical ones because my terms fit the leaves that I'm trying to classify a lot better. (And of course they would: that's why they were created in the first place.)
2 I have recently discovered a new, entertaining thing I can do with thrips: I can pull them off the plants with a piece of adhesive tape and then watch them flail their legs under the microscope. It's not about eradicating them (which I figure is impossible), but if I can't actually eliminate them, then I can at least look them directly in their beady black eyes and make them regret their life choices briefly before they die. Or that's the idea. I don't know whether thrips can actually be shamed. Probably not.
This may also eventually be useful if I ever figure out a way to use my camera and microscope together to take decent photos, because who doesn't want to look at heavily magnified thrips?
And yes, it has not escaped my attention that perhaps sticky traps might be useful in controlling the thrips. The problem was that we occasionally used them at the ex-job (mostly for fungus gnats and whitefly), and I found them much, much more irritating to deal with than the bugs themselves, because it became impossible to pick up a plant without a trap accidentally sticking to a neighboring plant's leaves, and then you'd have to try to slowly peel off the leaf from the trap, and the slow-peel never actually worked, so we wound up with a few dead bugs and a whole lot of ripped leaves. I may still experiment with putting a few small pieces of adhesive tape around on a shelf or two of the plants, and see if they catch anything interesting, but the actual traps are too obnoxious and too expensive to use.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pretty picture: Papilionanda Erika Cizek Dann

This was tagged Vanda at the show, and I really want it to be a Vanda, but technically it's a Papilionanda. Which shouldn't matter at all, because it was marvelous.

I really loved this one in person, just because it was so different from anything I'd ever seen before. Objectively, I know that a sort of desaturated gray-purple isn't going to impress many people, but it was so new (or I'm so jaded, whichever), that it kind of blew me away.

Papilionanda Erika Cizek Dann = Vanda Gordon Dillon x Papilionanda Arjuna (Ref.)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Anthurium no. 0595 "Josie P. Katt"

So a while back, someone suggested that one of the things I could write about w/r/t Anthurium breeding was that I'm selecting for plants that thrive in my specific conditions, and I was like, yeah, yeah, I know, I'm trying not to run out of things I can say about them, I'll get to it eventually.

But it started me thinking about whether or not this was even true, and . . . I'm not sure it is. Or it might be true, but not in the usual way.

The whole reason I'm breeding Anthuriums and Schlumbergeras in the first place, rather than, for example, Saintpaulia, is that they do pretty well for me in the house, so I've come to have a lot of them. (Saintpaulia not so much: they can't dry out as much or as often as I ask them to, and consequently don't stick around long enough for breeding to happen.) So breeding a plant that already thrives in my conditions to thrive in my conditions doesn't really make sense.1

However. There is one narrow way in which I absolutely am breeding the plants to thrive in my conditions, which is that "thrive" is coming to mean not only staying alive and relatively pest-free, growing leaves, and blooming, but also being fertile enough to convey those traits to a new generation. Which varies tremendously from parent variety to parent variety around here, and along several different axes.

• Some varieties bloom all the time (NOID red, 'Gemini,' 'White Gemini,' 'Joli,' NOID pink-&-green), while others rarely or never bloom (NOID red-purple, 'Krypton,' 'Peppermint Gemini,' NOID dark red, 'Red Hot').
• Some varieties can be pollinated pretty easily ('Gemini,' 'White Gemini,' 'Pandola,' NOID red, NOID purple), while I have to try a lot harder and more often with some of the others ('Krypton,' 'Red Hot,' 'Orange Hot,' 'Joli').
• Some varieties produce copious amounts of pollen when they bloom (NOID red, NOID pink, 'Orange Hot'); others have, as far as I can tell, never produced any pollen even though they bloom all the time ('Gemini,' 'White Gemini,' 'Joli').
• Finally, some varieties produce a seed or two from every single pollinated flower on the spadix, and the berries always wind up being fully ripe at some point (NOID red, 'Gemini,' 'White Gemini,' 'Pandola'), while other varieties can be pollinated, but then often drop the bloom before the berries are mature enough to get seeds from, or develop to a certain point and then just stop, or produce seeds that don't germinate well ('Red Hot,' 'Joli,' NOID purple).

I assume all of those traits -- bloom frequency, fertility, pollen production, berry development, seed germination -- are under genetic control to some degree or another, so over time, yes, the genes of the plants that are the best at making more plants will probably wind up all over the later generations, and I'll probably wind up finding it easier and easier to cross the seedlings as time goes by.2 So insofar as "thriving" means "producing offspring," yeah, I'm probably breeding plants to thrive in my conditions. It's just not deliberate, and except for the number-of-blooms part, it's not likely to make a difference in the commercial viability of the seedling.3

(If I did want to breed a plant specifically for doing better in my home conditions, I'd be better off to pick something that only barely grows for me now, where there's clear room for improvement. The problem with that is, most of the plants that I'd want to make better suited to my conditions would never bloom without much better conditions. I can think of all kinds of plants I'd like to play with for one reason or another, but the only ones that actually seem plausible are the gesneriads, specifically Saintpaulia, Episcia, Aeschynanthus, and Nematanthus, and I have actually tried to pollinate all of them at some point or another, with no luck.)

Anyway. So let's check out the seedling du jour:

Josie was a division from 0288 "Cookie Buffet," whom she resembles so strongly that I feel pretty certain Josie is a full clone of Cookie, not just a sibling.

Both plants have broad, flat leaves, though Josie's photographed a little better:

And both plants have long internodes and a floppy, tangle-prone habit.

I may keep one or the other, I suppose, but I don't see any reason to keep both. Cookie's definitely been exposed to scale, whereas I don't know about Josie for sure, so I suppose Josie'd be the one to hold on to.


1 In fact, the seedlings, taken as a group, are much less hardy than their parents. A lot of that is because they're small, and as a result are much more susceptible to variations in temperature, humidity, soil moisture, and the like, but whatever the reason, it would feel weird to point to the Anthurium seedlings as evidence that I'm breeding to get more vigorous plants.
2 The first generation of seedlings vary about as much on various measures of fertility as their parents did:
• 0108 "Deena Sequins" blooms heavily, all the time; 0085 "Carson Trucks" almost never even tries to bloom, and when it does, about 3/4 of the time, the bud sticks in the cataphyll and it winds up snapping its own peduncle.
• 0234 "Ross Koz" is incredibly easy to pollinate, but 0035 "Alyssa Edwards" is impossible.
• 0076 "Bob Humbug" produces pollen, but 0276 "Zach Religious" doesn't.
• 0231 "Rhea Listick" makes berries that develop fully and have lots of seeds; I don't know how many times I've watched 0120 "Eliza Boutisecksis" start making berries and then drop the bloom before they finish.
For the moment, 0234 "Ross Koz" (purple-pink / yellow) and 0276 "Zach Religious" (pink / orange) look positioned to have the biggest influence on the F2 and F3 generations, both in the number of seedlings they've produced and the speed at which those seedlings have developed. A few of Zach's offspring have even been moved to 4-inch pots already, as well as one each from 0005 "Chad Michaels" and 0239 "Russ Teanale," so we could see the first F2 blooms as early as next June!
3 Though I have seen people using lack of pollen production as a selling point for new Spathiphyllum varieties. So maybe amount of pollen has commercial relevance too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Milestone: 100th Bloomed Anthurium

The photo should speak for itself, I think (right-click to view larger image):1

1st (leftmost) column, top to bottom: 0279 "Tristan Shout," 0085 "Carson Trucks," 0259 "Tasha Salad," 0231 "Rhea Listick," 0200 "Mario Speedwagon," 0234 "Ross Koz," 0035 "Alyssa Edwards," 0046 "Aurora Boreanaz," 0243 "Sal Monella," 0247 "Selma Carr"
2nd column: 0594 "Charity Case," 0066 "Barbara Seville," 0241 "Megan Gigaterra," 0386 "Violet Chachki," 0565 "MysterE," 0346 "Lois Carmen DiNominatre," 0206 "Marcia Dimes," 0058 "Betty Larsony," 0357 "Rhea Litré," 0236 "Roxanne Debree"
3rd column: 0555 "Mystique Summers Madison," 0351 "Pat McCooter," 0344 "Formica Dinette," 0202 "Mason Pepperspray," 0216 "Gillian Jamm," 0112 "Dottie A. Rebel," 0213 "Nadya Falt," 0088 "Charlotte F. Babylon," 0116 "Eileen Dover," 0282 "Dave Trading"
4th column: 0271 "Wanda Reulthemal," 0597 "Raven," 0276 "Zach Religious," 0232 "Rhoda Badcek," 0273 "Wes Coast," 0132 "Eve Stropper," 0125 "Anya Wei," 0257 "Summer Bederth-Enuthers," 0144 "Graham Reaper," 0280 "Jujubee"
5th column: 0235 "Rowan DeBoate," 0281 "Laganja Estranja," 0237 "Roxy Casbah," 0220 "Nora Morse," 0239 "Russ Teanale," 0371 "Deb Autry," 0179 "Katie Boundary," 0110 "Delta Badhand," 0238 "Rudy Day," 0149 "Heather Boah"
6th column: 0275 "Yvette Horizon," 0288 "Cookie Buffet," 0255 "Steph N. Wolfe," 0558 "Amber Waves," 0040 "Ivy Winters," 0108 "Deena Sequins," 0564 "Shannel," 0223 "Patty Cake," 0365 "Murray Hill," 0245 "Sawyer Ad"
7th column: 0126 "Erin Dirtylondry," 0218 "Noah Fence," 0283 "Anne Pursand," 0415 "Darby Dragons," 0059 "Bijoux Tuit," 0076 "Bob Humbug," 0335 "Donna Fanuday," 0264 "Trey Lerpark," 0212 "Rogue," 0063 "Audrey Quest"
8th column: 0083 "Carmen Adairya," 0214 "Anita Knapp," 0267 "Natalie Attired," 0244 "Sara Problem," 0586 "Vera Special," 0334 "Jean Poole," 0203 "Anna Mae Hemensouz," 0205 "Venus D-Lite," 0034 "Alaska Thunderfuck," 0560 "Jill O'Schottz"
9th column: 0556 "Frank Lee Grande," 0041 "Anna Graham," 0416 "Holy McGrail," 0373 "Shangela Laquifa Wadley," 0031 "Sylvester," 0580 "Marsha Marsha Marsha," 0329 "Gladys Panzarov," 0290 "RuPaul Charles," 0360 "Heidi Gosique," 0171 "Genevieve la Difference"
10th column: 0215 "Nathan Ofithlam," 0097 "Colin Ambulance," 0328 "Polly Esther Blend," 0118 "Elijah Sturdabowtit," 0330 "Faye Quinette," 0120 "Eliza Boutisecksis," 0002 "Alexis Mateo," 0005 "Chad Michaels," 0338 "Anne Fibian," 0026 "Peaches Christ"

In case it didn't speak for itself enough for you:

0212 "Rogue," in the post from Friday, was the 100th of my Anthurium seedlings to bud and produce a full bloom, which happened about a month ago. I then spent like a week and a half trying to create the above composite image for this post, which I know it doesn't look like a week and a half of effort but getting the colors to shade into one another, even this imperfectly, was a difficult problem to solve.

There are 8 new first-time blooms since I put the picture together a month ago, who you'll be meeting in October, and I'm watching another 13 buds that may or may not ever open. For a while this summer, I was seeing a new first bud every two days on average, which I'm pretty sure has never happened before.

So this post and image isn't the end of anything; the posts will keep coming. I'm just taking a moment to say, hey, wow, 100 blooms is kind of a big deal, and here's what four years of Anthurium breeding can get you.


1 Which is still not as big as the original 61.5 mexapixel version of the image. I didn't even try uploading the original file.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Paphiopedilum Wössner China Moon

More orchid-naming madness. This was tagged "Wossner China Moon," without the umlaut. The International Orchid Register site's search treats ö and o differently, though, so if you search for the umlaut-free version, you get "There are no matches with your search selection. Please try again."

I mean, obviously I figured it out. But it's always something, with the orchids.

As far as the bloom itself goes, not a whole lot to say. It's very loud, but I suppose that's obvious from the picture. Also kind of awesome.

Paphiopedilum Wössner China Moon = Paphiopedilum armeniacum x Paphiopedilum hangianum (Ref.)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Anthurium no. 0212 "Rogue" / Predatory Mite Report

Not a lot to say about Rogue; he's1 yet another in the very long line of red / yellow blooms. Larger than a lot of them are on their first attempt, which I suppose is good, but also the spathe margins are kinked in spots, which is less good.

The leaves are really nice; broader and flatter than most.

Not crazy about the overall habit; the internodal distance is longer than I would like to see, and he flops over and gets tangled in other plants.

I'm not sure whether Rogue is a keeper or not. I do really like the leaves, but not well enough to be thinking about promoting him to a 6-inch pot. So probably not a plant I'm going to keep around for a long time, but he gets to stay for now.

In other news, enough time has now passed that I think I can start making some tentative assessments of the predatory mites. Supposedly they take 3 or 4 weeks to establish a population; I'm writing exactly four weeks after I applied them.

Overall: very disappointed. I wasn't even expecting eradication of the thrips; I would have been satisfied with a reduction. But I'm not even seeing that. It's as if I'd never done anything at all.

I'd called the company (Green the day after applying the mites, because I was concerned that maybe they'd mailed me duds -- when they first arrived, I'd dumped out a little of the material onto a paper plate, with the intention of getting a photo of a mite to post to the blog, but I only saw one speck actually moving around, and it was moving too quickly for the camera to focus on, so I gave up. I'd also seen one mobile speck in the material I dumped out onto the plants, but aside from those two, which I assumed were mites, I didn't spot anything moving at any point. So I became concerned (I'd paid for 50,000 mites, after all -- if all 50,000 were supposed to be mobile adult mites, and I only got 2, then obviously I hadn't gotten what I'd paid for and I was prepared to complain. The woman I talked to on the phone said that no, the mites in the container were supposed to be in a range of life stages, from eggs up to adults, so obviously I wasn't going to see 50,000 little mites moving around. (She also seemed confused or surprised that I said I'd seen any of them moving, but whatever.)

Somewhat reassured, I decided to give them three or four weeks to get established -- a different predatory mite vendor said that the thrips population wouldn't even start to drop until 3 weeks had passed -- but I'm still not seeing any mites moving around on the plants, and the thrips are as numerous as ever, so I think I have to call it an expensive failure.

So what went wrong? Did I get dead mites? Did I apply them incorrectly? Do they not work indoors?

Did I get dead mites? Possibly. At least mostly-dead mites, conceivably. Even with a mix of life stages represented in the container, I'd really expect to see more than two adults moving around, so it's kind of suspicious to begin with. Under the microscope,2 a month later, I do see things here and there that look like they could be mite corpses, but I have still not spotted anything that looks like a living mite, and even the corpses are pretty few and far. So this is plausible to me, but I can't be sure, and even if I were sure I couldn't prove it.

Did I apply them incorrectly? Again, possibly, though I feel like I applied them as well as I was capable of. The instructions said to release them at sundown, on the day of receipt, by gently tapping them out of the bottle onto the plants' leaves, concentrating on the areas with the worst infestation, and then leave the container near the plants so any mites left in the container can crawl out. I didn't do the sundown part (the reasoning being that the instructions were probably written for people who were planning to use them outside, where there's a pronounced daily swing in temperature, which didn't apply in my case), but I did follow the other instructions. When I called the company to ask about the mites not moving, I was told that it would be a good idea to buy and apply a second batch about two weeks after the first. That advice wasn't on the website, but a number of other sites include instructions along those lines as well, so I don't think she was inventing it on the spot or anything. That may even have been a good idea, but the one batch was expensive enough ($63.70, including shipping), and I already had my doubts as to whether I'd received live mites the first time, so I wasn't real keen on the idea of doubling down on that.

(If two treatments are required for the product to work, then they shouldn't be selling single treatments in the first place: you should be paying for one batch of mites, and then a second batch a couple weeks later, as a single transaction. In my opinion.)

Do they not work indoors? Also plausible. Among the sites that bother to say anything about temperature, there's pretty solid agreement that the mites can be stored temporarily at 50-60F (10-16C), but in order to do anything useful, the temperature needs to be at least 70F (21C). Not a problem here, where the whole house is maintained around 72F / 22C at all times. Humidity is a bigger concern: though Green Methods doesn't have any advice in that regard, other sites say "moderate" humidity, or 75-90% humidity. The basement in general, I'm sure, doesn't have 75% humidity as a matter of course, but it is humid down there, and the Anthuriums are grouped closely together and get watered weekly, so I'd expect the humidity near the plants, at least, to be high for an indoor environment, if not 75-90% high. Which, again, if this is necessary for the mites to be effective, then Green Methods should say so on their site, and they don't.

So now I'm unsure what to do. Do I complain and try to get my money back? Do I double my investment and get a second container? (Maybe from a different source?) Do I continue to wait, hoping against all odds that maybe the mites will kick into gear and be effective after all? Maybe it's time to give up on the dream of thripslessness. (Maybe I already have.) In any event, I can't recommend predatory mites as a solution for indoor pest problems.


1 (Rogue is another drag king. Though if you'd rather think about the female X-Man character, I can't stop you.)
2 I didn't check with the microscope at the time. Maybe I should have.
I have been watering extremely carefully, so as to minimize any chances to knock the mites off of the leaves or whatever, which means that some of the vermiculite from the original container is still sitting on the leaves. I've stuck clear tape to the leaves and then pulled it off, to check out the situation without knocking all the material off: this also holds any thrips and mites in place so they can't crawl, jump, or fly off before I get a chance to look at them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Anthurium no. 0346 "Lois Carmen DiNominatre"

I had planned on talking some more about plant breeding for this particular seedling, but things got super busy here (in a good way; everything's fine), and then on the day when I finally had a moment when I could work on the blog, I had such a bad headache that it was difficult to think clearly. So let's jog through this one as quickly as possible so I can go lie down for a while.

How's Lois?

She's surprisingly good. I mean, you'd think that I had enough pink / pink blooms already, and I suppose by any sane standard I passed that point a long time ago, but this is decent:

And unlike some pink blooms, it stays more or less pink as it ages (many of them lighten so much that they turn nearly white):

Better still, the leaves have a nice shape and texture, and aren't particularly marked up by thrips or other pests --

-- and the plant as a whole is compact and decent-looking.

So even though it feels sort of weird to say so, I feel like Lois is a keeper. Or at least she's not automatically going in the garbage; I don't have room to pot her up right now, so she's going to have to stay in the 4-inch pot for a while, but she's at least safe from the next purge.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pretty picture: Maxillaria cucullata

First time for Maxillaria cucullata, though we've seen M. tenuifolia a couple times before (2012, 2014).

Only a close-up; I did take wider shots, but they didn't turn out well because the camera was confused about where to focus.

I think these flowers are prettier than those of M. tenuifolia. Granted, that's not a particularly high compliment.