Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Pretty picture: Cattleya Love Castle 'Kurenai'

Not a lot to say about this one; it's a perfectly normal and lovely Cattleya, but my camera kind of balked at the color.



Cattleya Love Castle 'Kurenai' = Cattleya Psyche (1902) x Cattleya José Dias Castro (Ref.)

One of the things I'm doing during the semi-hiatus, that I didn't have time for previously, is taking Schlumbergera cuttings, for eventual sale.1 I don't have enough space to get cuttings of every single seedling, I don't know how many cuttings each plant will be able to give, and I'm unsure how many cuttings will actually root, so it's not yet clear exactly which seedlings I'll be selling,2 but I'll let you know when we get closer to September.

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1 Yes, thrips are a problem, but I haven't been seeing them around since the plants stopped blooming. They don't appear to be able to eat the Schlumbergera stems, only petals, pollen, and the skin on fruits. Consequently, I think cuttings are a low risk for transmitting thrips, as long as they sell before they start to bud.
2 Though I already have multiples of some 2014-15 plants, so these are pretty safe bets: 012A Sofa Fort, 023A Stoked, 026A Brick Wall, 028A Phil Collen, 054A Helpful Gesture, 055B Fort Venus, and 088A Cyborg Unicorn.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Semi-hiatus


I've been having a tough time keeping up with the posts as scheduled, and I haven't been feeling like I was doing a particularly good job making them interesting anyway, so I'm going to take a break of undetermined length. Everything's fine; I'm just tired.

Orchid posts will continue as usual.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum Hampshire Medallion

I like paphs in general, but I really like Hampshire Medallion. Big, flattish, light-colored, spotted but not bumpy: something about that combination pleases me.1


There have been a few "Hampshire" paphs previously (Hampshire White Light, Hampshire Greenfield); although they don't appear to be particularly related to Hampshire Medallion, all three plants are registered by the same hybridizer (Arnold J. Klehm), so this appears to be yet another case of a breeder staking a claim on a particular word and naming their entire output after that word, as I-Hsin Biotech has done with "I-Hsin" and OX Orchid Farm has done with "OX."

As I churn through lists of words, looking for names for the Schlumbergera seedlings,2 I'm more and more sympathetic to this approach. I didn't realize before I started doing it just how quickly the list of all possible names gets whittled down, when you're talking about a particular seedling.

Like, soon, I have to come up with a name for an orange Schlumbergera. Rule out all the options that are inappropriate / offensive ('Piss Christ,' 'Nazi Party'), not offensive exactly but still unappealing ('Maggot Infestation'), deliberately confusing or misleading ('Gardenia Perfume,' 'Sky Blue Sky,' 'Hylocactus'), technical or jargony ('Undisenfranchised,' 'Cholecystectomy'), likely to step on another hybridizer's toes ('Interpretive Dancer,' which I love as a concept, but would probably lead to a fight with whoever has been producing the "Dancer" plants: 'Caribbean Dancer,' 'Cyber Dancer,' 'Exotic Dancer,' 'Limelight Dancer,' 'Polka Dancer,' etc.), overly similar to names I've already used ('Strawberry Shortcake;' close enough to 082A "Strawberry Madeleine" as to give me pause), or too obvious ('Sunset Orange,' 'Tangerine Dream'), and there are surprisingly few options left. After a while, the only way to generate usable novelty is to start throwing random words together.

Which is presumably how we've wound up with orchid names that sound like someone threw random words together, e.g. Masdevallia Copper Angel 'Highland' or Goodaleara Pacific Truffle 'Surrogate Star.' I'm not 100% convinced that this is necessarily a problem,3 and if it is a problem then I'm not sure every breeder picking a special word to identify their output is a particularly good solution,4 but whatever the solution, I have a much deeper understanding of the problem than I did when I started blogging about them back in 2007. If Arnold J. Klehm wants to stake a claim on the word "Hampshire," more power to him, I guess.

Paphiopedilum Hampshire Medallion = Paph. Hanes' Medallion x Paph. Barbi Playmate (Ref.)

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1 See also Paph. Lunacy, Paph. concolor, Paph. bellatulum, Paph. Huddle 'Joan,' Paph. delenatii x Paph. Doctor Jack, etc. Though the stripey ones are still better.
2 Which I thought was over for the year, but then Schlumbergera 200 produced a bud -- in June! -- down in the basement, which is in the process of opening as I write this (on Tuesday the 21st). I'll give you three guesses what color it is, and the first two don't count.
3 (I suppose it depends on how comfortable one is with nonsensical and surreal names. It occurs to me that orchid names could make fantastic strong passwords, à la "correct horse battery staple," if one chose an obscure enough orchid. And clonal names even automatically include two single-quotes as non-alphanumeric symbols, making them that much stronger.)
4 Another option for generating large numbers of names would be to choose a single word that can be paired with a large number of others and still make some kind of sense, as with the "Dancer" line of Schlumbergeras or the "Love" Anthuriums. Though there are even fewer words that combine sensibly with a large number of other words, so the number of ways to do that successfully is probably limited.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Anthurium no. 0417 "Tilda Endatime" / Unfinished business: Araucaria bidwillii

Another seedling, another 'Gemini' look-alike.


The leaves aren't so hot either, though I'm a little bit curious about their shape. A few seedlings have had convex, dome-like leaves like this. In some cases, this was caused by insect damage distorting the leaf's development, but occasionally I run into a seedling that does this whether it has bug problems or not. I don't like it (it makes it harder for me to blast thrips off a plant if the sprayer can't reach the undersides of the leaves, which may partly explain why Tilda seems to have more thrips damage than her neighbors), but it's something slightly outside the norm.


In any case, Tilda isn't a great seedling. Probably gone in the next purge.


Also, I said a while ago that I would show you what my first Araucaria bidwillii was looking like these days, once it was warm enough to take the plant outside for photos. I did the photo-taking part and then got distracted before I could do the showing-you part.1 But here it is as of April 2016:



I've photographed it in a way that hides the problem, but it does have one notable flaw: when I repotted it, several years ago, it just refused to sit in the new pot vertically. I'd get it planted perfectly vertically, and pack the soil in around it, and then after a couple of waterings it would list ever-so-slightly to one side, or would actually fall all the way over (it was outside that summer, so sometimes there was wind). We did this three or four times before I gave up and told it, fine, grow however you want. So now there's a permanent 172-degree angle in the stem, at the second-highest tier of branches. It doesn't really affect the health of the plant,2 and I still love the species, but it does make me a little embarrassed to show it to people.

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1 (I only remembered it now because the Anthurium posts are getting a little repetitive for me too, and I was trying to think of something else I could add to this post to make it more worth reading. The intent is to throw a non-Anthurium into all the Anthurium seedling posts until I run out of material, but I'm essentially asking myself to write two blog posts per post, so I probably won't be able to keep that up for very long.)
2 It might someday, if the weight of the vertical growth above the kink put pressure on the slightly non-vertical trunk. However, the plant's never going to be able to grow any taller than our tallest ceiling, and even that will take another decade or two, so I don't see this becoming an actual problem.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Anthurium no. 0501 "Freddie Prinze Charming" / Question for the Hive Mind / New Plant

I have news and a question, so let's zip through the critique of Freddie as quickly as possible:

Freddie's pink/pink, which is boring, but still maybe worth a second look, since he appears to be more thrips-resistant than average, and is much more resistant than his siblings. This is particularly the case with the spathes,



but the leaves are less terrible than usual as well.



Don't know if this will be enough to keep him around over the long-term, but he'll survive the next purge or two.

The news: for reasons I may or may not ever explain, I've bought a new houseplant book last week, and in the course of reading it to determine whether I approve of it or not, the bit about calla lilies (Zantedeschia cvv.) jumped out at me. I've long admired Zantedeschias, but had been under the impression that they wouldn't be good plants for me to try, because of the dormancy period and general fussiness, so I've never attempted it, but the author of the new book is very enthusiastic and encouraging about them. And I've been doing okay with a few winter-dormant plants lately (Amorphophallus,1 Eucodonia), so when I saw one I liked at the ex-job last Friday, I went ahead and bought it.


Since the purchase, though, I've noticed a few things that make me wonder whether this was a bad idea. First, the author of the book is pretty enthusiastic and encouraging about everything. As far as I'm concerned, it's irresponsible to suggest that anyone grow Hedera helix indoors, and recommending Selaginella or (oh my goodness) junipers (!) is criminally so, so I probably should not have trusted the author's judgment on this to the degree I did.

On-line advice about growing Zantedeschia indoors comes from sources I consider questionable as well, but they can't agree on whether it's a good idea: advice ranges from yes, it'll live for years and produce breathtaking long-lived blooms every time you sneeze, they're wonderful, go for it to it's absolutely not worth the trouble, throw it in the garbage when it goes dormant.


So I'm looking for advice from people who have actually grown Zantedeschia before. Could you overwinter one and get it to resprout in the spring? What about reblooming? Will it work if they're indoors all year, or do they need to be outside during the summer? Was your plant(s) prone to pests?2 Rot? If it's dead, what killed it? Etc.


Whether it's a permanent resident or not, it's lovely. I just need to know how low to set my expectations.

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1 Though I'm beginning to worry about the Amorphophallus bulbs now. I dumped them out of the pots a couple months ago to divide them, and there were five bulbs total, so I gave them each a pot of its own and have had them outside for a while, figuring that the heat would encourage them to get moving, but we're about a week late now, so I'm worried that they've all rotted.
2 My plant, unfortunately, has spider mites or thrips or both, because it did not occur to me to check inside the flower until I'd already brought the plant in the house. I have some optimism that it might be possible to end this with frequent soapy-water sprays, since the infestation appears to be pretty small and isolated to the bloom.
Then I remember how frequently I've been optimistic about thrips before, and how that optimism has never not even once been justified, and . . . well, you know.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Pretty picture: Coelogyne tomentosa


Coelogyne tomentosa was unusually difficult to photograph, largely because it was backlit by a greenhouse wall instead of a backdrop. The individual flower pictures came out passably well, because the pot was wrapped in black cloth,1 but the full-plant photo was bad, and even after working with it a lot, I could only clean it up partway. I'm including it anyway because the leaves are interesting.


This was the first time I'd seen C. tomentosa at the show, and Kev's Orchids has an explanation why: the flowers bruise very easily, so they're very difficult to transport. (That link is also worthwhile for some much better photos of the species than I have.)

The species name is officially C. tomentosa, though it's still often sold as C. massangeana. I was happy to see the tag acknowledge this,


but disappointed that it did so while inserting a typo. Ah, well.

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1 Are roots and pots considered unsightly now? Something that needs to be covered up? It's possible that I'm just late to notice, but it sure seems like I'm seeing a lot more references to top-dressing soil with decorative rocks / glass / sand / moss / etc. than I used to. Perhaps Pinterest is to blame.
Or is it maybe that C. tomentosa roots are as delicate and easily-damaged as the flowers, and the pot covering is protective?


Friday, June 17, 2016

Anthurium no. 0217 "Vivacious"

Apologies, but this post is going to have to be pretty quick and basic, because yesterday's post took me an awful lot of time to write1 and I had been hoping to get yesterday's, today's, and tomorrow's posts all written in one sitting. So.

0217 Vivacious has pretty nice blooms, or would if the thrips didn't chew them up so much:


Nothing particularly new, colorwise; they're similar to those of 0083 Carmen Adairya, 0214 Anita Knapp, or 0440 Elsa Friesanova.2 The blooms are medium-large, and decently long-lived, though the thrips continue to attack them throughout their whole life, so by the time the spathe begins to die, the inflorescence is no longer even remotely attractive. Bloom frequency is about average.

The foliage has improved since I started blasting the leaves with water,3 though not enough.


Nothing particularly notable about Vivacious overall; there are a moderate number of suckers. It doesn't show up well in the photo below, but the internodal distance is something of a concern too:


Vivacious would probably be a keeper if the thrips could be eradicated. But that's quite the if.

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1 Not that most of the words I wrote were actually published -- I wrote a lot and then deleted a lot. Which, honestly, you should probably thank me for. I was pretty upset.
2 (as well as Carmen's likely clones 0555 Mystique Summers Madison and 0556 Frank Lee Grande)
3 Though there are indications lately that spraying with water might be encouraging and spreading a bacterial pathogen. Because I need a third thing to fight. I'll have to tell you more about that when I have more time.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Anthurium no. 0716 "Herbie Hind"

And now we have the first real second-generation Anthurium seedling.1 Herbie is the son of 0239 Russ Teanale, a nice reddish-pink / yellow; Russ's positive qualities mostly didn't get passed down to Herbie, alas.


Herbie would be fine -- maybe not fantastic, but good enough to keep -- if not for the thrips. When the first spathe initially opened, it had a few little scars on it, and one smallish hole, which were both enough to distort the bloom's overall shape, but at least the spathe was a nice strong highlighter-pink color. Thrips damage got more severe as the bloom aged, though:


and the second bloom was pretty heavily scarred from the moment it opened, with a less intense color.


There's a third bud on it as I write this, but considering how the first two have gone, I don't have a lot of hope that number three will turn the whole thing around for Herbie. Prolific blooming is good, but if the thrips resistance isn't any better than this then it sort of cancels out. If you want a nice F2 seedling, you'll have to wait for another month, for 0805 Triana Hill.


Herbie's foliage isn't terrible -- for whatever reason, the thrips have focused on the spathes and nearly ignored the leaves.


And there's something to be said for an early bloomer, too.2 On balance, Herbie's good enough to keep, but only just. We'll see how long that lasts.

[Multiple ragey paragraphs about the whole Orlando thing redacted; just read John Scalzi on the subject of "our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time."]

Speaking of doing easy things in lieu of making substantial changes: I've changed my Blogger avatar picture to a rainbow flag made out of Anthurium photos.


I had to cheat on the blue,3 because no part of any Anthurium I have is blue, but the other five bars are all slices taken from photos of a spathe (red, orange, purple), spadix (yellow), or leaf (green). The decision to do this has less to do with a desire to show support for the families and victims of the Orlando shooting (obviously I do support them, but this has no actual impact on their lives and they all have other things on their minds right now than how a plant breeder / blogger 1500 miles away feels about them) and more to do with this MetaFilter question, which reminded me that there have been times in my life when seeing a rainbow flag made me feel less alone. Times have changed since then, but obviously not quite enough. And then also it was an opportunity to play around with the Anthurium pictures.4

Changing my avatar doesn't make me feel significantly better, and it's no substitute for actually doing something. I suppose the next step is trying to contact my representatives in Congress about, you know, maybe passing some laws that would make it tougher for people to massacre crowds of people. I get angry just imagining the form letter Chuck Grassley will send me in response,5 so it may take some time for me to work up to that. I'll let you know.

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1 Technically, 1038 Adlai Lowe, son of 0234 Ross Koz, was the first F2 to bloom, but Adlai was so strange, in so many different ways, that his first inflorescence doesn't quite count.
2 Herbie produced his first bud at 18 months old: not a record, but in the earliest 10% of all seedlings.
3 It's a photo of 'Florida,' with the blue and red channels swapped in Irfanview.
4 Though about half an hour after I finished, I realized that I should have used one of the Schlumbergeras for the orange stripe, as they make oranger oranges than the Anthuriums do. As it is, I don't think the red (I think from a photo of 0059 Bijoux Tuit) and orange (0031 Sylvester) are too close in hue to read as distinct stripes.
5 I've contacted his office before, in 2007 or 2008, though I can't remember what about. Reading between the lines a bit, his reply was basically, wow, you sure do feel strongly about this; congratulations for having strong feelings! However, Sen. Grassley is a lot smarter than you, and wants you to know that your letter will have no impact on the decision he eventually makes. Please sincerely fuck off, Sen. Chuck Grassley. Not an encouraging response, but I suppose that's probably intentional.