Friday, September 12, 2014

Pretty picture: Phragmipedium schroderae

According to my notes, this is the only "long droopy phrag" I took pictures of at the show. Part of this is because I was trying not to take paph and phrag pictures, because when I do it just leaves me depressed that I can't grow them, and part of it is because the photos don't turn out that well for me, a lot of the time.

Though this one actually looks pretty decent, considering.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Horticulture- / Landscaping-Related School Dance Themes

Black and White Trowel Ball

Enchantment Under the Fish Emulsion

Compost Magic

Mulch Masquerade

Rain Barrel Nights

A Weed to Remember

Gnome Alaska

A Midsummer Night's Lawn

Hoes and Rakes Formal

Fertilizer Dreams

Dancing With the Shrubs

All Those Flagstones

Old Time Pruners

Koi! Koi! Koi!

Hypertufa in New Orleans

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pretty picture: Masdevallia Golden Monarch

Not the best picture but at least reasonably color-accurate, I think.

Masdevallia Golden Monarch= Masdevallia Golden Angel x Masdevallia Monarch (Ref.)

In Anthurium/scale/thrips news:

I just couldn't bring myself to oil Anthuriums this week, either. So that's what, like three consecutive weeks of oiling, followed by two weeks of not-oiling?

The present situation:

1) I saw thrips again on Thursday (4 Sep.). Also saw 2 scale insects on one of the Agave victoriae-reginaes in the basement, on 3 September. It is unclear whether the insects in question were alive at the time, but even seeing dead ones isn't a happy occasion: I want to not see them at all.
2) A lot of the plants are sticky, too, from dried oil and dishwashing liquid. It'll wash off eventually, I assume, but it makes dealing with them slightly less pleasant until that happens.
3) I also suspect that some of the bud-dropping I've been seeing lately with the Anthuriums can be blamed on the oil.
4) And we did wind up losing #238 "Rudy Day," #247 "Selma Carr," and #243 "Sal Monella," most obviously from watering issues, but it's possible that the oil didn't help. #095 "Clarice Fulhartz" is still around, at least, and may live long enough to produce a bloom, though she doesn't seem to have produced any roots yet.
5) Even though it hasn't actually eliminated the thrips or scale, makes the plants unpleasantly sticky, may be killing buds or plants, and has an unpleasant smell, I think I'm still going to resume oiling this week. It did, if nothing else, make the thrips a lot harder to find, and it's possible that if I'd just kept it up for a couple more weeks, I might have actually gotten rid of them. I mean, it may not be likely. But it's possible, and I'm otherwise out of options. So.

I had plans last week to do a third Anthurium update post, about the species involved in breeding Anthurium varieties and/or what makes for "good" Anthurium foliage, but sort of ran out of time. Posting's likely to drop off again as I resume oiling the plants. (Sorry.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Anthurium News: The Good News

There are still some bright spots to be found in the Anthurium-breeding project, despite the recent rash of dropped buds and minimal first-time budding. To wit:

1) I haven't seen any thrips in about a week. I gave the basement plants the week off from oiling last week because 1) I was tired, and 2) the smell wasn't getting any better. If things went according to plan, I resumed oiling this Monday, but I figured a week off might do all of us some good.

I also haven't seen any scale since I began oiling the plants in the basement. This is also good news, but less so, because it's always been tough to see scale. I'm pleased that I'm not finding it, but it hasn't necessarily gone anywhere.

2) The grandseedlings are coming along adequately. I potted up more seedlings from #276 "Zach Religious" on 24 August, making 22 second-generation plants now, all of them Zach's. I probably won't get 100% long-term survival, but that's fine. Zach has thanked me by producing a new bloom that photographed nicely and is a good bit larger than the previous one:

Seeds have now been started from #271 "Wanda Reulthemal," #273 "Wes Coast," #239 "Russ Teanale," #005 "Chad Michaels," and #059 "Bijoux Tuit." The only interesting things about this so far are that a couple of Wanda's have germinated and should be ready to stick in soil soon, and Chad is spectacularly fertile (more than 70 seeds from one inflorescence, though that doesn't mean that that many will germinate).

Photo actually only shows 60 seeds; another 10 were ready to sow a few days after this, and the spadix still had a few unripe berries.

Many, many more seedlings are developing berries,1 though some of them are unbelievably slow about it.

3) I'm pretty sure I managed to pollinate 'Midori.' I don't yet know how many of the individual tiny flowers got pollinated, but I can see about eight bumps in the middle of the spadix that are bigger than the others and seem to be growing. Even if it worked, I won't have any ripe berries for quite a while, but I had been worried that it was going to be exceptionally difficult to pollinate, like 'Florida' (still no luck with 'Florida,' by the way) and maybe it's not.

'Midori' was happy enough here that it tried to produce a second bloom a few weeks ago, but the developing bloom got stuck in the cataphylls and snapped its own stalk off. Which is a thing that happens occasionally. I'm hoping 'Midori' will try again before the winter.

I also have at least two blooms on the NOID purple pollinated (picture of one below), one from the NOID pink, and six blooms on 'Pandola.' In all cases, the most likely pollen parent is the NOID red, which is super-reliable about producing pollen and not much else. Though the NOID red has also been pollinated, probably by 'Pandola' or itself.

And yes, I know, pollinated Anthurium spadices are not the prettiest things to look at. Scroll back up to Zach's picture if you feel the need.

4) Does it count as good news if it hasn't happened yet? Because I have a theory which, if true, is encouraging.

I've been sort of mildly bummed out all summer, that there weren't more first-time buds showing up. I guess I got kind of spoiled during the winter and spring -- from late December 2013 to late May 2014, I was seeing, on average, a first-time bloomer every three and a half days. From June to August, that's dropped to one every three weeks.

My theory on this is as follows:

1) the Anthurium seedlings just won't bloom unless they're in 4" pots. I don't know why it matters or how they know, but no seedling has ever attempted to bloom in a 3" pot. On average, once transplanted, it takes them ten months to produce their first bud.2
2) I tend to up-pot in large batches, whenever enough room becomes available. There were 90 plants moved up in January, February, and May 2013, who I think of as the "Class of 2013."
3) It's maybe the case now that all the seedlings from the Class of '13 which are inclined to bloom easily in basement conditions have done so already, and the reason first-time blooms slowed down this summer was because the class of '13 was too old to do first blooms, and the class of '14 (i.e., the 126 plants I repotted in October 2013, January 2014, and April-July 2014) was too young to start blooming yet.

The theory winds up making two predictions. The first prediction is that I should be seeing a couple first-time buds from the Class of '14 more or less now, which has happened with #279 "Tristan Shout."3 The second prediction is that I'll start seeing more and more of those happening as we get into the winter, and by February 2015, first-time buds will be appearing once or twice a week again, as the seedlings from the Class of '14 reach blooming size. That obviously can't be confirmed yet, but it's a prediction. And it's making me feel slightly better for the moment.

It's also possible that the air conditioning is suppressing blooming in the basement, though it doesn't seem to be bothering the Anthuriums upstairs. If that's the explanation, though, the result is the same -- when the heater switches on in the winter, suddenly there are lots of new blooms again.


1 As of Friday 29 August, there were berries developing on: #002 "Alexis Mateo" • #005 "Chad Michaels" • #031 "Sylvester" • #059 "Bijoux Tuit" • #063 "Audrey Quest" • #066 "Barbara Seville" • #076 "Bob Humbug" • #083 "Carmen Adairya" • #097 "Colin Ambulance" • #108 "Deena Sequins" • #110 "Delta Badhand" • #125 "Anya Wei" • #126 "Erin Dirtylondry" • #200 "Mario Speedwagon" • #223 "Patty Cake" • #231 "Rhea Listick" • #232 "Rhoda Badcek" • #234 "Ross Koz" • #239 "Russ Teanale" • #244 "Sarah Problem" • #245 "Sawyer Ad" • #271 "Wanda Reulthemal" • #273 "Wes Coast" • #280 "Jujubee"
Not all of those will necessarily reach maturity and be sown, and not all the seeds that are sown will necessarily germinate and grow, but that's a pretty big group, especially considering that I've only been doing this for three years.
Also: holy shit, I've been doing this for three years already.
2 Though that's with a range from 1 to 17 months; it's not like you can make them bloom when you want by repotting them at the right moment. Time since repotting is a better predictor of when they'll bloom than the time since germination is, but only barely.
3 Wait, what about #171 "Genevieve la Difference, who also just started forming a bud for the first time according to your previous post?" I hear no one at all asking. Well.
Genevieve is a really late bloomer from the Class of '13; she should have started her first bud five months ago. I think that means she had to repeat a grade. Or maybe she missed so much school after that skiing accident during Spring Break that she had to take an incomplete, so then she made up the work during the summer and graduated late. I dunno. The graduating-classes metaphor is perhaps getting a little overextended.
In any case, Tristan is the only one from the class of '14 to do a first-time bloom when my theory predicts first-time blooms from that group should begin.
Five other members of the class of '14 have tried, precociously, to bloom by now:
• #218 "Noah Fence" (repotted October, bloomed May, completed July)
• #231 "Rhea Listick" (repotted October, bloomed February, aborted April, retried May, completed June)
• #265 "Madame LaQueer" (repotted October, bloomed June, aborted July)
• #280 "Jujubee" (repotted October, bloomed March, completed April)
• #281 "Laganja Estranja" (repotted October, bloomed April, aborted June)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Pretty pictures: Cattlianthe Mary Elizabeth Bohn

This was one of the four "wow" orchids from the 2014 show (along with Laeliocattleya Natrisiri and two plants yet to be blogged), not so much for the shape of it (though that's nice, I guess) as for the color, which is really, really unusual as far as I've seen. (I thought I'd encountered it at an orchid show before, as, like, an accent color in some flower or another, but when I went back into the blog archives to find an example, I couldn't locate any. And part of what's cool about this particular one is that the odd color is the entire flower, not just a petal or margin or something.)

It's also possibly more impressive in person, given the tendency of digital cameras to get weird when it comes to the extreme red and violet ends of the color spectrum.

Cattlianthe Mary Elizabeth Bohn = Cattlianthe Blue Boy x Guarianthe bowringiana (Ref.)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Anthurium News: The Bad News

Most of the Anthurium news in the last month or so has been disappointing. Nothing catastrophic or particularly depressing, just a lot of hope-raising, followed by disappointment.

#040 "Ivy Winters," 14 August 2014.

#040 "Ivy Winters" has now produced and aborted two separate buds (March, then August). The second one got closer to maturity than the first, which may count as progress, I suppose. It's just that I'm especially interested in seeing how it turns out -- the color on the buds has been starting out pink and then slowly turning more to coral; I'd like to see how orange it will get before opening. And, you know, after opening.

#088 "Charlotte F. Babylon," 17 June 2014.

#088 "Charlotte F. Babylon" has now tried to bloom three times (March, May, July), then thought better of it. Maybe it's broken. I don't anticipate anything dramatic and different when it does bloom -- to all appearances, it's going to be some shade of red, and it's not as if I don't have plenty of reds. But even so. I don't think any other seedling's done this three times. Maybe it's mad about the name it drew. In which case I suppose I understand.

#281 "Laganja Estranja," 17 June 2014.

#281 "Laganja Estranja" tried once, from April to June, and then aborted. (Looked like a pink.)

#124 "Fox Saik," 17 June 2014.

#124 "Fox Saik" started a bud in May, and aborted in June. Also a pink, as far as it got, though it might have been another pink-to-orange, since 'Orange Hot' was the seed parent. Fox appears to be having a number of problems -- for a while, it was building weirdly distorted leaves like this:

Though it seems to be growing out of that. The most recent leaf was normal, anyway.

#248 "Sue Casa," 24 June 2014.

In June, #248 "Sue Casa" contemplated a bud, which was potentially interesting: it started out as pink, but was sort of lavender-pink by the end. Alas, it had decided not to bother by the end of the month.

#265 "Madame LaQueer," 26 June 2014.

#265 "Madame LaQueer" worked on a bud for almost two full months (early June to late July) before dropping it. The bud looked like it was going to be red, so no big loss, but it put a lot of work into it: it was really close to opening, and I'm a little disturbed by it giving up so late.

#236 "Roxanne Debree," 14 August 2014.

#236 "Roxanne Debree" spent about three weeks on a red bud (July to August), then dropped it.

It also looks like I'm about to have the first casualties from the 4" plants. I've been starting the seeds on vermiculite in a plastic clamshell container, then potting up the stronger seeds that germinated in 3" pots, then moving the better-looking seedlings into 4" pots after about a year. Because the ones that made it to 4" pots had already had to be doing well on two separate occasions in order to get there, they've been pretty healthy, but now I'm running into problems where flats aren't drying out evenly, and some plants are staying wet longer than others.

I should probably be checking them for dryness individually, rather than watering whole flats at a time, but that would add additional time and hassle to a process which is already pretty long and involved, so the result is that some of the plants have roots rotting out, because they're too wet, which leads to more rotting, which leads to more wetness, until I have plants with basically no roots at all. Most of the seedlings have seemed unbothered by the oil, but it's possible that that added some stress on top of the root rot.

Making this worse is that so far, all three plants this is happening to are plants that have either already bloomed for me, or are in the process of making a first bloom: #247 "Selma Carr," #238 "Rudy Day," and #095 "Clarice Fullhartz." None of the three are actually gone yet, but they don't look good, and I don't have a lot of hope. Insult to injury, #247 "Selma Carr" had even been pollinated, so not only do I lose the plant, I lose all the seeds she had been working on.

The only bright side of all this, I suppose, is that I can't breed for stronger, healthier plants if I don't throw out some weaker, sickly plants along the way. And #247's bloom was, as you'll remember, a little defective-looking to begin with.

This is probably the last picture of #247 "Selma Carr" we're going to see; it's from 14 August 2014.

#238 seemed pretty healthy and was a very early bloomer, but the flowers were small, and it was just another in a long line of red spathe / yellow spadix blooms. So perhaps nothing of any real value has been lost.

Also disappointing: no seedlings have completed a first bloom since the last update a month ago. Two seedlings have started their first buds, though: #279 "Tristan Shout" and #171 "Genevieve la Difference." Neither is looking terribly exciting so far, and obviously there's a good chance that they'll abort before the buds get anywhere anyway, but it's something. First blooms are also in progress on #237 "Roxy Casbah" and #095 "Clarice Fullhartz," should Clarice get her roots back under herself and decide to complete the bloom.

Happier Anthurium news will be posted shortly.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Stupid plant tricks: Lenophyllum texanum

Officially, I have not been growing any Lenophyllum texanum since New Year's Day, 2013, when I threw out the one pot that I had growing, marked it down on the spreadsheet as deceased, and went on.

The plant had other plans. In the process of disposal, some leaves fell off, which I noticed but figured weren't worth the trouble of digging out of the flat and throwing away. Sure, it's a desert plant, but how's it going to survive with no soil, brief periods of water, and little light, was the thinking.

A year and a half later, the leaves have grown into whole plants. The roots have intertwined to form a little mat, against which all the stems can brace themselves, keeping them upright even without any soil. And apparently the mat is good enough at retaining water that they can make do, and even thrive, with just the water they get from being sprayed for about 15 seconds, every couple weeks.

This is impressive, and would even be endearing if it gave the impression of having to exert itself a little. I'm happy to root for underdogs every now and again. But it's not acting like a plucky little underdog, struggling to survive against all odds; it's closer to an unstoppable Terminator type. For the moment, I'm going to keep it -- it's growing in an unused space in the flat, and it's not asking anything of me -- but at least 50% of that decision is because I'm no longer sure whether it's possible to get rid of it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pretty picture: Aerangis citrata

Not a great picture, but at least a slight improvement on the last time I tried to take a picture of A. citrata, so that's something.

Previously: 2013.

In other news: another week, another Anthurium-oiling. And yes, the soybean oil has started to go a little bad. (Not the stuff in the jug: the stuff that I've sprayed already.) It's not, like suffocating and horrible, but yes, there is a smell. So I'm giving the thrips and scale a break this week, and not oiling the plants. That has the side benefit of giving me a break too, since it takes so much longer to water and oil than it does to just water.

Also potted up another 37 Anthurium seedlings, on Sunday, and started another batch of seeds (from #273 "Wes Coast," #005 "Chad Michaels," and #239 "Russ Teanale") on Monday, so, more grandseedlings on the way.