Saturday, March 1, 2008

Work-related: the Vincaphant and the "C Game"

A lot of the outdoor spring stuff we get in arrives in trays of what are called "plugs." (I'm told this is because they're roughly the same size and shape as a spark plug.) They're just seedlings that have been germinated in a tiny plastic cell (depending on the plant, this can be as small as half-inch / 1 cm squares), and by the time we get them, they're often getting pretty close to rootbound already.

Tray of Vinca minor seedlings -- or is it?

A lot of what needs to be done in the late winter, then, is to transfer these plugs to whatever container we want to sell them in; for some plants, this means "six-packs," which are roughly hand-sized plastic trays containing six cells, each of which contains a plant. (There are also four-packs, and for some plants we plant plugs directly into a three- or four-inch pot, or even a gallon pot, something which I don't advise you to do at home with just any old seedling.) The transplanting is a long and tedious process, which I sort of wish I could do more of, because instead of long and tedious but simple and comprehensible, I wind up running all over the place putting out (metaphorical) fires and being interrupted by somebody or another every time I turn around. (I tried to deal with this by just not turning around, but that didn't work either: I still got interrupted, and I kept getting further and further away from stuff besides.)

It's done now, but a large part of the last week or so has been Vinca minor, "Lesser Periwinkle," which I have issues with right off the bat because there's also a Vinca major, and a "Madagascar Periwinkle" (Catharanthus roseus). If the plant we are doing is in fact Vinca minor, then I'm irritated because it seems obvious to me that the names should be the other way around, and major should be minor and vice-versa. But from looking around on-line, I think actually the plant I've been calling Vinca, because everybody else calls it Vinca, is actually Catharanthus, which all makes me want to take my ball and go home, because it's hard enough to learn all these names without people deliberately trying to confuse the issue by calling things by the wrong name.

Anyway. So but the point is, potting up plugs basically works like this, for six-packs: you take a six-pack, fill it with dirt, water the dirt, make six holes in the six cells of (now-wet) dirt, stick six plugs in the six holes, and then move on to the next. In practice, this is done more assembly-line, with lots of watering, then lots of hole-poking, and so forth, but that's the basic process.

And this gets really, really boring in short order. Since we don't have the teevee or the intertubez to occupy us, we have to make our own fun, which can be difficult to do. What one of my fellow pluggers and I did was, we started to "draw" pictures in the trays by pulling plugs out selectively, sort of like a Lite-Brite in reverse. Co-worker did a credible bird head (aiming for a puppy, but what're you going to do), which I didn't get a picture of, but I came up with a marginal elephant, which I did get a picture of, and which I referred to at the time as the "Vincaphant," though now I'm thinking it should probably actually be the "elepharanthus" instead, since the more I look at the pictures the more convinced I am that what we're planting is not Vinca at all.

The Vincaphant / elepharanthus.

The other good way I've found to stay entertained while doing mindless work is called the "C Game," and is something that we used to do during long tedious periods at a previous job. The "game" is just, you take turns naming words that begin with a pre-specified letter (which at the other job used to be the letter C, most of the time, because those games seemed to be the most entertaining and long-lived, but which I played with M for the one attempt so far at this job, and it went okay. From previous experience, I know that J and K are not good letters; R, S and T are all pretty workable.). This is every bit as easy and mindless as it sounds (an advantage, because you don't want something that's going to slow down the tedious work you're doing), but it's also unexpectedly fun sometimes. Also you'd be surprised how quickly you run out of words.

The C Game has no scoring: you can't use a word that has already been used by someone else, and plurals are discouraged. You only "lose" if you give up and drop out of the game of your own volition. There's an "oooo" bonus (where everybody says "oooo" admiringly) if you come up with groups of words in a row that are 1) meaningful as a group and 2) start with the same letter, e.g. "belly button" for the letter B, "Marilyn Monroe" for M, or "chocolate chip cookie" for C, but nobody keeps track of who's gotten more "oooo" points; it's just something that can happen. I don't anticipate a lot of C-Game time, because for obvious reasons it only works when a bunch of people are all stuck together for long periods: normally we're bringing stuff in and taking stuff out kind of all the time, so there are constant interruptions. But try it yourself if you like.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Random plant event: Bak. Truth 'Silver Chalice' flowers

According to one site out there, this is a cross of "Alcra. Kahola Mountains" and "Odm Lenestro," which is kind of opaque to me, but maybe it makes sense to you. I, going by the lessons of the recent post on Lc. Tropical Pointer 'Cheetah,'1 went looking for information on this one, but I couldn't come up with an interpretation for "Bak.," and I'm easily frustrated when my google-fu is weak.

I did spot an annotation "AM/AOS," the second part of which I'm assuming is "American Orchid Society," but if "AM" refers to a medal given to this cross, I'm confused again. Do they give Aluminum Medals to orchids? 'Cause that would be weird.

But anyway. We don't really need to understand the flower's whole genealogy to be able to appreciate it.

Much as I like some of these orchid flowers, I still say I'm not going to start collecting. I'd need a whole lot more room, and patience, and emotional resilience, and money, than what I actually have. If I decide to go crazy for a particular flowering plant, it's going to be Hoyas or Anthuriums or something like that. (One could argue that I've already gone crazy for Anthuriums, actually.) But they can be quite magnificent, something I maybe didn't appreciate before now because the only ones I ever saw were Phalaenopsis.

Not that there's anything wrong with Phalaenopsis.


1 'Cheetah,' by the way, sold sometime in the last couple days. The boss was talking about maybe taking it herself, though I bet she didn't, and a customer actually bought it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Romance Novel Heroine (Hoya carnosa cvv.)

There's something about Hoyas that turns people into fanatics, and by "something" I mean flowers. And this is perfectly understandable, because the flowers, while not up to Gardenia jasminoides' standards, are nevertheless pretty cool: scented, profuse, relatively long-lived, and curiously-textured, they have an alien quality to them that at the very least grabs the attention.1

This poses certain daunting obstacles for a non-fanatic, non-specialist blogger, though, because the enormous fan following means that there are huge numbers of websites out there, with all kinds of information on each little nuance of the differences between Hoya species and cultivars and crosses and on and on. I mean, there's even a Hoya forum at Garden Web, with (as I write) forty-two pages of posts to be gone through, and you can see how forty-two pages of posts, each with roughly twenty posts, each post of which averages, say, three or four pages in length, plus all of the individual Hoya blogs, publications by Hoya societies, mentions of Hoyas in houseplant books, and so on and so forth, might represent more material than any one man is going to be able to sift through. Or at least, more than one man is going to be able to sift through in three or four days, which is the usual amount of time I allow for one of these posts.

Another sort of intimidating part of this one is the knowledge that if I get anything wrong, a thousand screaming Hoya fans will descend on me to tell me how wrong I am, and since different sources of information disagree, anything I say will inevitably be viewed as "wrong" by someone or another.

Consequently, this post has been an incredible pain to write, and I am even right at the moment all but having to tie myself to the chair in front of the computer to get something down. This isn't necessarily your problem, and I don't necessarily expect you to care, but if you needed an explanation for the nine-day delay between plant profiles, there you go. Please note that if you disagree with something herein, I do actually want you to leave something in the comments telling me why it's wrong, and what would be right: I do get a fair number of Google searches here from people looking for information on one plant or another, as well as the occasional non-plant, somewhat heartbreaking query ("after 20 years does the exboyfriend have feelings for the exgirlfriend," "i think my roommate might be a psychopath"), non-sequitur ("damsels in distress thumbs") or the occasional headdesk2 ("who invented tradescantia pallida plant"3). So for the people who get here by looking for plants, I do want to have accurate information, or at the very least I want to not be perpetuating misinformation. So do share if you know something in here is wrong (but be prepared to argue your case).


The only Hoya species I have direct personal experience with is Hoya carnosa. There have been three other species at work, but I don't have positive IDs for them, nor do I particularly care on two of the three.4 The third plant actually is of interest to me, but I don't have an ID for it either, so I'd be eternally grateful to any readers who know what it is and want to say so in the comments:

Unknown non-carnosa Hoya sp. Hoya pubicalyx, probably 'Pink Silver'

Anyway. So the only species I know particularly well is H. carnosa, but I have a fair amount of experience with it, by now. I'm not a fanatic (yet), but I have six plants, one 'Krimson Queen,' one 'Exotica,' two 'Chelsea,' and two batches of 'Exotica' cuttings that I brought home from work. 'Exotica' seems to have a pronounced tendency to revert to all-green and lose variegation. Since a stem with all-green leaves has an advantage over a variegated one (all-green leaves mean more chlorophyll, which means more energy-collecting capacity, which means more food production), given a long enough time, they will take over a pot. So part of maintenance for variegated Hoyas is removal of the all-green stems, which is where those last two of my plants came from. And they're plain, but they seem nice enough, even so.

'Krimson Queen,' on the other hand, seems especially prone to throw out stems that are solid white, instead of green. Though interesting and pretty, these are probably best removed from the plant as they appear, because they contribute nothing to the plant while taking resources to grow. I've permitted this one:

because it is pretty, and because I figure there are enough individual stems in the pot that even if one of them dies because of the white shoot, it won't matter to the overall integrity of the plant. But I should, yes, take it off.

The 'Krimson Queen'5 was my first Hoya, and was bought out of two kinds of curiosity at once: 1) can I grow this? and 2) why do so many people like to grow this? Originally just three rooted cuttings in a 3-inch pot, it has gotten to be a bit of a monster:

Another Hoya carnosa 'Krimson Queen'

But then, that's after a year and a half, and it's not like I mind if it wants to grow. (Having it grow was kind of the point, obviously.) Some of the filling out was produced by taking cuttings of the original plant and, after water-rooting them, sticking them back in the pot. Hoyas in general have a tendency to grow long, leafless vines to nowhere, which fill in with leaves much later, so it helps if you plan for this, either by planting a lot of cuttings together or giving the vines something to climb (bamboo hoops and arches seem to be traditional, but it doesn't matter so much what they have to work with, so long as it's something multiple vines can use at once). 'Krimson Queen' has, for me, been extremely easy, almost suspiciously so, as if it's setting me up for a mealybug infestation of Biblical proportions later on.6

Still more Hoya carnosa 'Krimson Queen'

Which, since I mention it: mealybugs are the primary bane of the Hoya grower, particularly with the curled-leaf varieties like 'Hindu Rope,' the curved surfaces of which provide a bajillion little hiding places that spray pesticides won't be able to reach. I recommend going straight to the systemics; don't even bother with rubbing alcohol sprays. (It still makes sense to do the Q-Tip-and-rubbing-alcohol thing with the bugs you can see; you're just not going to be able to get rid of the bugs using that alone, not on a 'Hindu Rope.') The family Hoyas are in, the Asclepiadaceae (the milkweed family, which if you look at the picture of milkweed flowers here you can easily see the family resemblance), is also supposed to be especially appealing to aphids, though I haven't experienced this myself, and don't expect to indoors.

'Chelsea,' which was identified for me by the good people at the Garden Web Hoya Forum, has heart-shaped, dark green leaves, and, while mostly well-behaved for me, is a good example of another common Hoya issue: they pout. Granted, this isn't a life-or-death issue, as mealybugs might be, but it's unnerving: when I got this plant, I brought it home and immediately took some cuttings, as insurance against anything happening to it. And then I waited and waited and waited for the original plant, or the cuttings, to do something, for a good three or four months. This is frustrating, but so long as the plants aren't dropping leaves or shriveling or anything, it's not something to worry about. Speculation on the GW thread where I posted a question about this was that when the plant "pouts," it's probably actually preoccupied with root growth and development.

Hoya carnosa 'Chelsea.'7

I've had other plants act like this in the past,8 and my other Hoyas all seem to go through regular cycles of growth and rest, to kind of a ridiculous degree sometimes. They don't seem to want to do anything until late December, and then they start pumping out new growth in every direction at once. This is noteworthy both because it's pretty darn striking, and because it's not what they're "supposed" to do. They're "supposed to" grow in the summer and then go dormant in the winter. Mine seem to grow in winter and spring and then go dormant in the summer and fall. Perhaps they're confused by the heating and air conditioning.

But anyway. Basic care goes like this:

Light: Bright indirect to some sun. Mine are all in a slightly-obstructed west window except for one (which gets artificial light only), and that seems to suit their needs just fine.
Temperature: This is kind of a contentious subject, with different people advising wildly different things, but my best guess is that these shouldn't get cold. Supposedly they can survive pretty cold temperatures (down to 40ºF / 4ºC, possibly lower) with no problem, but another site said that they'll go dormant if they get below about 65ºF (18ºC). Since very few of us actually want our plants to go dormant if they don't have to, I say keep them warm, but don't panic if they get cold, because it'll probably be okay.
Humidity: Seems not to be an issue, though some sites advise increasing humidity for cuttings, which I'm not sure if I endorse or not. I've never gone to any extra trouble with my own plants.
Water: I let mine get pretty dry between waterings. If they're too dry, the leaves will shrivel visibly. Too wet, and leaves will yellow and drop. Too wet is worse than too dry.
Propagation: From cuttings. I've taken tip cuttings and rooted them in water or soil, either of which seems to work just fine. I've also seen cases where individual leaves have been rooted and eventually grew new shoots, though I haven't tried it myself and it seems to take a long time and I make no promises about it working. I just know that people do it with H. kerrii in particular, and that in that case new growing tips allegedly don't ever form, but I've seen the claim that with H. carnosa they do. Clearly more investigation is in order.
Feeding: My understanding is that these are supposed to be relatively heavy feeders, though like any plant they can be damaged by too much fertilizer, so use some common sense and restraint unless you really know what you're doing.
Grooming: On my own plants, grooming has been an almost completely nonexistent issue. About once every six months I pick off a yellow leaf or something.

Hoya carnosa 'Exotica' (Dave's Garden calls it 'Picta')

For flowers, one has to have a certain amount of patience, since plants have to be both of a certain age and properly motivated before they will bloom. There's no specific age needed, exactly: I've seen people on-line say that plants must be five years old, or seven years old, or two years old, or nine years old. Two other sites went with size, instead of age, and said that a vine won't bloom until it's three feet long or more. I don't think the size and age requirements can be that specific, but I think you're fooling yourself if you expect flowers the first year, and most likely the second as well. After that, all bets are off. Proper motivation means that the plant is receiving enough light, has a decently-developed root system, and has enough food. A couple of sites suggested giving a reluctant older plant a shot of low-nitrogen fertilizer, which may be worth a try.

I see the advice repeated over and over that plants are more likely to flower if they're rootbound. Something about this seems wrong to me, because no plant ever likes to be rootbound, and people say that about Spathiphyllum spp. too but I'm convinced that the only real effect of keeping a Spathiphyllum rootbound is that it becomes that much harder to water it properly. I have rootbound and not-rootbound spaths at home right now, and the not-rootbound ones are the ones with flowers. Just FYI. What I think might be going on here is a confusion of cause and effect: if plants have to be a certain age before they'll flower, and roots grow along with the rest of the plant, for any growers who don't compulsively repot every year, the plants old enough to flower are also going to be the plants that are tight in the pot. Being tight in the pot didn't cause the flowers: it, like the flowers, is a side effect of the plant getting older. Like I said, this is just a theory I have, but the theory makes more sense to me than the idea that there are plants out there that just naturally like to grow in containers.

The flowers are produced on a short stem that branches off of the main one; this is given the special name of "peduncle," and the actual group of flower buds is the "umbel." New umbels look a little bit like an old-style radio microphone: see the picture below. Flowers should be allowed to fall off of the peduncle on their own; a new umbel will form on the same peduncle the following year. (Unless you've cut it off.) It's not uncommon for buds to fall off before opening; I don't think there's necessarily anything you can to to make sure that this never happens to you, but obviously you don't want to stress out a plant that's about to flower, whether by moving it or letting it get too dry, wet, hot, cold, or whatever.

Peduncles of Hoya lacunosa, which are more or less typical of Hoya peduncles, including those of H. carnosa. Photo by Tracy at dAmN pLaNtS.

The flowers have a strong scent, and also secrete a sticky, sweet-tasting nectar. The nectar is apparently safe to eat, because I ran into a few people commenting on the taste. And Hoya spp. aren't listed as toxic on any of the toxic-to-pets lists I ran across, so there's no reason to worry about it exactly, but still, why tempt fate? Taste if you like, but try not to make it a major source of calories in your diet. You're not a hummingbird,9 and it may not be entirely trustworthy. Especially if you're fighting off a mealybug attack with systemics.

Flowering can allegedly occur whenever the plant's not having a rest period, though most of the sites I ran across also said that winter is the rest period, which is demonstrably not true for my own personal plants. Most of the actual flowers I've seen personally have been in the late summer and fall; most of the sites say spring or summer; I throw up my hands and say plants will flower whenever they damn well feel like it.

Both nectar secretion and scent are stronger at night than they are during the day, and on this one point I have actual science you probably haven't heard of backing me up. According to the linked article, nectar and perfume production maxes out at around midnight. Why is this something science cares about? I don't know. Nor can I even think of any good possible reasons. But I also can't think of any ways this information could be used for evil, so I say let's fund more of this.10

In any case, if you have a Hoya that's blooming heavily, you're going to want to put something down underneath it, because they do drip, and you probably have better things to do than try to get Hoya drippings out of the carpet. If you don't have better things to do, looking for some better things to do is a better thing to do.

I had a hell of a time trying to figure out a "person" for this plant: it's a weird mix of beautiful and weird-looking, energetic and pouty, tough and vulnerable, sweetie pie and dasher of hopes. In the end, I had to resort to sticking a combination of those words into a search engine and seeing what came out; "weird-looking vigorous pouting sweet" produced a lot of what looks like fan fiction for series that I'm not familiar with, a few bits that looked like excerpts from romance novels, and one page of music reviews for music I don't know. So voila, I guess. Romance novel heroines, as I understand the type, are frequently pouty, sweet and vulnerable, and they're not prohibited from being tough, energetic, or hope-dashers as far as I'm aware. The whole beautiful / weird-looking angle is questionable, but even so, it's a better choice for a personality than anything I was coming up with on my own, so let's go with it.


Photo credits: pictures of flowers are from the Wikipedia article for Hoya carnosa, with the close-up being credited to "fastson" and the longer shot to Yvan Leduc. The peduncles, as noted, belong to Tracy at dAmN pLaNtS. The other photos are my own.

1 I think they're kind of what would happen if you described "flowers" to an artistic genius who had never seen an actual flower and then asked him/r to construct some based on the description.
2 I don't know a better term for this. It's when someone has done something so horrible, pathetic, frustrating or idiotic that the only response you can have to it is to bang your head on the desk in front of you. My mind reels at the fact that apparently nobody ever needed a word for this before the internet came along.
3 Come on. "Invented?" You're comfortable with your use of the word "invented," there?
4 I'm in a weird situation with flowering plants at work, because generally as soon as anything blooms, it sells right away and I may or may not get to experience it. The Gardenia we had that bloomed late last November had, literally, easily 100 buds on it not too long ago, and a good deal of anticipation had built up, and then I came in one day and it was gone. When I commented: oh, yeah, it sold to some guy, said WCW, and shrugged. That's the way it goes. So while I'm sure the non-carnosa Hoyas have great flowers, it's basically irrelevant to me. And anyway one of them has already sold.
5 I feel obliged to note that I'm not 100% positive on this ID. I haven't been able to determine whether 'Krimson Queen,' 'Krimson Princess,' and 'Tricolor' are different cultivars or just different names for the same one. I also don't know, if they are different, whether it's possible to tell them apart just from the leaves, or if one has to wait for flowers. More obnoxious still, most of the galleries I ran into while trying to answer these questions are exclusively interested in the flowers, and unless you get lucky with the photos and find one that has a few leaves in the background somewhere, you're kind of screwed if you're trying to make an ID from the leaves alone. This is another way in which the Garden Web Hoya Forum is useful; they were the ones to ID my 'Chelsea,' which had previously been stumping me.
I settled on 'Krimson Queen' as an ID because of the three guesses, it's far and away the one people talk about the most, which makes me think it's probably the main cultivar in production. Given all the Hoya information out there, you'd think I could have run into something more definitive, but again, time got to be an issue. So share if you know.
6 "So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the LORD made the mealybugs in the land to prosper and multiply a hundredfold during the night. By morning they had covered every tropical and ornamental plant, and every cactus, in such great numbers that the plants appeared to be pure white, for the ground was covered with them. The Egyptians' supplies of systemic pesticides were quickly exhausted, and its nurseries were bankrupted. Yet in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were, the mealybugs did not appear. And Pharaoh summoned Moses to him, saying, "This time I have sinned. This time I will let you go to offer your sacrifices to the LORD your god in the desert, yet you must not go very far. Now pray for my cactus, that it might be restored to health." (from the NIV, obviously)
7 Please note that there is a species of Hoya, H. kerrii, which has heart-shaped, plain green leaves, and sort of resembles this plant. On H. kerrii, the petioles (short connecting stems) attach to the leaf at the "point" of the heart, though, not at the indentation, which is one way to know the difference.
8 (I had a Dracaena deremensis 'Lemon-Lime' that didn't do much of anything for about the first year after I bought it: it grew, but only very slowly. After that first year, though, it suddenly put on about a foot and a half, kind of all at once. The plant also got moved just before it started growing faster, and may have just been responding to better conditions or something, but I think that at least some of what was going on must have been root development. I've bought another 'Lemon-Lime' since then that does not seem to be acting this way, though, that's been growing like a weed since it arrived, so I can't be positive.)
9 (Probably.)
10 If I seem a little defensive here, it's because I am: I've seen way too many people whining about their tax dollars being used to fund studies about blueberry genetics or barn swallow migrations or whatever. Given the choice between paying somebody to watch beetles or paying somebody to kill a million Iraqi citizens who did nothing to us in the first place, I want my money going to the guy with the beetles. At least with the beetles, if all goes well, we've learned something at the end of it all, and we've probably not bankrupted the country doing it, either.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Random plant event: Cordyline glauca flowers

I love this plant, and will be very sad if and when it sells. I first noticed a flower spike around the beginning of February, which looked like this:

and then as the month has progressed, the flower spike has continued to develop. The purple color is real, not an artifact of the photography. There's not really a smell as far as I could detect. The flowers look very much like those of the Cordyline terminalis 'Kiwi' we've seen earlier, though the color strikes me as better. Now, the plant looks like this:

and I figure it's only a matter of time before it sells. I'd buy it myself except that I don't have room for something this big (not that that stopped me with the Dracaena fragrans 'Lindenii,' but that was special circumstances, dammit), and anyway I already have a smaller one that I got not too long ago, which I'm hoping to propagate because it's a little on the scruffy side.

But anyway. Pretty. Even a little, dare I say it, spring-like.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I ran across this via Boing Boing, and knew pretty much immediately that I had another post ready to go.

What we have here is a time-lapse video, not of a Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) catching a bug, because everybody has seen that, but of a Venus flytrap just, you know, growing. Like they do. Often.

If you can read German, you can read about how the camera was engineered, and if you can't read German, you can still see a picture of the camera set-up here. The picture is plenty impressive on its own.

Random plant event: Homalomena 'Emerald Gem' flowers

Well I was going to be able to move some plants out of the apartment yesterday, having gotten a day off work and okay weather at the same time for once, but then at the last minute that failed to work out and then I had to water a bunch of stuff. Which means that I lost a lot of time and still haven't written anything presentable for the blog, as far as a plant profile goes or anything. I swear I'm doing the best I can.

Meanwhile, my Homalomena has decided to bloom, not that Homalomena blooms are anything to get excited about. The first time this happened, I let it continue for a while, expecting that at the very least a spathe would open or something, but it never did: I just got a weird pod-like thing at the end of a stick, which I let hang around for a while and then cut off.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The AVDPVD50POS, and other matters

Assorted items for your amusement:

1) An author photo has been added to the sidebar. Certain artistic liberties have been taken with the photo, particularly the part where it's not a photo, but it resembles me in the sense of having a similar number of limbs and eyes and stuff. (Picture was created using the Hero Machine 2.5 at

2) Yesterday, the husband and I went to the Annual Variable-Duration Post-Valentine's-Day 50%-Off Sale (henceforth AVDPVD50POS) at Pierson's Flower Shop & Greenhouse in Cedar Rapids (uninformative website here), where I saw a number of interesting plants and even bought a couple, at perfectly reasonable sale prices instead of the usual outlandish everyday prices.1

3) One of the two items I got at the AVDPVD50PS was a smallish Aglaonema 'Stripes,' which is not that spectactular of a plant necessarily, but I've been wanting one, and this saves me from having to spend 4 times as much for a slightly bigger plant from work. So, you know, yawn.

4) The other plant I got, for only $30, was a three-cane (2, 3, and 4-foot canes, actually) Dracaena fragrans 'Lindenii,' which cv. I had mentioned in the Dracaena fragrans post but never expected to see, much less see at an affordable price less than a month after putting up the post. It looks like this:

(Full view, at home, in bad lighting)

and also like this:2

(Close-up, at the greenhouse, in better lighting)

The immediate effect of getting this home was, every time I came around a corner and saw it in its temporary spot on the kitchen table, the thought ran through my head, It's like a photo negative! and made me smile or otherwise behave goofily.

UPDATE (9 Aug 2008): Actually, it looks like the 'Lindenii' was probably actually a similar but newer variety called 'Sol.' I don't know how similar the two varieties might be, since I've never actually seen a decent color picture of 'Lindenii.' 'Sol' is hard to find; I'm pretty sure somebody must be selling it, or else how would Pierson's have gotten some, but when I asked our tropical supplier in Florida about it, she said oh, no, it's totally been discontinued. (But -- Pierson's! How come they can get it from somewhere and you can't get it for us?)

5) There was also a Spathiphyllum variety I was considering, even though I don't necessarily like Spathiphyllum all that well. The picture doesn't show it well, but the leaves are sort of silvery-gray. The plants behind these are the regular green, if the contrast helps give you a sense.

as well as a few Spathiphyllum 'Domino,' the cultivar that looks like it's been shat on by the world's biggest flock of pigeons, which I didn't take pictures of.3

6) There will be a post in the semi-near future in which I explain why I'm willing to advertise on-line for places in Cedar Rapids4 and the Quad Cities5 but not the place where I actually have a job and a stake in the financial well-being of the place. In case you'd ever wondered.

7) Also I promise to get to the Hoya carnosa profile sometime. It's been difficult to write, mostly because there's sooooooooooooooo much out there that's already been written about them, and soooooooooooooooo many sites already devoted to them, that it's kind of hard to make it my own. Also I think I may be using the wrong "person" angle. I expect to have similar problems when I get to Saintpaulia spp., though in that case, at least, I'm almost positive that I have the right "person" for the job.

(Hoya carnosa profile post is up. Also I did have the right "person" for the Saintpaulia ionantha cvv. profile, which is also up now.)


Photo credits: all me.

1 Whether because they mark-up their plants more than we do, or get charged more by their suppliers to begin with, Pierson's prices are almost always 15% more than ours for any given plant, at least for smaller plants (up to about 8- or 10-inch pots). This is okay for them, I guess, because they are in a larger market than we are and so they can probably still find people who will pay that, but it also means that the only time I find their prices particularly reasonable is during the AVDPVD50POS, and consequently three out of the four plants I've gotten from them have been during the AVDPVD50POS, the one exception being the previously-mentioned Aglaonema 'Red Gold,' which I had to buy because it was a fucking Aglaonema 'Red Gold.' Which, by the way, they still had one or two 'Red Gold' left, if you're in or near Cedar Rapids and you're interested, and now they're only $11.50 or thereabouts for a 6-inch pot, which is a steal even for a regular everyday humdrum Aglaonema.
2 They also had another D. f. 'Lindenii' available, though it was not in quite as good a condition as the one I bought.
3 The silvery ones would be $11.50 also; I'm not sure about 'Domino' because I wasn't interested in it, and so didn't check the size of the pot it was in, but I'd guess it was probably also $23 regularly, and $11.50 during the AVDPVD50POS.
4 Amusing family anecdote: when my (much) younger sister was much younger than she is now, she misheard Mom and Dad talking about going to Cedar Rapids and got very upset because they wouldn't let her come with them to see the rabbits too.
5 This would be Wallace's Garden Center, which is in a bigger market still, but has more reasonable prices than Pierson's, a better-looking, more open store, and still occasionally has interesting or difficult to find stuff. I like the location in Bettendorf better than the one in Daveport: it's newer and larger. My Begonia rex-cultorum leaf sections (propagation post) came from Wallace's, as did my Sansevieria trifasciata 'Black Gold.' They even had 'Pink Princess' Philodendrons there for $20 last summer, but everything I've heard about PP makes me think it'd be too slow and too frustrating for me to grow, so I didn't buy one.