Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring hiatus

Primula NOID.

In December, I took four days off as an anti-burnout measure; I'm thinking that this might be a good thing to do every three months or so, so I'm going to do it again. There will, consequently, be no new posts for March 23-26; I'll be back on the 27th with something (very possibly a new plant profile, if I can settle on which plant to do and write it), and daily posts will continue until some point in late June.

Viola 'Matrix Blue Blotch.'

There are plenty of old posts listed in the sidebar, for new visitors who are interested in checking some out. Sansevieria trifasciata was good and long, and there's also the set of five profiles I did for The Breakfast Club, an idea which was cute and seemed like a good idea at the time but is unlikely to ever be repeated because it made me a little crazy. On the creative side, there's Calathea ornata, which I was never entirely satisfied with, but other people told me it was good so I guess it must have been okay. Other profiles which were better than average (or at least, profiles from which you're likely to learn something you didn't know already, not necessarily something about plants): Dizygotheca elegantissima, Hylocereus undatus, Coffea arabica, Ardisia elliptica, and Dracaena sanderiana.

Though it's not like I don't try to make them all profiles from which an interested reader might learn something. Sometimes this is harder than others.

Anyway. Failing all that, don't you have some gardening to do?

(This is the original caption given to this picture by the guy at Monkey Fluids. I tried and tried to come up with an improvement, but eventually concluded that this one is perfect as it stands.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ficuspalooza results are in!

For those of you who weren't here then, in January, I took a bunch of cuttings of various Ficus benjamina cultivars at work, and brought them home to try to root them, for various reasons. One reason was that I wanted more plants (which in retrospect seems a little deranged of me). Another reason, though, was that we have had difficulties getting stuff to root at work (with plain-green Ficus benjamina and Ficus maclellandii both), and I was wondering if there might be a better method for rooting than what I'd been doing.

So for these, I took four cuttings of each, planted them in damp perlite, and stuck them in my mini-greenhouse. They therefore had more or less the same level of humidity, they all got watered at more or less the same times, etc. It was, in short, as uniform as I could make the test given my limited finances and space. The original set-up is at the post here.

And the results are both kind of encouraging, and not encouraging, at the same time:

Clockwise from top: Ficus benjamina 'Exotica,' 'Starlight,' 'Black Diamond,' 'Monique,' 'Spearmint.'

In this picture, we have the "after" shot for each of the five varieties I tried out. Survival rates were as follows, in order from most successful to least successful:

'Spearmint:' Not only did all four cuttings survive, but they all did quite well, and put on a noticeable amount of growth.
'Black Diamond:' All four cuttings survived (though one had a head start). Some new growth.
'Monique:' All four cuttings have survived. Three of the four had roots; the fourth isn't dead, but hasn't rooted at all, and I suspect isn't going to survive. Some new growth.
'Starlight:' Only two cuttings survived, and neither of them looks very good.
'Exotica:' Only one survivor. Some new growth, but I remain disappointed with basically everything about 'Exotica' so far.

All of these are patented varieties, and so are for my personal enjoyment only, so there's maybe not a huge amount of relevance to work stuff, but on the other hand, damp perlite turns out to be a much, much better rooting medium than water (which is very slow) or soil (about 75% of them rot out before doing anything). Soil with bottom heat is only a slight improvement. So in the future, if we need to propagate any non-patented varieties, we'll try using damp perlite, as will I personally, if I want to at home. This is useful, if it translates to the plain varieties. My next goal is to try to root some Ficus maclellandii cuttings in perlite and see how that goes, which I'm sure I'll have time for around October.

The other way this experiment helps is, it gives me one more piece of information about the varieties as far as how they compare to one another: I can tell customers that 'Spearmint,' 'Black Diamond,' and 'Monique' are not only pretty, but reasonably strong and robust too, which at least suggests that they might be sturdier, harder to kill plants indoors (though I hasten to add that that's not at all proven by the experiment here).

It's also confirmation that we never want to order 'Exotica' again, ever. I like the narrower leaves (particularly since the new leaves come in reddish, which is pretty), but the growth habit stinks, and the robustness of the plant seems questionable.

Goody Two-Shoes (Aglaonema spp.)

Introductory note: I apologize to any readers who are loading this page on dial-up. There are twenty-one images here. It wasn't intentional anti-dialup discrimination: it's just a varied and photogenic plant.

Aglaonema 'Peacock'

According to Wikipedia and The Straight Dope, Goody Two-Shoes was originally a children's story, which you can read for as long as you can stomach the eighteenth-century diction here. The "goody" was a contraction of the archaic "goodwife," which was more or less equivalent to "Mrs.," (which the "goody" & "goodwife" thing by itself is something I've wondered about for a long time, actually) and the "two-shoes" part . . . well, it's kind of a Cinderella story. See, Goody Two-Shoes, whose actual name in the story was Margery Meanwell,1 grew up poor and an orphan. How poor was she, you ask? Well she was sooooooo poor that she could only afford half a pair of shoes. (Not so poor, though, that her brother couldn't get a complete pair. This is only mentioned in passing in the story, but raises some questions.)2 And not only that, but she was just sickeningly good. Like, she was too poor to go to school herself, but she would hang out and borrow the books of the kids who did. So she did homework even when she didn't have to. But it was worse than that, because she also then carved out blocks in the shapes of letters of the alphabet - ten sets' worth - and then taught the other ruffians how to read.

Granted that this would have had sort of a different cultural resonance at the time, when reading was a valuable and non-universal skill, something not everybody had (the modern Goody Two-Shoes would, I suppose, build a workable computer from discarded parts in the city dump and then teach the poorest of the poor inner-city youth how to make spreadsheets or something, and would be called "Little Miss .Xls"), but still. You can see how this is a girl you would maybe not want to be friends with, if you were a kid. Especially since she had taught a raven to read and spell (yes – she was that good a teacher), and whenever one of the kids she was teaching got something wrong, she'd have the bird correct them (". . . when any of the Children were wrong, she used to call out, Put them right Ralph."). How humiliating. Anyway. So when she got an actual pair of shoes, at the top of Chapter 3, she was so excited by this that she went running around to everybody exclaiming about her two shoes, hence the nickname.3

Aglaonema spp. are, in certain odd ways, kind of like Goody: too good for their own good. They tolerate all kinds of conditions that other plants won't, and, consequently, they're found in all kinds of places where other plants aren't, like malls and airports and wherever. Of course, when you're too good, people will be tempted to be mean. Sometimes it's better not to be overly flexible.

Aglaonema 'Silverado'

How flexible are they? Well, they're one of very few plants that will tolerate pretty low levels of light, which is kind of a big deal. They're also not especially prone to pests,4 and they're not messy: to spend more than sixty seconds grooming an Aglaonema means that you haven't done it for quite a long time.

So there's that.

Certain other aspects of care are controversial: whether they need, or even like, higher humidity is a matter of some debate. I personally haven't found it to matter even a tiny bit. If you're having trouble with your Aglaonema, raising the humidity is the very last thing that I would recommend. (There is one exception to this, which I'll get to eventually.) But raising humidity won't hurt your plant either, and who knows, I could be wrong.

Aglaonema 'Golden Bay'

Propagation is slow. Plants will, given enough time, get around to forming suckers. (A sucker is basically a stem that grows out of the side of another stem, makes a sharp turn, and then grows next to the parent stalk: Spathiphyllum, Anthurium, Aglaonema, Dieffenbachia, and other aroids are usually chemically induced to sucker before they're sold, because a pot full of small plants looks a lot fuller and bushier and more . . . planty5 than a single large plant would. Plenty of suckers can postpone the inevitable stick-with-a-few-leaves-on-top look. Spathiphyllum is a special case, and the above doesn't exactly apply, but even so, a single Spathiphyllum plant, suckerless, in a pot, usually looks kinda forlorn.) Suckers can be separated from the parent and grown on their own, though for that to work out, you have to wait for the suckers to appear in the first place, and that can sometimes be slow to happen.

Aglaonema will also grow from cuttings: if you chop the top off of a stem that's gotten leggy, you can then root that stem in water or soil (the best course is probably a 2:1 mix of perlite to potting mix, or something like that – too much soil will encourage rot, but straight perlite is kind of difficult to work with) and then transfer it to a regular pot once roots have formed. The piece of stem you leave behind will eventually resprout (though it may take some time).

Aglaonema NOID. I'm positive it's an Aglaonema, but it's not listed on any of the galleries or growers' sites that I could find. If you know what this one is called, please leave a comment.

Watering is genuinely a bit tricky: we have trouble at work keeping them dry enough. I know that sounds weird, but space is kind of at a premium, so they're bunched in with other plants, for one, and there are usually hanging plants above the table, too. So we have to be really careful not to water them when we're watering the stuff near them, and often we wind up getting them wet anyway. They then punish us by throwing a leaf, and the cycle begins again. At home, I usually let them dry out until I can't feel damp soil by sticking my finger in, and then I wait another three or four days, but even so, sometimes we disagree.

The other tricky thing is temperature: Aglaonemas are somewhat notorious for not tolerating cold well. Supposedly some of the newer cultivars are better about this than others, but in general, if you let your plant get below about 60ºF (16ºC), you get big patches of sort of greasy or waterlogged-looking dead tissue. It's not a huge deal; you can cut it off and the plant will go on, but obviously it's not something that you want to happen.

Cold damage (I suspect: it was a customer's plant, so I don't know the history here.). Usually the patch has smooth edges and is on the side of a leaf, not spotty and in the center, but this could also be a dead spot in progress.

Aglaonemas are also supposed to be heavyish feeders, though I couldn't really speak to that point. My own plants don't get fed all that often, and the new growth is more or less the same size as the old, the plants appear healthy, etc. So this may or may not be true.

I never set out with the idea of collecting Aglaonemas, but I have several anyway. It started innocently enough, with a couple about a year and a half ago. 'Diamond Bay' was pretty, and didn't look like anything I'd seen before, and 'Emerald Bay' reminded me of a plant my mom had many years back (which was probably Aglaonema 'Silver Queen'). And then from there, new Aglaonemas started to drift in at regular intervals, to where I now have eleven of them (pictures of which are, obviously, scattered throughout the post).

Aglaonema 'Diamond Bay,' which is either my favorite or my second-favorite (with 'Brilliant' being the other of the top two).

It's still the case that when I see a variety I don't have, I usually can't hold out for very long before I buy it. 'Golden Bay' (above, a few pictures up) is likely to be the next one to follow me home. I also really like 'Silverado,' but 'Silverado' gets huge.

Which I suppose I should mention that none of these are all that fast-growing. Given enough time, of course, they'll get there, but for the most part, they move slowly. This is both a bad thing (if you're wanting to propagate) and a good thing: taking the growth rate, pest resistance, tolerance for low light and humidity, and infrequent grooming all together, you have a plant that you can buy and stick more or less wherever, and it will look reasonably nice for a pretty long time, which is, let's be frank, what most people are looking for in an indoor plant. This is why they're common mall-and-airport plants, and why I say they're probably too good for their own good, because when they're that easy, not only do people treat them badly, but a new and interesting cultivar is immediately introduced everywhere, as everybody tries to be up-to-date and cool, and then right afterward, everybody's sick of seeing that particular cultivar and the stage is set for the next one to come along.

Fortunately, the genus Aglaonema is playing along, so far, with the help of people like Plant Daddy, who has actually been responsible for breeding and evaluating untold numbers of new cultivars. He is, for example, the guy who brought the world Aglaonema 'Silver Bay,' Anthurium 'Red Hot,' and Dieffenbachia 'Sterling.'6 Or at least that's what he says, and why would he lie? (For the groupies?)

Aglaonema 'Emerald Bay.' Thanks to Anonymous, in comments, for explaining how 'Emerald Bay' and 'Silver Bay' differ.

One of the biggest developments in Aglaonema variety development has been the addition of genes from A. rotundum to the gene pool. Only A. rotundum, apparently, makes leaves which contain red pigments, which means that there are new cultivars in the future with red and orange variegation in the leaves, instead of (and in addition to) the usual green, white and silver. Naturally, this comes with a catch: these tend to be a lot fussier about humidity and watering, and consequently are tougher to keep indoors. (This is the exception to the raising-humidity-is-the-last-thing-I'd-recommend note, many paragraphs back.) I bought one of them myself, a couple months ago, as a tryout, and so far we're doing okay, it looks like – it's even grown some new leaves with a bit more red in them than I had in this picture from when the plant was new:

Aglaonema 'Red Gold.' Maybe.

One of the newer 'Red Gold' leaves.

But then, it's only been a couple months. Plenty of time for things to go wrong. Still, given their reputation, I was expecting more things to be more wrong more quickly.

I've actually had a tougher time so far with 'Peacock,' which I bought at about the same time: 'Peacock' hasn't been dropping leaves or anything, but the new leaves aren't coming in with the same pattern of variegation as the old ones, and a lot of the new leaves are also curled under, very long, and very skinny. (I suspect either inadequate light or excessive temperature swings.)

I only have one more real point of interest here: this is the first case where I just had way more pictures than I did text. So I guess we'll cover that and then I'll just pile on the pictures.

There is one tiny little bit of quirkiness to Aglaonema spp. that indicates that maybe they're not total Marie Osmonds.7 They do impressions. You've already seen them look like Dieffenbachia spp.:

Aglaonema 'Gold Dust.'

Usually you can tell the difference because Aglaonema usually has some silver-gray on the leaves, and Dieffenbachia never used to, but then some cultivars of Dieffenbachia were brought out that had gray in them ('Tiki,' for example), and then some Aglaonemas showed up that contained some yellow patches, like 'Brilliant:'

Aglaonema 'Brilliant'

and then everything got all confused. Further muddling the issue - Aglaonema leaves are generally long and thin, relative to Dieffenbachia, but then Dieffenbachia 'Star Bright' happened and messed that up, too.

But they also do an impression that's far more impressive, considering it's not even in the same family, much less genus: they do a passable Aspidistra:

Aglaonema brevispathum 'Hospitum'

Side-by-side comparison: Aglaonema brevispathum 'Hospitum' on the left; Aspidistra lurida 'Milky Way' on the right.

Which, yes, those petioles are coming up out of the ground, with no aboveground stem at all. This is the only Aspidistra like this that I've ever seen, and information about it is tough to come by, but so far what I can tell you is that: 1) the imitation extends to growing speed: this variety is even slow by Aglaonema standards; 2) dividing the rhizomes seems to work just fine at propagating the plant - I didn't have any issues with rot or anything;8 3) low-light tolerance seems to be more or less the same as for the other Aglaonemas, possibly even better. They were sold to us as "indestructible!" plants, and so far have lived up to the hype. 4) I also like them better as regards watering: like other Aglaonemas, these will visibly wilt if they get too dry, but they do so to a more extreme and obvious degree, which makes it easier to notice.

So that's Aglaonema spp. I leave you with the various leftover photos:

Aglaonema 'Maria' or 'Emerald Beauty.' This is a very common cultivar, with many aliases.

Aglaonema 'Stars.' I have posted about this one previously. One of my favorites, but it was depressing and problematic for about the first year I had it, because I didn't know that its roots were slowly rotting away, and although it was trying to tell me, it wasn't enunciating well.

Aglaonema 'Stripes.' Similar to 'Moonlight Bay,' but with simpler color patterns: 'Moonlight Bay' has irregular light patches toward the center of the leaves, separate from the striped pattern, which 'Stripes' doesn't. I'm not sure if I have a preference either way.

Aglaonema 'White Lightning' (probably actually 'Brilliant,' but it was sold to us as 'White Lightning:' I can't tell whether it's 'Brilliant' or not.)

Probably a very anemic Aglaonema 'B. J. Freeman,' 'Jewel of India,' or 'Patricia.' All three have the same basic coloration, though 'Jewel of India' is the only one with leaves this skinny. No, it's a 'Jewel of India.'

A more vigorous Aglaonema 'B. J. Freeman.' A full, big, floor-sized plant of this would be sort of cool, I guess, but it doesn't do much for me.

Aglaonema 'Jubilee.'

UPDATE: And if you've still not had enough, there's a picture of 'Silver Queen,' one of the oldest Aglaonema cultivars, here.


Photo credit: all my own, and boy am I exhausted.

1 Which should be a warning sign right there: you know what people who mean well can be like.
2 The brother, in any event, disappears early in the story and leaves her by herself, which is a shame, because I think I'd like her better if she, you know, waited until he fell asleep some night and then stole his shoes. This would be out of character, admittedly, but she kinda needs a better personality anyway.
3 I actually feel a little bad even attempting to be snarky about this, so I won't. 'Cause damn, going from a single shoe to a pair of shoes would be pretty exciting. Especially if you were like six years old and an orphan and stuff. Seems like going from one shoe to zero shoes might have been an improvement too, though. One shoe . . . would kinda just suck.
4 Not that they're immune: they can get all the pests anything else gets. It's just that so far in my experience with houseplants, I've only ever seen Aglaonemas affected by two things: mealybugs and a weird black fungus on the undersides of the leaves. The fungus wiped right off, didn't come back, and didn't so much as leave a mark, so it really was never much of a problem. The mealybugs did result in the destruction of some plants, but even then, the situation wasn't dire, and probably could have been reversed; I just didn't want the mealys to spread to other plants where they could do more damage, and I didn't want to put a lot of time and effort into mealybug removal, which is a slow and agonizing process under the best of circumstances.
5 I think the difference is actually not that the plant looks more planty, but that the plant and the container are more or less proportional to one another. However tall a Dieffenbachia you have, if it's a single stem, it's likely to be too tall and skinny for the pot, because Dieffenbachias are individually tall and skinny plants. (q.v. Dizygotheca elegantissima) This is something that takes a while to clue into, the idea that a plant should be a certain degree of fullness in order to be presentable, and it's more often the cause of a sort of tired, sad-looking plant than you'd think. Often, the plant is fulfilling its side of the contract, but the human has delayed cutting back, or has neglected to water one too many times (killing off all the suckers, or in the case of Ficus benjamina, side branches, in the process), or whatever.
6 Dieffenbachia 'Sterling' is totally awesome, to me, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why I like it so much, because it's a fairly plain-looking plant. Something about it just does it for me, though.
7 (Debby Boones? Amy Grants? Well, probably not Amy. She's all edgy now.)
8 I divided one of the plants we got in (of the size in the photo) into four pieces and potted them up, and then bought one of the divisions. Neither the plant I brought home, nor any of the ones that stayed at work, have thrown any leaves or otherwise acted upset about the division at all.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bribery continues: kittens! Candy!

In yesterday's post, I announced my intention to cravenly pander to the demands of the public in an attempt to campaign for certain of the Mouse & Trowel garden blog awards. It was then suggested in the comments of that post that the public demanded some adorable kittens. So. . . .

I had been collecting LOLcats with plant and garden content from I Can Has Cheeseburger? for a while, in the hopes of eventually writing a post about plant toxicity to pets: the rough draft quickly spiraled out of control, and so I think it's going to be a while before that particular post gets written, but I still have the LOLcat pictures. So.

This one was far and away my favorite:

And if you liked that, there's more where that came from. As a really, really unrelated bonus, just in time for Easter:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Assorted pictures / shameless attempt at bribery

Admittedly, I hadn't heard of the Mouse & Trowel awards before a week or two ago, and I don't ordinarily care about popularity contest-type things. Being part of Blotanical (which I have been for like two weeks and change now) has actually done weird things to my psyche: I've found a number of interesting blogs I wouldn't otherwise have run across, and that's good, but the site is set up with a lot of popularity-measuring devices (how many people like you personally but not necessarily your blog, how many people like your blog but not necessarily you personally, how many hits your site gets, how many people like each individual post you do, how many messages you get, how many you send, and so on and so forth. Numbers, numbers, numbers.), which is maybe less good.

Popularity-measuring devices are like catnip to me: really, anything with numbers that can be tracked over time. And I check constantly to see if things got favorited, or if I did, or where the blog is in popularity, and etc. The trouble with this is, then I start thinking about stuff like, why did that lady from Australia favorite my blog and then take it back right away? Is it my language? Sexual orientation? Does she just not like indoor gardening, or Georgia O'Keefe references? What does it mean? What did I do wrong? Should I ask her? But what would I say?

Which then slides easily into thinking like, Well, so then, should I tone down the language a little? Is it actually all that terrible? and Do I need more pictures of flowers and puppies and rainbows and heart-shaped objects and angels?

That this is even something I'm considering is sort of mortifying.

So I feel a little odd asking people to go to Mouse & Trowel and nominate Plants are the Strangest People for anything. This can only make the obsessiveness worse, I think. And yet -- wouldn't it be cool to have a little badge I can stick in the sidebar? Ooo! Shiny!

So here we are, bowing to the inevitable. The nomination form is located here, and I think PATSP would be appropriate in the following categories: Best Writing, Best North American Blog, Best New Blog. While I'm here, I'd also recommend Water When Dry for Best Photography and Blogger You'd Most Like as a Neighbor, and if I must compete on the Best Writing front, then let it be against Zanthan Gardens. I am almost certainly forgetting other worthwhile nominees: I find blogs much faster than I can add them to the blogroll or to my favorites list on my browser.

One need not belong to Blotanical to vote.

Or . . . not. Like who you like. I'm just going to be nakedly partisan about this, because for whatever reason, God help me, I want it. (And yes, I do recognize that trying to claim that I'm the best of this particular crop is, at the very minimum, probably inaccurate. But you may tell me so anyway, if you like.)

In order to make it worth your time, I have pictures! Many pretty, brightly-colored, pictures of flowers! And I'll rent some puppies and force them to frolic adorably, too, if that's what it's going to take. (I will, sadly, have to draw the line at angels.) So behold the bribery goodness:

Guzmania hybrids.

Anthurium andraeanum hybrid at home, which I suspect is probably Twyford International's 'Patriot,' though there are so many that it's hard to be sure, and the plant wasn't labeled when I got it.

An orange, doubled Kalanchoe blossfeldiana. I'd never seen a doubled one before. All bribery joking aside, this is a really interesting plant, and was, I believe, purchased right away, not by me.

Viola hybrid. I think the particular variety is 'Yellow Sorbet' or something like that, but I have the nagging feeling that I'm forgetting or misremembering some part of the name.Viola 'Yellow Delight.'

Nemesia x 'Sunsatia Banana.'

Impatiens 'Fusion Glow.' No really. It's an Impatiens.

Streptocarpus 'Falling Stars.'

Torenia 'Summer Wave Blue?' The ID is a little uncertain.

So that's the Mouse & Trowel Awards, then. Go nominate. Think of the puppies.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Question for the hive mind: bonus ferns?

I bought a small bay tree (like, four-inch pot small) last week sometime, because the plant looked really good. Most of our bays aren't looking so hot. Nothing really wrong with them, I think, just, they're slow growers, and it was winter, and so they've just been maintaining until spring. This one was better than most, a little bigger, got started on new growth a little earlier, and so on.

I'd been thinking about getting it for a while, 'cause bays (Laurus nobilis) have a long and mostly positive relationship with people, but what pushed me over the edge was actually not the plant itself, but this:

I think they're baby ferns. We do have volunteer ferns pop up from time to time in the greenhouse, so this isn't hugely farfetched, and they look sort of like what I've been told fern prothalli (pro = first; thallus = green shoot) look like. I asked a co-worker, and she said that it was lichen. I know what lichen looks like, and this ain't no lichen. However, I'm far from certain they're fern prothalli, either. Would any of the readers happen to know?

Also, if they are ferns, what should I do with them now, if anything?

There's actually a second purpose in posting these pictures, though: I've had a question to ask for quite a while and hadn't really had the right moment to ask it. My question is about "bonus" plants. Like, if you go to buy a plant, and you see that there's something else growing in the pot too, something that clearly wasn't supposed to be there, does this make you think Awesome! A free plant!, or does it make you think Cripes, these people are too lazy to weed?

I ask because there have been occasions, like this one, where I've bought a plant not for the plant I was paying for, but for a plant that had stowed away in the same pot. This doesn't generally work out all that well, though I did get a Bryophyllum daigremontianum that way once, that I then grew for a few months, and it was okay. But when I'm going through the greenhouse, looking for stuff to do, I sometimes see this kind of thing and wonder whether or not I should pull the extras out of the pots. So I figure I can ask you guys: as customers, do the presence of "bonus plants" make you more, or less, likely to buy a plant? 'Cause, just because it works on me is no reason to think it'd work on anybody else.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Random plant event: Philodendron hastatum(?) flowers

One of the many, many (many!) down sides of spring is that I'm so busy I don't always get a chance to see every plant in the greenhouses every day, which is something that I used to be able to do, more or less. So I used to be able to see things like this coming, but instead, yesterday, I'm bopping around the greenhouse doing something or another, and see something weird on one of the tables, which upon investigation turns out to be the prettiest Philodendron flower I've ever seen:

Granted, saying "prettiest Philodendron flower" is sort of like saying "bounciest Metallica song" or "most personally rewarding spam e-mail." But still. Some definite Georgia O'Keefey goodness there.

I'm a little fuzzy on the ID of the plant: it was there before I started working there, but WCW said once that when it arrived, it was named P. glaucophyllum or something like that. I've also seen a similar plant (not necessarily the same one) called P. 'Silver Metal.' I have it on fairly good authority from that P. hastatum is the correct identification. (P. glaucophyllum is an invented name, though it's still sometimes used in the trade; 'Silver Metal' is one that I've only ever seen at Asiatica Nursery and is probably also an invented name for marketing purposes.)

I'm not complaining about the surprise, but I do kinda wish I had known this was coming, so I could have taken pictures as it happened. Ah, well.