Saturday, August 8, 2009

The houseplant tournament: final match

So it's come down to this. Yucca guatemalensis vs. Aglaonema cvv. The final battle. One will reign supreme, the other will run home crying. Or something like that. I don't watch much WWE, so I don't know how the wording is supposed to go. But you know what I mean. Big battle, yada yada. Explosions. Macho posturing. Posterboard signs about ass-kicking. Excessively loud music. Women in bikinis. Etc.

For the contest proper, I don't think there's anything much I can say that I haven't said already. We've already established that these are both excellent plants, easy to grow, attractive as far as I'm concerned. But I have made my choice, and I'm going with Aglaonema. I think they're prettier, and they're certainly more varied. I mean, I've seen maybe four varieties of Yucca in my life, but I live with like eleven different Aglaonema varieties. And I know there are others out there that I don't have.

And so it ends, which is lucky for me, because this deal of posting twice a day was wearing me out. (I didn't think these tournament posts really counted as "real" posts, being just me rambling about plants I liked, and why, so I felt like I still needed to supply one "real" post in the mornings. I do have standards. Though I recognize that it's sometimes hard to tell.)

We now resume our regularly scheduled whatever it is.

Random plant event: Neoregelia ampullacea 'Dark Star' offset

I got this plant as part of a plant trade with someone from Garden Web, in October 2008. It hasn't done a lot since then, but I did notice the other day that it had a runner. I was not aware when I received it that it would do this; I was envisioning Neoregelias like 'Gazpacho,' that bloom and then produce offsets while dying, like most other genera in the bromeliad family. Instead, it's more like Neoregelia 'Fireball,' it would seem. I wish it were a little faster-growing, but I feel that way about 'Fireball,' too. Hooray for the Neoregelia genus, all the same.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The houseplant tournament: semi-finals

Well, this was a dumb idea. I mean, I'm sort of committed to continuing this until we reach a final winner, but I don't think a single-elimination brackets system was the right way to go. At one point or another, all four of the semifinalists in this post have seemed like the likely and inevitable winner, and it's only making myself try to name reasons that's enabled me to pick one over another. Except that then I start second-guessing, 'cause what if my favorite plants aren't favorites for reasons in the first place, and I'm defeating the purpose of the whole thing by trying to come up with some?

(It is sometimes difficult to be me.)

Now what would be fun would be to do the same thing, but as a series of reader polls instead. I would find that endlessly fascinating, in fact. It would also take a lot of time to set up, so don't expect it soon. But perhaps eventually, 'cause now I'm interested.

Anyway. So let's get to the matches.

Semifinal match #1: Yucca guatemalensis cvv. vs. Vriesea splendens

Vriesea is the better-looking plant. It's not even a contest. Even before you factor in the flowers, it's a prettier plant. So there's that. Propagation is considerably tougher, because the only easy way is by offsets, which they'll only produce after flowering, and they'll do that only while the mother plant is dying, so you lose one plant and gain one plant and the end result is that no propagation happens. (I have no idea how the growers manage to produce them. Seeds, maybe? I'd love to try seeds.) So that's one big factor for Vriesea, and one big factor against.

I like size, too (or at least the capacity to become big, whether now or in 20 years), and on that score, Yucca wins easily. Not that Vriesea can't get big, but it's never going to get tree-sized big, and Yucca can. It's also the case that Yucca comes in multiple cultivars, and Vriesea . . . well, Vriesea might, but I suspect that either they all look more or less alike, or the one I have ('Splenreit') is the only one that's easy to grow. Either way, for all practical purposes, there's only one Vriesea cultivar.

I've never had a significant care problem with either. I've failed to get some Vrieseas to root before, but that was after separating them from the mother plant, which I have since learned one does not have to do (and, in fact, probably should not do). Yucca has only been a problem when I've badly overpotted a newly-rooted cutting or severely cut back an established plant, and even in both of those cases I've still had 75% success or better. That said, I've put the Yuccas through a lot more than I've ever asked of the Vrieseas, and it would not necessarily surprise me for the Vrieseas to reveal a nasty side at some point down the line, since I've only had them around for just so long. I'm pretty sure I've seen almost everything a Yucca is going to do indoors.

Consequently, I'm more comfortable giving this one to the Yucca guatemalensis, which even if it's not as pretty, wins or ties on basically every other category.

Semifinal match #2: Aglaonema cvv. vs. Dieffenbachia cvv.

Personally, I will probably think that any random Dieffenbachia is prettier than any random Aglaonema. This is not to deny that there are some fucking gorgeous Aglaonemas ('Brilliant,' 'Peacock,' 'Red Gold'), nor that there are some pretty dowdy dieffs (I am unimpressed with 'Camille' and 'Carina'). But on average. Aglaonema variegation tends to be more subtle: the whites are rarely white white, the greens are rarely dark green, and they tend to stay in fairly well-defined zones within the leaf. Dieffenbachias, on the other hand, have very high contrasts, and can do most of the same color range as ags, with more complicated, more interesting (to me) patterns.

Dieffenbachias also get much larger, or at least some of them do, and that's an important consideration as well. Though I've seen some pretty huge ags, very few of them have been as big as my 'Tropic Rain' dieff.

On the other hand, Dieffenbachias tend to be more difficult to grow. With Aglaonema, as long as you don't get the plant cold and you don't keep it too wet, it'll be fine. Dieffenbachia have more specific ideas about light, and water. They'll also grow a lot faster, which is good (I like fast growth), but they'll also drop lower leaves as they go, so you wind up with a big bare cane with a few leaves on top, which after a while gets to looking silly. Ags do the bare cane thing as well, but take longer to get there. Ags will also considerately fill in their bare stems by sprouting the occasional new cane. (Dieffs will do that, too, but they're very reluctant, and if they do, they'll act like they're doing you some huge favor by resprouting.)

So, for a second time, I choose the homelier (relatively speaking), yet more considerate, plant, and this one goes to Aglaonema cvv.

Final match tonight on Twitter / tomorrow here at PATSP. Yucca guatemalensis cvv. vs. Aglaonema cvv. Watch Mr. Subjunctive become a mental contortionist as he tries to justify his choices!

Picture: Acer sp. seedling

This would be a better picture with a different-colored background, but you blog with the maple seedling pictures you have, not the maple seedling pictures you wish you had.

I recognize that this is nothing amazing to most readers, and that this is basically a weed to a lot of people. But look! See how pretty the new little leaves are!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The houseplant tournament: quarterfinals

When I started the whole houseplant tournament figuring, the first few rounds were kinda fun, because I didn't have very many difficult choices to make, and furthermore, I could punish plants I disliked by selecting the other plant. (Take that, you nasty, ungrateful Fenestraria rhopalophylla, you!) Once I'd whittled the field down to about 32, though, the decisions were occasionally tough. It's only gotten worse. Yesterday's reduction of 16 plants down to 8 was often somewhat hard, and this particular batch was pretty much agonizing on three out of the four choices, to the point where I feel like I may as well have been flipping a coin.

But don't worry, because I did come up with some rationalizations.

Also it has occurred to me that this could easily, and amusingly, have been advertised ahead of time as a Rumble in the Jungle, or maybe the Rumble Among the Jungle, and I have therefore squandered a valuable opportunity of some kind. Oh well.

Quarterfinal match #1: Euphorbia grandicornis vs. Yucca guatemalensis cvv.(#1)

I've known my current batch of Yucca guatemalensis longer than I've had any of my other plants, roughly 10-11 years now for the gray-variegated ones, and there are multiple cultivars of Yucca, both of which count heavily in its favor. On the other hand, Euphorbia grandicornis is a faster grower, and has a much more striking appearance. I've had no care problems with either one.

In the end, I have to give it to Yucca guatemalensis. Possibly if Euphorbia grandicornis and I have the same sort of enduring, many-year connection, this could go differently, but for the time being, at least, Yucca wins.

Quarterfinal match #2: Dracaena deremensis 'Lemon-Lime' / 'Goldstar'(#3) vs. Vriesea splendens

I've been really fond of 'Lemon-Lime' Dracaenas for a long time, too; my oldest one has been with me for about four years now. Vriesea splendens, on the other hand, is relatively (though not terribly) new: the older of the two has been with me for almost two years.


Neither one has given me significant problems: the Dracaena has sometimes dropped leaves and gotten brown edges and tips, and Vriesea has failed to root for me once or twice, but both are basically fine. So it basically comes down to appearance, and on that basis, Vriesea splendens wins. Even if there were a question w/r/t foliage (which there's not -- I love Vriesea's foliage), the fact that Vriesea splendens blooms would put it over the top. So Vriesea wins in an upset.

Quarterfinal match #3: Aglaonema cvv. vs. Anthurium andraeanum cvv.(#2)

I've had both for a fairly long time: my oldest Aglaonema has been with me for three years, and my oldest Anthurium for two and a half years. Both have occasionally been problematic w/r/t care (Anthurium is slightly more demanding), and in both cases the problems have typically occurred when a plant got too old and needed to be cut back. I haven't really figured out, in either case, how to restart an old plant in a way that's not traumatic for both of us.

Both have fairly large leaves, which I like, and both are fairly slow-growing, which I don't.

What about the differences? Well, only one (Anthurium) has decorative flowers, which even if they're not hugely abundant are still very long-lasting, and come in a wide assortment of vivid colors. (Just in the house, right at the moment, I have Anthurium flowers in orange, red, red-violet, violet, white, and two slightly-different shades of pink.) Aglaonema will also flower indoors, but their flowers aren't terribly attractive and can actually lead to unsightly mold. Aglaonema do, however, have a wide assortment of different foliage colors (gray, white, green, yellow, orange/red, silver) and patterns (blotches, polka-dots, overlays, stripes, bands). I like Anthurium foliage too, which is shinier and larger, but it generally only comes in the one color. (In a few of the varieties I have, new leaves come in reddish or orangish and then turn green upon maturity.)

So the choice is basically between varied flowers and varied foliage, and since the foliage is more reliable than the flowers, I have to give it to Aglaonema, in another upset, even though I like both plants very much and it could easily have gone the other way if I'd been in a different sort of mood.

Quarterfinal match #4: Cordyline fruticosa cvv. vs. Dieffenbachia cvv.

I have a similar length of history with both plants. My oldest Dieffenbachia was acquired in May 2006, and my oldest Cordyline in July or August 2006. I've propagated both (always successful with Cordyline, only sometimes successful with Dieffenbachia, but dieffs have given me more opportunities), both are available in many different cultivars (broader range of colors with Cordyline, more varied patterns with Dieffenbachia), both have large leaves (Dieffenbachia's are, potentially, larger), both are susceptible to spider mites (Dieffenbachia less so), both have interesting histories (Cordyline's is more pleasant), both are moderately difficult to grow indoors (Dieffenbachia is easier).

Last night on Twitter, I had gone with Cordyline, but as I've been writing this, I've changed my mind, since most of the differences between the two seem to cut in Dieffenbachia's favor. So we'll say that this one was overturned by judges after the fight, and give it to Dieffenbachia instead.

Semifinals on Twitter tonight (if they get it fixed: I haven't been able to access Twitter yet today) and PATSP tomorrow morning/afternoon.

Match 1: Yucca guatemalensis cvv. (#1) vs. Vriesea splendens (As the plant profiles for these two are, respectively, Secret Agent Man and James Bond, this fight will be marketed as "Spy vs. Spy.")

Match 2: Aglaonema cvv. vs. Dieffenbachia cvv. (This will be the "Good vs. Evil" fight, in reference, again, to the plant profiles: Goody Two-Shoes, and Sadist)

Pretty pictures: Zinnia cvv.

I think I like Zinnias. Pretty sure. They were relatively unproblematic at work, they're pretty good about continuous blooming, and they're not unattractive. I'll have to try some more next year, I think.

This was taken at Menards. The weird, kind of greenish tint to the flower is true to life: part of the reason I took the picture in the first place was because the color looked weird. I'm also intrigued by what I've seen of the 'Envy' Zinnias, though I have yet to see 'Envy' in person yet.

This one I took at Wallace's, in Bettendorf. Pretty definitely the prettiest of the bunch. I'd be interested in something like this in the future.

Also from Menards. Not hugely exciting, but hey. Any plant that shows up on time and does what it's supposed to do is okay in my book, and by most accounts Zinnias are one of those.

The only Zinnia I currently own at the moment. I have it planted with the Geranium 'Rozanne,' and the two of them together make me happy. I suspect that orangey-red and purpley-blue aren't supposed to go together, but based on some of the things I've seen people say don't go together, I think the whole concept of colors co-ordinating or clashing is a lot less objective than everybody pretends it is. I like 'em.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Um? Guys?

I just logged in to Statcounter and saw this banner ad:

"TIME Time for earn $50000 and more monthly
Drive your male traffic where it's paid"

This doesn't make me want to buy or use whatever it is. It does slightly make me want to click the ad to see what the hell it's for, but I'm not gonna.

The houseplant tournament: final 16

Yesterday afternoon, it amused me to set up brackets for a "tournament" to see which of my plants can claim to be first in my affections. Or something like that. So I went through the spreadsheets and came up with a list of 256 plants, which I then put in random order and pitted against one another, two at a time, just to see how things would shake out.

The full list of 256 is in very tiny print at the end of the post. I'll spare you the blow-by-blow and just skip ahead to the final 16. Some very nice plants had already been eliminated by then, unfortunately.

Match #1: Euphorbia grandicornis vs. Saxifraga stolonifera

Although I appreciate the ease of propagation and ornamental leaves with Saxifraga, in the end, Euphorbia grandicornis was just too badass-looking to lose.

Match #2: Yucca guatemalensis cvv.(#1) vs. Aloe striata

Yuccas and I have a long and glorious history together, and although Aloe striata is damned impressive (the plant in the picture is now about a foot in diameter, after about 15 months with me), it's not going to beat Yucca guatemalensis. No way. There's a reason why Yucca is the number one seed here.

Match #3: Hatiora salicornioides vs. Dracaena deremensis 'Lemon-Lime' / 'Goldstar'(#3)

This one was really difficult: I'm incredibly fond of both. In the end, the Dracaena won on a technicality. On a different day, the decision might have gone to Hatiora.

Match #4: Spathiphyllum cvv. vs. Vriesea splendens

Not even a contest. Spathiphyllum cvv. are nice, particularly 'Sensation,' but they would never have reached the final 16 in the first place without having a bunch of fairly easy opponents. And Vriesea splendens is not an easy opponent.

Match #5: Aglaonema cvv. vs. Euphorbia trigona

Also not much of a contest, though a lot of that has to do with me lumping all Aglaonema cultivars together. Originally I had them separated, and that gave me like 291 contestants, so I condensed all the Ags into a single slot (actually two: Aglaonema brevispathum cvv. had their own slot but were eliminated early on account of both of the ones I've tried have died on me) in order to bring the list down to 256. The side effect of this is that Aglaonema cvv. as a group is incredibly kickass: Aglaonema 'Maria' vs. Euphorbia trigona would have gone to Euphorbia, no question, but Aglaonema 'Diamond Bay' and 'Brilliant' and 'Stars,' etc., is going to kick ass all over the place. Sorry, Euphorbia. Maybe in the rematch.

Match #6: Anthurium andraeanum cvv.(#2) vs. Pedilanthus tithymaloides

Another sort of heartbreaker, as I'm deeply in love with both of these. Overall, it had to go to Anthurium, because I like big leaves more than little leaves, plus, with Anthurium you get flowers.

Match #7: Cordyline fruticosa cvv. vs. Synadenium grantii 'Rubra'

Much as I like it (and I do like it -- I have eleven right now, all cuttings from the original), Synadenium grantii is kind of a one-trick pony. Awesome trick, but there's only one of them. So this match goes to Cordyline fruticosa, despite its spider mite problems, because it comes in every damn color and has biggish leaves (sometimes) to boot.

Match #8: Dieffenbachia cvv. vs. Aloe aristata hybrid

More or less a repeat of Aglaonema cvv. vs. Euphorbia trigona: any individual Dieffenbachia up against Aloe aristata x unknown (probably A. aristata x Gasteria batesiana) would be competitive, but put them all together and they kick Gaster-/Aloe ass all the way home.

This evening, the quarterfinal matches will be posted to Twitter, and eventually to PATSP. Be sure to tune in! Place your bets! Sap will fly!

1. Euphorbia grandicornis vs. Yucca guatemalensis cvv.(#1)
2. Dracaena deremensis 'Lemon-Lime' / 'Goldstar'(#3) vs. Vriesea splendens
3. Aglaonema cvv. vs. Anthurium andraeanum cvv.(#2)
4. Cordyline terminalis cvv. vs. Dieffenbachia cvv.


Appendix: Full list of all contestants, which is also more or less a comprehensive list of every plant I am growing, or have tried to grow, since sometime in the fall of 2006, as of 4 August 2009:

Abutilon x 'Bella Pink,' Adenium obesum, Aechmea 'Del Mar,' Aechmea fasciata, Aeschynanthus speciosus, Agave attenuata/desmettiana (uncertain about ID), Agave potatorum/parrasana (also uncertain about ID), Agave victoriae-reginae, Aglaonema (all cvv. not of brevispathum), Aglaonema brevispathum 'Hospitum'/'Thai Snowflakes,' Aloe "harlana" (so identified from Lowe's but unlikely to be the actual A. harlana, which is fairly rare), Aloe aristata hybrid, Aloe vera, Alworthia 'Black Gem,' Aloe brevifolia, Aloe 'Crosby's Prolific,' Aloe 'Doran Black,' Aloe greatheadii var. davyana, Aloe 'Minibelle' (Possibly A. juvenna?), Aloe nobilis, Aloe maculata, Aloe striata, Aloe variegata, Aloe 'Walmsley's Blue,' Alternanthera dentata 'Purple Knight,' Alternanthera ficoidea 'Partytime,' Ananas comosus, Anthurium andraeanum cvv., Anthurium hookeri? (another case of a plant identified as something really unlikely -- though it does pretty closely match the page for A. hookeri, so maybe), Anthurium crystallinum 'Mehani,' Anthurium x 'Dutch Series,' Araucaria bidwillii, Araucaria heterophylla, Ardisia crenata, Ardisia elliptica, Asparagus plumosus, Aspidistra lurida 'Milky Way,' Asplenium antiquum, Astrophytum myriostigma, Beaucarnea recurvata, Begonia NOID [spotted angel-wing type], Begonia rex-cultorum 'Harmony's Red Robin,' Begonia rex-cultorum 'Texas Coffee Star,' Begonia [rounded green leaves], Brassolaeliocattleya 'Helen Brown,' Breynia disticha 'Roseo-Picta,' Caladium cvv., Calathea ornata, Callisia fragrans, Asplundia 'Jungle Drum,' Caryota mitis, Cereus peruvianus, Chamaedorea elegans, Chamaedorea metallica, Chlorophytum comosum, Chlorophytum x 'Charlotte,' Chlorophytum x 'Fire Flash,' Cissus quadrangularis, Cissus rhombifolia 'Ellen Danica,' Clivia miniata cvv., Codiaeum variegatum cvv., Coffea arabica, Cordyline fruticosa cvv., Cordyline glauca, Crassula muscosa, Crassula ovata, Crassula rupestris, Cryptanthus cvv., Cyanotis kewensis, Cycas revoluta, Cyrtomium falcatum, Davallia trichomanoides/tyermanii, Dendrobium cvv., Dieffenbachia cvv., Dizygotheca elegantissima, Dracaena deremensis 'Art,' Dracaena deremensis 'Janet Craig,' Dracaena deremensis 'Janet Craig Compacta,' Dracaena deremensis 'Lemon-Lime'/'Goldstar,' Dracaena deremensis 'Warneckei'/'Jumbo'/'Ulises,' Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana,' Dracaena fragrans 'Sol,' Dracaena surculosa, Dracaena 'Limelight,' Dracaena marginata 'Bicolor' & 'Colorama,' Dracaena reflexa 'Song of India,' Dracaena reflexa 'Riki,' Dracaena sanderiana 'Lucky Bamboo,' Dracaena thalioides, Dracaena x 'Indonesian Tracker,' Echeveria 'Frosty,' Echeveria 'Moonglow' (or similar), Echeveria nodulosa, Echeveria 'Topsy Turvy,' Echinocactus grusonii, Epipremnum aureum cvv., Eucharis grandiflora, Euphorbia ammak, Euphorbia anoplia, Euphorbia bougheyi variegata, Euphorbia drupifera, Euphorbia enopla, Euphorbia grandicornis, Euphorbia lactea variegata, Euphorbia milii, Euphorbia NOID, Euphorbia pseudocactus (previously misidentified as E. grandicornis), Euphorbia tirucalli, Euphorbia tortilis, Euphorbia trigona, Fatsia japonica, Fenestraria rhopalophylla, Ferocactus NOID, Ficus benjamina cvv., Ficus maclellandii, Ficus elastica 'Burgundy,' Ficus lyrata, Ficus microcarpa (=nitida, retusa), Ficus microcarpa'Green Island,' Ficus religiosa, Ficus triangularis, Furcraea foetida 'Medio-Picta,' Gasteria bicolor, Gasteria pseudonigricans, Guzmania lingulata cvv., Gynura aurantiaca, Hatiora salicornioides, Haworthia attenuata, Haworthia limifolia var. limifolia/ubomboensis, Haworthia NOID 1 (batesiana?), Haworthia NOID 2 (comptoniana?), Haworthia NOID 3 (retusa?), Hedera canariensis 'Gloire de Marengo,' Hedera helix, Hemigraphis exotica, Hibiscus acetosella 'Brown Sugar,' Hibiscus rosa-sinensis cvv., Homalomena 'Emerald Gem,' Homalomena 'Perma Press,' Homalomena 'Selby,' Hoya bella, Hoya carnosa cvv., Hoya kentiana, Hoya lacunosa, Hoya picta, Hoya pubicalyx 'Pink Silver,' Hylocereus undatus (ID uncertain, but it's definitely a Hylocereus), Hypoestes phyllostachya, Kalanchoe beharensis, Kalanchoe bracteata 'Silver Teaspoons,' Bryophyllum daigremontianum, Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri, Kalanchoe luciae, Kalanchoe orgyalis, Kalanchoe tomentosa, Lampranthus blandus, Laurus nobilis, Ledebouria socialis, Liriope spicata 'Cassidy,' Ludisia discolor, Maranta leuconeura cvv., Microsorum musifolium 'Crocodyllus,' Monstera deliciosa, Murraya paniculata, Nematanthus gregarius cvv., Neoregelia ampullacea 'Dark Star,' Neoregelia 'Fireball,' Neoregelia prickly large NOIDs and 'Gazpacho' (a group, obviously), Oncidium NOID, Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Niger,' Oxalis triangularis, Pachyphytum sp., Pachypodium lamerei, Pandanus veitchii cvv., Paphiopedilum Supersuk 'Eureka' x Paph. Raisin Pie 'Hsinying' x Sib (whatever the hell that all adds up to), Pedilanthus 'Jurassic Park 2,' Pedilanthus tithymaloides, Pelargonium x hortorum 'Moonlight Dark Pink,' Pelargonium x hortorum 'Vancouver Centennial,' Pellionia pulchra, Peperomia argyreia, Peperomia caperata/griseoargentea cvv., Peperomia clusiifolia 'Rainbow,' Peperomia ferreyrae, Peperomia glabella, Peperomia obtusifolia cvv., Peperomia pereskiifolia, Phalaenopsis cvv., Philodendron 'Autumn,' Philodendron bipennifolium, Philodendron bipinnatifidum, Philodendron 'Congo Green,' Philodendron erubescens (?) 'Red Emerald,' Philodendron gloriosum, Philodendron hastatum, Philodendron hederaceum cvv., Philodendron 'Imperial Green,' Philodendron 'Imperial Red,' Philodendron 'Moonlight,' Philodendron 'Xanadu,' Pilea cadierei, Pilea depressa, Pilea 'Moon Valley,' Pilea involucrata 'Norfolk,' Pilea nummulariifolia, Platycerium bifurcatum, Plectranthus ciliatus, Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender,' Plectranthus verticillatus, Plectranthus oertendahlii, Podocarpus macrophyllus, Pogonantherum paniceum, Polyscias fruticosa cvv., Portulacaria afra, Pseudorhipsalis ramulosa (previously misidentified as Disocactus NOID), Radermachera sinica, Rhapis excelsa, Rhipsalis grandiflora?, Rhipsalis teres var. heteroclada, Saintpaulia ionantha cvv., Sansevieria cylindrica, Sansevieria trifasciata cvv., Saxifraga stolonifera, Schefflera actinophylla, Schefflera arboricola, Schlumbergera truncata cvv., Scindapsus pictus, Sedum morganianum, Sedum rubrotinctum, Selenicereus chrysocardium, Sempervivum 'Red Beauty,' Senecio crassimus, Senecio jacobsenii, Senecio macroglossus, Senecio rowleyanus, Solenostemon scutellarioides cvv., Spathiphyllum cvv., Stapelia NOID, Strelitzia nicolai, Streptocarpus cvv., Stromanthe sanguinea cvv., Synadenium grantii 'Rubra,' Syngonium podophyllum cvv., Tillandsia cyanea, Tolmiea menziesii, Tradescantia fluminensis, Tradescantia pallida, Tradescantia spathacea, Tradescantia zebrina, Vriesea imperialis, Vriesea NOID, Vriesea splendens, Yucca guatemalensis cvv., Zamioculcas zamiifolia, Zingiber malaysianum. Inadvertently omitted: Syngonium wendlandii.

Random plant event: Euphorbia ammak new growth

An exhaustive list of the significant events in the life of my two Euphorbia ammak cuttings:

1. 20 Jun 2007: received cuttings in mail (through Garden Web).
2. 2 Aug 2009: one of the cuttings shows the beginnings of new growth.

See it? There in the center, surrounded by a ring of stunted, kinda dead-looking thorns?

There was, technically, another event in between the two, where I first noticed that they were rooting, but I didn't write that down so I'm not sure when it was. I'd guess maybe December 2007, give or take: it was fairly soon after I got them.

So, total elapsed time from getting the new cuttings to having them be sufficiently-established to start new growth: 774 days.

It should be noted that thus far, only one of the cuttings has started new growth. On the other one, it's 774 days and counting. And that is why I will not become a professional Euphorbia propagator.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Stuff I Didn't Buy

Just a couple pictures I've meant to share but hadn't gotten around to yet, of various plants which were brand-new to me, and arguably cool, but which I declined to buy for one reason or another.

This Yucca guatemalensis looks a fair amount like one I have already, though the colors are more precisely separated on this one than on mine: on mine the gray is kinda blurry/streaky. Whether this is actually a new variety, or just what mine would do if it were grown in better light, is something we're about to find out, because I cut mine back and stuck it outside, where it will either resprout or rot. (I'm hoping for resprout, obviously, but it was a pretty drastic cut-back, which I am kind of regretting.)

That particular plant was for sale at Wallace's, in Bettendorf, IA, and I would have considered buying it, but it was priced at $55. I've probably spent $55 on a single plant before, but I can't think of any: $40 (for a large Pedilanthus tithymaloides) is the priciest individual plant I can think of, off the top of my head. The tag didn't have a cultivar name on it. In fact, if memory serves, it didn't have a species name on it either. It was just, "Yucca." You know, like "Oprah" or "Cher."

This is from my former job, and did have a cultivar name on it: it's Philodendron 'Golden Emerald.' I wasn't interested in this one mostly because Philodendrons and I are very hit and miss: I do really well with P. hederaceum, P. 'Moonlight,' and P. 'Congo Green,' but P. 'Autumn' makes me crazy, P. hastatum dwindles away to nothing, and P. gloriosum just barely holds itself together. Would 'Golden Emerald' work out? Who the hell knows?

Finally, a plant I've heard a lot about but had never seen before, at Wallace's again. This is Sanchezia speciosa:

More specifically, this is Sanchezia speciosa 'Tahitian Breeze,' which differs from the regular species Sanchezia speciosa in that 'Tahitian Breeze' has been patented by Proven Winners and the species has not.

At least, as far as I can tell, that's the only difference. It's interesting in person, though I assume it's probably relatively difficult to grow or it ages badly or something. There must be something, or else they'd be available more often than this. The reason why I didn't buy one, though, is not because of the species, but because of the specimens: these had aphids.


Aphids aren't that big of a deal indoors, and it's not like I hold it against Wallace's that they had them. Bugs will happen anywhere that's getting plants brought in from elsewhere on a regular basis. Fact of life. And if they have to have bugs, better aphids, which are easy to get rid of, than something persistent like mealybugs or scale. But it's also a bit of a turnoff, as you can imagine, and since I figured Sanchezia probably weren't good indoor plants in the first place, I didn't need much to push me over the edge.

I have, of course, declined to buy all sorts of other plants lately. It's just that these are the only ones I took pictures of, I guess. And at least one of them is still under consideration: it's a Euphorbia NOID that would be $25 at my former workplace but that Lowe's has for $9: somehow $9 seems unreasonable when it's at Lowe's, though.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Haven't done one of these in a while. I am quite honestly surprised that the idea had legs enough for three posts, never mind eleven of them.

The above is a picture of the fifteen four-inch Spathiphyllums I bought at Lowe's last Thursday. Why so many? Indeed, why any at all, given that I'm not that fond of them? They were only $0.50 apiece (marked down from $0.99 (marked down from $1.99 (marked down from $3.97))), and I didn't see anything wrong with them, other than the dead flowers needed to be pulled off. Which apparently Lowe's finds it more time-effective to hand-write little yellow stickers with new prices on them than to just clean up the plants occasionally. (It must be such a weird place for anyone who's actually fond of plants to work. Comments can be anonymous here at PATSP, so come on, oppressed big box garden center workers: tell me some stories.)

Anyway. I figure I know how to keep them going well enough, I can keep them for a little while and then resell them through the consignment store in Iowa City that accepts plants (my cut of which would likely be $1.50). Good for me, and better for the plants than lingering for days and then getting tossed in a dumpster. Or whatever it is Lowe's does with the plants they kill. If I'd wanted, I could have gotten another, like, 25 of them, but 15 already seemed excessive. (I mainly got that many so I could take the flat they were in as well: I am seriously coveting plastic flats lately.)

It's not especially lucrative, but you have to go with the opportunities you see. In theory.

When I mentioned this at Twitter on Thursday, sometime PATSP commenter Lance suggested that "Flip This Plant" would make a good new show for Bravo (especially since "Flip This House" appears to be in a bit of trouble, conceptually: hard to flip houses when nobody's buying them, much less resell them for more money than you bought them for). I'm afraid it would be kind of slow. Maybe it's more HGTV's speed. I'm open to being the object of a bidding war. Bravo, HGTV: my e-mail address is in the sidebar. Have at.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pretty picture: Papaver nudicaule 'Champagne Bubbles'

I hadn't heard of Icelandic poppies (Papaver nudicaule) before a couple weeks ago. Actually, I didn't know much of anything about poppies at all, never having paid them a lot of attention. I'm learning, though. These remind me a lot of California poppies, Eschscholzia californica, despite not being shaped the same way, having similar foliage, or growing in similar locations. Maybe it's the colors?

I'm not terribly inclined to try to grow either one, having had two consecutive bad experiences with Eschscholzia (which is, by the way, hella fun to try to spell, though I'm not crazy enough to try to pronounce it), and being fairly unfamiliar with Papaver, though I'm not ruling out P. nudicaule just yet. We'll see.

These pictures were taken at a Home Depot somewhere in the Quad Cities, in case you want to know.