Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday afternoon Nina picture

Nina likes to hide from the trick-or-treaters until they're directly underneath, then jump.

Pretty pictures: Saintpaulia ionantha cvv.

I still think they're pretty, but oh boy have I soured on Saintpaulia. In fairness to myself, they totally started it, by dying when they didn't receive enough water (and then developing crown rot when they did: just no pleasing some people), instead of gritting their (metaphorical) teeth and getting through it anyway, like your more understanding and compassionate plants will.

So I've gone, in a fairly short span of time (about 6-8 months?), from having nineteen of them to having only three. Two of the remaining ones clearly would like to see me replaced with someone else, a sentiment which is becoming increasingly mutual.

Carol, at May Dreams Gardens, has a theory that a person should own no more African violets than his/r age divided by ten, making me at one point 190 in African Violet years. The penalty for exceeding this is premature aging, she says. So now I'm in my 30s, both in AV years and in real life.

Logically, there ought to be a plant where the more of them you have, the more slowly you age. I mean, if Saintpaulia ages you faster, then something should be able to age you slower. My fingers are crossed that it's Anthuriums, 'cause if it is, I may not just be aging slower, I might be getting younger. Anybody seen the Benjamin Buttons movie? Did he have any plants?

Anyway. Sooner or later, I will probably re-succumb to temptation and try them a second time. Should this happen, I really hope I can come up with a better way to water. I mean, I know there are ways: I hope I am inclined to use them.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Found on FAIL Blog:

I haven't really done anything in the new house yet, landscaping-wise, because it seems likely that there's a steep learning curve to it, and between the plants and the blog I don't have time to teach myself landscaping. But. . . .

Perhaps there's less to it than I thought.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pretty picture: Degarmoara Flying High 'Pacific Paradise'

Degarmoara Flying High 'Pacific Paradise.'

This is pretty similar to Degarmoara Flying High 'Stars and Bars,' in that the color palette and overall shape of the flower is the same, but this one is mostly yellow where the other is mostly brown. I'm kind of torn as to which one I prefer: 'Pacific Paradise' has the better name and coloration, but 'Stars and Bars' has a more interesting color pattern, and the petals are a little more rigid, or something, so the flower winds up looking more symmetrical. Given the choice, though, I'd probably rather own 'Pacific Paradise,' so I guess it's the one I like better?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Random plant event: Plectranthus oertendahlii flowers

I'm puzzled about why this is not a bigger houseplant than it is. It sure seems like good people. Basically the same care as Swedish ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus), but fuzzy, slightly-patterned leaves instead of bright green, shiny leaves. I described it a couple weeks ago as being what you'd expect to get from a cross between Saxifraga stolonifera and Plectranthus verticillatus.

Anyway. So for some reason, this little scrap of a plant that I salvaged when it broke off of the main plant has somehow decided that it's time to flower, and not only is it flowering, but I've got twelve more rooted cuttings in the basement that are all budding and will be doing this shortly as well. I don't know how they decide that it's time; the basement ones are under lights and get little natural light, and the other way around for this one. But nevertheless, they all know.

The flowers are not especially pretty, but they're very determined flowerers: I pinched the buds off of this plant three or four times before it snuck this set past me.

Plectranthus oertendahlii is usually sold as an annual, for outdoor ground-cover type situations, when you see it sold at all. If you like Swedish ivy, and you happen to see one for sale somewhere, pick it up. You might like it, and if you do like it you can keep it going pretty much forever.

There are also a few named cultivars, which I've only seen on-line: they are more uniformly light in color, with a darker-but-still-light leaf margin. Also nice, no doubt, but I like this better.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pretty pictures: Neoregelia cvv.

In June, the place where I used to work got a shipment of tropicals in, including a bunch of Neoregelias that looked like somebody'd been misting them with acid or something -- the leaves had dead patches here and there, to the point where they were basically unsellable. As far as I know, they never got an explanation for why this would have happened, though they did get credit on that box, at least. Employees, and former employees (i.e. me), bought them at the low, low price of only $5, which was sort of a win for everybody involved: I, and various other people, got some pretty large Neoregelias for cheap, the business doesn't have to put the time and effort into caring for them, and everybody's happy. Because they're Neos, it's probably going to take a long time before they outgrow the damaged foliage, but also because they're Neos, they're almost certainly going to live long enough to do so. So that's good. This is the one I bought, which in person is more purple and less orange than this. There was no ID tag with it, but I do have a guess: read on.

This plant is one I bought maybe a year earlier, in the aftermath of my back-to-back emergency room visits; as you can see from the photo then, it's not as dark as it used to be. (It had to live in a spot without a lot of light for a little while, hence the green older leaves, but I've got it under some shop lights now and the new growth, as you can see, is coming in nice and purple.) My best guess for a variety name is 'Royal Burgundy,' primarily due to this site, which I suspect is where my plant was originally grown.1

This one, Neoregelia 'Medium Rare,' I don't actually own, but it arrived with identification at work so I figured I ought to document it anyway. Also it is pretty. They probably still have at least one where I used to work, but this is similar enough to one I have already (the maybe-'Victoria' one) that I don't feel an urgent need to acquire 'Medium Rare.'


1 I suspect this because they include pictures of 'Medium Rare,' 'Yang,' 'Fireball,' and 'Gazpacho,' all of which are plants that came in with IDs (though there were many more that did not). If this is in fact the source, the first NOID picture is probably of 'Purple Star,' and I also have 'Victoria' (maybe 'Nuance') and 'Perfection.' If I'm wrong, and this isn't where our bromeliads were coming from, then of course my NOIDs could be anything at all, and I have no idea. I'd like to think there's a chance I know what I've got, though.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Random plant event: Schlumbergera flower buds

This isn't really a random plant event, I suppose, since this supposed to happen at this time of year. I kind of knew this, but I also had thought that one had to do specific inconvenient things to the plants to get them to set buds. Like, at the very least, you needed to have them outside so they could be exposed to some cold (but not too cold!) at the right time of year, or start fertilizing (or was it stop fertilizing?) at some critical moment, or whatever.

My point being that they've always sounded kind of intimidatingly complex, and whenever somebody's asked about them on Garden Web or something they always get several pages of detailed instructions back, which I try to follow and commit to memory but it's hard. I can't keep straight all the things that are supposed to be wet and dry and fertilized and not fertilized before and after they bloom, and which things need short days and long days and cold and heat and so forth. (UPDATE: The results of my research into the whole wet/dry/fed/starved/long-day/short-day thing can now be found at the Schlumbergera truncata cvv. profile, here.)

And none of this is even that important to me in the first place! I like the flowers, but I wasn't about to make a big deal out of trying to get mine to bloom, because I like the overall shape of the plants just fine when they're not blooming. Two of the three of these are just cuttings (one via Garden Web trade, the other just scavenging some segments that got knocked off some plants at work last year) in the first place, and have no business wasting their time on blooming anyway. But here they go anyway, buds all over, even on plants that were just cuttings less than a year ago, without even trying.

The new plant room may have something to do with this: it gets only natural light (for the time being), and it's cooler than the rest of the house, so temperature and day length are sort of covered for me automatically, and maybe that's why it worked out so well this year and it didn't work very consistently in the apartment.

This might also be a good occasion to publicly give up on trying to determine whether Schlumbergera or Zygocactus is the correct genus for this plant. Everybody seems to have a theory on the nomenclature that they're really, really, dedicated to, the four leading theories being:

  • They're all Schlumbergera.
  • They're all Zygocactus.
  • Some are Schlumbergera and others are Zygocactus, and you can tell which is which according to the shape of the stem segments. (Zygocactus segments are sharp and angular, and Schlumbergera segments have rounded, scalloped edges.)
  • Some are Schlumbergera and others are Zygocactus, and you can tell which is which according to when they flower. (Schlumbergera flower around Christmas; Zygocactus flower around [U.S.] Thanksgiving.)

After being a member of the first three camps, at various points, I've decided to go with the first group and call them all Schlumbergera. Not because I have any principled reason for doing so: it's more that I'm tired of reading conflicting stuff about which is correct so I just want to pick one and be done with it. Also I want to call them all the same name whether they are or not, because otherwise I might not even be able to talk about them until I've seen them bloom, which would be massively inconvenient for me. Finally, given a choice between the two words, I go with Schlumbergera, because Schlumbergera is a more amusing word to me than Zygocactus.

So that's my decision on the matter. If everybody else manages to reach a consensus on this sometime, let me know and I'll be happy to change.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sometimes I hate marketers.

Things like this are why.

Poor Sansevieria cylindrica.