Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Plants

I guess it's been a while since I did one of these posts. I haven't been doing that much plant-buying lately, I thought, but I seem to have a lot of "new" plants anyway. (Some of these have been around for a month and a half, so they're not exactly "new," but they're still new, in that I have not previously mentioned them on the blog.)

Gasteria bicolor var. lilliputiana.

The florist in town also sells some outdoor stuff, mainly (entirely?) annuals, during the early summer, and I got the first three plants of the post from her. Unlike some people, I like Gasterias, though I have a lot less experience with them than their close relatives Haworthia and Aloe.

Pilosocereus pachycladus.

She also had some cacti in 6-inch pots for $15, back in May (there are still a couple left, last I looked), and I'd sort of been looking for a Pilosocereus pachycladus for a while (since seeing one in Cedar Rapids, at Pierson's, several months ago). It was a good price, there were two plants in the pot, and they were reasonably good-sized. I don't know if Pilosocereus is easy or difficult, for a cactus, but so far, so good.

Agave lophantha.

This plant, too, was a $15 6-inch plant from the flower store in town, and I'd also been looking for an Agave lophantha since the same trip to Cedar Rapids when I saw the Pilosocereus. These have since been divided into separate four-inch pots, and appear to be doing well in the basement under lights.

Crassula falcata.

Crassula falcata is a plant I'd asked about in a walkaways post, and then went back to get after being told what it was. Crassulas and I have a very mixed history together, so I don't know that I expect this to work out particularly well in the long run. But it's an interesting plant: I figured I had to at least try.

Aloe haworthioides. (Aloe descoingii x Aloe haworthioides?)

This came from the hardware store that was selling the 'Jenny Craig' Dracaena. Andrew purchased one of these (or something very similar) recently, too, and came up with the ID of Aloe descoingii x Aloe haworthioides for his. Possibly this is a cross, and not a straight A. haworthioides, but that was the first ID I ran across that looked rightish to me, so that's the ID I'm going with until I get a clearer sense of the difference between the two, and/or see some good pictures of the two side-by-side.

Peperomia orba.

Not a lot to say here. This was another plant I previously posted about as a walkaway; it was cheap, I have mixed but mostly positive results with Peperomia (though my P. argyreia is extremely unhappy with me for the last . . . ever), and I'm interested in what this will look like six months from now. So we're trying it.

Didymochlaena truncatula.

Didymochlaena truncatula is also called the "mahogany fern," I'm assuming because of the brownish-red color of the newest fronds. We had a few when I was working in the garden center that got pretty big, and they were pretty nice-looking. Ferns are sort of a gamble, in that a lot of them also need conditions which are cooler or damper than I'm able to provide year-round. So I'm not sure how this will turn out. Googling about the plant turned up a 50-50 mix of sites saying that they're difficult (mainly talking about outdoor care) and sites saying they're easy (primarily talking about indoor care). Which is interesting.

The botanical name drives me crazy, by the way. I first learned the species name as trunculata, and I've also seen it as just plain truncata, but it's actually truncatula, which I try to keep straight with the mnemonic, "the cat you love is in my Didymochlaena." Mixed results so far, with the mnemonic: I still have to check every time I type it.

The genus name is problematic as well, but in a different way: I've never had any trouble remembering how to spell it, because I learned that correctly the first time, but my brain played with the pronunciation. says the correct pronunciation is "did-ee-moh-KLAY-ee-nuh," but my brain first pronounced it "DID-ee-MO-ka-LAY-nuh," which, I have discovered, easily corrupts into part of the Los del Río song (and cultural sensation) "Macarena." (DAle a tu CUERPo aleGRIa, MAcarENa / Heeeeeeey, Macarena --> DAle a tu CUERPo ale DID-ee-MO-ka-LAY-nuh / Heeeeeeey, MO-ka-LAY-nuh) Which is, obviously, super-annoying.

Even if I used the pronunciation, I'm pretty sure "Macarena" would sneak in somehow ("DAle a tu CUERPo ale DID-ee-MO-klay-EE-nuh?"). It's probably hopeless. Perhaps in this one case, I should go against all my principles and call the plant by its common name, not the botanical one.

Polypodium grandiceps.

The Polypodium, like the Peperomia and Didym mahogany fern, came from my ex-job. They have a lot of ferns right now, because the tropical plant situation in Florida is still suffering the effects of last winter's freeze. (Florida: you get freezes every few years. How can this always surprise you? You have to prepare for these things.) Which meant not much of an availability list, and every box of "assorted" anything had ferns filling in for whatever frozen tropicals were missing.

So they now have basically all the ferns: elkhorn (which is our boy P. grandiceps, above), rabbit's-foot (Davallia), bird's-nest (Asplenium), mahogany (Didymochlaena1), crocodile (Microsorum musifolium 'Crocodyllus'), Boston (Nephrolepis), 'Austral Gem' (an Asplenium cross), button (Pellaea), tiger (variegated Nephrolepis), upside-down (Arachniodes), holly (Cyrtomium), staghorn (Platycerium), bear's-paw (Polypodium), table (Pteris), possum-tail (Scyphularia), tree (Blechnum and Cyathea, among others, though they're not actually ferns) -- basically everything except maidenhair (Adiantum).

Which perhaps makes the fact that I bought a second fern, one I had never particularly cared about or wanted, somewhat more understandable. The odds said I was going to buy some ferns, 'cause that's what they had.

Agave bovicornuta 'Reggae Time.'

The last two plants came from Wallace's, in Bettendorf, IA, last Sunday. We hadn't been there since the orchid show in March, and the weather was such that I could survive outside the house without air conditioning (barely), so it seemed like a golden opportunity to go somewhere. And we did. Oddly, all the purchases from Wallace's had Jamaica-themed cultivar names.

I think I'd seen 'Reggae Time' at Wallace's before, maybe last October, but I asked someone and she thought they'd gotten them in new for this year.2 Either way, it's a big plant for the price ($7.99) -- nearly a foot (0.3 m) in diameter now, and the tag says to space them at least three feet (.9 m) apart. (It actually says 36-60 inches, or 0.9-1.5 m.) So it could, theoretically, get very large, though indoors it probably won't. Still, it's a big, scary, angry-looking plant, and I like those.

Dracaena reflexa 'Song of Jamaica.'

Finally, Dracaena reflexa 'Song of Jamaica,' because they had fairly cheap 3-inch plants I could buy and then pot together. It's not a plant I was searching for especially, but my little 'Song of India' has done well enough inside that I've concluded that Dracaena reflexa is not as much trouble as the rumors say, and I wanted a multiple-plant pot because D. reflexas tend not to be that interesting individually. So I made one, when we got home.

There will probably be a post about the walkaways from these trips within the next week or two.


1 (Heeeeeeeey Mo-ka-lay-nuh!)
2 The ones I remember were definitely not this big, though plants do grow. So these may or may not be the Agaves I remember.


Diana said...

I've also had mixed luck with Pepperomias. P. argyreia seems to be the most challenging. Currently I have a P. obtusifolia that I've been taking cuttings of and re-starting over and over for, well, over a decade now. Given two cross country moves and a move from the South to New England that's pretty impressive. Good luck with your new one.

Liza said...

I applaud any effort you put into finding proper botanical names because personally, I like to shy away from the hard work it takes to do that.

Claude said...

I try to use the proper names, but between a strong southern accent and a sporadic case of verbal dyslexia... which probably isn't a real condition but it's the only way I can explain it... I'm usually better off with common names in conversation.

BTW... As cactus go, the Pilosocereus is actually fairly easy... although I find them rather slower than most of the big Cereus - they're still significantly quicker than most cactus.

Did any of that make sense?

mr_subjunctive said...


Peperomia obtusifolia is good people, it's true.


It's not usually hard work. I mean, sometimes there are tags.


The main reason I worry about the Pilosocereus is that I recently lost a Mammillaria (elongata, if it matters) and am now skittish around all cacti again. Probable cause of death: injuries sustained during repotting, and/or overwatering following repotting.

Ivynettle said...

Well, thank you. Now I've got that stupid song stuck in my head, too.

I wish I could grow ferns. My bosses keep buying some, and they sit in the shop, tormenting me (much longer than other plants, since they don't sell well), but I know I'll just kill them.

mr_subjunctive said...


Try replacing it with the Homalomena song.

Out of curiosity, which ferns have you tried? I've been reasonably successful with Platycerium, Davallia, and Cyrtomium. The latter two are in the bright, cool, humid basement ; the Platycerium is in the bright, warm, variable plant room.

Kimberly said...

I'm totally into the cacti and succulents. They're so otherworldly to me. I agree with Liza...proper names are a rarity among cacti and succulents...see...I don't know the right names. They're all cacti and succulents to me.

Tigerdawn said...

That Crassula is fantastic!!

I never bothered trying to find the correct pronunciation for the latin names. In college you only needed to spell them correctly so I say them in a way that helps me remember the spelling. And now, most of the people I talk to about my plants only hear jibberish anyway. It is green; that is enough information.

Heeeey macarena! That sure brings back memories of the roller skating rink in high school!

Jenn said...

I did get a nice set of shots over the life of the kalanchoe bloom. I'll try to get them up sooner rather than later...

Ivynettle said...

Hm, actually, now that I think about it, I haven't even had that many. I had an Adiantum before I started to keep a list of my plants (which, I suppose, could never be expected to survive on my computer desk, but I was young and stupid). An Arachniodes simplicior, which only just survived the winter (we had a deal that it would get thrown out if it went below ten fronds - it only just started growing again in time), and two little NOIDs, one of which died because I first kept it too wet, and then too dry, and the other has survived so far inside a pickle jar.
So I suppose to be fair, I should say I only kill half of my ferns. But I haven't been able to keep any of them looking good.
I guess I included outdoor ferns in the conclusion of "I can't grow ferns" - I've killed several of them, too.

Argh, damn you! Now I'm tempted to try again!
But luckily I'm not allowed to buy new plants until I'm back from holiday. Can't create more work for whoever ends up watering my plants!

Also, crazy coincidence at work today: we're getting shadecloth installed in two of the greenhouses, and the work crew brought a radio. And today, I walk into the greenhouse they were working in, and what do I hear? "Heeey macarena!" I almost broke down laughing.
If I did drive, I'd probably have crashed my car on the way home, due to slamming my head into the steering wheel, trying to stop my brain playing a song I don't even know the lyrics to. Luckily, the handlebars of my bike are too far away from my head.

Megan said...

Nice new succulents! My crassula falcata gets awesome orangey red flowers that last for months. It's on of my favorites. We bought an elkhorn fern a couple months ago too. I call it the faux lettuce plant.