These are the latest batch of plants, from the trip to Cedar Rapids last Wednesday. Mostly what impresses me about these, if anything does, is that most of them were very cheap, for what they were, especially relative to the ex-job (which is still what I weigh plant prices against, those being the prices I know best). One in particular.
In the order of purchase:
(Well, okay, this one wasn't cheap.) This is one of the two plants I bought specifically for Nina. I'd passed it up at least three times before this: though I wanted it, in part because it was the only one I'd ever seen, I've also had pretty consistent bad luck with the non-succulent Peperomias (P. caperata, P. argyreia). P. argyreia was particularly frustrating. So I only bought P. verschaffeltii because I knew I had a terrarium to put it into.
The logic seemed sound, but then we got to Cedar Rapids and I saw one at Peck's for either $5 or $6, which made me wish I'd waited.
Speaking of Peck's: I hadn't been there in at least a year, I think, because the last time I was there, everything seemed really ordinary and expensive, and the time before that, everything was covered in Christmas crap and it took me like twenty minutes after I left to stop dry-heaving.
And then a month later they sent me a bill for the glass door I (allegedly!) ran through in my haste to escape the glitter and poinsettias. But, you know, if I can't go to Pierson's anymore -- and I cannot -- then it seemed like maybe I should reconsider Peck's.
And although, yes, somebody'd left a six-inch layer of Christmas on everything in the store with a cement mixer, the houseplants were more or less left alone, and the music was at a low enough volume that I could ignore it, so I bought some stuff anyway. I would never ever ever have bought an Adiantum if not for the terrarium (When I was still at the ex-job, WCW told me once that they had trouble keeping Adiantums going even with the greenhouse, never mind in the drier air of somebody's home.), but since I have one, we're going to try it. It'll be pretty if it works.
(Unfortunately, I finally tried cleaning the new terrarium yesterday, and am no longer optimistic that it's ever going to be usable. Yesterday was a fairly bad day all around, and I'm easily frustrated, so this is not the last word on anything, but let's don't go expecting miracles.)
I've tried Radermachera once before, and it was underwatered to death very quickly, which put me off them for a long time. I'm going to try again, though I'm not sure I have much higher hopes for this specimen. I'd consider it in the terrarium, but I think it'd probably outgrow the terrarium so fast there'd be no point. Can anybody opine about whether that would be a good idea?
(I'm pretty sure you can: what I mean is please would you.)
We're also being brave again about Saintpaulias. I've kept one alive for over a year (maybe two years?), so maybe I can do this. It didn't photograph particularly well, but African violets with blue or purple flowers never do, and it was nearly bloomed-out besides. If it survives long enough to flower, it'll be prettier.
I was planning to wait until after Christmas to pick up Schlumbergeras, but there's so little variety out there this year that I figured I should grab a yellow one when I saw it: Frontier is the only place I've seen with yellow holiday cacti this year. (Includes: Reha's, Earl May, Peck's, Lowe's, Wallace's) Everybody's favoring the red ones really, really hard, and then most of what's left over is pink. Is it always like this?
Anyway. So I was happy. And this is a very pretty flower, too, with a little flush of pink around the center. However many thousands of seedlings had to be grown out and evaluated to get this, it was totally worth it.
And then there were orchids. Frontier had them the last time I was there, and I didn't have money to buy any, which sucked because they were the cheapest I'd ever seen for a non-Phalaenopsis orchid that was old enough to flower. So it was a relief to see that they still had some. This Oncidium's flowers aren't especially beautiful, but they're fragrant in a weird way -- the scent reminds me of cardboard, that vanilla/woody/chemical smell. (Another opinion, from a poster at orchidboard.com, is that it has a "comfortable" smell, like the poster's grandmother's house. For what that's worth.)
Mainly, though, I was impressed by the number of roots. Which is perhaps a weird thing to be impressed by, but the plant's practically bursting out of the pot, and there are roots all over the place, so it seemed really healthy, if nothing else.
I assume that I should wait to repot until at least after the flowering is over, right?
More orchids. This is the one that caught my eye first, the one I knew for sure I wanted to get. No detectable scent, but the colors are particularly nice, and long, careful examination of the Wallace's Orchid Show photos led me to the conclusion that Potinaras are my favorites. (Or one of my favorites.) Can I grow them? I don't know, but I've had a Brassolaeliocattleya for two years now, which is related, so maybe. And unlike the Blc., I know that these orchids are all old enough to flower, so there's more hope of reblooming.
Orchids again. Same cross as the preceding plant, but a different clone. No scent on this one either. I'm surprised that it's colored so differently from 'Sweet Sensation,' but I suppose I shouldn't be. I don't think I've ever seen two different clones of the same cross side-by-side before.
I'm less impressed with the color of 'Mellow Yellow,' but it looks really good next to 'Sweet Sensation,' which is the main reason I got it.
I already had a Leuchtenbergia, which I bought about a year and a half ago. It was in a 6-inch (15 cm) pot, and I paid $25 for it. It hasn't done anything very exciting, but it hasn't given me any trouble, either. So I didn't need this plant at all. But: it's rare to see it for sale, it's bigger than the first one, and it was priced about 1/8 of what it's worth. (The guy at the counter said that they'd had it for a long time and it wasn't selling, so they gave it a ridiculously low price to get rid of it.)
I don't have a good place to keep it, of course. But I'm sure something can be worked out.