Monday, December 6, 2010

More New Plants

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:

Peperomia verschaffeltii. Earl May, Iowa City, $9.

(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.

Adiantum capillus-veneris. Peck's, Cedar Rapids, $6.

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.)

Radermachera sinica. Peck's, Cedar Rapids, $5.

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.)

Saintpaulia 'Shimmer Shake.' Frontier, Cedar Rapids, $4.

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.

Schlumbergera NOID. Frontier, Cedar Rapids, $3.50.

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.

Oncidium Tsiku Marguerite NN #1. Frontier, Cedar Rapids, $10.

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, 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?

Potinara Eye Candy 'Sweet Sensation.' Frontier, Cedar Rapids, $10.

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.

Potinara Eye Candy 'Mellow Yellow.' Frontier, Cedar Rapids, $10.

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.

Leuchtenbergia principis. Frontier, Cedar Rapids, $5!!!!

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.


Anonymous said...

If the tank might be a loss anyway I would try to clean it with CLR which can be found in most stores. It works wonders on the gunk left from water stains. However, I am not sure how it will react if you get in on the plastic edges. I dont think it would hurt the silicone caulking. Cheaper than a new tank if it works.

shiver from MN said...

Have mercy, do NOT put the Radermachera in Nina's house. You are quite right that it'll take over the place....and it'll do so in about two weeks. These plants are so fast-growing they try to pop the roof off MY house in 6 months. You must so aggressively prune (leaf and root) this plant to keep it in-bounds that they often go downhill from the stress of it. I think Radermachera is beautiful, but won't buy them anymore due to my inability to keep up with watering and pruning.

Love all your new plants. Hugs!

Daniel said...

very interesting. I really enjoy these new plant posts. I also enjoyed that letter to that florist, thats pretty common here.

I have Adiantum capillus-veneris and I grow it my bedroom for about a year now in 20% humidity, its stil has it old fronds, and is maiking spores, and making new fronds.

I've noticed that many plants can adapt quite well to tolerable conditions, you just have to try!

mr_subjunctive said...


We've done CLR already, alas. Also acetone, "Goo Gone," water, razor blades, and rubbing alcohol. The razor blades worked the best, but it took an enormous amount of work to get a tiny amount of stuff off of a tiny patch of glass, and in some places -- including the worst two areas -- nothing comes off at all. Eric suggested in Saturday's comments that the problem may be cloudiness caused by ion exchange; I'm not sure I think that's the problem (the aquarium looks fairly new, and the cloudiness is in odd shapes: I'd expect cloudy glass from ion exchange to be more uniform, and on an older aquarium), but so far it's certainly acting like that's the problem. Or, more accurately, like it's one of the problems, because there seem to be multiple causes of discoloration.

I forgot to try vinegar yesterday, but I will when I get a chance. Aralia suggested lemon juice on Saturday, which I haven't tried because we don't have any, but if the vinegar doesn't get me anywhere then I'll look into it.

shiver from MN:

Thanks for confirming. I don't think I've ever actually seen one grow all that fast (for whatever reason, the ones at work never seemed to get too crazy), but I was pretty sure it was possible.


Well, I may not have a choice, if the terrarium thing really doesn't work out. Good to know it's not necessarily a total loss.

shiver from MN said...

I've heard the growers put a growth inhibitor on Radermachera so they stay nice and small for about 3 months or so.....then the inhibitor wears off and they EXPLODE. I'm not totally sure if that story is true or not, but it might explain why you didn't see the plants grow fast where you worked. I've had about 6 of them in the past and each one had totally uncontrollable growth. If growers ever do find a way to permanently stunt the tree I'd love to try one again, so I keep my ears open for that news.

Sorry to hear Nina's new house may not be working out due to cloudiness....I bet she's bummed. Hugs!

NotSoAngryRedHead said...

I've had to deal with a lot of really tough calcification and salt deposits in toilets, coffee pots, tanks, etc. For the REALLY tough ones, I douse a paper towel in CLR or 9% vinegar, press the towel against the deposit, and leave it there for half an hour without letting it dry out. I wipe away and allow to dry, and then I repeat as necessary. It might take a few goes, but I can pull the deposits in 98% of the cases. There's only one toilet that I haven't been successful with, but I didn't really go after it as much as it needed. Magic erasers can also pull a good amount of deposits and stains, but you might risk etching the glass further. You might try horticultural grade vinegar (20%) instead of the 9% you can find in some grocery stores. Vinegar works better than CLR from my experience.

You can buy very, very large (and very, very tall) glass vases at Target for a reasonable price. I have a few, and they work well for larger plants that need high humidity. They also make plants look more precious, so that even mundane plants look amazing. Ah, the wonderful power of glass.

I love the peperomia. I was very excited when I finally found a watermelon peperomia. It was pretty expensive, but meh, I was having too difficult a time sourcing one that I snatched it up and attributed part of the price to the plant's larger size.

mr_subjunctive said...

shiver from MN:

No, that's true. From the growers' guide: "The biggest mistake most growers make is to let China dolls stretch, and then try to control the stretch with B-nine. The trick is to spray with B-nine before they stretch and to control the growth as it develops. For best quality it is very important to spray B-nine (daminozide) at 2,500 to 5,000 ppm. Generally, two applications are required, sometimes more in the summer."


I'll try that with the vinegar. Today, if I get a chance, but so far today everything is taking about five times longer than it ought to, so maybe it'll be tomorrow instead.

Pat said...

It could be a biofilm (or icky gunk in English English) soaking it then using a percarbonate-based bleach might help. Don't know what they are called over there but they are called things like Vanish Oxi Action and Bio D Nappy Fresh (Nappy = Diaper).

Good buys but the Leuchtenbergia is a real steal. Nice one!

Nancy in Sun Lakes AZ said...

The Leuchtenbergia is a wonderful buy but the soil looks awfully wet and not containing enough perlite or pumice to loosen it.

danger garden said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who buys a plant he/she already has and doesn't need but can't pass up because they know it's rare and under priced. Just did it again this weekend.

allandrewsplants said...

Nice choices. I've already killed that same Adiantum twice (and I'm considering getting one again). We have a large one planted in the ground by a pond in our greenhouse at work and it does very well - I'm guessing the roots have grown into the water so it never gets a chance to dry out.

The potinaras are both nice but 'Mellow Yellow' is my favourite of the two. Can you see any new buds in the sheath on 'Sweet Sensation'?

For re-potting the Oncidium the safest time is when the new growth are just starting to put out new roots.

Sentient Meat said...

Mr S,

Great find on that Leuchtenbergia, and it looks like a healthy, mature specimen. As far as it 'doing' something, you're right--they do mostly sit there. Mine DOES send up very nice greenish-yellow flowers (of the standard cactus form) when the season is warm and sunny.

And I love your thinking on buying this bigger one for $5. I often find myself in a similar situation, buying a duplicate of a plant I already own and love because it's a MUCH lower price. Psychologically, it feels like I'm lowering my average cost for that plant. I think my inner monologue goes something like this.

"Well... yes... I did once pay $25 for a medium Leuchtenbergia, but later (because I was so smart and resourceful) I bought a large one for $5. So on average, I bought 2 medium-large ones for $15 each."

The other situation where I'm a sucker for a purchase is to replace a plant that has died.

Nature Assassin said...

Those potinaras are awesome. Totally gorgeous.

Paul said...

Never had any luck with Adiantums -- despite trying on several occasions. They get too big too fast in a terr and out of a terr keel over in no time. I suspect my low humidity is the main culprit.

Provided your lighting in Nina's terr is good enough, the AV will do REALLY well in there ... very possibly too well. I had a standard NOID I had gotten off Deathrow at Lowes for 50 cents. Tried it in my 55 gal terr. It GREW and bloomed and GREW and bloomed ..... I finally had to pull it out of the terr and sent it off to a friend in Florida. The rosette had reached a diameter of about a foot (30cm) and was muscling out the other plants.

Many members of the cattleya alliance are scentless. Hopefully the Pots are both in appropriate media. The price on them was a steal. It is rare to find them so cheaply, IME. Give them a bright/sunny windowsill if you can.

I would wait on repotting the Onc -- too easy to break the flower spikes.