Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday morning Nina picture

I came into the office at one point on Wednesday and saw this. Not only is Nina very literally hanging by a single toenail here, but she did it for long enough that I was able to take at least 30 pictures of her doing so before I stopped, and she was still hanging when I stopped taking pictures. So I don't know how long this went on, but I figure for at least five minutes.

She didn't seem uncomfortable. The square-cube law suggests that there's no real reason to think she would be, either (which is why I didn't try to "free" her). Though it's very different from our ordinary understanding of how the world works, as creatures that weigh kerjillions of times more than Nina does.

As time goes by, it's getting harder and harder to come up with pictures of Nina doing something new, that I haven't already posted to the blog, but we're clearly not out of odd photo opportunities yet.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Picture: Cyrtomium falcatum frond

We had an ice storm on Wednesday, which I'd been looking forward to, but then I spent the last several hours of Wednesday without the internet, which made it suck anyway. I'm having terrible luck with weather this year. The blizzard was not a particularly good storm, plus it led to the plant room panic, and now the ice storm (which was okay, not the best ice storm ever, but not terrible) knocks out the internet for several hours. It's as if bad weather can be inconvenient even when you don't go anywhere or do anything. How is that fair?

We also lost the telephone (We have a landline. The husband also has a cell, but it frightens and angers me in a caveman-encountering-fire kind of way, so I rarely use it.), which is a little scary -- suppose we'd been relying on just the landline, and needed to call 911? Is this a plot by the cell phone companies to slowly kill off all the people who rely solely on their landlines?

But anyway. Which all means that I spent most of yesterday catching up on the internet, and boy was there a lot to catch up on. Among other things, there's DRAMA! at Garden Web. And then also for some reason I spent a lot of time monitor-shopping (browser-shopping? What's the internet equivalent of window-shopping?) at Glasshouse Works, because the husband made me do my taxes (long story), so now I know I have money coming to me at some point and want to spend it. (There's nothing in particular at GHW that I have to have, but I am very intrigued by Dyckia velascana. As well as twenty or thirty other things. Though I will probably not buy all of them, and may not buy any of them.) And what I should have been doing during all that time was watering plants, because . . . on any given day, the odds are about 4 out of 5 that I should be watering plants at some point during it.

Anyway. All of the above is to explain to you why I don't have anything better to show you, post-wise, than just an unfurling Cyrtomium falcatum frond. Though it's a very nice frond. Probably better full-sized, by the way.

So we've got this today, we'll do a Nina picture tomorrow, and then I'll be back on track. I have a particularly weird Nina picture in mind. It should be a big hit with everybody.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Random plant event: Salvia elegans flowering indoors

I guess the Salvia elegans cuttings are maybe getting confused by the shop lights they're under, because I'm noticing several of them beginning to flower. Or possibly they made up their minds to flower when they were water-rooting on the kitchen windowsill, and since they were already committed to it, they're doing it even though they're under lights.

This probably works better when opened full-size in its own window.

In any case. They're short-day plants, and the lights are on from 6 AM to 10 PM, so something isn't adding up properly. I've seen people saying elsewhere on the internet that they'll start blooming around August, and continue through the winter if they're in a greenhouse, which presumably is what's happening, except -- they should think it's summer now, shouldn't they? I mean, if they're getting sixteen hours of light per day and all.

Wev. In any case, I now have forty-three three-inch plants from cuttings living in my office, plus the parent plant (which lives in the basement, since it's too big for the office), and I'm in the process of making even more. The idea is to sell or trade them in the spring. A lot of times when I go in or out of the office, I wind up running my hands through them just to get a whiff of the smell. I don't use the word "delightful" very often (at least, not unironically), but it's a delightful plant.

Just as soon as I get through the Phalaenopsis profile, I'm starting on one for Salvia elegans. Let's hope it's easier, 'cause Phalaenopsis is turning out to be a huge pain.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

List: Houseplants With Mostly-Chartreuse Foliage

This list differs from some of the previous ones in that most of these plants will be particular cultivated varieties, not species. I don't know exactly when or how it happened, but at some point in fairly recent history, somebody decided that the houseplant market was ready for this color, and then all at once, bam, every plant had a yellow-green twin. I've been wondering for quite a while whether there was some kind of explanation for this sudden proliferation -- some kind of genetic engineering manipulation that could generate a chartreuse version of anything, perhaps? -- but as best as I can tell, this was a change of fashion, not of genes. It appears that nature's been pitching us chartreuse sports for forever, and there's only recently been a market for them.

As with some of the previous lists, this list is true only for certain values of "houseplant," "mostly," and "chartreuse." You may disagree with some of my choices. It also probably goes without saying that we're (for the most part) talking about plants that are yellow-green when healthy, not yellow-green due to disease or nutrient deficiencies. Withhold magnesium long enough, and you can turn almost anything yellow.

Asplenium antiquum, the Japanese bird's-nest fern. (Possibly not technically chartreuse, but at least a very very light yellowish-green. This also goes for Asplenium nidus, the . . . um . . . "regular" bird's-nest fern.)

Dracaena deremensis 'Limelight.' (D. d. 'Lemon-Lime' and 'Goldstar' are sometimes close, but the amount of actual chartreuse varies a lot with them.)

Epipremnum aureum 'Neon.' (pothos)

Pelargonium x hortorum 'Vancouver Centennial.' (geranium)

Philodendron 'Golden Emerald.'

Philodendron hederaceum 'Lemon-Lime.' (heart-leaf philodendron)

Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Quarterback.' (coleus) Other varieties are available which contain some chartreuse in the leaves.

Spathiphyllum cv., maybe 'Golden Glow.' (peace lily)

Vanilla planifolia, variegated. (vanilla orchid)

Vriesea ospinae var. gruberi.

Which of the ten do I like? I'm a huge fan of Philodendron hederaceum 'Lemon-Lime,' in large part because the new leaves come in as a pinkish-orange color, mature into yellow, and then eventually settle down into a light yellow-green with time. Since all three ages are present at any given time, this makes the plant a lot more colorful than similar plants like Epipremnum aureum 'Neon,' and I also find it way easier to grow than Epipremnum, so it's win-win for me.

Dracaena deremensis 'Limelight' is another plant I really like. But I don't think I've ever met a D. deremensis that I didn't like. So that explains that.

The Spathiphyllum-that-might-be-'Golden-Glow' is my third choice in this group. I'm not ordinarily that thrilled with spaths. A well-grown one is, it's true, a thing of beauty, but they're still so common that it's hard to get excited about them. But this particular one, whatever its name might be, is pretty darn different, and it's just as well-behaved as all the others: treat it well and it will look fine.

I like the Vriesea too, but it is so far kind of undecided about me, so it doesn't make the top three list.

Any chartreuse houseplants I've left out?

Not pictured:
Some Asparagus spp. (asparagus ferns) are a very light yellowy green, particularly the new growth, and especially A. densiflorus sprengeri and A. d. myersii.

Dieffenbachia 'Rudolph Roehrs;' possibly some other Dieffenbachia cvv.

I've seen a few Dracaena sanderiana (ribbon dracaena, "lucky bamboo") cultivars around that had the same basic coloration as D. deremensis 'Lemon-Lime,' with a green center and chartreuse margins. I don't have a cultivar name for them, but they were pretty striking, as D. sanderiana go. Asiatica has a solid-chartreuse variety called 'Lucky Gold.'

A few chartreuse cultivars of Ficus maclellandii (long-leaf fig) and F. microcarpa are known, though I've never seen them in person, only on-line at places like Asiatica. Asiatica also sells a Ficus benjamina it calls 'Monique,' which supposedly has chartreuse or yellow leaves with a green center, but I've seen 'Monique' before and it does no such thing, so they may be mistaken about the name. Or I am. One of us is clearly very confused.(UPDATE: I've seen a plant like this where I used to work which was tagged 'Margo;' Googling for it didn't actually turn up anything conclusive, but there was a page about a company called "Margo Nursery Farms," which had just patented a chartreuse variety of Ficus benjamina it was calling 'Golden King.' So it may be that the names got crossed at some point, and the plant I saw was 'Golden King.' The pictures which came up for the name 'Golden King,' though, were different from the plant I saw, though, and looked more like the standard variegated Ficus. But the point is: I have seen a chartreuse Ficus benjamina, in person. I'm just not sure what it's called.)

There's a Hedera canariensis variety, the name of which escapes me, where the new growth is light green to chartreuse. It sounds cooler than it is, though.

Asiatica Nursery sells a Homalomena lindenii 'Lemon Glow,' which resembles H. 'Emerald Gem' except for the color.

There are some chartreuse or chartreuse-and-green cultivars of Nephrolepis exaltata (boston fern), like 'Rita's Gold' and 'Tiger Fern.'

Pandanus veitchii (Veitch's screw pine) probably shouldn't be chartreuse, but sometimes is anyway, perhaps due to nutrient deficiency. The reason I'm including it anyway is because the plant doesn't otherwise appear to suffer when this is happening, I haven't definitively proven to myself that fertilizer fixes the problem, and there is also a cultivar with chartreuse edges that stay chartreuse even if the rest of the leaf comes in green. So it's borderline, but close enough.

Pedilanthus tithymaloides (devil's backbone) is ordinarily solid green, but the variety I have is mostly yellowish, with a little flame of green in the leaf centers.

A 'Golden Xanadu' Philodendron exists, though I've never seen it in person. Asiatica has one called 'Xanadu Gold,' which is more or less what I imagine 'Golden Xanadu' to be.

Asiatica has a Philodendron 'Hammerhead Gold,' which looks like a chartreuse P. bipennifolium.

Also from Asiatica: Philodendron 'Jungle Fever,' 'Malay Gold,' 'Ring of Fire,' and P. bipinnatifidum 'Gold Satin.'

Philodendron 'Moonlight.'

Asiatica also has a few chartreuse or chartreuse-and-green Rhapis excelsa varieties. They are all appallingly expensive, as both Rhapis and Asiatica tend to be.

There are a few Soleirolia soleirolii cultivars which are chartreuse; we had trouble keeping them going at work, though.

I know of one Syngonium podophyllum cultivar that's about half chartreuse and half green, with the basic pattern of 'White Butterfly,' though I'm not sure what it's named.

Xanthosoma 'Lime Zinger' is also only a partial houseplant, but it's so vividly chartreuse that I'm willing to let that slide. And you probably could grow it indoors, if you really wanted to.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Random plant event: Spathiphyllum 'Golden Glow?' flower

After the previous post where I noticed that my chartreuse peace lily was sprouting, I decided to fertilize it, as a reward for, you know, doing something. So then it almost immediately decided to reward me for rewarding it by growing flowers, three or four of them. Which means that I now have to, somehow, reward it for rewarding me for rewarding it. I don't see this ending well.

I don't know for sure what variety this is. I've been calling it 'Golden Glow,' which is the chartreuse Spathiphyllum that Asiatica sells, because that's the only chartreuse variety I know the name of, but it wasn't tagged when I bought it, and there's a good chance that it's probably not actually 'Golden Glow.'

Whatever it is, I've only ever seen them one place (Frontier, in Cedar Rapids), and even Frontier only had them on one occasion. A lot of people don't like the chartreuse plants (it takes a while to get used to the idea that this is the normal foliage color, and not chlorosis), which might explain why they aren't more commonly available. It's been a perfectly well-behaved plant, though (we've had problems, but they've all been on my end, mostly me letting it dry out too much), and I've had it for one month shy of three years. This is, I think, the first reblooming in that three years, but if it's as simple as fertilizing -- which appears to be the case -- then I think we'll be seeing more of these flowers in the future.

Chartreuse week continues at PATSP tomorrow, with a list of chartreuse/yellow/yellow-green foliage plants.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pretty picture: Crossandra infundibuliformis

Old picture, from work. We didn't get these in very often, and when we did, we tended not to get very many. I'm not sure why (it wasn't my decision: the flower shop were the ones bringing these in); they tended to sell more or less right away, so I never got to know the plant very well.

The foliage is nice (somewhat like Coffea: dark green and shiny). According to one of my houseplant books, they'll bloom more or less continuously in good conditions, so maybe it doesn't even matter if the foliage is nice or not. (Though the same book makes them sound like kind of a pain to keep flowering, too. Foliage is never entirely beside the point.) The color in the above photo is a little screwy: the flowers were more of a deep orange, rather than being a yellowish orange like they appear above. Apparently more of a pink/salmon/red color is more typical, from what I see around Google.

I assume there must be something really wrong with this plant, since I don't see it for sale very often. Since I don't have a lot of direct experience with it, though, I don't have any good theories about what its fatal flaw might be. Is it boring? Buggy? Impossible to please? Does it become weak when exposed to kryptonite? Anybody who has a theory is invited to share their experiences in comments.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Random plant event: Hoya lacunosa flowers

It amuses me to see people on Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day1 apologizing for not having anything blooming in December and January and pretending this is inevitable. ("Nothing blooms in the winter! What am I supposed to do?") It's even funnier when they get creative with the definition of "flower" and try to pass off photos of sundresses, wallpaper, or used Kleenexes as flower substitutes.2

I suppose the people who do this probably don't mean to be insulting,3 but I am a little bit insulted, because comments like that basically tell me that not only are these people not growing anything inside, but growing stuff inside isn't even part of their reality, not even an option. Which means, more or less, that I am not part of their reality either.

Flowerlessness is far from an inevitable winter condition. As PATSP readers have seen over and over and over and over and over and over again this winter, flowerlessness is completely evitable.4 Granted, not all of said flowers are particularly pretty. But they are still flowers. And if pretty is what you're looking for, there are any number of plants out there which will give you gorgeous indoor winter flowers if you are so inclined. Paphiopedilum, Phalaenopsis, Aeschynanthus, Schlumbergera, Eucharis, Cyclamen -- my gods, there are retailers all over the place who would love you forever if you were to walk in and buy a couple Cyclamen this time of year, when nobody buys anything -- whatever. Winter is not an excuse. It never was. Now go buy an African violet before February 15 or I will come to your blog and kick your ass.

I've never been able to get it together to post for GBBD, since by the time I realize the 15th is coming up, I either have a post scheduled for it already, or it's the 14th and I'm scrambling to find something quick and easy to post. Running around taking pictures of all the flowering stuff would be neither quick nor easy. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't have flower pictures to show, if I ever were to get organized enough to participate.

The above is a photo of the Hoya lacunosa flowers whose buds were heralded on New Year's Eve. There is a smell, too, which is floral-perfumey. The husband and I sat around trying to come up with a good way to describe the smell, and batted around various comparisons ("Jasmine?" "Hyacinth?" "Murraya?") until finally he said, "It smells like the inside of a florist's refrigerator." Which was dead-on. Working backwards from there to figure out what florists' coolers smell like, that means it smells mostly like roses, or roses cut with some lily or hyacinth.

There are seventeen plants blooming in the house right now, and this is the only fragrant one: besides it, we've got five different Anthuriums, two different Nematanthus cvv., two of the Spathiphyllum cvv., and then one each of Saintpaulia, Hatiora salicornioides, Tradescantia zebrina, Euphorbia drupifera, Cyanotis kewensis, Plectranthus oertendahlii, and Abutilon 'Bella Pink.' Most of which have had their own posts previously. (The Spathiphyllum-flower post will be coming soonish. I think.)

So there you go, outdoor gardener people. Seventeen flowers in January. Now join me, or I will be forced to scold you even more sternly. And none of us want that.


1 (Celebrated every month on the 15th, GBBD is when garden bloggers from all over post pictures of whatever is blooming in their gardens. It was popularized by Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who also collects links from participating bloggers to their respective blogs: the GBBD list for January is here.)
2 Exaggeration for comic effect: I have not seen anybody use any of those three specific examples I used. Though I have seen somebody come terrifyingly close to the wallpaper one.
3 And just for the record, Carol herself does not engage in any of these shenanigans herself, and had very nice pictures of Hippeastrum and Ludisia discolor to display for the most recent GBBD. So we are not mad at Carol. Which is good, because Carol is a bigshot garden blogger who could, if angered, crush PATSP like a mealybug.
4 The word "evitable" is courtesy of Mutant Enemy Productions, and was first used in the show "Angel," Season 3, Episode 7 ("Offspring"), in the following manner:
Fred: Can I say something about destiny? Screw destiny. If this evil thing comes, we’ll fight it, and we’ll keep fighting it till we whoop it. Because destiny is just another word for inevitable. And nothing is inevitable as long as you stand up, look it in the eye and say, “You’re evitable.” [beat] Well, you catch my drift.