Tuesday, December 21, 2010

LOLCactaceae / Hiatus Announcement

Back row, L-R: Schlumbergera x buckleyi, Pachycereus marginatus, Echinocactus grusonii, Pilosocereus pachycladus, Astrophytum ornatum, Myrtillocactus geometrizans, Stenocereus pruinosus.
Middle row: Epiphyllum oxypetallum, Stenocereus thurberi, Isolatocereus dumortieri.
Front row: Cereus peruvianus, Rhipsalis teres var. heteroclada (?), Schlumbergera x 'Caribbean Dancer,' Browningia hertlingiana (?), Leuchtenbergia principis.

Not present: Selenicereus chrysocardium, Selenicereus anthonyanus, Hatiora salicornioides, Mammillaria spinosissima, Parodia microsperma, Hylocereus sp., Pseudorhipsalis ramulosa, Rhipsalis ewaldiana

I was hoping to make this, like, a regular thing, after doing the first one back in 2008 (when it was the Aroid Family with bows, rather than the Cactus Family with Santa hats), but for reasons I no longer recall, it didn't work out last year, so the tradition kind of stopped before it got started.

But a few weeks ago, I was thinking of Santa hats for some reason, and it occurred to me that I could make my own tiny, plant-sized ones from construction paper and cotton balls. One thing led to another, and a couple hours later, I was taking the above picture. I have no idea what I'll do next year. (Maybe I could knit a bunch of little Christmas sweaters?)

This also begins the winter hiatus. As in 2008, I wish my readers a (in some cases retroactive) happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Gurnenthar's Ascendance, Festivus, Boxing Day Eve, Cephalopodmas, Monkey, mundane but not-unpleasant day of no particular significance, or combination of the above, in accordance with your religious beliefs and preferences or lack thereof.

PATSP will return on 26 December.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Random plant event: Lenophyllum texanum flowering

If I were going to write a plant profile on Lenophyllum texanum, I think I'd go with "Stalker" for the person, because it's a weird creepy plant that's always winding up in other plants' pots but has few redeeming qualities of its own. It's like, if plants could talk, this plant would always be saying JUST GO OUT WITH ME THIS ONE TIME AND I'LL LEAVE YOU ALONE FOREVER I PROMISE.

I talked about it in the Bryophyllum daigremontianum profile without knowing that I was talking about a different plant: both B. daigremontianum and L. texanum reproduce by dropping bits of themselves off of a parent plant: for Bryophyllum, the bits are plantlets, and for Lenophyllum, they're leaves. In either case, at work, they tended to land in the same pots as cacti, where they grew more or less unperturbed, because nobody wanted to risk getting stuck by the cacti in the process of removing the weeds.

Much like this, actually.

But I'm not going to write a profile about Lenophyllum texanum, because I haven't actually tried to grow it on purpose. Maybe it actually is a nice guy, deep down, and we'd be very happy together, but I'm not willing to risk finding it popping up in all the other plants' pots around the house for the next seven or eight years. That position has already been filled, by Sedum morganianum1 and S. x rubrotinctum.2


It turns out that L. texanum really does have at least one redeeming quality, if you leave it to its own devices for long enough, which is: there are flowers.

They're not huge or gorgeous or pleasantly-scented or anything, and I don't know how often they bloom (these pictures were taken at the ex-job in mid-November), or for how long, but now I'm feeling a little bit bad that I didn't let a Lenophyllum go wild just once at the ex-job, to see what it would do. And who knows what other really cool things I never got to see because I was all busy with the "working" and the "talking to customers" and "earning a paycheck" and everything.

But, you know. I was young and stupid then.

I still don't want to grow L. texanum myself -- you'll notice that even when it's getting enough light to flower, it's still kind of gangly and awkward, and the leaf-droppage problem would be an issue regardless -- but hey! It has redeeming qualities! Party on, Lenophyllum texanum!


1 Which I encourage, because S. morganianum is frequently cooler than the plants whose pots it is hijacking.
2 Which is less welcome, but better now that I know it has to be under extreme -- like, MOUNTAIN-DEW! extreme -- artificial light if I want it to look good and do well. We may yet be able to reach an agreement.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pretty picture: Strelitzia reginae flower

I think I've probably seen more artificial Strelitzia reginae flowers than real ones, in my life. At least if we're talking about real flowers that are still attached to the plant. (They're not extremely common cut flowers in Iowa, but one sees them occasionally -- the flower shop in the garden center where I used to work had them fairly often.) In the garden center where I worked, on the few occasions when we got Strelitzia reginaes in, the suppliers had usually (always?) stuck a fake flower into the pot. They were surprisingly good fakes, too: I was fooled on two different occasions that I remember.

I wasn't tempted to buy this particular plant (it had scale, alas, plus I have so many BOPs -- mostly the white-flowering S. nicolai -- already that it actually seems excessive to me1), but the flower was still noteworthy. How long before I get a flower of my own, on the BOPs here in the house? Years, probably. Maybe never. It's not really something that happens indoors and in containers, not often. Do I care? Not especially. They're still cool houseplants.


1 Technically, I only have five: three S. nicolai, one S. reginae, and one that I haven't decided what it is yet but really really hope is S. reginae because nobody needs four S. nicolais.