Monday, October 24, 2011

New Plants

The lead-ban post continues to kick my ass behind the scenes. I know way more about lead, environmental science, hunting, fishing, and wildlife management than I did two weeks ago, but the learning curve has been steep, and I'm still not quite there yet. I'm hopeful that I will be able to post it tomorrow, though.

In the meantime, please enjoy these plants, which I've gotten since the last New Plants post:

Aglaonema 'Sapphire Suzanne.' Ace Hardware. $18.

I'd originally dismissed 'Sapphire Suzanne' as being the plainest of the "Jazzed Gem" series of Aglaonemas, but I ran into one that was unusually cheap (The same plant would have been $32 at the ex-job, and this is the only other place I've ever seen one.), and decided it was still a nice plant, and worth buying. I've had it about four weeks, and it's behaved itself so far.

Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor.' (Was tagged 'QuadrAcolor,' but Google calls that a misspelling.) Ace Hardware. $4.50.

I've seen this cultivar for sale a few times, but always more expensive and usually larger specimens. I had pretty much given up on getting one (and anyway I have two of the species to deal with, which are getting ever-larger and pointier, so I hardly needed another), but I couldn't pass up $4.50, especially since I know from the experience with the other specimens that it's likely to do well for me indoors.

Excoecaria cochinchinensis. Ace Hardware. $5.

This plant is relatively new to the area -- I don't think I'd seen them for sale prior to last spring -- and I initially had zero interest in it on the grounds that it was being sold as a "Chinese croton." I don't need any kind of croton, no matter what language it speaks, was my thinking, and it really did look a lot like one, particularly the cultivar Codiaeum variegatum 'Andrew,' which has the same bumpy leaves and marginal variegation but lacks the red underside.

But then a reader who'd just bought an Excoecaria e-mailed me to ask if I knew anything about them, and in the course of looking that up, I discovered that it was in fact not a croton. (Also not a Ficus, even though the tag on the e-mailer's plant said it was an "Exciting new Ficus Variety!") So I was like, well, maaaaaaybe, if I find one really cheap somewhere. And then I ran into the page for it, where one commenter (of only two) said that s/he'd never seen any insect or mite activity on his/r plant.

I also found information that a different Excoecaria species is known as "blind-your-eye," which sounded a bit ominous, but I have so many Euphorbias already that poisonous sap is almost as much motivation to buy the plant as to not. (Excoecaria, like Euphorbias and Codiaeum, is in the Euphorbia family.)

So when I saw the above plant, tagged $5.99 but during a 20% off sale, I thought, sure, what the hell, and I bought it. The next day, when I went to take the above photo, I noticed what looked like spider mites on the underside of some of the leaves and felt a chill go through me. This may not mean anything: spider mites will sometimes live opportunistically on plants they don't especially like if they can't find anything better, and it's not like it was the cleanest plant area in the world. Maybe the mites wandered over from something else and were all, "What a dump! But we can't afford to move, so. . . ." Or perhaps I'm being uncharacteristically hopeful.

I've since realized that the commenter hails from Garland TX and may well keep the plant outdoors for most of the year, in which case his/r spider mite experiences are not really relevant to my situation at all and I might have been better served going with my initial "It's a croton? Then I don't want it" impulse. I'll have to keep you posted.

Or maybe you'll have to keep me posted: anybody else have any experience with this plant, for good or ill?


orchideya said...

Nice haul. Excoecaria looks cool, I never saw it sold here. I am sure it will behave for you. WRT to spider mites - I hope you quarantine new plants before introducing them to your "permanent residents".
I got some totally new for me plants too - one phrag, one masdie and one dracula, just to see if I can grow them...
Don't stress yourself with the lead post, we will gladly take as many "pretty picture" posts as you have :)

yoghill said...

I bought this aglaonema two months ago, but I didn't know his little name :-) Now I know he's called 'Sapphire Suzanne', thank you !

Sentient Meat said...

For a fancier of "Dead Man's Tree" (Synadenium spp), I'd say "Blind-Your-Eye" shouldn't be too bad. :-)

mr_subjunctive said...


I did quarantine new plants at one point; there's a table in the plant room that was the quarantine area, and plants were supposed to sit there until I could come up with a better permanent spot for them. Unfortunately, I couldn't find places fast enough, so now the "temporary" spot is a "permanent" spot and I have no quarantine area.


Glad I could help. (Very similar plants are available under other names: see Aglaonema 'Crete,' 'Lipstick,' 'Chompoo Siam,' 'Siam Aurora,' and 'Daimond Gem .' (sp?) At least some of these are likely to be the same variety being sold under a different name; I'm inclined to think that 'Crete' is the original but there's really no way to find out.

Sentient Meat:

True. And as far as it goes, "blind-your-eye" isn't that scary of a name. If it were "blind-your-eyeS," then I'd be frightened, but if it's only going to do one, that's not worth getting worked up about.

Zach said...

Is this your first colorful (as in pink/red) Aglaonema? I have heard they are quite a bit more difficult than the species and green hybrids. Let me know what you think!

mr_subjunctive said...


It's not my first. I've had 'Emerald Holiday' for a couple months now, 'Sparkling Sarah' for almost a year, and one I thought was 'Red Gold' but was probably actually 'King of Siam' for about three and a half years.

I've never noticed them being any more difficult than the older, non-red varieties. The temps here are pretty much always at or above 70F, humidity varies from room to room but is probably higher than most people have in most houses, they've been fine with bright indirect or fluorescent light, and I don't water them any differently than any of the other ags.

Pat said...

Glad to hear you aren't swinging the lead.

I have always wanted something cochinchinensis, but I don't think this is quite the one. I don't know whether it is similar to the closely-related manchineel but I would be even more careful with that one.

mr_subjunctive said...


"Glad to hear you aren't swinging the lead?"

Paul said...

The Ag has some nice red on its lower leaves. I assume this is just coloration that shows up strongly on younger leaves?

mr_subjunctive said...


Not really; one of the newest leaves has more red than green visible on the 1/2 to 1/3 of the leaf closest to the petiole. I don't know whether that's environmentally controlled, or whether the plant is just that variable. So far, only 'Sparkling Sarah' has shown any real difference between old leaves (more evenly mixed between red/yellow/green) and new leaves (no yellow; just red/green), and the split happens at right about the point where I bought the plant, too, so I can't say for sure that that isn't environmental as well.

phantom_tiger said...

Re: Quarantine.

I am the one standing in the store looking underneath all the leaves, with the expression of a customs officer looking for contraband. I often change the surface layer of soil just in case.

If it is a bromeliad, I learnt repotting might be necessary, after the Millipede Horror of 2011. Also the first ever time I've ever seen earthworms in potted plants meant for indoors. Oh, ick.

On the bright side, all the leftover succulents/cacti were half price this week at the supermarket.

Pat said...

"Swinging the lead" is a phrase meaning "being lazy". Not used in the US, then?

mr_subjunctive said...


Not that I've heard, anyway.