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:
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.
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.
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 davesgarden.com 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 davesgarden.com 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?