Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

The intent here was to get a picture of her running, but obviously that didn't exactly happen. I like Abstract Sheba, though, so that's what's up this week. Like it or don't.

This week's been kind of rough on me; I couldn't get to sleep on Monday night, so I didn't go to sleep at all, just stayed up all day Tuesday. This was great, in that I got a lot of urgently-needed picture sorting done, but bad, in that I spent all day Wednesday, all day Thursday, and the latter half of Friday with a headache. Not really worth it. And then I spent several hours taking more pictures, during those three days, until my camera overheated (it's since recovered, but it really did overheat -- sitting in the morning sun on a hot day on black fabric will do that to a dark-colored camera: now you know), so I now have more photos to sort through than I had when I started the week. Also? I didn't even take all the pictures I was hoping to get, and now a heat wave is going to settle in for a week and a half and keep me from finishing the job.

Also, for those of you who have been following the story of the guy who fell off, and then got hit by, a telephone pole near us -- the husband went to the man's place of business (a cable company) on Thursday and asked them if they knew how he was doing. They only knew that he was still alive, and still in intensive care, where he's apparently been since this all happened. (We've also heard, from another source I don't recall, that he's in a coma, which is consistent with intensive care but also less reliably sourced.) The husband and I are still pulling for the guy, but I'm starting to get worried again.

Friday, July 15, 2011

By request: Crassula ovata

The more I think about the Crassula ovata problem I mentioned on Wednesday, the more I'm thinking that even if it's possible to save the plant, I don't necessarily want to. It's not as though I don't have plenty of its offspring, and it's never been exceptionally beautiful or anything. I mean, I still want to know what's going on, so I can do something if it begins to happen again, but saving this particular plant is maybe not a high priority. Just so we're all clear.

(Though I suppose it may be necessary to save this plant, or at least try to, in order to know how to save plants with this problem.)

Anyway. Pat had asked for a photo of the whole plant, so here's a photo of the whole plant:

This may or may not tell you what you need to know. For one thing, I cut off several branches when I took the close-up pictures, because I figured it was better to cut off the worst-afflicted branches than to keep them on, so the effective size of the stems and leaves is bigger than this. But then there's the issue of the root ball being much smaller than it should be for the plant's (previous) size, because whatever happened to it did away with a lot of the roots.

I also wanted to try to clarify something about the watering: ordinarily I determine whether to water a plant by feeling its soil with a finger, and if it's an ambiguous situation then I lift the pot to try to determine how wet it is by weight. If it's still questionable, then I usually go ahead and water, because the cycle is such that I won't come around to give the plant another shot at water for two weeks. With the plant in question, most of this determination was thwarted: the original pot was plastic, and large enough that I knew the soil surface could be dry while the interior of the root ball could be wet, so I tended to try to err on the dry side. I also had a lot of aquatic soil mixed into the potting mix, to promote drainage, which means that the plant tended to be heavier than it would be with a more standard mix, so when I tried to gauge moisture by weight, I probably tended to think it was wetter than was actually the case. (Also soil mixes with a lot of aquatic soil tend to be more difficult to stick a finger into, so I might not have been able to judge the surface moisture very well either.) And if it was ever questionable, I tended not to water, on the grounds that waiting an extra couple weeks wouldn't hurt it that much. So I think I thought it was staying wet for a long time, but it may not have been.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pretty picture: Vanda Pakchong Blue

One of my favorite photos from last year was of this same variety of Vanda. Indeed, since both photos were taken at the Quad Cities Orchid Show on consecutive years, there's a good chance it was even the same individual plant.

I don't know that either of these photos are better than the one from 2010 -- part of the pleasure of the 2010 photo was the surprise at how well it had turned out -- but they're pleasant enough. It's hard to go too wrong when you're working with a subject like this.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Question for the Hive Mind: Crassula ovata

I am beginning to think that maybe the entire Crassula genus is just not for me. First there was all that business with C. rupestris and C. muscosa, and my C. arborescens is acting weird lately (dropping leaves, not growing), and now the parent C. ovata from which all my other C. ovatas come is being strange.

There are two things going on, one I think I understand and one I don't. The one I think I understand is this:

To me, this looks like a fairly open-and-shut case of fungus or mildew (also a fungus) or whatever. I don't really understand how it happened -- the plant in question is in a spot with better air circulation than the cuttings I've taken of it, and similar temperatures and humidity, but the cuttings are fine. I'm not happy about it, at all, but I feel like I understand it.

The one I don't understand is this silvery/cracked thing, which is happening on the same plant:

We used to get questions about this at the garden center every once in a while, and I never knew what to say. The plants we were selling did it occasionally, but it never affected the whole plant at once, it happened at about the same rate year-round, and it went away on its own, so I never developed much of a theory about what was going on.

Since my plant is doing it now, it's occurred to me that maybe I could ask y'all for theories about what's going on. If it helps, the plant was bone-dry when both of these things happened. (I pulled it out to check the roots. Not only was the soil completely dry, but there weren't nearly as many roots in it when I pulled it out as I know there had been when I first put it in that pot.) It had been in a west window, where it got some direct sun in the afternoon. It was watered about every four to six weeks, and was in a plastic pot. (Which is why it was only watered every four to six weeks -- it seemed to stay wet forever.)

I'm sure someone out there must have an answer about what this is. And if you could work in a cure that would also take care of fungus at the same time, that would be awesome. For the moment, I've put it outside (under a chair -- we don't have suitable shady spots), on the theory that the extra light will either vaporize the fungus or kill the plant outright, which solves at least some of my problems either way.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

List: Houseplants Which Have Pink Flowers

"Pink" is a tougher color to define than most, because it shades into a lot of other colors. Differentiating between "pink" and "lavender," "coral," or "red" can be tough sometimes. And then there are the problems with whether "fuchsia" is pink or purple or its own color entirely, and so on. You get the picture. Didn't have these sorts of problems with the yellow-flowers list or the orange-flowers list.1

As with previous lists like this, I'm looking at the plants from an interior-decorating perspective, not botany. So yes, I know that bracts aren't flowers, but I'm assuming that most people who find this page by Google search or whatever are looking for stuff that works visually, not scientifically.

Adenium obesum cvv. (only some varieties; most fall somewhere on the white-pink-red continuum, though)

Aechmea fasciata (the pink parts are the bracts; the actual flowers are blue-violet)

Cyclamen persicum cvv. (only some cvv.; white, red, lavender, striped, and two-tone flowers are also available)

Dracaena fragrans (seems to vary with culture; I've seen some photos that looked pink and others that looked white or cream-colored)

Euphorbia milii cvv. (The true flowers are yellow-green; the colored parts are bracts. Bracts may be white, yellow, red, or two-toned, though red and pink seem to be the most common)

Episcia cvv. (only some; red seems to be most common, but orange, coral, and yellow are also available)

Gymnocalycium baldianum and other spp. (most are white or very pale pink, though baldianum seems to be the exception)

Mandevilla cvv. (some; most are somewhere along the white-pink-red spectrum, with red being most common as far as I've seen)

Rhododendron cvv. (only some cvv.; most are in the neighborhood of white-pink-red, but lavender also happens. Plants sold for outdoor planting cover a much broader color range than those sold as tabletop plants, in my experience.)

Tradescantia sillamontana. (Always pink as far as I know.)

For recommends and anti-recommends, I've had positive experiences with five of the above (Aechmea, Cyclamen, Dracaena, Euphorbia, Episcia), bad personal experiences with two (Adenium, Tradescantia), bad professional experiences with two (Mandevilla, Rhododendron), and not much experience at all with one (Gymnocalycium).

Assuming that getting flowers out of the plant is important, my top recommendation would be Euphorbia milii: it does require a lot of light and regular fertilizer, but it's otherwise easy to bring into bloom, and a durable, forgiving plant.

Second recommendation would be Episcias. Since they don't all have pink flowers, it's important to be sure you know what you're getting, but once you have one, it should be fairly easy to keep going. (One does have to restart them regularly, but they produce plantlets on runners all the time, so restarting is mainly a matter of cutting off a plantlet and sticking it in a pot.)

Both the Aechmea and Dracaena are wonderful plants, but they don't bloom often, so I'll have to go with Tradescantia sillamontana as the third recommend, even though I've had bad luck with it personally. Again, it needs bright light to flower, and the individual flowers don't last long, but they're normally rugged plants (my experience notwithstanding), and in bright enough light the foliage will also turn pinkish.

For the anti-recommend, I'll go with Rhododendron. No doubt there's someone somewhere who keeps them going indoors for long periods, but the plants that are usually available for sale have been pushed hard to bloom, and consequently provide a very intense but brief show. At work, we mostly had trouble keeping them cool and wet enough. They'll defoliate dramatically if they get too dry, which is really easy to do in a container, and new growth is slow to come back on. They're pretty, but don't get attached.

Not pictured:
(If you know of other plants that would belong in this list, or believe that one of the ones I've included is here by mistake, leave me a comment.)
  • Abutilon cvv. (some)
  • Acalypha reptans (more of a pinkish-red than a true pink)
  • Aeschynanthus 'Thai Pink'
  • Aloinopsis sp. (some spp.? Very light pink or white)
  • Anacampseros rufescens (pinkish-purple)
  • Anthurium cvv. (some)
  • Ardisia elliptica (flowers infrequent indoors, and very pale pink)
  • Argyroderma spp. (some spp.; pinkish-purple)
  • Begonia cvv. (many, esp. cane-types and rhizomatous types, though not all bloom pink, and some are reluctant to bloom at all)
  • Bougainvillea cvv. (some; pinkish-purple)
  • Brugmansia cvv. (some)
  • Bryophyllum tubiflorum (coral-pk? I haven't seen the flowers in person, and Google image search was only somewhat helpful)
  • Calliandra emarginata (not sure it really counts as a houseplant, though)
  • orchids in the Cattleya alliance (some; they also have a tendency toward pinkish-purple, rather than true pink)
  • Ceropegia woodii (both pink and purple)
  • Chirita cvv./spp. including C. linearis (most Chiritas tend to be blue or purple, though)
  • Cleistocactus spp. (some? pinkish-orange)
  • Clerodendrum x speciosum. (the actual flowers are red, but the bracts are pinkish-red)
  • Codiaeum variegatum (rarely: usually flowers are white, but sometimes they're light pink. The flowers aren't particularly ornamental either way.)
  • Cordyline fruticosa (also not hugely ornamental, but the flowers are pink)
  • Crassula alpestris (very light pink)
  • Crassula 'Buddha's Temple'
  • Crassula coccinea
  • Crassula ovata (barely; mostly white, with only a hint of pink)
  • Crassula rupestris (sometimes?)
  • Crassula sarcocaulis
  • Cymbidium cvv. (some cvv.)
  • Dendrobium cvv. (some; usually more lavender or pink-purple than straight pink)
  • Echeveria cvv. (some; flowers are often pink or pink-orange with a yellow "mouth")
  • Echinocereus cvv. (some; those that are pinkish tend to lean to the purple/lavender side)
  • Echinopsis cvv. (some; usually either white or very light pink)
  • Epiphyllum cvv. (few; most of what's available appear to be white, but there are red and red-pink varieties out there)
  • Euphorbia pulcherrima (some; bracts; true flowers are yellowish-green)
  • Ferocactus spp. (few; pinkish-purple or pinkish-red)
  • Fuchsia cvv. (most; reddish-pink)
  • Gasteria cvv. (few; pinkish-orange)
  • Gerbera cvv. (some, though I wouldn't necessarily call it suitable as a houseplant)
  • Guzmania cvv. (a few varieties have hot pink or pinkish-purple bracts)
  • Hatiora cvv. (the ones called "Easter Cactus," and not all of them. These were formerly called Rhipsalis or Rhipsalidopsis.)
  • Heliconia cvv. (bracts on a few varieties are pink; usually bracts are red and/or yellow)
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (only some varieties)
  • Hippeastrum cvv. (some varieties)
  • Hoya archboldiana (pink and white)
  • Hoya bella (most of the flower is white, but some is pink)
  • Hoya carnosa (usually pink and red but variable)
  • Hoya compacta
  • Hoya darwinii (light pink)
  • Hoya davidcummingii (pink and yellow)
  • Hoya globulifera
  • Hoya megalaster (dark pink)
  • Hoya obovata (dark pink and light pink)
  • Hoya pubicalyx (variable; flowers are some combination of pinkish-red, dark pink, pale pink, and white)
  • Hoya purpureo-fusca (pink and yellow)
  • Hoya rubida (dark pink)
  • Hydrangea cvv. (sometimes; I wouldn't call it a houseplant, but some people do.)
  • Hypoestes phyllostachya (pinkish-purple)
  • Impatiens cvv. (some varieties)
  • Jasminum spp.? (occasionally, some of the Jasminums we had at work would produce blooms with a slight pinkish tinge to them, but I don't know if that was cultural or a particular variety or what)
  • Justicia carnea (maybe not a great houseplant, but flowers are vivid pinkish-red)
  • Justicia scheidweileri (the bracts are hot pink; true flowers are purple)
  • Kalanchoe blossfeldiana (some varieties)
  • Kalanchoe eriophylla (variable; some white or lavender)
  • Kohleria cvv. (some varieties, though usually Kohleria flowers are red, orange, or purple)
  • Lampranthus blandus (after trying it myself, I'm not convinced that this should count as a houseplant, but the flowers -- which I've never seen in person -- are pinkish-purple)
  • Mammillaria spp./cvv. (some varieties are pinkish-purple or dark pink; others flower white)
  • Medinilla cvv. (most are pink; lavender and orange also exist)
  • Melocactus spp. (most; hot pink)
  • Mimosa pudica (arguably more lavender than pink, but sometimes they photograph as pink)
  • Miltoniopsis cvv. (most have some pink somewhere, usually dark pink)
  • Musa cvv. (few; bracts)
  • Nematanthus cvv. (few; pinkish-orange or pinkish-red)
  • Neoregelia cvv. (actual flowers are violet-blue, but in some varieties, the leaves at the center of the plant flush hot pink when flowering begins)
  • Nerium oleander (some; maybe not really a houseplant, though)
  • orchids in the Oncidium alliance (some, though it's not the most common color)
  • Opuntia spp. (few; most are yellow)
  • Oxalis triangularis (variable between pink, white, and lavender)
  • Pachypodium spp. (few; most flower yellow or white)
  • Paphiopedilum cvv. (few I'd call true pink; most are white/purple/yellow/brown, but some have smudgy pink areas between white/violet)
  • Parodia cvv.? (most are yellow, orange or red)
  • Passiflora cv. 'Banana' (maybe other cvv.?)
  • Pelargonium cvv. (some)
  • Pereskia grandifolia (flowers pinkish-violet, though other Pereskias don't; may or may not be suitable as houseplant)
  • Phalaenopsis cvv. (some; more pink-purple than true pink)
  • Phragmipedium cvv. (a few)
  • Pilea mollis 'Moon Valley'
  • Pilosocereus leucocephalus, P. palmeri (pale pink)
  • Pinguicula spp. (a few; most are purple, lavender, or blue-violet)
  • Pleiospilos nelii (most Pleiospilos flowers are yellow/orange)
  • Plumeria cvv. (a few; arguably not a houseplant)
  • Portulacaria afra (I was surprised too.)
  • Ruellia makoyana (pinkish-purple; have never seen it grown indoors but I'm told people sometimes do)
  • Saintpaulia cvv. (some)
  • Saxifraga stolonifera (barely: mostly the flowers are white and yellow)
  • Schlumbergera cvv. (few, more pinkish-purple or pink-orange than straight pink)
  • Sedum burrito (uncertain; there weren't many photos, but the flowers sure looked like a dark pink-purple)
  • Sempervivum cvv. (most/all?)
  • Sinningia cvv. (few)
  • Spathoglottis cvv. (some)
  • Stenocereus thurberi
  • Streptocarpus cvv. (few; most seem to be white, lavender, purple, or blue)
  • Stromanthe sanguinea (dk pk to red; not especially attractive but they still count)
  • Tillandsia cvv. (air plants) (I've seen at least one with pink bracts and lavender flowers)
  • Tillandsia cyanea (hot pink bracts, blue-violet true flowers)
  • Tolmiea menziesii (not ornamental; small and sort of a weird pink-brown color)
  • Tradescantia pallida
  • Tradescantia zebrina (usually)
  • Vanda cvv. (some, pink or pink-purple)
  • Zantedeschia cvv. (some; spathes)
  • Zingiber malaysianum (bracts vary in color from yel to pk, though blooming is unlikely indoors)

1 The color I will really hate doing is white: I won't have any trouble finding pictures, but the list of houseplants with white flowers is going to be huge.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Unfinished business: Abutilon seedlings

The Abutilon seedlings I started almost a year ago are finally big enough to be thinking about blooming. Odds are the flowers are going to be pink, since the only possibilities for parentage flower red, pink, or white, but it's kind of exciting anyway. It's at least been a long time coming.