Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Five Plants I'm Not Currently Mad At (A through G)

Just before bringing all the plants inside for the winter, I spent about a week trying to get some updated photos. Though a tedious and exhausting process, which is still not over yet (I'm still cropping and color-editing, etc.), I've made enough progress editing the new crop of photos that I can start posting a few of them.

This has been a terrible year for the plant collection, mostly because of the whole scale thing, but also in terms of just having accumulated too many plants to comfortably care for. Consequently, I've spent a lot of time being frustrated and angry, which is hard on me and the plants both, which you already know. In an attempt to make myself feel a little better about things, here are five plants that aren't upsetting me lately and have been here long enough that they could have upset me, if they'd really wanted to. This is just what was in the first part of the alphabet: I'm only up to the Gs on the photo-editing. Also, I'm trying to focus on stuff I haven't talked about lately. So, Coffea arabica is doing wonderfully for me, but it's not on the list because you've seen it a lot this year already (here, here, and here).

1. Cryptbergia x rubra

Date: September 2012.
Pot size: 6" / 15 cm.

The color, it's true, is not as strong as it was when I first got the plant:

Date: August 2010.
Pot size: 4" / 10 cm.

Presently I have it in an east window, which isn't strong enough light to maintain the color, but it's at least alive, it's grown a lot, and it's not been any trouble so far. The care is basically the same as for most of my plants: I water every couple weeks, giving it a good flushing and then splashing some fertilizer on top (probably not the ideal way to fertilize, but nothing about my setup is ideal). No pests in two years; hopefully that will continue. It gets whatever temperature and humidity is prevailing in the living room at any given moment.

It's offsetting a little bit, true to the Billbergia side of the family, but I haven't yet tried to propagate it yet.

2. Ctenanthe burle-marxii

Date: September 2012.
Pot size: 6" / 15 cm.

(As above.)

I may never actually know what the real name for this plant is: I've seen it Ctenanthe burle-marxii and Stromanthe burle-marxii, as well as assorted other ways (as a cultivar name 'Burle Marx,' with or without the hyphen, occasionally identified as a Calathea, etc.). Whatever it is, it seems to like it here.

Date: April or May 2009.
This is the original specimen; it wasn't potted up until after it outgrew the terrarium.

For something from the Marantaceae, this is damn near miraculous, actually. Not only is there this plant in the 6-inch pot, but I have seven others in 4-inch pots, all created from divisions of the original.

Care is pretty much the usual: water every two weeks, prevailing humidity and temperature. It gets artificial light, down in the basement, which is surprisingly adequate. There may have been minor spider mite problems once a while ago, but minor spider mite problems are extremely small potatoes now, now that I have the scale outbreak for perspective. The only issue I've had with it is, after a certain point, they do get sort of rootbound, and when they're rootbound, they dry out more than they should between waterings. I don't think I've ever lost a plant to that, but the leaves curl up and eventually dry and fall off. Of course, once that starts happening, you only need to up-pot or divide the plant and then everything's good again.

3. Euphorbia NOID (maybe E. ingens?)

Date: September 2012.
Pot size: about 7" / 18 cm.

It's not that this one's so amazing, exactly, as that this has been a bad year for my Euphorbias specifically: I have fungus problems on E. drupifera, half of the E. miliis, and E. bougheyi variegata. The E. tortilis, E. flanaganii, E. pseudocactus, and E. grandicornis have all etiolated and look sad. E. lactea fell over and severed an arm. And so on. It's not a complete disaster: a different NOID, E. ammak, multiple E. trigonas, and multiple E. tirucallis are all doing well. But as a group, it's been a bad year for the genus.

This one bucked the general trend; it hadn't been seeming like a very good idea until this summer. For one thing, it hadn't grown at all, in more than a year. This summer, it got to go outside, which is apparently what it had been waiting for all along -- it's not a huge amount of new growth, but it's something. (Everything above the constrictions near the top of the stems is new as of this summer.) I'm assuming that similar growth happened below the soil line -- when I first bought it, I checked to see if it needed a bigger pot, and not only did it not need a bigger pot, but the plants were barely even rooted.

Date: January 2011.
Pot size: about 8" / 20 cm.

Aside from being unresponsive, it's been an okay plant. No rot, no bugs, no problems. I had it in a west window previously, this being the best I could do. Having seen what it's capable of if properly motivated, I've now given it a spot in the small south window in the living room. When it was indoors before, it had been getting water every two or four weeks, depending on how quickly it seemed to be drying out. No special considerations for temperature or humidity. I haven't tried to propagate it yet, obviously (you can see from the photo that it hasn't been cut at all), but at least it's trying to get along, which is more than I can say for some Euphorbias.

4. Begonia 'Puffy Clouds'

Date: September 2012.
Pot size: about 4.5" / 11.5 cm.

'Puffy Clouds' and I have never gotten along all that well, probably because I wasn't giving it enough light -- for most of the time I've had it, it only got artificial light, and probably not as much of it as it wanted -- but things have been better since it got moved to an east window in the living room.

Date: August 2010. This is what it looked like when it got here, but I cut it back (and tried unsuccessfully to propagate it) almost immediately. Also a stem or two resprouted and then died before I had the sense to move the plant, leading to the current picture.
Pot size: 4" / 10 cm (diagonal).

I'm not saying I love it even now, but I'm appreciating Begonias a lot more than I used to. (In retrospect, starting with B. rex-cultorum varieties was probably the worst possible way to get reacquainted with the genus.) I'm optimistic that the recent strong growth will continue. Worse things could happen.

It's been getting the standard care: water every two weeks (which is probably not quite often enough), a little splash of fertilizer along with the water, light from an east window, and the temperature and humidity that everyone else is getting. To its credit, everything that's ever been wrong with B. 'Puffy Clouds' has been my fault: the plant itself seems easy-going enough if you don't torture it.

5. Ficus lyrata

Date: September 2012.
Pot size: 10" / 26 cm.

And, finally, Ficus lyrata. Nobody ever seems to be that into F. lyrata. I mean, the books all dutifully mention it, and they're for sale often enough that I don't think I'd have much trouble finding one to buy, but I never hear anybody saying that it's their favorite plant. Hell, I never hear anybody saying they think F. lyrata is even nice or interesting or anything like that, unlike F. elastica, F. binnendijkii, or F. benjamina.

And yet, you know, F. lyrata is not that bad. A little goofy-looking, perhaps, but the leaves get huge, it's been, if anything, a little easier for me than F. elastica (though weirdly not as easy as F. benjamina, which I'm also appreciating a lot more these days than I ever thought I would), and there've never been any huge problems. Every now and then a leaf clunks to the floor, and I apparently had mealybugs on it once, though I no longer remember that happening. (It's mentioned in this post.) That's about it.

Date: November 2007.
Pot size: 6" / 15 cm?

It's got a spot near the living room south window, where it doesn't really get much actual sunlight, but it makes do. I water every 2 or 4 weeks, depending on how fast it's dried out -- to the plant's credit, it doesn't seem to be particularly shaken if I make it wait a little longer than it would like. It's only been repotted once, so it's probably pretty rootbound, but I've been hesitant to move it up again because I'm not sure I want to encourage it -- at some point, it's going to be too big to fit inside the house, and I suppose that's when I'm going to have to learn how to air-layer.

Other plants that aren't making me angry at the moment:

Agave americana 'Medio-picta alba'
Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor'
Agave victoriae-reginae
Aglaonema 'Cory'
Aloe NOID which might be 'Blue Elf'
Ananas lucidus
Anthurium NOID (red-violet flower)
Araucaria bidwillii
Asplundia 'Jungle Drum'
Begonia, NOID cane-type
Begonia x erythrophylla
Billbergia nutans
Browningia hertlingiana
Ceropegia woodii, variegated
Chamaedorea metallica
Coffea arabica
Crassula perforata var. falcata
Dracaena deremensis 'Janet Craig Compacta'
Dracaena fragrans 'Sol'
Epipremnum aureum 'N'Joy'
Episcia 'Coco'
Episcia 'Suomi'
Euphorbia ammak
Euphorbia NOID (the one I refer to as "E. kokopelli")
Euphorbia tirucalli 'Firesticks'
Euphorbia trigona
Ficus benjamina 'Margarita'
Ficus benjamina, NOID variegated

That isn't necessarily an exhaustive list, within the A-G section of the alphabet; those are just the ones I happened to have taken pictures of and that I've been finding generally pleasing lately.


Ivynettle said...

Air-layering is fun! I wish I had something to air-layer... but one day, I'll get around to posting the pictures I took the last time I did it (years ago now).

Kenneth Moore said...

Always good (though so hard!) to focus on what's NOT going wrong.

And always good to read a new PATSP post!

redbrickbuilding said...

I started reading your blog recently but wanted to tell you how much I enjoy it. I love that you get mad at your plants when they aren't thriving...I thought I was the only one who did that!

I'm also enjoying learning about so many plants that are new to me: Cryptbergia x rubra is gorgeous and may be just the thing for my east-facing bathroom!

Tom said...

I, for one, love F. Lyrata. I've always thought it had a strange, tropical elegance to it.