Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

I intended to do a Nina picture this week, but when I got the camera ready and pointed it at the terrarium, I couldn't find her. Tried blowing puffs of air in to startle her, so I could see where she was, but that just induced her to jump under the Pellionia thicket before I saw where she was.

I then crept back up on her later, but she saw the camera move or something and, again: under the Pellionia. And the next day, same thing.

I'm pretty sure this is me being clumsy, not Nina being jumpier than normal, but either way, it doesn't matter: I couldn't get new Nina pictures. So here's one from December 2010:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pretty picture: Ascocenda Suksamran Sunshine

This was unfortunately destined to be a crappy picture -- the original was too washed out and blue, and my efforts to fix that only succeeded in making it too dark as well. But maybe this will help you appreciate the (mostly better) set from the 2012 show, which begin next Tuesday.

It's possible that the correct name is Sunlight, not Sunshine; Google has results for both, and the flowers look basically the same under both names, so after trying to figure it out for a while, I gave up.

Ascocenda is, as we all know, the name for crosses of Ascocentrum and Vanda. Google suggests that care for Ascocenda is basically the same as for Vanda.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Plant: Osmanthus fragrans

It doesn't look like much, but the rumors are true: Osmanthus fragrans flowers smell pretty awesome.

I got this in the mail this week from Ginny Burton,1 who has been pushing me to get one for a long time. (I would have done so on my own, had I ever seen any for sale in Iowa.)

The plant had a few flowers on it when it arrived, not all of which had a noticeable scent, but the ones that did smell very much like apricots. It's not strong enough to fill the whole house, as some on-line sources suggested, but then, it's still a small plant, it's been in a box for a few days, the flowers appear to fluctuate quite a bit in scent production depending on age and time of day, etc.

It still remains to be seen whether I'll be able to grow it in any kind of long-term way; I've never tried this plant (or any plant in the Oleaceae, for that matter) before, and I've only had this one since Monday. I'll keep you posted.


1 I ordinarily don't publicly identify people who send me plants, because publicizing opens up all kinds of possibilities for people to be swarmed by requests for cuttings, hurt feelings because I got a plant and someone else didn't, or . . . I don't even know. It's just simpler to leave people anonymous unless they specify otherwise. Ginny said it was okay, though.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Random plant event: Coffea arabica

I wasn't all that fond of Coffea when I first wrote its profile, back in 2008. I mean, I didn't hate it, either, but the foliage on my plant was pretty plain, it grew faster than some plants but not as fast as others, the form wasn't particularly exciting, it didn't flower, etc. I mean, it was a nice enough plant, but it didn't really stand out in the crowd for me.

That all started to change around this time last year, after I began using fertilizer with trace elements at every watering. I knew before this that my plant was probably not getting as much of something as it wanted, because the new growth was occasionally chlorotic, but I was still surprised at how rapid and extreme the reaction to the fertilizer was. A year after this picture was taken --

Coffea arabica, February 2011. Pot: 8" / 20 cm.

-- I happened to be pulling the plant out of its spot in the corner of the plant room, when I noticed two things. One, the plant has nearly doubled in height:

Coffea arabica, March 2012. Pot: ~11" / 28 cm.

Which is pretty cool all by itself. Second, though, I think I may be getting flowers soon, 'cause I noticed these buds:

And, I think the flowers are supposed to be self-fertile, so there's a decent shot at getting berries eventually, which interests me quite a bit. Even if there are never berries, I'll be pretty happy, though: I'm very interested in what the flowers smell like.

Whatever happens with the flowers and berries and so forth, C. arabica somehow managed to sneak onto my favorite plants list without me noticing until now. It's given me very little trouble (the aforementioned chlorosis, and a recent tendency of the smaller plants in the pot to get crowded out by the larger ones, but that's about it), it grows a lot faster when it has . . . nutrients available (*cough*), the leaves are shiny, and it's where coffee comes from. I suppose I could ask for something easier to propagate, but aside from that, what's not to like?

(P.S.: I realize it's hard to tell from those pictures that the plant's nearly doubled in height, but you'll just have to trust me. It's presently about 4 feet / 1.3 m tall, and has lived here for a little over five years, which is, one, just about exactly the height when they're supposed to start flowering, and two, a couple years late. Which is not surprising, given the whole lack-of-fertilizer thing.)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pretty picture: Cattleya Mary Lynn McKenzie

The best I could do for a genealogy here was a site that said Mary Lynn McKenzie is a cross between Cattleya Bob Betts and Cattleya Swan. This isn't especially exciting information to know, and this is the internet so it's always possible that it isn't even true information, but I'm including it in the post anyway because really, the only commentary about this flower I can come up with is that it's awfully white. Which you already know, having seen the picture already.

I also kind of approve of the weird white-daffodil impression it's doing. It amuses me when plants imitate one another.