Monday, November 25, 2013

Unfinished business: Billbergia, Haemanthus, Leuchtenbergia, Strelitzia

Some odds and ends today.

Billbergia nutans

This is probably more of a random plant event than unfinished business, but: the Billbergia nutans1 is blooming again. Much smaller show than last year: then, I had seven flower spikes happen more or less at once, and so far this year it's only two. (This could be because I didn't repot this year, though it didn't actually need repotting, so if it's withholding flowers just because I didn't repot then it's being awfully petty.) That doesn't make as much difference as you'd think, photographically, because the flowers aren't terribly interesting unless you're close.

It would also probably help if I had better light for photo-taking, but you know how it is: every spot in the house that gets decent natural light also has plants piled in front of it, and consequently, it's an afternoon of work to set up a spot and take enough pictures to justify all the effort. By which point the sun has often changed positions anyway. This picture didn't turn out so bad, but you should see some of the pictures I tried to get on Saturday.

Haemanthus albiflos

I got my Haemanthus almost exactly one year ago, and in that year, the only thing it has ever done is drop leaves. I think this was mostly due to unusually long and cold shipping, and not because they're naturally big leaf-droppers, but even so, it was sort of disappointing. That only lasted for a couple months after it arrived, though; then it stabilized at three leaves. I then spent nine or ten months looking down into the center of the plant every so often to see if there was any new growth, and being disappointed. Then, a couple days ago, I looked in and there was something new. So I realize this is not the most amazing plant photo you've ever seen, but it's easily the most exciting plant photo in this post as far as I'm concerned.

Leuchtenbergia principis

For the time being, I'm still watering the Leuchtenbergias even though the information I found when writing the Leuchtenbergia profile clearly indicates that I shouldn't. I like to live on the edge like that. Both of the adult plants still have fruits on them, though the fruits don't appear to be doing much of anything. The interesting part, to me, is that they're distinctly different colors. The big plant's fruit is very slightly red-purple:

and the small plant's fruit is very slightly yellow-green:

Does this mean anything? Probably not. But it's new. Kinda.

The Leuchtenbergia seedlings I started are sort of doing okay. Probably they would be doing better if I were keeping up better with the watering. Of the 15 seedlings I potted up in individual tiny clay pots, 12 are fine, and 3 have had to be replaced. The usual cause of death, as far as I can determine, is either that I didn't water them when they needed water (small roots means a limited ability to take up water, and seedlings don't have much in the way of water reserves, so when they're out of water, they're out of water), or that I dislodged them from the soil when watering and then they got completely buried under the soil. In some cases, I suspect both things happened. I still had some seedlings that hadn't been potted up, though, so I just replaced those three seedlings and went on. There hasn't been a lot of change in the other 12 seedlings; they might be a tad bigger than they were when I potted them up, but the change is awfully subtle.

Seedling number 13 (with 10 and 7 in the background) as of 24 November 2013. The pots are 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) in diameter.

Strelitzia juncea

Speaking of seedlings.2 A second Strelitzia juncea seed has germinated, and unlike the Leuchtenbergias, Strelitzias don't waste any time getting going:

Seedling no. 2.

Seedling no. 3.

Strelitzia juncea is primarily of interest because it doesn't have the big, broad leaves of the more common species like S. nicolai and S. reginae,3 so you may be wondering what's going on here. It's pretty simple: S. juncea is one of those plants with different kinds of foliage at different ages. Young plants grow leaves and resemble S. reginae, but as they get older the leaves shrink down to the point where they're basically just petioles and midribs and nothing else. Which is why I was interested. But I'm going to be seeing regular-looking leaves for quite a while first, I expect.


1 (Or Bizzlebergia nutans, to some.)
2 (All due respect, Mr. S., but when are you ever not speaking of seedlings?)
3 Full-grown plants look like this:
Photo credit: BotBln, at Wikimedia Commons.

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