Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mid-June Anthurium Update, Part 1

I'm hoping to tie this Anthurium update to the stuff I've been learning from the new book about breeding them, but there's an awful lot of stuff in the book, and an awful lot of new stuff with the seedlings, so I wound up kind of overwhelmed. Possibly if I split it up into enough small posts, it'll be easier to do, though depending on your level of interest in Anthuriums that might be more than you really want to know.

But I do have to tell you some things, however I do it. So let's try jumping into that and see how it goes.

Here are the statistics as of 7 June 2014:

There are 432 Anthurium seedlings here, officially.

Of those, 58 (13%) have at least attempted to bloom at some point, and 40 (9%) have actually produced a mature inflorescence. Of the remaining 18 that have attempted to bloom but haven't actually bloomed, 14 are working on a bud now, and 4 produced a bud, aborted it, and haven't started a new one yet.

It's not clear how many seedlings have managed to be pollinated so far. It takes a long time for anything visible to happen to a spadix when pollination is successful. The F2 generation is definitely underway, though, thanks to #276 ("Zach Religious"). He was pollinated, he produced mature berries, the seeds were removed from the berries and sown on vermiculite, and 23 out of 24 seeds have germinated.

Seedlings from #276 ("Zach Religious"). These were sown on 15 May; the photo was taken on 7 June.

Barring catastrophe, we should be seeing the first blooms from this group in about November 2015.

#271 ("Wanda Reulthemal") has also definitely been pollinated, and has maybe 20 developing berries on a single spadix. She'll be up next.

In the last week, it's become clear that #239 ("Russ Teanale") and #247 ("Selma Carr") have been pollinated as well. Not only that, but it looks like every. Single. Flower. on their spadices is developing a berry, which will be fun when it comes time to pot them up. There also appear to be a few berries developing on #059 ("Bijoux Tuit"), #234 ("Ross Koz"), #245 ("Sawyer Ad"), #005 ("Chad Michaels"), #063 ("Audrey Quest"), and #273 ("Wes Coast"), though most of those look like they'll produce maybe ten seeds at most. Still, though, that's nine confirmed or likely pollinations, so the second generation will be getting a lot bigger soon.

So there's that.

Since the last Anthurium update, 11 seedlings have produced a first bloom. Some of these, like #232 ("Rhoda Badcek"), are perfectly adequate flowers but nothing we haven't seen before.

One (#283 "Anne Pursand") is downright ugly, to my mind:

Anne just doesn't work for me because she's doing three things Anthuriums are not supposed to do at the same time. One, she's got thrips damage (the irregular brown patches on the spathe), though that's arguably my fault, not hers. Two, the spathe is small. Three, the spathe is also badly reflexed, which is a vocabulary word from the book. Most Anthuriums grown for indoor container cultivation will have spathes that are more or less upright and cupped around the spadix, when they first open. Your better varieties will stay that way as the blooms mature, too. Anne, on the other hand, flipped her spathe back away from the spadix almost immediately, much like a dudebro popping the collar on his polo, with similar consequences for her attractiveness. And I don't know what's going on with that spadix, but it's not helping the overall look.

The best thing from this batch turns out to be #097 ("Colin Ambulance"), who managed to surprise me with a brand-new color:

Initially it was sort of a light peach (Colin is one of the three palest spathes so far, though that doesn't photograph well; anything too dark or too light gets its color adjusted automatically by the camera.) with a peach/orange spadix; it's aging into pink with an orange spadix, but I dig both versions.

It also makes no damn sense: the seed parent is the NOID purple. It's not even a nice pale lavender kind of purple; it's pretty dark. There is no way this color should be able to come from that color. (I'm going to try to explain that in Part 2. Emphasis on "try.") Regardless of how it got here, though, I like it.

We've also finally gotten a bloom from #231 ("Rhea Listick"), who had previously aborted her first attempt, right as it was ready to open.

Not a new color -- it's very similar to #035 ("Alyssa Edwards") -- but this is a color I like, so I suppose it was worth the wait. The spathe is smaller than Alyssa's, for now, but a lot of the seedlings produce larger blooms as they mature. Rhea also seems to be more blistered than Alyssa. Blistering is the quilted, lumpy texture on some spathes, where the major veins in the spathe are raised above the rest of the spathe. Blistering is for some reason very desirable in cut flowers, less so for potted plants. I can take it or leave it myself, though I notice that it seems to be related to the size of the flowers -- bigger spathes tend to have more blistering than smaller ones -- and it seems obvious enough why large spathes would be desirable.

Let's jog quickly through a few more. #247 ("Selma Carr") wound up with an interesting shape, which would be fun if it were genetic, but alas, I think it's from mechanical damage during development:

#125 ("Anya Wei") is a perfectly nice red/yellow, just like all the other perfectly nice red/yellows,

and #244 ("Sara Problem") is a perfectly nice pink/pink, just like all the other perfectly nice pink/pinks. Except for some thrips damage.

#202 ("Mason Pepperspray") is pretty tiny. For a few days after it first opened, the spathe formed a nearly-perfect hemisphere around the spadix. That's flattened slightly with age, but the shape is still unusual. The color's gotten lighter with age as well. I'm less happy about that.

#110 ("Delta Badhand") is also very very small, and strongly resembles #116 ("Eileen Dover"), to the point where I wonder if both plants don't have the same parentage. (If they do, then they'd both be NOID purple x 'Orange Hot;' Delta's seed parent is the NOID purple and Eileen's is 'Orange Hot.') Unfortunately, I tore her spathe on the first day it was open, which I feel bad about.

I also have a mental association with the name Delta that makes me feel very strongly that this plant is way, way too dark to be a Delta, though I have no idea why that is. (I have a similar problem with Mason Pepperspray, who seems way too light to be a Mason.)

#216 ("Gillian Jamm") is nice if you can ignore the thrips scars (which I'm getting pretty good at):

And finally, #083 ("Carmen Adairya"), who photographed really well her first time out:

Carmen has since relaxed a little, so the spathe is more of a straightforward heart shape than the tulip shape here. In the couple weeks since I took this picture, the main veins near the spadix have darkened up. The book has some really pretty examples of that sort of thing; I'd be happy to see more contrasting veins.

Carmen also illustrates our final vocabulary word, blush. Sort of. I found the book's explanation of blush difficult to parse. It's sort of an irregular splash of pink or coral color shading heavier toward the spadix, plus a darker version of the same color in the spadix. Blush isn't always visible when it's present: a coral blush will be hidden by a bright red spathe, and if the blush spreads far enough, it can be hard to tell the difference between a pink spathe and a white spathe with pink blush. It's also not clear how dark a spadix has to be before it qualifies as blush: I infer that if there's any red or orange in the spadix, then you have a blush regardless of what the spathe might look like, but what about pink?

In Part 2, I'll try to sum up what I understand about Anthurium genetics. So Part 2 is gonna be really, really short.


Jean Campbell said...

Fascinating. I am trying hard not to aspire to growing Anthuriums.

Ginny Burton said...

I am really enjoying your Anthurium posts, but can't imagine how you have room for all these babies, let alone keeping track of which is which.

Are you ever going to deaccession any of them? I've never had any interest in Anthurium before, but now I'm dying to have a Subjunctive Creation!

mr_subjunctive said...

Ginny Burton:

Yes, eventually. (#026 "Peaches Christ" will be leaving in the next month or so, by special arrangement with an old friend, but that's a unique case.) It will be a slow process, because I don't want to get rid of any of them until I've seen a few blooms. The first bloom is sometimes a good indicator of what the later ones will be like, and sometimes it's not.

(For example, the first two blooms on #118 "Elijah Sturdabowtit" were pretty small, started orange but turned pink on the second or third day after opening, and died very quickly; the third is about 50% larger, has lived for a week, and is staying orange so far. So it's good that I didn't judge him by the first two blooms.)

I do still feel odd about the prospect of deliberately mailing people plants that are of lower quality than the ones I'm keeping, which is another problem. But yeah, sooner or later I'm going to have to do something, because some of these don't have much to recommend them, and I'll need the space.

As far as keeping track of which is which, well, lately I've been watering them on Monday or Tuesday, and then taking a photo of all of the blooming ones on Thursday or Friday, so I spend a lot of time looking at them and thinking about them.

The other factor is that I don't actually know the names for all 432 of them off the top of my head; my attention is mainly focused on those that have attempted to bloom. So I wind up "meeting" a couple every week, and after about a month of watering and photo-taking, I can remember the plant's location (which flat it's on), number, drag name, and bloom characteristics (color, size, thripsiness, blistering, etc.) together. At least three out of those four.

As more of them enter the Bloom Club, it's getting tougher to add new ones to my memory, but I do okay at remembering the ones that are exceptional in some way and worth remembering.

Anonymous said...

Who knows, maybe one of the anthuriums you don't like will turn out to be a much better plant in someone else's environment.

If you feel confident they don't have scale, I think you should do a regular anthurium giveaway. Maybe make it a contest on this blog.

If you do have any worries they have scale, maybe it would be best to give them to someone who lives somewhere they can grow outside, since I would expect the bugs would be easier to battle outside than in a home.

Dee said...

Can I just say that I love your blog? Where else can I hear the spathe of an anthurium compared to the collar of a dudebro? Your writing style is hilarious and informative. Keep up the great work!

mr_subjunctive said...


I'm reasonably confident that they don't have scale. (I've seen scale semi-recently, but it was still small, it was only on one plant, and I suspect that they were coming from a plant above the Anthuriums. The suspected source is no longer here, and I haven't seen scale on any other Anthuriums in several months, despite doing quite a bit of close checking.)

Thrips, on the other hand, are sort of an ongoing problem. That's been getting better lately, too, as I've been paying more attention and squishing adults when I see them, but I'm sure I'm not so observant and dedicated that I'm getting all of them. Thrips are a less serious problem, in that they're less likely to kill the plant, but I would still like to get them under control before I start sending plants anywhere. (Some of the seedlings seem to be much more resistant than others, but of course the ones that are more resistant are the ones I'd be wanting to keep, so. . . .)

Cora said...

I've never in my life wanted an anthurium (I actually thought they were rather boring) but since reading your blog Posts about them I got two offsprings from some friends plants... I'm trying very hard to stop here since I've already over 200 plants and I think that's far too many. I'm absolutely amazed by you managing more than a thousand.

mr_subjunctive said...


I know what you mean. I've always thought they had nice foliage, but there were always plants that I thought were more interesting than Anthuriums. (My first choice for plant-breeding would be Aglaonema, but crossing ags indoors is much more difficult to do.)