Saturday, August 30, 2014

Anthurium News: The Bad News

Most of the Anthurium news in the last month or so has been disappointing. Nothing catastrophic or particularly depressing, just a lot of hope-raising, followed by disappointment.

#040 "Ivy Winters," 14 August 2014.

#040 "Ivy Winters" has now produced and aborted two separate buds (March, then August). The second one got closer to maturity than the first, which may count as progress, I suppose. It's just that I'm especially interested in seeing how it turns out -- the color on the buds has been starting out pink and then slowly turning more to coral; I'd like to see how orange it will get before opening. And, you know, after opening.

#088 "Charlotte F. Babylon," 17 June 2014.

#088 "Charlotte F. Babylon" has now tried to bloom three times (March, May, July), then thought better of it. Maybe it's broken. I don't anticipate anything dramatic and different when it does bloom -- to all appearances, it's going to be some shade of red, and it's not as if I don't have plenty of reds. But even so. I don't think any other seedling's done this three times. Maybe it's mad about the name it drew. In which case I suppose I understand.

#281 "Laganja Estranja," 17 June 2014.

#281 "Laganja Estranja" tried once, from April to June, and then aborted. (Looked like a pink.)

#124 "Fox Saik," 17 June 2014.

#124 "Fox Saik" started a bud in May, and aborted in June. Also a pink, as far as it got, though it might have been another pink-to-orange, since 'Orange Hot' was the seed parent. Fox appears to be having a number of problems -- for a while, it was building weirdly distorted leaves like this:

Though it seems to be growing out of that. The most recent leaf was normal, anyway.

#248 "Sue Casa," 24 June 2014.

In June, #248 "Sue Casa" contemplated a bud, which was potentially interesting: it started out as pink, but was sort of lavender-pink by the end. Alas, it had decided not to bother by the end of the month.

#265 "Madame LaQueer," 26 June 2014.

#265 "Madame LaQueer" worked on a bud for almost two full months (early June to late July) before dropping it. The bud looked like it was going to be red, so no big loss, but it put a lot of work into it: it was really close to opening, and I'm a little disturbed by it giving up so late.

#236 "Roxanne Debree," 14 August 2014.

#236 "Roxanne Debree" spent about three weeks on a red bud (July to August), then dropped it.

It also looks like I'm about to have the first casualties from the 4" plants. I've been starting the seeds on vermiculite in a plastic clamshell container, then potting up the stronger seeds that germinated in 3" pots, then moving the better-looking seedlings into 4" pots after about a year. Because the ones that made it to 4" pots had already had to be doing well on two separate occasions in order to get there, they've been pretty healthy, but now I'm running into problems where flats aren't drying out evenly, and some plants are staying wet longer than others.

I should probably be checking them for dryness individually, rather than watering whole flats at a time, but that would add additional time and hassle to a process which is already pretty long and involved, so the result is that some of the plants have roots rotting out, because they're too wet, which leads to more rotting, which leads to more wetness, until I have plants with basically no roots at all. Most of the seedlings have seemed unbothered by the oil, but it's possible that that added some stress on top of the root rot.

Making this worse is that so far, all three plants this is happening to are plants that have either already bloomed for me, or are in the process of making a first bloom: #247 "Selma Carr," #238 "Rudy Day," and #095 "Clarice Fullhartz." None of the three are actually gone yet, but they don't look good, and I don't have a lot of hope. Insult to injury, #247 "Selma Carr" had even been pollinated, so not only do I lose the plant, I lose all the seeds she had been working on.

The only bright side of all this, I suppose, is that I can't breed for stronger, healthier plants if I don't throw out some weaker, sickly plants along the way. And #247's bloom was, as you'll remember, a little defective-looking to begin with.

This is probably the last picture of #247 "Selma Carr" we're going to see; it's from 14 August 2014.

#238 seemed pretty healthy and was a very early bloomer, but the flowers were small, and it was just another in a long line of red spathe / yellow spadix blooms. So perhaps nothing of any real value has been lost.

Also disappointing: no seedlings have completed a first bloom since the last update a month ago. Two seedlings have started their first buds, though: #279 "Tristan Shout" and #171 "Genevieve la Difference." Neither is looking terribly exciting so far, and obviously there's a good chance that they'll abort before the buds get anywhere anyway, but it's something. First blooms are also in progress on #237 "Roxy Casbah" and #095 "Clarice Fullhartz," should Clarice get her roots back under herself and decide to complete the bloom.

Happier Anthurium news will be posted shortly.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Stupid plant tricks: Lenophyllum texanum

Officially, I have not been growing any Lenophyllum texanum since New Year's Day, 2013, when I threw out the one pot that I had growing, marked it down on the spreadsheet as deceased, and went on.

The plant had other plans. In the process of disposal, some leaves fell off, which I noticed but figured weren't worth the trouble of digging out of the flat and throwing away. Sure, it's a desert plant, but how's it going to survive with no soil, brief periods of water, and little light, was the thinking.

A year and a half later, the leaves have grown into whole plants. The roots have intertwined to form a little mat, against which all the stems can brace themselves, keeping them upright even without any soil. And apparently the mat is good enough at retaining water that they can make do, and even thrive, with just the water they get from being sprayed for about 15 seconds, every couple weeks.

This is impressive, and would even be endearing if it gave the impression of having to exert itself a little. I'm happy to root for underdogs every now and again. But it's not acting like a plucky little underdog, struggling to survive against all odds; it's closer to an unstoppable Terminator type. For the moment, I'm going to keep it -- it's growing in an unused space in the flat, and it's not asking anything of me -- but at least 50% of that decision is because I'm no longer sure whether it's possible to get rid of it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pretty picture: Aerangis citrata

Not a great picture, but at least a slight improvement on the last time I tried to take a picture of A. citrata, so that's something.

Previously: 2013.

In other news: another week, another Anthurium-oiling. And yes, the soybean oil has started to go a little bad. (Not the stuff in the jug: the stuff that I've sprayed already.) It's not, like suffocating and horrible, but yes, there is a smell. So I'm giving the thrips and scale a break this week, and not oiling the plants. That has the side benefit of giving me a break too, since it takes so much longer to water and oil than it does to just water.

Also potted up another 37 Anthurium seedlings, on Sunday, and started another batch of seeds (from #273 "Wes Coast," #005 "Chad Michaels," and #239 "Russ Teanale") on Monday, so, more grandseedlings on the way.