Monday, March 9, 2015

Anthurium no. 0231 "Rhea Listick"

I have a lot of favorite Anthurium seedlings, depending on what particular detail I'm most focused on, but there's an argument to be made for Rhea as the best all-around seedling.1 Not only is the foliage nice, but the spathes are broad, flat, a good color, not prone to cracking, and seemingly resistant to thrips. She could maybe be a little more diligent about producing blooms, but this is a good seedling, and her most recent bloom has been, I'm pretty sure, the biggest and nicest yet.

Rhea's managed to produce eighteen seeds so far. I started eight of those in mid-December, and another ten at the beginning of January. I got 88% germination from the first batch, and 70% from the second, which makes 78% overall. At the moment, it looks like seven of those might be ready to pot up, though I'm probably not going to do that quite yet.2 I don't know whether I'll be potting up more than those seven plants; sometimes when I take the biggest seedlings out of a group, some of the ones that remain will have a growth spurt and be ready to pot up themselves,3 later, but sometimes slow, tiny, stunted plants remain slow, tiny, and stunted whether they're crowded or not.

This is the second batch of seedlings from #0231.

I'm always pretty limited here, as far as what I'm able to cross with what, because very few plants are ever shedding pollen at any given moment, but I'd really like to cross Rhea with a really dark red, in hopes of getting a dark purple bloom at some point down the road. It's possible that Anthurium genetics doesn't actually work like that, of course, and even if they did, it's possible that I wouldn't be lucky enough to get one like that on my first try. After all, a substantial number of seedlings die before I ever find out what sort of blooms they'd make, and even when they don't die, they don't always bloom.4

There's nothing special about the goal of a dark purple Anthurium (aside from, I've never seen one in person so it'd be novel). I've gotten plenty of neat results from the seedlings so far without having any specific goals, so it's not something I'm planning to work toward, exactly. It'd be fun if it happened, though.


1 Top five, at least.
2 The survival rate is better if I let seedlings get bigger before transplanting, though the real reason for waiting is that I don't have room for more seedlings until a few plants die or get sold or move to a different part of the house.
3 This has been particularly weird with the large batch of seeds from #0005 "Chad Michaels" in late August 2014: they were all sown on either the 25th or 28th of August, but they've matured and been potted up in five different waves (September 21, October 26, December 8, December 28, and February 19), as new sets of seedlings got big enough to transplant. Which is weird. It's as if they're taking turns.
(My guess is that the actual reason for this is not that they're polite, but that they're in competition with one another for light and water, and when the most successful seedlings are removed, that frees up space for a new set to be successful and grow quickly. But I think you'll agree that it's nicer to think of them as cooperating with one another to take turns.
4 I suppose it probably seems like I have a lot of Anthuriums blooming here. By comparison to the number of Anthuriums in the average Iowa home (zero, probably?), this is true, but by comparison to how many seeds I've started, it doesn't seem like a lot to me. I'll spare you the actual math, but my estimate (backed up by actual numbers when possible) is that for every 100 seeds I sow:
• 30 will fail to germinate,
• 10 or 11 will germinate but be too crappy-looking to transplant,
• 33 or 34 will germinate and transplant but die within three years of being sown,
• 16 will germinate, transplant, and survive but not even attempt to bloom within three years of being sown,
• 2 will germinate, transplant, survive, and attempt to bloom within 3 years but not actually bloom, leaving only . . .

• 8 plants that actually germinate, transplant, survive, and actually produce a bloom within three years.

For those who like graphs (and who doesn't like graphs?):

I mean, plus or minus a few, obviously, depending on the batch -- some groups of seeds have been much more successful than others -- but that's more or less it. Every blooming plant you see here is standing in for about twelve that didn't. Consequently, it'd be reasonable to think that the 18 seeds from Rhea might net me one or two flowers by 2018.


Liza said...

I believe they're being polite. If they could speak English, I'm sure there would be lots of "please, sir" and "thank you for the caring, mister."

bigleaves said...

Oh man, you've uttered the unicorn phrase... 'thrip resistant'. Think you could cross Rhea with my anthurium veitchii? I have a heck of a time with thrips and my anthuriums!

mr_subjunctive said...


I know you were (mostly?) kidding, but I couldn't even if I had one in bloom right now: out of about a thousand Anthurium species, only about twelve can be crossed with A. andreanum to make these kinds of blooming hybrids. A. veitchii isn't one of them.

bigleaves said...

Ha, yes, I figured as much... That's why we have dreams I guess.