Friday, August 28, 2015

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum (Adam Hausermann x Winston Churchill)

See that orange-brown spot on the lip, just to the right of center? I bet orchid show entrants hate it when their plants do something like that right before a show. I mean, it's plenty irritating to me to find thrips marks on an otherwise pristine Anthurium, and there is nothing at stake there. I show them to you, and you might have feelings about my Anthurium seedlings and their flaws, but you're not literally judging me on them.1

I like the bloom anyway. The spot doesn't ruin anything for me. Just imagining what it must be like to see a bud get bigger and bigger and start to open and then, boom -- a spot, in the most obvious possible place.

Anyway. We haven't encountered this particular cross before, but there are a couple related orchids from past years: both its parent, Paph. Winston Churchill, and its half-sibling, Paph. Cheryl Ann Boyd, showed up in the 2012 show. (Paph. Winston Churchill) (Paph. Cheryl Ann Boyd)

Paphiopedilum Adam Hausermann = Telesis x Gigi (Ref.)
Paphiopedilum Winston Churchill = Eridge x Hampden (Ref.)

The family tree doubtless goes several layers deeper than that, but that's more than most of you wanted to know already.


1 Or maybe you are, in which case: how am I doing? Have I won yet?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Anthurium no. 0586 "Vera Special"

First, a couple bits of unfinished business:

I e-mailed my local Iowa State Extension Office on July 29, asking about tests for dasheen mosaic virus (DsMV), as discussed in the comments to this post. They replied immediately, and recommended I ask the ISU Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic about it. So I sent the same e-mail to the ISUPIDC.

On August 20, I heard back from the ISUPIDC. The answer was: no, they do not test for DsMV, but they did know of a company that might, Agdia, Inc.

Agdia does in fact do DsMV testing, which is great, but they won't tell you on the website how much the testing costs. I assumed that that meant that it was an if you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it situation, but e-mailed Agdia to ask anyway, and got an autoreply "I will be out of the office until ______" message, because everything has to be fucking impossible today.1

In the end, it's not going to happen: testing one sample is $67 at Agdia ($9 per additional.), which is more than I want to spend to answer this particular question. But if I change my mind later, I have somewhere to go. So thanks, ISUPIDC. I guess.

The other unfinished business is related to the ongoing thripstastrophe.2 Ivynettle suggested in the comments on this post that I try getting parasitic mites to eat the thrips, that she had done so this year and had been pleased with the results.3

That didn't go very smoothly either, and is also expensive ($63.70, shipping included, for 50,000 mites.4), but it at least has the advantage of being something I haven't tried before. Imidacloprid doesn't seem to affect the thrips at all; white oil is cheap and somewhat effective, but also extremely messy, time-consuming, and the Anthuriums respond by dropping all their blooms, so I don't want to try that again unless I'm truly out of other options. Hand-picking is ludicrous, spraying with a non-imidacloprid insecticide (e.g. pyrethrin) is prohibitively expensive, giving up and living with the thrips is depressing,5 zero-tolerance for thrips infestation would end with all the seedlings in the garbage except one, and it would probably be a pink/pink. So this is something I can try. Even if it fails, as it almost surely will, doing something feels better than doing nothing.

With all that out of the way, then, let's talk about seedling 0586. The name assigned to her, "Vera Special," wound up being sort of a joke, because Vera is almost identical to 0580 "Marsha Marsha Marsha," and awfully similar to 0120 "Eliza Boutisecksis."

Which one is Vera?

It was this one! (L-R in the first photo: 0120 "Eliza Boutisecksis," 0580 "Marsha Marsha Marsha," 0586 "Vera Special."

It happens to be a look I'm really fond of, and even if it weren't, I see orange so rarely that I'd be inclined to keep and cherish it even if it were terrible. But it's not terrible! Hooray! The spathe is a decent size, and so far doesn't seem to want to flip backward. Add in the color, and I think that easily puts Vera into the top 25% of all seedlings.

The leaves are also basically identical to Marsha's, which makes sense because Marsha and Vera were both divided from 0115 "Erlene Adopter," and are either clones or siblings.6 Marsha, Adam, and Vera have another thing in common, which is that they have all done this at some point:

A weird 0586 leaf, by reflected (L) and transmitted (R) light.

Not all the leaves, or even most. Just a few per plant. In all three cases, it appeared basically overnight, I hadn't done anything any differently that I could remember, the leaves otherwise appear perfectly healthy, and it doesn't seem to be spreading or intensifying. I don't have any very satisfying theories about what's going on: it sort of resembles certain rare kinds of virus damage, and sort of resembles some kinds of fertilizer deficiency and mineral toxicity, but if it's fertilizer-related, then it's weird that of all the Anthuriums here, it's only affecting three very closely-related plants. I mean, they all get basically the same fertilizer, and I water heavily enough that anything toxic should all have been washed out of the soil long before the leaves changed colors. The coloration doesn't look much like most viruses I've seen, either. So I don't know what's going on.

The unaffected leaves are unremarkable. Nice when new, dull and kind of plain when older. Resistant to thrips damage, though, which is always nice.

Like her relatives, Vera suckers thickly, another strongly positive trait. It remains to be seen whether Vera will be like her relatives in being impossible to pollinate. I don't know how many blooms have appeared and withered without any pollination on 0120 "Eliza Boutisecksis," but, like, several. And I haven't had any luck with 0580 "Marsha Marsha Marsha" either. I suppose sexual reproduction doesn't seem as urgent when you can make so many suckers.

So overall? Vera's not perfect, but she's a keeper. No question about it.


1 (I'm writing this on Friday August 21. It really was a pretty rough day, internetially speaking. Absolutely nothing worked the first time I tried it.)
2 Not to be confused with the scalepocalypse, or the miteaclysm.
I'm pretty sure I haven't mentioned the miteaclysm before, so:
The Anthuriums in the living room, i.e., the parent varieties of most of my Anthurium seedlings, have developed some kind of mite problem, though the mites in question don't appear to be spider mites. Or at least they're not particularly inclined to spin webs. I suppose they could still be really lazy spider mites.

(on the NOID red)

I'm not super worried about the mites, which I figure will probably go away once the days get shorter and colder. (This has happened in previous years.) The predatory mites are also alleged to go after spider mites, so hypothetically, the predatory mites could kill two birds with one stone although come on how are you ever going to kill two birds with one stone unless the birds are like lying on the ground with one of them resting its head directly on top of the second bird's head and they're both holding perfectly still? And even then, if the birds saw you walk up with a stone they're not going to keep sitting like that, they're going to fly away, right? I question the whole premise of the idiom, is what I'm saying. (And don't even get me started on "the more the merrier." I mean, some of the "more" might be assholes! How's that going to make anybody happy? And how are you supposed to transport eggs if you don't put them all in one basket? Two baskets? That's not efficient at all! Do you even know how much baskets cost these days?)
Anyway. The point is, it's possible that the predatory mites could solve all kinds of problems for me, though at this point my best-case imaginary scenario is that they slow down the thrips, a little. Expecting more than that seems like a recipe for disappointment.
3 As did another reader, by e-mail, some time ago, though if I remember right they didn't claim to have tried predatory mites personally; they were just suggesting it as an option.
4 I cannot imagine how much it must suck to be the employee who has to count out 50,000 individual mites to put in the bottles. No wonder they're expensive: that must take weeks. And what tiny tweezers they must have to use!
5 At least in the short run. In theory, I could maybe breed thrips-resistant seedlings, given enough time, but the thrips reproduce so much faster than the Anthuriums that I suspect the thrips could come up with new attacks more effectively than the Anthuriums could come up with new defenses.
6 Erlene herself has never bloomed, but offsets thickly and has similar foliage, like Vera and Marsha, so it wouldn't surprise me if all three plants were genetically identical. A fourth plant divided off of Erlene, 0581 "Adam All," has similar foliage and produced an orange bud once, but Adam sucked at follow-through and hasn't tried again. Wouldn't be surprised if he were a clone also, though.
Erlene/Vera/Marsha/Adam are from sibling group AG (seed parent 'Orange Hot;' sow date 12/7/11). 0120 "Eliza Boutisecksis" is from sibling group AH ("Orange Hot" and 12/17/11), which is close enough in sow date that it's entirely possible that Eliza is a half- or full sibling of the others, but she's probably not a clone of any of them.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Anthurium no. 0564 "Shannel"

From time to time, I get comments on posts, or e-mails, to the effect of, geez, your post today makes it sound like you must be [miserable, overwhelmed, depressed, stressed-out], what with all the [scale, thrips, fungus, ugly blooms, other disappointments or catastrophes]. I'm usually surprised to hear this, because however much complaining I may have been doing, I wasn't actually miserable. Then I wind up preoccupied for an afternoon: am I being too negative? Am I depressed and just haven't realized it yet? Etc.

It's also the case, a bit less often, that people will comment to the effect of wow, your place must be beautiful, what with all the flowers and stuff, I bet it's just AMAZING to live there. Which is also surprising to hear, because, you know, to me it's just my house, and the plants are just things in the house, like walls and doors and plumbing. I mean, sure, I recognize that this house is different from other houses I could be living in, and I could hardly forget about how much time it takes to maintain them all, but I'm not blown away by how amazing it is to have a house full of plants when other people don't, any more than I'm periodically blown away by how amazing it to have a toilet when other people don't, or stopped in my tracks by the overwhelming beauty of the front door or something. Toilets, front doors, and shelves filled with plants are all utterly ordinary things in my world, and it makes no sense to think that they might not be there.

The point being that what you, as a reader, might imagine a house full of Anthurium1 seedlings to feel like is different from how it actually feels to me. I do still get depressed, frustrated, jubilant, or excited about things that happen here, of course, but the threshold for what's needed to trigger a feeling is really high. At least some of this is due to something I think of as the "Texas Effect."

The Texas Effect is so named because the first place I remember hearing it articulated was in a column by the late, wonderful Molly Ivins. I don't have the exact quote on hand, but it was something to the effect of Texas being so big that it was not at all unusual for the state to be both flooding and in a drought at the same time. In the same sort of way, it's perfectly normal for my plant collection to leave me despondent and jubilant at the same time. There are occasional moments when most of the news has been consistently good for a week, and some seedling or another has done something particularly surprising and wonderful, and I think I'm finally on top of the scale situation (and the other situations) and I'm fairly happy; there are more frequent moments when most of the news is consistently bad for a week, and all the blooms are coming up pink / pink,2 and I truly am mildly depressed and discouraged over how I'm never going to get rid of the scale (and the other things). But my moods are mostly, if not completely, divorced from what the Anthurium seedlings are doing. Seeing scale on one plant is nothing. Even throwing out one plant is nothing. Having one nice new bloom is very nearly nothing.

With that for context, let's look at Shannel.3

Shannel is not a keeper.

The bloom started out tiny, and ragged around the base. It's not an interesting color. There are thrips scars.

As it ages, the spathe flips backwards, curls under in the ugliest possible way, and tears itself some more.

The internodal distance is long enough to make it awkward to move around, as well4 --

-- though the leaves are fine, maybe even pleasant, individually.

The most attractive things about Shannel, actually, are her buds. I don't ordinarily bother to provide photos of the buds in these posts, because . . . well, because you can usually guess what the buds look like pretty easily from looking at the finished bloom. Red blooms have red buds. Pink blooms have pink buds. Big blooms had big buds. Sometimes the color might change (at least one pink bloom, 0040 "Ivy Winters," consistently had orange buds, and I've seen an orange bloom with pink buds very recently), but had you asked me what makes for an attractive bud, say, six months ago, I wouldn't have even really understood the premise that buds can be attractive. But of course they can.

And if Shannel's spathes only stayed white at the bottom, with a red tip (like some of the A. kamemotoanum hybrids I mentioned a while back), I'd be excited about keeping her around, but sadly, that's not the case.

So, she's most likely a failure, though she was exempt from round 1 of the (just-completed) Anthurium-seedling purge because of the developing flower. I would not bet on her to survive round 2.

The point, though, is that this -- crappy bloom, throwing out seedlings -- is balanced out by other blooms that look good and are doing interesting things. I guess it's about time I showed you another one of those then, right? So I'll do that on Wednesday.


1 and Schlumbergera! Let's not forget about the Schlumbergeras! (To be perfectly honest, I think I may actually like the Schlumbergeras better than the Anthuriums. They're at least a hell of a lot less trouble.)
2 I shouldn't complain about the pink / pinks as much as I do; they're perfectly nice on their own terms, and it's totally a case of familiarity breeding contempt. They're not even all bad: 0241 "Megan Gigaterra" is a pretty nice pink / pink, for example. I just get bored.
Also, a lot of the smaller and more thrips-ravaged plants in fact are pink / pink, which is possibly making me like the bigger, cleaner blooms less by association somehow.
3 (pronounced the same as "Chanel," FYI)
4 Shannel was divided from 0050 "Roxxxy Andrews," and so is either identical to, or siblings with, Roxxxy. I should probably say was identical to or siblings with: Roxxxy was thrown out in the first round of the 4-inch seedling purge, a week and a half ago. Why? Almost entirely because Roxxxy had absurdly long internodes. (And then also because she was old and had not yet bloomed, but that was a prerequisite for getting on the list in the first place and so doesn't count.) So are we surprised by Shannel's internodal length? No. We are not.