Saturday, November 7, 2015

Random plant event: Dracaena 'Indonesian Tracker'

The husband's office was a magical place this summer and fall, apparently: the Polyscias fruticosa bloomed for the first time in June; the Anthurium schlechtendalii bloomed in October, and now the Dracaena 'Indonesian Tracker' in November.1 I had no reason to think that any of them would ever bloom, so it's neat that they all have, and downright peculiar that they did so within a few months of one another.

There is, of course, a smell. It's definitely an improvement on the vinegar / garbage can smell of the Anthurium,2 which is lucky for us, since it's also really strong. It's a bit like I remember the Dracaena surculosa flowers smelling, though some of that might be because the flowers look a lot the same and my brain is lazy.3 I described D. surculosa as smelling like an intense generic floral smell, with maybe a note of a chemical/solvent-type thing in there.

I would describe the smell of 'Indonesian Tracker' similarly, up to a point: the solvent/chemical note is still there. In fact, in the early afternoon, it's all that's there, and it's not pleasant. But a heavy floral scent takes over pretty shortly thereafter. I couldn't figure out specifically what it smells like. It's sort of especially hard to figure out in this case, because I only get about ten seconds to try to name it before my nose adapts and I can't smell it anymore, plus I can only identify a few flowers by scent in the first place so my vocabulary's pretty limited,4 and worst of all, it changes during the course of the night, but it reminds me a little of the Murraya paniculata in the early evening, and of carnations in the late evening.

There's also a sweet note to the fragrance -- on Halloween night when the flowers first began to open, I was working in my office and kept getting distracted by a new smell that was definitely not the Hoya lacunosa,5 something that brought to mind white birthday cake. This is hard to detect when closer to the flowers, because the floral smell overwhelms it, but it seems to be the component that travels the best. The only thing I can think of that smells at all similar to this part is Duranta.

I don't know much about 'Indonesian Tracker.' Asiatica Nursery (where I bought my plant, in 2008) presented it as a Dracaena hybrid, but they've since gone out of business, so I can't ask them about it. Logee's sells 'Indonesian Tracker,' and their information page for 'Indonesian Tracker' also identifies it as a hybrid but doesn't go any further than that. I'd really like to know what it's a hybrid of, but nobody seems to know or care, and searching the internet mostly brings up people selling it or my own posts mentioning it. No patent, even. So I'll guess D. fragrans (for the long leaves, upright habit, and sweet-smelling blooms) x D. surculosa (for the spots and whorls of leaves): if you stretched a D. surculosa leaf out to D. fragrans length, and the spots stretched along with it, you'd get something that resembled 'Indonesian Tracker.' I doubt that's correct, but it's my guess.

As a houseplant, it's a little underwhelming, in the usual Dracaena ways: it gets leggy over time, it gets taller but not wider. That sort of thing. I wouldn't say it's bad, though. I mean, if nothing else, it's very easy, and it grows so slowly that you'll have it for a few years before the legginess becomes a problem.

With some Dracaenas, the appearance of flowers would mean that the stem is about to branch; I suppose we'll find out if 'Indonesian Tracker' is one of those.


1 Technically October: the first blooms opened on Halloween night.
2 I don't remember there being a smell with the Polyscias.
3 Dracaena flowers all look like this to some degree or another. The color varies slightly, but the basic construction is similar: long, narrow white petals, with equally long white stamens and one (?) pistil in the center. (Examples:
Dracaena marginata, Dracaena fragrans, Dracaena surculosa var. punctata, Dracaena sanderiana, Dracaena thalioides.)
Also very similar: Sansevieria flowers. (e.g.) Sansevieria and Dracaena are pretty closely related -- part of the subfamily Nolinoideae, along with Aspidistras (whose flowers look nothing like this) and Beaucarnea (ditto except for being approximately the same color) -- so this shouldn't surprise me as much as it does.
4 I can sort of imagine the smells of Gardenia, marigolds, roses, lilacs, lily-of-the-valley, geraniums, petunias, peonies, Sansevieria, chrysanthemums, Eucharis, carnations, and Murraya paniculata, at least well enough to decide whether something smells like them. I can't really conjure up jasmine, hyacinths, tuberose, lilies, iris, heliotropes, lavender, alyssum, freesias, orange blossoms, or sweet peas, though I'm certain I've smelled all of them at one time or another.
5 (which is what's usually responsible for pleasant smells that suddenly appear after dark)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Anthurium no. 0532 "Amber Alert"

Perhaps I should stop naming Anthurium seedlings "Amber."

I mean, okay, "Amber Alert" is better than 0558 "Amber Waves," to be sure. If nothing else, she appears to have a functional spadix, and the color is smoother and prettier. But the peduncle is unusually short, like that of 0335 "Donna Fanuday",1

the leaves have lots of small blemishes,

and the plant overall has very few leaves and looks sort of unfinished.

I suppose that last point could be a good sign -- Amber wants to bloom so badly she'll start doing it before she's grown many leaves! -- but whether she's going to be a heavy bloomer or not, I'm not impressed with this Amber either. She has a bud at the moment, so I'll let her finish doing whatever she's going to do before making a final decision, but it'll have to be one hell of a second bloom if she wants to stay.

Speaking of second blooms:

I said I would give 0416 "Holy McGrail" a chance to make a second bloom, the theory being that maybe it would be better than the first. And this is what she came up with:

It's a larger bloom than the first one, I think, and it's not torn like the first one, but it actually has more thrips damage, and the color is both boring and poorly executed, so as soon as I have time to deal with the paperwork, Holy's out of here.

EDIT: I've added two new pages to the blog, Anthurium seedling gallery and Schlumbergera seedling gallery. They're mostly there for my own convenience, to save me time when I need to talk about multiple seedlings at once by collecting basic information about the seedlings and the posts about them into a single location, but I didn't see any reason not to make them public, so there you go. Just in case you have a crisis that can only be solved by looking at a ton of Anthurium and Schlumbergera photos or something.


1 I was undecided about Donna in her introduction post, but I have decided since that she's worth keeping. The second peduncle was taller, the thrips mostly seem to leave her alone, and the foliage is nice. Granted, I can still change my mind. But I think Donna's okay.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Anthurium no. 0333 "Isaiah Littleprayer"

A bit of an emotional roller coaster with this one. The bud was a bit purple, which excited me so much that I moved Isaiah up to a 6-inch pot before seeing the finished bloom. And then the bloom eventually did open, and it was underwhelmingly red.

I'd been expecting a color closer to that of 0386 "Violet Chachki," given the color of the bud. It was also a pretty small bloom. So then I was upset with myself for having wasted a 6-inch spot on such an ordinary seedling.

But. A couple days later, it actually had gotten a little more purple.1

And I noticed that the spadix had gotten a little more purple as well. Purple enough to look sort of familiar. Where had I seen that combination of pale yellow and pale purple before? Eventually it hit me: 'Krypton!'


For some reason, 'Krypton' has been a difficult seed parent. It blooms sporadically. When it does bloom, it's difficult to pollinate. When pollinated, it doesn't produce many seeds. When it does produce seeds, they tend not to germinate, and the seeds that do germinate tend to either die or remain small. I don't have numbers for the number of blooms, seed production, and germination; I just know that I've been frustrated by this for a long time.2

But Isaiah changes things a little. I'd suspected for a while that even if 'Krypton' was difficult to pollinate, it was still at least producing pollen. This is the first indication I've gotten that that could be correct.3

Not that 'Krypton' is so special that its genes need to be preserved at all cost -- it's fine, but it doesn't bloom a lot, and the blooms are small -- I'm just more likely to see unusual things if I have a larger genetic pool to play around with. So this is encouraging.4

As far as Isaiah goes, his leaves and overall shape are decent: a little leaf damage from thrips or whatever here and there, but it's fine. The spathe itself is surprisingly blemish-free.

So. Given the opportunity to do it all over again, I'd probably still move Isaiah up to a 6-inch pot. He's a keeper. And as I get used to him, I'm finding him easier to appreciate. Everything's worked out fine. But I really should stop moving plants up before they've even bloomed.


1 Some of the difference between the photos is due to my not getting exactly the same color balance, which is pretty obvious when you compare the backgrounds. The color change really did happen, though.
2 I can tell you that I've only ever managed to pot up seven seedlings from 'Krypton,' only three of which survive, and only one survivor (0599 "Butta") has been robust enough to move to a 4-inch pot. And "Butta" is actually the smallest 4-inch plant in its flat.
3 (Isaiah's seed parent, incidentally, is the NOID red. He's a sibling of 0334 "Jean Poole," who is so much larger and oranger that I'm guessing they're only half-siblings. Though Jean's spadix is also a little on the purple side, so you never know.)
4 It's still probably the case that 'Gemini,' 'White Gemini,' and the NOID red make up the bulk of the seedlings' genes: they're all extraordinarily good at catching pollen, and the NOID red is also good at shedding pollen. I don't have hard data on it, because I don't know who the pollen parents are for my seedlings, but I would estimate that 'Gemini,' 'White Gemini,' and the NOID red combined have probably contributed 75% of the seedlings' genes, with the remaining 25% from 'Orange Hot,' the NOID purple, 'Pandola,' 'Krypton,' 'Peppermint Gemini,' 'Joli,' the NOID green/pink, 'Midori,' NOID pink, NOID red-violet, and 'Red Hot' combined.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum Keyeshill

This one's a nice, dignified, respectable-type Paphiopedilum. Nothing too out of the ordinary, though the petals (or are these sepals? I can never remember. . . .) are maybe a little narrower than usual for a paph.

Also noteworthy: Winston Churchill sure gets around, doesn't he?

Paphiopedilum Keyeshill = Paphiopedilum Carl Keyes x Paphiopedilum Winston Churchill (Ref.)

Winston Churchill and his offspring previously: 2012, 2013, 2015