Saturday, July 1, 2017

Anthurium no. 1452 "Chastity Vain"

Chastity is the first and (so far) only seedling from 0232 Rhoda Badcek to bloom. Rhoda didn't do much for me; she was a medium-sized pink/pink. Chastity, on the other hand, is interesting insofar as she's had a really difficult time deciding what sort of blooms to make. The first was a small light red / light yellow,

followed by a severely damaged red / yellow (and yes, those are actual big gaping holes in the spathe behind the spadix, something which has never happened to such a large degree before),

before finally managing a normal-looking, good-sized red / yellow.

The foliage isn't great, though it's better than this picture

makes it look. The 3-inch Anthurium seedlings no longer fit very well on their shelves, and many of them have reached the point where they're touching the fluorescent lights above them, which leads to dead patches like you see on the tip of that leaf. Chastity has since been moved into a 4-inch pot, and has more room in every direction, so this isn't an ongoing problem with her anymore. Though as you can see, the thrips remain a problem.

The full-plant photo is a bit dated as well; she's grown a lot more foliage since getting moved to the 4-inch pot, and doesn't look nearly as scraggly as this anymore.

Chastity's probably not interesting enough to get further promotions, but as long as she's happy in the 4-inch pot and I have the room, I imagine she'll get to stay.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 199

Unrelated thing: I still have way, way more Coffea plants than I probably ought to,1 and this summer I decided to move them all outside because, I guess, I wanted them to get even bigger and more unwieldy than they already are. And then the weather forecast called for three nights in a row of temperatures in the low 50s (F; equivalent in C is 10-12). I've been assuming for quite a while that the lowest temperature they could tolerate was 60F/16C.

That first night, the low was only supposed to be 54F (12C), and I was like, well, they're under partial shade, near the house, they're pretty close together, so they probably won't get that cold, and it wouldn't necessarily be a terrible thing for me to lose a few of them anyway. Plus I don't want to drag 25 plants in the house and then out again three times. So I let them sit there. And the next morning they all looked fine. The following night, it was supposed to get down to 51F/11C, and they made it through that okay as well. So although I don't know exactly how cold they got, and the temperature was only supposed to dip below 55F for a few hours each night anyway, I feel like I've demonstrated to myself that Coffea can tolerate an air temperature of 55F for brief periods, possibly colder than that. ( says they're okay down to 40F/5C, but that probably assumes that they're planted in the ground. I'll bring them inside if/when we go below 50F, whatever says.)

I did have some sunburn on the two largest ones, alas. Should have turned the plants a couple times a day until they got used to it. They're all growing visibly already, though, so I imagine the damaged leaves will be replaced by shiny new ones in no time at all.

So that's the Coffea report. Now for the Schlumbergera seedling.

199A is nice, but nothing we haven't seen a thousand times before. Difficult to get excited about.

I'm badly pressed for time, so: Along For The Ride, Dusty Springfield, Second Love, and Usually Unmentioned are our candidates this time.

Second Love is sort of a nice idea. First loves are so idealized in movies and TV and whatnot that it strikes me as a little weird. I mean, if you're lucky enough to have a second, third, fourth, etc., they're all special also. First loves aren't necessarily better, just more dramatically interesting. So why not fly a kite for a second love every once in a while? Alas, I decided that while the name was fine, there wasn't really any connection between it and the seedling, so I could probably do better.

Usually Unmentioned seems like an okay name for a seedling that's just one more orange/pink in an increasingly ridiculous line of orange/pinks. (Of course it's usually unmentioned -- why would you mention it?) But I discarded this one too. This year's Schlumbergera seedlings have shown me that some seedlings are consistent from one year to the next, and some of them change pretty dramatically. It wouldn't do to have a fantastic, amazing, one-of-a-kind seedling be Usually Unmentioned.

Along For The Ride kinda worked, because when I was making these decisions I was in the car in Iowa City,2 and although I had business in Iowa City and so had to go, I wasn't doing anything about it right then. The seedling, similarly, isn't doing anything incredible, but its siblings got to be potted up and show their stuff, so it got to be potted up as well. I don't dislike this name, but it's kind of bland, and I decided I liked Dusty Springfield better.

Well. Maybe it's more that I just felt bad, for considering Dusty Springfield repeatedly3 but not actually naming a seedling for her. What do I have against Dusty Springfield? Nothing. How would I feel about this if I were Dusty Springfield? I'd feel pretty bad. Why am I teasing Dusty Springfield this way? I don't know.

So, 199A Dusty Springfield. Finally.

Just four more Schlumbergeras and then we're done for the year, by the way.


1 (25, including the plant that produced the berries that became the other 24)
2 (technically North Liberty, but close enough)
3 For 106A Jaws of Elmo, 033A Clueless, and 178A Lulu's Night Off.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Unfinished business: Polyscias seedlings

I suppose "unfinished business" is misleading, as it implies that some kind of business is going to be finished here. It's totally not. But I thought you might be interested in seeing what the Polyscias seedlings are up to now that they're 21 months old.1 (Previously: at 0.9 months, 1.8 months, 8 months, and 13 months.)

Of 53 seeds sown, eleven did well enough to become official plants, on the spreadsheets and everything. Seven of those are still with us. One of the more surprising things about this (aside from the fact that Polyscias hybrids are self-fertile in the first place, and the fact that it's even possible to germinate Polyscias seeds indoors) is how dramatically different they've been in vigor and appearance. Seedlings 5, 7, 10, and 11 all died. Seedlings 6 and 8 are still with us, but are very short -- measured from the soil line to the top of the plant, seedling 6 is only 7.5 inches tall (19 cm), and seedling 8 is only 4.5 inches (11 cm). Which sucks, because seedling 8 was really interesting.

But. The remaining five plants are all doing well, for some definition or another of "well."

Seedling 1 most resembles the parent plant, though it has more finely-divided leaves, and the leaves are spaced further apart, or something. Mostly it's annoying because it's top-heavy, and flops over when it gets dry. But it has, at least, started to branch since the last time we checked in, which means that the base of the plant is filling in with foliage. Maybe this will help keep the main stem upright.

Seedling 2 was my favorite, and remains so. It's deceptively small-looking in the photo because after I repotted it into an 8-inch pot, the main stem started to grow sideways. I felt like I had the stem straight when I repotted, though that's happened with a cutting of the original plant too, so maybe I'm bad at judging what's vertical when I'm repotting.

In any event, the cutting was itself very large (large enough that I didn't think I should remove all of it, which is why the plant still leans to the left in the photo), and I've managed to root it in a large plastic container already. Haven't potted the cutting up yet because it has a lot of leaves, and I'm afraid that it's going to need a bigger root system to support them. But in any case, seedling 2 is the first one to be propagated.

Though seedling 3 wanted to be the first seedling to be propagated. In February, it bloomed.

The flowers opened and closed, just like they're supposed to, but I was unable to pollinate them. I don't know what the problem was. After this, seedling 3 went through a terrible awkward period where the stem that had bloomed fell apart (dropped leaves and buds), and then some branches developed from the bottom and took over so it filled in. Not sure what to expect it to do next.

The leaf color remains unusual as well; the photos are crap2 but the leaves are nearly black, much darker than those of the parent plant. (Similarly, seedlings 1 and 4 are both very green; seedling 2 is green but shows up bluish in photos because the leaflets are broad and waxy; seedling 9 is a very dark green, similar to 3.)

Seedling 4 is the shortest of the "tall" plants. It retains leaves almost perfectly, which is all the more remarkable because the leaves are very thick and three-dimensional; you'd think they'd shade one another out really badly and then the plant would lose the ones that were most shaded. But no. It's very very thick, and very very fluffy, and I think it's probably the one most likely to have commercial appeal (very fluffy looking, slow grower, little/no leaf drop), though personally I'm more interested in 2 and 3, because they look the least like anything I've seen before.

And finally, number 9, which very nearly didn't make it -- when it was young, a few of its leaves developed a bunch of yellow spots and then dropped off. I was pretty sure that it would linger and then eventually die, but it bounced back and seems more or less fine now. Granted, it's not especially pretty. The foliage is too sparse, and it's only just now starting to branch from the base. So I'm thinking it's probably got the least commercial potential of the five.

I think at this point, it's pretty safe to assume that these five will be with us for a while longer, and it would be nice to have some way to refer to them besides the numbers. Which means I'm officially asking for name suggestions. Ideally, we're looking for a list that's basically infinite (like types of music3 or mass nouns4), a list of things for which there are five main ones and then a near-infinite number of smaller ones, like Lakes of the United States,5 original Buffy: The Vampire Slayer "Scooby Gang" characters,6 or auto show locations,7 or groups consisting of only five things, if it's possible to imagine extending the list with additional, plausible-sounding names, like the Spice Girls8 or Marx Brothers.9

In any case. If you have a group of names that you've always wanted to see used for a group of five Polyscias seedlings but you never suggested the idea because it's not really an everyday sort of opportunity, now is your time to shine. As it is, I'm kinda leaning toward the Spice Girls, and I can already tell that that's a terrible idea.


1 (Alternately: I thought you might be willing to pretend to be interested, if it means getting to look at something other than an Anthurium or Schlumbergera.)
2 I had to take the full-plant photos in this post outside, because the plants no longer fit into the photo setup I've been using. The lighting, as a result, is not what I'm used to, and seedling 3's photo turned out especially poorly because the tops of the leaves are very nearly the color of the fabric behind them.
3 (seedlings 1, 2, 3, 4, and 9 could be Classical, Top 40, Death Metal, Country, and Alternative, perhaps)
4 (Mass nouns are things that aren't directly countable, like Air, Gravel, Lava, Sand, and Ashes: you don't say one sand, two sands, three sands, etc. -- if you have to quantify an amount of sand, you specify units and then attach the numbers to those, like six grains of sand, or three tons of sand. If you're part of the International Society of Rare Sands Collectors, and you have samples of sand from sixty different locations in little vials in a display cabinet on your wall, then I guess you can talk about having sixty sands, but that's a very special circumstance, and even then, everybody would know that what you really mean is samples of sixty distinct kinds of sand.)
5 Erie, Superior, Huron, Michigan, and Ontario.
Later seedlings, if any, could take Great Salt, Of The Woods, Iliamna, Oahe, Okeechobee, Pontchartrain, Sakakawea, Champlain, etc.
6 Cordelia, Willow, Giles, Buffy, and Xander. Though it might get weird having a non-willow plant named "Willow."
Subsequent seedlings, if any, could get Anya, Angel, Oz, Tara, etc.
7 Paris, Tokyo, Detroit, Geneva, and Frankfurt are "the Big Five" per Wikipedia, but without even having to look it up I know they have auto shows in plenty of other places, so it's basically infinite.
8 Baby, Sporty, Scary, Posh, and Ginger; could maybe be extended to Dreary, Sundry, Fairy, Glory, Sleazy, Spacy, Weary, Wary, Hangry, Tiny, Rosemary?, Hairy, Fiery, Tory, Marsh, Harsh, Danger, Lager, etc., though I feel like the number of plausible additional spice girls is pretty small. It doesn't take very long at all before you find yourself seriously considering Notary Spice, Dairy Spice, and Laundry Spice.
In fairness, some of the names they actually went with seem super-questionable to me, too. Like, I don't think I would ever have come up with "Baby Spice," because ew. Also Scary is fine, I guess, but giving that name to the only non-white member? Really?
9 Groucho, Harpo, Zeppo, Chico, and Gummo; additional Marx Brothers names are also pretty limited, but I suppose we could consider Banjo, Bongo, Cheapo, Cargo, Combo, No-Go, Rambo, Limbo, Dorko, Dingo, Jumbo, Turbo, Stucco, Devo, Loco, Crisco, Dodo, Judo, etc.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Anthurium no. 1268 "Li'l Miss Hot Mess"

So finally we get an interesting one again. It's mostly interesting for who it's related to, not for its physical appearance, granted, but it's interesting, and something I hadn't seen before.

Li'l Miss Hot Mess is the first seedling from 'Midori' to bloom. I predicted in July 2014 that the best-case scenario was for a 'Midori' seedling to bloom in January 2016, and it actually took one year more than that (first bud in December 2016; first actual bloom in February 2017). It looked like this:

Which I'll be the first to say that that's not incredible or anything. I'd been hoping for something closer to 'Midori' itself, with solid green, large, heavily blistered spathes,

but I suppose white with green "ears" is arguably more interesting and ornamental. Looks more like a flower, you know. 'Midori' mostly just confused people.1

Li'l Miss Hot Mess has turned out to be unusually difficult to photograph, both because the camera doesn't know what to do with the white spathe on a black background, and because they've had very short, wide, asymmetrical spathes that flipped back from the spadix as they aged, making it difficult for the camera to figure out where to focus, and difficult for me to find an angle that shows the weird proportions accurately.

(the second bloom)

I've also managed to pollinate this seedling,

(also the second bloom, about five weeks later)

which isn't necessarily going to lead to anything, but: since the last thing I said on the subject was that I'd stopped trying to pollinate the Anthuriums at all because I was depressed, angry, and discouraged by all the bugs and diseases, I thought it counted as news anyway.

As far as foliage goes, 'Midori' produced a relatively small number of large leaves, and the leaves were waxier than the typical seedling;2 both 'Midori' seedlings to bud so far have done the same.3

The shorter, wider spathes happened to several seedlings lately. I'm not sure that it's necessarily bad, but the first seedling I remember doing this, 0063 Audrey Quest, later produced more normally-proportioned spathes, so this makes me think that it has an environmental cause. The seedlings that have done this are physically near one another (1268 Li'l Miss Hot Mess and 1209 Raven Samore Holiday are on the same shelf; 1224, 1299, and 1373 share a shelf also), but I can't figure out what all five have in common. Maybe it doesn't mean anything. Maybe it's another odd thing first blooms will sometimes do, and the location thing is coincidence.

Anyway. Obviously a keeper; hopefully it will give me more interesting seedlings in the future.


1 Past tense, because 'Midori' has since died. The cause of death wasn't clear, but I think it was too wet, too dry, or somehow both at once. I'm increasingly convinced that Anthuriums are capable of being both too dry and too wet simultaneously.
2 It's not usually noticeable in person, but all Anthuriums produce some wax on their leaves, and mainly I notice it when editing photos; waxy leaves wind up looking bluer. 0426 Zelda Zizzle is a good example of a seedling with waxy-looking leaves.
3 The other 'Midori' seedling to bud is 1103 Valeria T., which has even bigger, waxier leaves, and doesn't look like it's going to have a large, solid green, symmetrical, blistered spathe either. My fingers are crossed for something 'Midori'-like, but so far, Valeria looks like possibly another yellow-tan, like 1299 Sinthia D Meanor. I could be happy with that too: Sinthia's the most interesting seedling all year.
Li'l Miss Hot Mess and Valeria have a lot of pressure on them to keep 'Midori's genetic legacy going; only four 'Midori' seedlings are still alive.
1033 Phoenix (weak)
1092 Mia Amor (weak)
1093 Luna Stones (dry)
1094 Ella Vawaydego (dry)
1101 India Vent (weak)
1102 Eden Fertu (weak)
1103 Valeria T.
1104 Angel F. DeMornay (dry)
1105 Amy Vodkahaus (accidentally buried under potting soil during watering and didn't bounce back when uncovered)
1268 Li'l Miss Hot Mess
1357 Dayonna Hilton
1476 Anya

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 290

Seedling 290 was one of the really good white Schlumbergera seedlings: the flowers were large,1 and it bloomed several times during the season. Some of this is probably because it was lucky enough to get a good spot near the window, not because it's intrinsically awesome, but lucky and good look the same at this particular moment.

The naming process has been agonizing, as a result. I had eleven contenders initially, ten of which had been considered for other seedlings, all of which could have been a perfectly good but not amazing name, and reduced that to the four names I present to you now: Giselle, Lyle Lovett, Mae West, and Our Lady Of Assumption.

Giselle is the new one. It was suggested anonymously in the comments for 128A Sloths Arrive Late, as a reference to the ballet of the same name.

Lyle Lovett was rejected for 128A Sloths Arrive Late.

Mae West was under consideration for 067A Cyndi Lauper, but was rejected on the grounds that the real-life Mae West apparently had a thing for wearing white in public, and decorating her home in white and gold, whereas 067A was very colorful.

Our Lady of Assumption2 was considered for 165A Assertive, but I rejected it on the grounds that it was a bad fit with a magenta flower, and I said I'd bring it back for this one, so here we are.3

Just as a point of interest, the smallest 50% or so of the petals have a stripe of yellow-green down the center. I didn't notice it until 290A bloomed, but when I went back and looked at the other white seedlings, I discovered that all the white ones do this to some degree or another. I couldn't tell whether the non-white seedlings do it too, since I don't generally take photos of the flowers' butts4 so there aren't a lot of examples to work from, but judging from the few cases where I did, it looks like non-white seedlings either don't have any green, or they do but you can't see it because the other pigments are intense enough to make it impossible to see.

Since all four name options would work, and I actually like all four of them, it's basically impossible to narrow down the list. So I tried to conduct an experiment: I imagined forcing myself to accept all four outcomes, and then tried to determine how disappointed I would feel in each case. Which is pretty difficult to do, it turns out, but I determined that I would be most disappointed by Mae West, and least disappointed by Our Lady Of Assumption, so I guess this one is 290A Our Lady Of Assumption. Which feels pretty weird, but it was kind of a weird situation to begin with. Better luck next time, Mae, Giselle, and Lyle.

Also, as a side note -- I have decided that I actually hate Europa as a name for seedling 190A, so I changed its name to the runner-up, Snezhana, even though changing all the blog posts and spreadsheets is going to be a pain. It's so much of a pain that I've never done it before, but I hate Europa that much.


1 Though there's a lot less variability in Schlumbergera flower size than there is in Anthurium spathe size. No doubt it's still possible to breed Schlumbergera for larger blooms, but I feel like it would be frustrating, and progress would be slow.
2 (Which is one of the names intended to honor a specific person from my life, and is in fact unusually perfect for the person in question. It should really be Our Lady Of The Assumption, but I'm trying to keep the names under 25 characters if at all possible.)
3 For the sake of completeness, the seven rejected names were: 14th Anniversary, Glass Slipper, I Made It All Up, Ice Castle, Magician's Dove, Pegasus, and Snezhana.
4 Fine. What would you call them, then?