Saturday, June 1, 2019


One: the article I mentioned writing last year for the Old Farmer's Almanac Garden Guide is out; print copies have been available on their website for a few months. I've also heard of print copies being available in actual stores, though I have yet to witness this in the wild.

Two: you've probably figured this out already, but I think I'm done writing the blog. Or at least I'm going to stop feeling bad about not writing posts, which probably amounts to the same thing in the long run. (It leaves the door open in case I later decide that there's something I just have to share with the world.)

There are multiple reasons for this, but the two biggest are 1) plant-writing burnout and 2) discovering that I am substantially happier when I spend less time on the internet.1 Despite 1), I am still going to have and grow way too many plants; despite 2), I am still going to approve comments2 and respond to e-mails and update photos and names in the seedling galleries (because sometimes I have found the galleries convenient for my own purposes). Blog-adjacent stuff will all probably happen much more slowly than it used to, though, and some of you know that I'm already wildly inconsistent when it comes to e-mail. If I manage to name the Schlumbergera seedlings from the 2018-19 season, I will probably post to let you know what those are, though I don't promise to explain the names.

It's also possible that a few older posts may be edited or deleted from time to time, as I'm increasingly uncomfortable with having so much personal stuff on here. (I know nothing ever goes away completely on the internet, but it seems like there'd be no down side to making some things more difficult to find.) Changes to the archives, if any, will likely be so minimal that you won't notice them,3 and to be honest, combing through it all and editing stuff feels like it would be a lot of work, so I'm not sure this is likely.

I wish I had other houseplant blogs to point you to, but I don't. I don't encounter very many to begin with; I can only remember seeing three actively-updated ones in the last two or three years. Of those, one is primarily interested in showing you Instagram-worthy photos of plants, without much actual information. The other two offered information, but it was the same information you could get by doing a search on-line: they weren't bringing personal experience or "here's what the books don't tell you:" or trivia about the plants. I mean, goodness knows it didn't always work, but I did try to throw in something that wasn't just "water when dry; bright indirect light; propagate by cuttings; watch for scale, mealybugs, and spider mites."

Though I suppose sometimes you just want to know when to water your Aloe, and digressions about artificial insemination of sheep and rants about the herbal supplement industry only get in the way.

If readers want to suggest some other houseplant blogs for other readers to look at, please, leave a link in the comments. I promise not to say if your blog is one of the ones I refused to endorse above.4 Though I also don't promise to publish your comment: see footnote 2.


1 This piece (probably NSFW) by Patricia Lockwood in the London Review of Books, which I strongly encourage you to read even if the internet seems fine to you, is the best description I have yet found of the way being on the internet has become unpleasant to me personally. (It won't necessarily help you understand what I mean; I just don't have anything better to point you to.)
2 (Though some of you will have noticed that I am getting a lot pickier about which blog comments I approve, in ways which probably feel arbitrary and ridiculous to you but make sense to me. Though they are actually probably just arbitrary and ridiculous. But perhaps adding an element of gambling to blog commenting will make it more exciting?)
3 (assuming you ever look at the archives anyway, which I doubt)
4 Oh, and -- if you have a houseplant blog and you know that I've looked at it in the last two or three years, you shouldn't feel offended that I've declined to endorse it. Choose whichever option makes you feel better:
A. Mr. Subjunctive looked at my blog and then forgot about it; he's declining to endorse other blogs, not mine. Probably blocked it from his mind because he was jealous of my brilliance.
B. I don't give a fuck about whether my blog meets Mr. Subjunctive's criteria for being a good houseplant blog, because it's mine, and the only person who has to be happy with it is me. Which I am.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Anthurium no. 1733 "Jayyvon Monroe"

Jayyvon isn't doing anything bizarre that needs explanation like 1332 Alexis Gabrielle Sherrington or 1715 Tyler Linoleum; I'm giving him a post anyway because he's so pretty.

Seed parent is 0108 Deena Sequins, who herself was descended from the NOID purple, so that might explain the color. 'Krypton' could be in the mix somewhere as well: Jayyvon looks a lot like 'Krypton.'

The leaves are decent so far,

and the plant as a whole is a bit leggy (like 0108 Deena Sequins), but some suckering might happen if I up-potted, which would make it look better. So much to do, so little time.

That's kind of all I can say about this one. Sometimes you just have to let the pictures speak for themselves.

Not sure how many Anthurium seedlings are left to write about before we head back into the Schlumbergera posts. At least one.

You can understand why I might not be excited about getting back to the Schlumbergeras, given how long it took to get through them all last year. This year seems to have a more manageable number, though (thirty, so far). Maybe it won't be that bad.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Anthurium no. 1332 "Alexis Gabrielle Sherrington"

And then I caught a cold, so there went another week. This year I seem to be catching every single illness that's going around: cross your fingers for me that the flu shot works this year.1

So. Alexis. Alexis is mostly notable for being a color combination that I wouldn't have guessed possible and have never seen before: green and orange.

Which more or less speaks for itself, I think. I mean, I don't have any explanation for it. The seed parent was 0334 Jean Poole, which is red / pink, about as opposite as you can get from green / orange:

So where did the orange and green come from? [shrug] The pollen parent, I suppose. But I don't know which one that was.

As with previous green-blooming seedlings (1419 Maya Douglas, 1720 Mado Lamotte), the intensity of the green fades as the spathe matures. This is the same bloom as the one above, three days later:

Not a huge difference, but it just kept getting fainter from there; by the time it died, it was basically just white. Didn't get a photo of that, though.

The foliage is surprisingly large and abundant, which may not actually be ideal for a flower that blooms green. One does want to be able to see the flower among all the leaves.

Some thrips scarring, too, which isn't ideal. I've seen worse, I suppose. Though thrips damage shows up really well on the spathes, which makes me sad.

I don't know that I'd call it beautiful, but this is the sort of thing I had been hoping for when I started growing out the seedlings. I was never going to see this in a store; it's cool that it exists. I'm actually surprised that it's possible: I don't think I've previously ever had an orange spadix that wasn't accompanied by a red, pink, or orange spathe. What other combinations might be possible that I haven't seen yet? White/purple? Green/purple? White/orange?

The Anthuriums, as I mentioned in the last post, are kind of falling apart on me: I ran out of room to keep expanding, and I haven't been culling the herd on purpose, so I have lots of seedlings in spaces too small for them to fit, and a lot of seedlings that really need to promote to larger pots but can't because there's no space for them. At some point, I do intend to rearrange them all and promote a few and so forth, and when that happens, Alexis is a strong candidate to get promoted to a 6-inch / 15 cm pot, but there's so much competition that I can't promise her anything.

In unrelated news: I happened to be in a houseplant-related establishment this week and saw a Dracaena marginata variety I hadn't seen before: the shape and proportions were the same as any other D. marginata, but the coloration was dark green with a yellow-green stripe down the center, more or less the same as D. reflexa 'Riki,' but on thinner, lighter leaves. I didn't take a picture,2 and I didn't buy it,3 but I still thought it was interesting enough to follow up on.

Best guess as to variety name: 'Ray of Sunshine,' per this, this, and this, though there's a 'Sunray' here that looks like basically the same thing. So much like the same thing, in fact, that I suspect someone's trying to steal someone else's patented plant by changing its name slightly.


1 According to the CDC website, the dominant strain this year is influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, the flu that caused the 2009-10 pandemic, which you may remember from all of the You Are Totally Going To Die Of The Flu stories you read that winter. My understanding is that it actually caused milder symptoms in most people than the average seasonal flu, but it also had the ability to infect cells deep in the lungs (normal flu viruses are limited to the nose and throat), and consequently resulted in a higher number of deaths among people under 50 than is typical, which is why the media freaked out so hard about it.
The vaccines available last fall were intended to protect against A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like, so I'm not actually super-worried about getting the flu. It's just that I've gotten everything else, it seems like. Which is remarkable for someone who barely ever leaves the house.
Alarmingly, Wikipedia says that about 33% of people with influenza have no symptoms. (The source is this study, in which healthy volunteers were deliberately infected with the flu.) I wouldn't have imagined that that number could be so high. This is one reason why it's important to get the vaccine even if you "never" get the flu, or you've had it before but it was no big deal: if you get the vaccine, not only are you personally less likely to get the flu, but the people around you are also less likely to get the flu. I'll grant that getting a shot isn't as dramatic or emotionally gratifying as taking a bullet for someone or charging into a burning building to rescue a small child, but getting the flu vaccine every year may in fact save more lives. And we can safely assume that it's considerably more pleasant than either of those options.
2 I didn't have it with me, because the camera gets dust behind the lens so easily that I don't take it anywhere.
3 $25 for three plants in a 6-inch pot, which maybe isn't outrageous, but that's a lot of money to spend on a plant I don't even particularly like, new color variety or no. Show me a Yucca guatemalensis with this coloration and I'd happily pay twice as much, though. Not kidding.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Anthurium no. 1409 "Ramona West"

From time to time, a seedling will do a little fake-out, making me think that I'm getting one kind of bloom and then actually delivering another. 0330 Faye Quinette was one of the first of these, producing a brown bud that became an orange spathe, and 1731 Robyn Millyonz was another (green bud became a beigey spathe), and now we have Ramona. This was the bud:

And here's what I got:

(And just to be clear that the sides really were different, here's a shot as the bud was opening that shows both at once:)

I'm not sure whether this was an intermediate stage in the process or looks green because of backlighting, but either way it's another photo so here you go:

Ramona isn't otherwise remarkable. One of two blooming seedlings from the 0594 Charity Case, the other being 1362 Jaymee Sexton. The foliage isn't terrible, but I'd be happier if the leaves weren't thrips-scarred at all:

And this photo makes the plant look a bit fuller than it actually is, but it's still of decent size, considering the pot (3 in. / 7.5 cm diagonal).

Not sure what to do with Ramona; the green / pink thing is interesting, but perhaps not quite interesting enough to keep. It'd help to make the decision if I knew whether it would do this consistently, but I've been very bad at taking photos of new blooms. (Bad at keeping up with the Anthuriums in general, actually. I think maybe I'm starting to lose interest? The ongoing thrips problem has ruined them for me a little bit.)

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Anthurium no. 1715 "Tyler Linoleum"

So now I'm faced with a sort of problem. It's a completely optional problem, but it's still a problem.

The thing is that there's a completely unreasonable number of unblogged Anthurium seedlings,1 and most of them are not interesting on their own, at all. I could possibly make them interesting by talking about some other, barely related thing and ignoring the seedlings entirely, but that's kind of exhausting to do, particularly if I have to do it dozens of times.

So the plan is to write about the five or six most interesting ones,2 and see how I feel about the others once I'm finished. This will probably take a while, because having a new computer means I can have new games, and playing video games is a lot more fun than blogging about Anthuriums, even interesting Anthuriums.3 But we'll see how things shake out.

In the meantime, right at the moment, we have Anthurium seedling 1715, which is simultaneously one of the weirder, prettier, and more information-rich seedlings in a very long time.

"Pretty" may or may not be obvious from the photo, but Tyler is consistently right on the line between red and orange, which I don't think I've ever seen before. Previously, they've always fallen pretty solidly on one side or another; the in-between color is really striking in person. There's also some green on the back of the spathes, like we've seen with 0330 Faye Quinette (who I suspect of being the pollen parent), which is unusual enough to qualify for "weird."

"Information-rich" comes from the foliage. You may remember that there's been a long-standing puzzle about seedling 0115 ("Erlene Adopter") and her clones (0580 Marsha Marsha Marsha, 0581 Adam All, 0586 Vera Special). All four of them, and none of the other 1500+ seedlings, will periodically and for no obvious reason go yellow at the veins, usually along the minor veins rather than the midrib or other larger veins. Sometimes it's only a couple spots, sometimes it's the whole leaf. It looks like this when it happens:

If I only had one Anthurium and it was doing this, I would assume a nutrient deficiency of some kind, but since I have lots, which are all in the same soil, all getting the same fertilizer at the same strength, etc., and only the ones that are clones of this particular seedling do it, I was thinking maybe it's genetic, or a virus or other disease which the original plant had, so all its clones did too.4

The virus theory's looking less likely now. I have thrips around, and thrips can transmit viruses, so if it were a virus, I should have seen this happen to other seedlings. But it's still only ever been the Erlenes.

And so now we have Tyler, whose seed parent was 0580 Marsha Marsha Marsha, and look at his leaves. Mostly they're fine:

And they don't get gradually worse over time, as far as I can tell. The yellowing happens,

and then it stays. Doesn't reverse itself, doesn't get worse. The below photo is the same leaf, about a month after the above photo:5

I mean, that might look a little worse because of differences in how the photos were taken -- the latter was more strongly backlit than the former -- but if you look, the spots haven't gotten bigger, and except for a couple along the leaf margin at the top left, which possibly just didn't show in the first photo because of reflection off the leaf surface, there aren't any new spots, either.

Occasionally the colors are much more dramatic.

So now the situation is that all the clones of one plant, plus the offspring of one of those clones, does this. Which looks like support for the genetic theory, though the only other surviving seedling from the Erlenes (1727 Mercedes Sulay) has normal green leaves that stay green. And also I don't think any of the Erlenes ever produced a leaf that looked like the one in that last photo: that's pretty extreme.

Tyler would have been a keeper regardless, for the bloom color and suckering, but as the Erlenes are pretty robust plants in general,6 and I'm interested in whether the leaf weirdness will be passed to a third generation, it's really really a keeper. I doubt it has any commercial value: even if it's not sick in some fashion, it looks sick, which surely wouldn't sell terribly well. But I want it around at least until I understand it.


1 "Unreasonable" = 35.
2 Definitely 1332 Alexis Gabrielle Sherrington; probably 1409 Ramona West and 1733 Jayyvon Monroe; possibly 0650 Phyllis Deen, 1438 Johnny Cockette, 1716 Tess LeCoil, 1718 Charo Beans DeBarge, and 1767 Constance Waring, depending on whether they still seem interesting to me later.
3 Dishonored 2 is incredible. There could be even more incredible games, I suppose, but my gaming tastes are very specific (single-player; realistic graphics or at least not blocky, pixelated graphics; interesting art; for shooters, I like stealth/nonlethal play as an option, if not the whole point of the game; multiple routes to the same end goal; high replayability), and Dishonored 2 sits exactly in the center of, like, all of them.
I've also recently gotten Prey, Thief (2014), Assassin's Creed, and Cities: Skylines, each of which fits my criteria at least a little bit, so I'm going to have something to entertain myself with between rounds of watering for a very long time. Though apparently the first Assassin's Creed is not great and I was supposed to have started with Assassin's Creed 2. I didn't know.
4 Also, for what it's worth, I have tried adding magnesium to the fertilizer, in the form of Epsom salt (MgSO4), and that had no effect. I don't have element-specific sources of other nutrients to try to add, but the fertilizer I use does contain most of the trace elements plants need: boron, iron, copper, manganese, etc.
5 (31 October 2017 vs. 29 November 2017, for the record.)
6 (with the exception of the ghost mites, to which they seem more susceptible than average)

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


Intended to be posting Anthurium photos by now, but I got sick, then my computer monitor died and had to be replaced, then I got sick with something else that was worse than the first thing, then the computer's power supply blew up and the computer was dead and had to be replaced, and so on. So posts are coming, but I'm going to have to get my life back to normal first; it's unclear how long that will take.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The 2017-18 Schlummies (New Seedling awards)

At long last. . . .

Most Floriferous New Seedling (2017-18)

Most Floriferous is a straightforward category: either the plant produces lots of flowers or it doesn't. Not a lot of ambiguity to it. Granted, I don't count them, so it's possible the seedling that produced the most flowers has never actually won, but in principle there's objectivity. In any case, this year it was pretty easy to guess without counting -- Freyja's Turkey was very dramatic and impressive.

118A Milky Quartz

188A Freyja's Turkey

196A Fred Rogers

197A Here If You Need Me

241A Pat Benatar

I'm a little unsure about Pat Benatar -- there's no question that it bloomed a lot, but I remember the number of blooms in the 2018-19 season much better than I remember the number of blooms from the 2017-18 season. Really only the 2017-18 season should count. So maybe it doesn't deserve the nomination, but whatever, it's not like it won.

Best New Orange Seedling (2017-18)

196A Fred Rogers did all its blooming in the basement, and the flowers were all a very nice orange/white. I've had orange/white seedlings in the basement reveal themselves to be orange/pink seedlings when they were moved to the plant room (specifically 025A Clownfish and 200A Breakin' The Law; I can't remember whether there were others), so I'm trying not to get attached to the coloration here, but Fred Rogers produced a lot of flowers, at unusual times of the year, and the flowers generally looked pretty nice, so it wins.

019B Hidden Track

177A Ham And Cheese

196A Fred Rogers

197A Here If You Need Me

Though it should be noted that both 177A Ham And Cheese and 197A Here If You Need Me produced more blooms this year in the plant room than 196A Fred Rogers ever dreamed of in the basement.

388A Buenaventura River

Best New Non-Orange Seedling (2017-18)

141A Soujourner Truth produced a lot of big, fluffy-looking flowers while still in the basement.

141A Sojourner Truth

160A Composition In Red & Pink wasn't hugely impressive last year, but in October/November 2018, it produced a lot of blooms, which were pleasingly-colored.

160A Composition In Red & Pink

188A Freyja's Turkey was just a monster, though -- lots of blooms, a really nice color combination. It possibly outdoes both 083A Psychedelic Bunny and 067A Cyndi Lauper, which were the previous best magenta/red/orange/white seedlings. So it wins.

188A Freyja's Turkey

241A Pat Benatar

420A Franceska Mann might have had a shot at this award had it produced more flowers. Maybe it can snag a Most Improved award next year.

420A Franceska Mann

Best New Color Combination (2017-18)

This category becomes more difficult every year. Three of these five nominees probably shouldn't qualify, because they're not really new colors. I'm letting them in anyway because: 044A Iktsuarpok has a much stronger pink-magenta center than the other white / pink seedlings, so it's kind of new. 047A Pluto is a little pinker or paler than previous peach / white blooms. 141A Sojourner Truth has a lot more white in the petals, more consistently, than any of the earlier magenta / whites. So they're all kinda new, or at least more distinct from previous color combinations than all the other not-new ones.

044A Iktsuarpok

047A Pluto

141A Soujourner Truth

But this award was always going to go to either 377A Butterchange My Stranger or 392A Subjunctive, those being the only actual new color combinations, and although they're both very pretty, and Subjunctive is very striking, I think I like Butterchange My Stranger just a tiny bit more, because the light yellow and light pink balance one another a bit better.

377A Butterchange My Stranger

392A Subjunctive

It may interest the reader to know that there's already been a new color combination in the 2018-19 season, on seedling 341A, though I haven't posted the photo to the gallery yet, so you'll have to wait and see what it is. I can tell you, though, that I wouldn't have imagined that this coloration was possible from the seed parent (088A Cyborg Unicorn, which is orange / magenta).

Best New Name (2017-18)

I like this category, less because it celebrates my cleverness at seedling-naming1 than because the other awards typically show the same few seedlings over and over again, and this is a chance to look at some of the ones I haven't mentioned yet.

Iktsuarpok is certainly the best word I've learned in the last year or so. It's hard to throw into a conversation casually, of course, because nobody knows what it means, and I'm also not sure I'm pronouncing it correctly. But I like having a word for the experience.

044A Iktsuarpok

I can't imagine ever needing to talk about the situation described by Tickly-Benders; as far as I know, it's not really a thing that happens anymore. At least it doesn't happen around here. But I enjoyed learning about that, too.

122A Tickly-Benders

155A Parachute In A Tree

I'm giving the award to Can't Find The World, partly because I think it's a nice (if kind of baffling) name, and partly to draw attention to the fact that the seedling has gotten its shit together since it was named, and has been producing very nice blooms in the 2018-19 season so far. It's another early contender for Most Improved next year.

379A Can't Find The World

388A Buenaventura River

Best Overall New Seedling

Not much of a contest, really. I would have liked to give this to either 377A Butterchange My Stranger or 392A Subjunctive, but neither of them produced many flowers, and I'm not confident that Subjunctive is going to have any yellow in it when it reblooms.

141A Soujourner Truth

160A Composition In Red & Pink

188A Freyja's Turkey

196A Fred Rogers

414A Orenda

Should anyone be curious,2 the record for the number of Schlummies nominations by a single seedling is five, held by three seedlings:

079A Yayoi Kusama (from the 2015-16 season)

(2015-16) Best New Non-Orange (won)
(2015-16) Best Overall New Seedling (won)
(2015-16) Most Floriferous (won)
(2016-17) Best Overall Returning (lost to 067A Cyndi Lauper)
(2017-18) Best Overall Returning (won)

107A Nova Prospekt (2015-16 season)

(2015-16) Best New Name (lost to 066B Sigrid The Haughty)
(2015-16) Best New Non-Orange (lost to 079A Yayoi Kusama)
(2016-17) Best Overall Returning (lost to 067A Cyndi Lauper)
(2017-18) Best Overall Returning (lost to 079A Yayoi Kusama)
(2017-18) Most Improved (lost to 067A Cyndi Lauper)

290A Our Lady Of Assumption (2016-17 season)

(2016-17) Best New Color Combination (lost to 132A Pointy Space Princess)
(2016-17) Best New Name (lost to 127A Cooperating Banjos)
(2016-17) Best New Non-Orange (won)
(2016-17) Best Overall New Seedling (won)
(2016-17) Most Floriferous (lost to 096A I'm Really Sorry)

And obviously Yayoi Kusama has the record for number of wins, with four.

Probably some Anthurium posts next: I need to think about something other than Schlumbergeras for a while. For example, cookies.

Schlumbergera Christmas cookies, obviously, would require a custom-built cookie-cutter, as well as frosting skills that I clearly do not possess, so they're probably never happening.


1 (I concede that said cleverness is debatable)
2 I know you're not. But just in case.