Sunday, January 20, 2008

Random plant event: new purchase (Aglaonema 'Red Gold')

Found this guy in Cedar Rapids last Thursday: I'm doubtful about my ability to keep it alive for any period of time, but this is the first one of the new, rainbow-of-colors Aglaonemas I've seen, and I didn't really figure I could pass it up, especially since I'm not likely to see another anytime soon.

Word on the street is that the new Aglaonemas are hybrids derived in part from a difficult species, A. rotundum, and that rotundum's need for heat and humidity and bright light has, at least partially, been passed on to its offspring like 'Red Gold.' (Side note: I am not particularly confident of my ID here; Aglaonema cutivar names are normally a labyrinth of contradiction and nuance anyway, and everybody who's trying to sell the red-pink-orange ones seems to have their own names for each variety. The tag in the plant identified it as an 'Aglaonema' and said it came from Twyford International, and Twyford only sells three kinds of Aglaonema, and only one of those three kinds contains red, so, process of elimination. But whether it is actually 'Red Gold,' and whether 'Red Gold' has any actual legal status, I don't know.)

Most of the sites selling these plants, somewhat deceptively (in my opinion) emphasize only the easy-care qualities of Aglaonema in general, and fail to address whether these other varieties might be more problematic. We will see. The advice I have gotten is to give it more heat, light, and humidity than I would the average Aglaonema. Light is easy; heat and humidity are nearly impossible, especially right now: our high temperature here yesterday was the nearly unprecedented 1ºF (-17ºC), and the temperatures for the forseeable future are warmer than that, though not by a lot. The apartment stays warm enough, but there are still unpredictable and mobile cold spots here and there.

Anyway. On to the gardening porn:

(at the store)

(The one I purchased)

(Leaf close-up)

Some of you will have been expecting more dramatic redness than this. In fact, the whole purpose of the close-up picture is so you can see that no, there really is some red-orange going on. I don't know why there's not more than this, but the greenhouse it was in when I bought it was actually, as greenhouses go, very dark, even during full sun: they have the roof shaded (whitewashed?) so much that I'm kind of surprised that anything grows in there. (More confusing: the heavily shaded greenhouse is where they keep the cacti and succulents, even though they have at least three more greenhouses with unshaded roofs available, greenhouses which aren't even, for the most part, being used right now. I can appreciate not wanting to move a bunch of spiny plants back and forth every time the season changes, but some of them have been there long enough to show signs of etiolation. It's a mystery.) Possibly the plant will redden up when it has more light. We'll see how things go: it'd be cool with me if that's as much color as it ever showed, so long as it would also be easier to keep: I noticed and liked the stripey pattern to the leaves before I noticed the red.


Hermes said...

I'm impressed. After reading your interesting post, I Googled this plant to look for some pictures and your post is already listed at number 2! The whole classification of native Aglaonema seems in a mess, never mind the hybrids.

R said...

Do you still have this plant? Did it live up to your expectations?

mr_subjunctive said...

Yes, I still have it.

The original plant got overpotted, and although I was able to salvage a cutting, it hasn't come back at anything like the original fullness -- it's still just the one stem. The only red/pink ag that's done especially well for me has been 'Sparkling Sarah;' I also have 'Emerald Holiday' (okay) and 'Sapphire Suzanne' (disappointing but still alive).