Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Work-related: Dendrobium Yellow Splash No. 7 pictures

So, to summarize life lately,

We finally get cooler temperatures, so work is suddenly a lot less life-threatening, and I think, oh, finally, things are going right again, and then immediately I discover scale on some of the bigger Cereus peruvianus and Agave lurida at work, plus one Dracaena deremensis 'Janet Craig Compacta' but apparently not any of the others that were right next to it, go figure.

These are at least related to scale somehow, because they're only on the scalier plants. I've just never seen anything that looked like this in the plant books. I'm assuming a juvenile form of some kind? We're trying to save the plants, but none of us are at all optimistic about it. I wouldn't be bothering if we didn't have a lot of money sunk into them already. And even if I get them cleaned up to the point where I can't see scale on them anymore, I still don't know that I'd trust them enough to put them out on the floor again. There's never a way to be sure you've gotten them all.

Then I find mealybugs on, to date, about six hanging baskets of 'Hindu Rope' Hoya carnosa (within, literally, seconds of telling a customer that we hadn't had mealybug problems in the greenhouse for quite a while -- I suppose I was tempting fate by saying that, but fate was clearly not even trying to resist temptation, either), assorted Hedera helix three-inch pots, one Aglaonema, one Crassula ovata, a really pretty Eugenia bonsai (still pretty, though one wonders how long that will last), and two large Dizygotheca elegantissima. This after a longish stretch of not having any mealybug problems at all. The afflicted plants have been located all over the store, not in any one particular area, so there's no way to know what plants they might have come in on or where they might still be, and everything is going to have to be checked, at some point, which could easily take three weeks to do. I'm betting that the last Florida order is at least partly responsible. The only response I get from anybody at work is, spray spray spray, never mind that we spray every goddamned week and it hasn't seemed capable of doing much, I mean seriously, we may as well be blowing kisses at the bugs, it'd be just as useful.

And then I think our entire stock of larger Codiaeum variegatum, anything bigger than a four-inch pot, has spider mites. As does our one remaining citrus plant (impossible to get citrus now because our supplier in Florida, and the rest of the state, are under a quarantine for citrus canker or something. We could buy from Texas or California, but neither the boss nor I especially want to go to the trouble to track down a new supplier and all the headaches that go with that just for a few lousy citrus trees.), some of the Alocasia 'Polly,' and I think a few of the Hibiscus (though the Hibiscus, some of them, have been outside until recently, and so they could have actual spiders, rather than spider mites. Not enough time in the day to check everything).

All of the orchids have come down with varying kinds of black spots on the flowers, and / or root rot (the root rot makes sense; they've been rained on a lot -- this last batch got shipped just after Tropical Storm Fay soaked them, and then we put them outside because the greenhouse was too hot, where they've also been rained on a lot, because all it's done this summer is rain), and those that aren't rotting need bigger pots.

The latest batch of six-inch Adenium obesum all dropped flowers and buds on arrival, as well as a lot of leaves, and I think it's likely that I haven't actually found all of the problems yet that are out there, because I've been too busy dealing with the ones I know about.

And we've got poinsettias coming in about a month.

And I mean, seriously, most of this shit is new as of a week ago. And then my favorite writer kills himself and Blotanical still won't pick up my feed (not that I'm upset with Stuart about this; I'm just upset in general) so even though I'm still trying to keep up the blog nobody's reading it anyway, and all the customers at work have suddenly turned high-maintenance and impossible to please and douchbaggy. Or, well, not all of them. But the customers do get snippy this time of year, for reasons I cannot fathom, and it's a large enough percentage that it makes work more unpleasant. And I don't even want to think about the election.

So the question is: can orchid pictures make me happy again? If I was happy to begin with, that is? Will orchids make everything better?

That'd be a no. Oh well. Worth a shot.

I can only assume that the moral of the story is, never think, oh, finally, things are going right again, or tell a customer we haven't had mealybug problems in forever. I don't dare try to be happy that at least there's no whitefly. In fact, I probably shouldn't even have mentioned them.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear you have been having a rough time at work :(. I hope things get better soon. Some of us are reading!

Julia said...

I'm still reading, Mr S. So sorry to hear work is being such a shitter. I've been signed off sick from my job for six weeks, and probably will be for another six weeks. I sympathise with it all getting too much, and having managers who don't understand, and stupid customers and all the rest of it.

Lance said...

Oh definitely still reading. Just been busy myself, so when I think of commenting, a customer calls and wants to whine about something. Then I lose track of what I was doing, and it takes another hour to remember, because I'm senile. I'm not in the plant industry, but I think customer problems are universal.

As far as Adenium obesum, mine all dropped every leaf on several occasions when I first got them. I'm not sure if it was being unhappy about being moved, or not enough water or what. But they seem to have settled in now and have stopped throwing fits.

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Sorry to hear about the tough times at work! Hang in there...

I visit your site every morning - with my first cup of coffee in hand. And if you haven't posted anything yet, I return later in the day to visit. So, there are definitely people reading your blog.

And my own Adenium Obesums (I have two) drop their leaves a few times a year and grow new ones back shortly after. Why?? I have no clue. I spent months trying to figure out what the problem is but gave up... Now I just let the plants be; they even flowered for me recently...so they must be happy. I figure, as long as new leaves grow back, we're all getting along just fine.

mr_subjunctive said...

Well thanks, everybody. It is appreciated.

Somebody has visited from Blotanical lately, so it must be at least partly working now, though I'm a little confused -- when I tried to find my blog through the Picks posts at Blotanical, I couldn't do it. No telling what that means.

Also somebody just posted something at Garden Web to the general effect of, Adenium obesum just does that sometimes, and occasionally they'll even drop leaves from having their pot rotated, so I guess that's not such a big thing. I wish I'd known to expect that when I bought mine; I maybe wouldn't have thrown it away.

More upbeat post tomorrow, I promise.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you mention something about 'vacation' and 'soon' recently?

Somewhere nice, untouched by storms, floods, or earthquakes. With disease-free plants...

If there's a vacant glasshouse at work perhaps you could set up a quarantine area with footbaths and bug-zapper lights and decontamination suits. (joking) I'm sure the hygiene standards of some growers tunnel under my lowest expectations so it's worth the effort to segregate until any pests have had time to multiply.

You're on my daily reads list - and I didn't come here from Blotanical.

Anonymous said...

I read every day with my first cup of coffee too! My plant supplier just found mealy on some gorgeous new ags I was thinking of buying. Mealy just really, really sucks.

Maybe the customers get pissy this time of year because they know the growing season is coming to a close. Perhaps they are mourning the lack of outdoor gardening to come over the next several months? Or their gardening fantasies never quite became reality over the summer? I've been noticing my seasonal affective disorder is kicking in extra early this year, need to start up the St. John's wort tablets again. Sigh.

I hope things get better for you at work. If it makes you feel any better, I'm having several work issues too.

mr_subjunctive said...


The main problem with using a quarantine greenhouse is that the boss would never go for it. We'd have to heat or cool an extra greenhouse, which heating and cooling is expensive enough that we keep it closed for most of the year, and when we need that space, we actually need it for other stuff, so we'd only be able to quarantine about every other order. Plus the Flower Shop is always bringing in fairly short-term plants, which would fall apart in a quarantine and be unsellable, and the Flower Shop does apparently do reasonably strong business.

From my perspective, too, I'm not sure that we'd actually catch any buggy plants in the two weeks (or whatever) we had them quarantined: one of the Dizygothecas referenced in the post had been with us since at least last November before anybody noticed a problem; the Hoyas and Cereus had come in three months ago. Everything has to be close to everything else, all the time, so one infested plant anywhere in the greenhouse is (in theory) sufficient to spread everything everywhere. I hate to go all zero-tolerance on them; we'd end up throwing out a lot of good, salvageable plants. But the amount of payroll, time, product, etc. that it would take to resuscitate some of these doesn't make them worth it. I suspect we're going to be pitching the Cereus eventually.

Really what I'd like would be for the growers to not send us buggy stuff in the first place; a lot of them seem to have dropped the ball on this one. ('Course, it also shipped after Tropical Storm Fay hit, which would have been rough on growers and plants alike.)


Well really, given the choice, I'd just as soon neither of us were having work issues, so it doesn't really make me feel better if it's spread around.

And probably customers get weird at this time of year for all the reasons you said, plus a few nobody's thought of yet.

Anonymous said...

mr s, good point. No work issues for all, I say!

Melissa Gay Art said...

Ooooh, I do love orchids so much! But I favor Oncidiums, which seem to thrive on MY UTTER NEGLECT, and reward my neglectful behavior by blooming three or four times per year.

It's different when you've got them at home, though, and aren't under pressure to sell them. House plants may look weird and wild, and no one censures you! But just let one orchid get weird-looking in the shop, and the owner starts giving you askance-looks and asking embarrassing questions. (I used to work in a florist shop, where I neglected orchids for a living! They preferred it when I just stayed away from the orchids and watered the peace lilies instead.)