Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pretty picture: Osteospermum 'Bronze Charmer'

Yesterday at work, Younger Co-Worker attempted to guess my two favorite annuals based on what we had more varieties of this year compared to last year. She guessed coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) and Osteospermum cvv. She got it half right: coleus is high on the list.

This year in coleus we will have: 'Quarterback,' 'Fishnet Stockings,' 'Merlot,' 'Merlin's Magic,' 'Pink Chaos,' 'Gays Delight,' 'Saturn,' 'Kingswood Torch,' 'Dappled Apple,' 'Tilt a Whirl,' 'Electric Lime,' and 'Splish Splash.' The last four of those are new compared to last year, though 'Tilt a Whirl,' at least, had been around previously. 'Dappled Apple' was a substitution: we were supposed to have gotten more 'Gays Delight' -- which, contrary to the name, ain't all that -- but I guess they were out or something and sent us 'Dappled Apple' instead. Which 'Dappled Apple' is more similar to 'Electric Lime' than 'Gays Delight,' so I'm not sure that was the best of all possible substitutions, but whatever.

Everybody has their favorites: WCW likes 'Tilt a Whirl,' Perennial Expert has had nice things to say about 'Gays Delight,' Younger Co-Worker is terrifyingly insistent that 'Merlin's Magic' is the best one, and I . . . well, it's probably 'Kingswood Torch,' though if 'Splish Splash' ages well, I could see it winning out in the end.

So far the customers seem to be siding with WCW, and 'Tilt a Whirl' is selling the best, but it's also early.

Younger Co-Worker got wrong, though, the guess about Osteospermum. I like them, but Portulaca are better. I mean, if I were forced to choose. Which I'm not.

Osteospermum 'Bronze Charmer.' Picture is really much better opened in a new window.

We do have a couple new ones this year, though unlike with the coleus, I can't name them all off the top of my head. The picture is of 'Bronze Charmer,' which changes colors as it ages, and is variously lavender, peach, yellowish, pink, and orange. It seems very nice. We got more varieties of Osteospermum this year less because I like them a lot (though I do) than because we sold out of them pretty early last year.

Portulaca, we're just getting the same stuff as last year, no more no less. Although I really like them, I don't fool myself into thinking that everybody else in the world shares my enthusiasm. I save those kinds of delusions for Anthurium andraeanum.

UNRELATED LIZARD UPDATE: Visited a pet store yesterday to find food. No mealworms. (?)(!) Freeze-dried flies of some kind instead. Also I balked at spending $24 for a heating pad. (Baby steps!)

We have a ten-gallon aquarium for Nina (somehow the husband had obtained one before Nina entered our lives -- I'm not sure how that happened, but obviously it was kind of prescient), though for the moment she's still in her glass cookie jar. The aquarium will be planted at some point today?, I guess?, and then Nina will be packing her stuff and moving. Hopefully anoles are pretty tough: she's had to go through a lot lately. I take some comfort in the fact that she's been a very good honey-eater, when I've remembered to give it to her. (I'm kind of a bad lizard dad. Baby steps!)

I'm thinking this might be the time to buy that Fittonia I've occasionally thought about getting. It's handy that I was already thinking about plant toxicity, at least: I have some sense of what I can and cannot put in the aquarium with her. Should I try to overwater? I'm sure fungus gnats are yummy. . . .


our friend Ben said...

Eeewww, no fungus gnats, please, Mr. S.! Nina will probably ignore them, as they cheerfully head out to your 500 other houseplants, and the poor little lizard could get a good case of fungus herself from the damp substrate! Quick, order mealworms online. It's easy to keep a colony going indefinitely. Meanwhile, maybe your local pet stores at least have crickets! Btw, I didn't have a heat mat/rock/etc. and the Borgias did fine.

mr_subjunctive said...

Oh -- I did get her something (dried lab-raised flies with vitamin powder on them). They just didn't have mealworms, as far as I could tell.

I'm glad to know that the heat mat may be optional; I thought it was a little weird that they'd have to have one: the apartment is usually fairly warm (72-78F / 22-26C, depending on location, time of day, etc.) anyway because the plants need it to be, so if the anole doesn't have to be warmer still, that would be helpful.

Anonymous said...

Unrelated Lizard Comment;
22C is what you should aim for the night, while 26 is good for the day, but I highly suggest you add a light, for normal basking-feeding behavior, and increased heat at the spot to 28-30C for correct digestion (especially if you are feeding her mealworms). Since anoles need UVB to produce vitamin D3, you would need at least an UVB bulb, and since you're using a ten gallons, the little amount of heat produced by a compact UVB fluorescent like Repti-Glo 0.5 from Hagen should be fine for the basking effect. That bulb then needs to be replaced every year.
You did right not to buy the heating pad; it would have been too much heat, and wouldn't provide the visual basking area, nor the UVB rays. Also, UVB are significantly blocked by glass and small mesh screen, so the best to do is put the lamp right on the aquarium cover, which should be small metal screen mesh or metal mesh of some sort, small enough for her not to get out, and as large as possible for the UVB.

Mealworms are ok for food, if you breed them (they mostly do it alone, very easy) and feed them various vegetables (every part you don't eat). The best thing would be variety, but then you can just randomly capture spiders and flies and insects that find their way in your home and give them to her, she'll love it. But don't do that if you or your neighbor are using pesticides.

Detailed info on reptiles and UVB

How-to breed/care mealworms:

The anapsid link someone else gave is a good source of info on keeping anoles.

mr_subjunctive said...


I assume a lamp is probably better, or else you wouldn't have recommended it, but can one get by (for a time) with dietary D3 supplements? The flies I wound up buying do have added D3 and calcium, though 1) she has not shown a terrible amount of interest in them so far and 2) they're expensive, so I'm not inclined to use them indefinitely. But is that good enough for a few weeks, or is it an emergency and I really need to get a lamp, like, yesterday?

Julie said...

I LOVE portulaca!!!!! Of course, it is a succulent that needs less water...but if I had two favorite water loving palnts they would be Fittonia and Coleus!!! WOW! Amazing!!! I have killed all of my water loving plants....I have a "near never" watering plan here in A Succulent Life!!!

Snazzy_Sara said...

Concerning the heat lamp, it is necessary pretty much immediately, esp. if Nina continues to reject the flies coated in the vitamin powder. The cost to purchase the lamp and bulb shouldn't run you more than 20.00 max. You can use one of those clamp work lights you'd find at a hardware store (about 5 bucks or a little more) and then get a screw-in uvb bulb from the pet store (maybe 10.00 or thereabouts). I would def. not let Nina go for more than 2 weeks without a heat lamp, IMHO. I actually have a uva/uvb screw in bulb and clamp-lamp I used for my turtles before I turned the little guys over to a nature preserve (WITH permission and caution). If you want it, I can mail it to you for free, what else am I gonna do with it? lol

mr_subjunctive said...

Well, if you're offering, I'd be willing to take them off your hands and reimburse you in exchange for postage: e-mail me about it and we'll talk.

Anonymous said...

Snazzy_Sara answered well, sorry for the late reply.
Indeed, dietary supplements of D3 could do for a while, maybe a month, but heat/basking is really what you are needing asap for her to engage in normal feeding behavior. However, it is still normal for an anole to refuse food during the first week or two when moved in a terrarium, simply by stress, and especially when parameters are not optimal. Moreover, anoles will not consider eating when they feel like the temperature will not allow them to digest well.
Indeed, fruit flies are expensive and not the best sample prey to feed them for various reasons, but for now it's better than nothing.
Fruit flies are quite small, even for anoles, so try to release them on a clear and bright surface in order to increase contrast for the anole to see them more easily, like putting a white plastic lid upside down on the terrarium substrate, with a fruit piece in the middle, and releasing the fruit flies on it. They should stay around the fruit and be easier to see for the anole.