Friday, August 28, 2009

Pretty pictures: Veronica 'Royal Candles'

Things are not getting much better, generally speaking, though the neck has improved from what it was on Sunday and Monday. It isn't better, but it at least doesn't seem to be getting any worse. I won't list all the stuff that's been frustrating or upsetting, because you don't want to hear it and it's probably better if I try not to dwell on it, but I will tell you (because it's plant-related) that the Fittonia albivenis from a couple weeks ago has already dried out and died, poor thing. I suppose I knew that was a risk when I bought it. Oh, and on Wednesday I found mealybugs on a newish Haworthia (labeled H. comptoniana; possibly H. venosa ssp. tesselata) that I kinda liked. Divided off all the offsets and checked them for signs of mealys, threw about 60% of them away, washed the others in rubbing alcohol, rinsed, repotted, and now they're in semi-quarantine in the basement. And then yesterday I found a fairly bad mealybug problem on my Fatsia japonica, which I've only had for about six weeks and had been, at the time, pretty happy to find, since nobody ever seems to have Fatsias. So that was multiply disappointing. Between that and the aphids, I'm thinking Wallace's might not be such a great place to shop after all.

Meh. They were too expensive anyway.

So my mood has been crap, as you can imagine (especially yesterday). I've tried kitten therapy --

-- but I apparently need a much stronger dose, 'cause that did nothing for me. Or else I need to move up to pikas, ducklings or miniature ponies or something. They do say kittens are a gateway drug.

Meanwhile, enjoy this second picture of Veronica.

Or maybe you'd rather watch clips of "Veronica Mars" while listening to Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney sing "Veronica." I'm aiming for total Veronica overload here.


lynn'sgarden said...

Sorry to hear about the mealybug infestation there Mr. Subj. All that extra work of sterilizing, repotting and quarantining..oh my!
And sorry your neck pain has not improved...time to see a chiro? Invest in better chair with back support? I find my neck pain usually result from blogging overload.
Those kitties were spastic but cute!

mr_subjunctive said...

Chiropractor is under consideration, though there may finally be new, if slight, improvement as of Friday morning.

The Fatsia is the most disappointing plant-related thing to happen to me in months, though. It was sufficiently widespread that I threw the plant out, though, rather than trying to eliminate the bugs or salvage cuttings: I've spent more than a year trying to deal with mealys on a couple plants in the past and have no desire to do that again. I'd rather just try to find another one, if I'm ever to have another one.

Though now I'm not sure I want another one. It was a beautiful plant, but they have a reputation for being buggy. I'm not sure if they could be worth the trouble.

The Village Greenery said...

Umm, dude, you don't have to trash your plants that have mealybugs! 2 or 3 Neem Oil treatments and make sure that the plant is in the proper light and everything will be fine. It is said that mealybugs, aphids, spidermites, scales and whiteflies are in just about all soil much like fruitflies are in just about all fruit or Rhino Virus is all around us all the time. It's the plant's own strength and immunity that keep those pests from taking hold. When a plant is too dry or not getting enough light or in too low of humidity (things like that) that's when they come down with their versions of our cold/flu such as mealybugs. So upgrade the conditions to perfect (or as near as possible) and spray with Neem.
All will be well without sending anybody off to the landfill.

Great blog.
-mitch (owner of a real plantshop in Ohio)

mr_subjunctive said...

Well, okay, um:

1) The plant was already in the best situation I could come up with for it. I was actually really happy when I realized that not only had I found an affordable Fatsia at long last, but I also had the perfect spot for it too.

2) While I'm happy for you that you've been able to keep mealys under control with neem oil, I have not been impressed by it when it comes to mealybugs. As in, I've found neem maybe slightly more useful than a stern scolding. (Possibly this is because of the particular product I was using, and there are better formulations out there than what I had, in which case I invite you to name the one you use.) It does seem to be more useful when combined with something else: I've had some success with rubbing alcohol + neem + imidacloprid in the past, though none of the three are individually very impressive.

3) I have, at the moment, 723 plants in here, and mealybugs are awfully damn contagious. I would rather sacrifice one plant now than have to throw out half the plants later.

4) I have not found it to be the case that eggs for aphids, mites, et al., are always present, ready to spring into existence. With one exception that I have yet to figure out, every time I've had a pest problem (and particularly a mealybug problem), I've known which plant it came in on, and when, and which plants in the vicinity are likely to have caught them. I invite you to consider that, if you're seeing pests pop up in different places all the time to the point where you believe them always to be there, waiting, maybe you aren't getting rid of them as effectively as you think you are.*

5) Not to jump down your throat here, but this was not a lightly-considered decision. It's not like I always throw plants out at the first sign of a bug, even mealybugs. I would have kept the plant, or at least tried to restart from clean cuttings, if the infestation looked manageable. But it did not.


*Except for fungus gnats, whose eggs really are always in certain packaged soils (coughcoughMiracleGrocoughcough).

Maranta said...

As someone who has both lost beloved plants to mealybugs (including a seed-grown Citrus I had become attached to) and whose significant other is named Veronica, I am all about this post (also, 'Royal Candles' is one of my favorite perennials). Hang in there, and I hate to be an enabler, but if you like kittens but they don't do the trick anymore, chickens are a great next step.