Saturday, May 9, 2009

Random plant event: Solenostemon scutellarioides variant

This is a Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Kingswood Torch' that apparently can't count to two. Instead of pairs of leaves, arranged oppositely along the stem, this one has sets of three. I have no idea how common this is, but I've at least never seen it before. Also I like it. And I bought it. It doesn't seem to be a very vigorous grower so far, possibly because counting to three takes more time than counting to two.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pretty pictures: Orange

Mom was fond of the color orange when I was growing up: we had orange curtains in the kitchen, and orange Tupperware containers for flour and sugar, orange measuring spoons, just orange orange orange. (It was the 70s: people did that then.) I never really cared for it, personally, but I can see how orange flowers in the garden might be nice. A lot of them have been grabbing my attention lately.

Bracteantha bracteata 'Sundaze Flame.'

Younger Co-Worker told me a few days ago that she hated strawflowers. I don't recall her giving any reasons, when I asked why, she just kind of gestured at them, like it was just obvious. Possibly she said something about them being noisy. I told her that I'd heard that only stupid people hate Bracteanthas. Then the next day, Wonderful Co-Worker spontaneously expressed a dislike of Bracteanthas too. I don't know what it is. They seem like perfectly nice plants to me. Last year, they hung around forever, not really selling, and then all of a sudden I came in one day and they were all gone, all sold to the same person. I'm hoping history repeats.

Begonia NOID, possibly 'Britt Dark.' I usually take pictures of the ID tags after taking pictures of the plant: it's faster than writing things down. In this particular case, though, the pictures may have gotten out of order, and so I'm not sure what this plant's proper name is.

Rieger Begonias are one of those plants that have really, um . . . what's the opposite of "grown on me?" "Grown off me?" That doesn't sound right. In any case. I don't know why, exactly: they're tricky to water (too much and the leaves mildew, not enough and the edges of the petals turn brown and hideous), but that's not the entire story. I don't know. Whatever the reason, somewhere along the way I started referring to them in my head as "the vile Rieger begonias," and it's not entirely a joke.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Caribbean Breeze.'

Hibiscus, though, are fine. I was actually incredibly tempted to buy this one when it was around (it's since sold). The picture doesn't do it justice. I held off because of the price (not outrageous, but a little high for what it was) and because Hibiscus are so bug-prone that I'm not sure I want one. I mean, I want one, but not if it's going to get aphids, whitefly, and spider mites.

Calibrachoa 'Tequila Sunrise.' I recommend opening this one, in particular, in a new window.

I like Calibrachoa in general, but 'Tequila Sunrise' in particular. The colors!

Cosmos 'Cosmic Mix.'

Cosmos 'Cosmic Mix.'

'Cosmic Mix' is the only Cosmos we've offered for sale since I've had this job. I know there are other colors and mixes, because we have them for sale as seeds, but for some reason we don't bother with them. I don't know why not. I do love 'Cosmic Mix,' though. Yellow-orange, orange, red-orange. Pretty hot.

Zinnia 'Profusion Apricot.'

Zinnia 'Profusion Apricot' doesn't photograph well: the first batch I took came out looking kind of pink-purple, and the above photo, from the second round, is closer but still wrong somehow. It looks all . . . muddy in a way that the real flowers don't.

Gerbera jamesonii 'Festival Spider Orange.'

We haven't actually had this particular plant around for a couple months, but it's worth throwing in here anyway. Orange is orange. I'm not a big fan of Gerberas, for essentially the same reasons as the Reiger Begonias: they're not easy to keep going at this time of year, when so many other things need our attention too. They tend to either get too wet (in which case mildew) or too dry (in which case wilting). Though like the Riegers, they sell well.

Tagetes patula NOID, probably 'Safari Orange' or 'Durango Orange.'

I like the little marigolds. This year's crop turned out much better than last year's: they're very pretty. We maybe should have started more.

Thunbergia alata.

Got this one in pre-finished as a hanging basket. We started some of our own from seed, too, but they're not really doing anything yet, and I'm thinking by the time they're ready to bloom, it may be too late.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Random plant event: Salvia 'Victoria Blue' freak

This just sort of appeared in one of the flats; I don't remember seeing any of the plugs looking like this when we were planting them up. It's not especially attractive, but it is different.

This may be a viral thing, in which case the prudent course of action would be to take it out and destroy it, but it doesn't seem to be hurting the plant significantly, either. I mean, maybe it's a little shorter than the plants around it, but that could be from anything.

If it weren't from a virus, but was instead an actual genetic mutation of some kind, would it be interesting to home gardeners? Would you want a six pack of them?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pretty picture: Paeonia 'Hoki'

People seem to like peonies, and I guess I kind of understand -- the flowers are very big and showy -- but I'm not much of a fan personally. Our neighbor had one when I was growing up, and I found it kind of unnerving as a child to see ants crawling all over the unopened buds all the time. (According to the Heartland Peony Society, the ants are neither good nor bad, just attracted to small amounts of nectar produced by the flowers, which may or may not enlist the ants' help in opening the tight and petal-dense buds. When the buds are finished, the ants find new food sources.)

Still, though, there are worse things than ants. And the flowers are pretty.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I've added three worthy new blogs to the sidebar for everyone to check out:

Daffodil Planter, which I first noticed when it happened to be on a list at Blotanical right next to PATSP, and checked out because it claimed to be funny (it was). Particularly recommended is Are you one of these difficult garden center customers?, because it's really really really timely this month, and also funny. I wish I could print a copy and stick it on the front door at work, and make customers read it before coming in. But I can't do that.

Callus and Chlorophyll, which is less frequently updated but also funny, which I found out about because DaffodilPlanter sent me a message through Blotanical that I should check C&C out.

Random Rants and Prickly Plants, added because Claude left a comment on the post this morning, prompting me to check out his profile and then his blog, reminding me that I'd intended to add RR&PP to the blogroll at some point a long time ago and then forgot.

In unrelated news, I bought three six-packs of the above marigold (Tagetes patula 'Durango Bee') yesterday. I was originally planning to put them in a large pot with an elephant ear (Colocasia?) and call it good, but now I'm thinking maybe something else should go with the elephant ear, and the marigolds should get planted elsewhere. Probably some form of the original plan, in the end, 'cause I don't have enough time to think about other options. I'm just hoping I can keep everything alive until I have time to get it to the house and plant it.

My just-received copy of Wicked Plants, being held by the (poisonous) Pedilanthus tithymaloides.

I also just got my copy of Wicked Plants. So far, houseplants appear to be somewhat underrepresented, but they do get pp. 27-29, which I suppose will have to do. Review to follow . . . eventually.

Friendly* critique

Thirteen things which are wrong with this article (be sure to see both pages!) about crotons (Codiaeum variegatum):

1) Crotons do not adapt well to indoor environments. The best you can hope for is that your indoor environment can be manipulated into something a croton finds satisfactory.

2) They do not "thrive" in winter months: if anything, they barely hold it together. Spider mites are what thrive, if anything is gonna be thriving.

3) They are not extremely easy plants to care for, and require a good bit more than weekly waterings in order to grow "healthy, tall, wide and strong." Weekly waterings will buy you tall. Maybe. For healthy, wide and strong you need air circulation, humidity, heat, and keen observation. Also: don't water on a schedule.

4)They do not thrive in both "dark and sunny conditions." Don't even try it if you don't have full sun to offer.

5) "The natural [as opposed to artificial] croton doesn't spurn flowers" makes the opposite point of what the author is trying to say. Spurning is roughly equivalent to rejecting. Possibly the author means "doesn't sport flowers." But that's wrong anyway: they do flower.

6) Whether something flowers or not really doesn't have anything to do with its appropriateness as a housewarming gift for recipients of either gender.

7) It makes a crappy housewarming gift, mainly because of articles like this one which try to claim that it's an easy-care plant, leading to confusion about what one is supposed to do with it, leading to the plant's eventual defoliation and death.

8) The leaves are not always large. Leaf size varies with the particular cultivar: the one below, for example, has very narrow, threadlike leaves.

9) The leaves are not always dark green and red. Some cultivars are only green and yellow; some are green, yellow, orange and red; some are purple, green and yellow; some are green and cream; some are red and purple. (They also don't especially resemble cabbage, but I'll let that slide because the author doesn't make that claim directly: she only says that they remind her of cabbage. I won't hold people responsible for what things remind them of other things.)

10) Silk crotons never have a "natural look" to them, except perhaps to people who are not well-acquainted with the natural plant.

11) The Croton Society webpage is more a placeholder than anything else, and provides little information on caring for the plant. It provides no information at all about caring for the plant indoors.

12) Crotons are not versatile. They are dependable, in that they reliably do the same thing once indoors (attract spider mites and die), but I don't think that's what the author intends to say.

13) "Reasonably priced" seems like a stretch too.


*(Not really. I'm actually kinda pissed.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

[Exceptionally] Pretty pictures: transmitted light -- Part X

The first weekend of May here was sunny and warm and all-around ideal for gardening, damn it all to hell. So there were customers everywhere, all weekend. Now I am exhausted, and I did something horrible to my back on Saturday that it is still angry about, and I'm not in such a great mood myself, as far as that goes. Fortunately, I have the transmitted light posts reserved for just such situations. So.

Ladies and gentlemen: transmitted light photography.

(The previous transmitted light posts can be found here.)

Cestrum nocturnum. We got some of these by mistake last winter (?), and although they did beautifully for quite a while, eventually they got spider mites and had to be cut way back. And then we sort of forgot about them, because spring started happening and nobody had time for them. In early May, as I write this, I believe they're probably still technically alive, though we don't know whether to put them out or not because we don't know whether they're done with the mites or not.

Pandanus utilis veitchii. This particular leaf has apparently been deprived of nitrogen or magnesium or something important: I thought for a while that the new leaves were coming in yellow because that's just how the plant grew (true to an extent), but then they didn't turn green upon getting older. Makes for a better picture (the greener, older leaves are pretty beat-up, and also more opaque), though I doubt the plant is happy about that.

Philodendron 'Prince of Orange.' This can be a really pretty plant when it's happy. I mean, Philodendrons in general, I suppose, but 'Prince of Orange' kind of in particular.

Cordyline fruticosa 'Florica.' Not my best photo, I know. But hey: color.

Tradescantia pallida. Also not my best photo. You have no idea how many times I tried on this one, though, before deciding that this was as good as it was going to get.

Pilea 'Moon Valley.' Again, not my best photo, but this one has the added distinction of being the most impossible-to-get picture from the series so far; something about the bumpy leaves makes it impossible for my camera to focus on them, plus they're so small that it's hard to be back far enough to get focus and simultaneously keep light from whatever light source I'm using from getting in the shot and making everything look all blue and faded. Also, of course, the light has to be coming from exactly overhead, or else the little bumps all reveal shadows, which could be an interesting effect but which is not at all the effect I was going for.

Stromanthe sanguinea 'Magicstar.' This one, on the other hand, is probably my favorite from this batch. My Stromanthes are doing better since I up-potted them, but for a while there they were just drying out too fast to keep up with. It's sort of one of the rules of living here: you have to be okay with occasionally having to wait a lot longer for water than you're accustomed to. This is kind of a disaster for Saintpaulia, Stromanthe, Hypoestes phyllostachya, Homalomena, and like-minded plants that prefer consistent moisture.

Dieffenbachia NOID. This is a cool but kind of understated Dieffenbachia that we haven't had very long at work, and it's quickly becoming one of my favorites, just because it looks like it has the potential to become a big huge one, like D. 'Tropic Rain.' I haven't seen anything like it on-line, so I have no idea what it's called.

Maranta leuconeura kerchoviana, variegated. Another picture that worked out kind of especially well. The plants aren't bad, either, actually.

Codiaeum variegatum NOID. This particular variety is not one I've seen very often, nor have I found a potential ID for it. It's kind of cool, just by virtue of being uncommon, I guess.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pretty pictures: Dianthus cvv.

Very little time to write, and not a whole lot of comments spring to mind on these anyway. They're in full bloom, though. Although I've seen more than once the "clove-like" fragrance referred to, and although I've smelled the fragrance, I'm not sure where the "clove-like" comes from. They don't smell like cloves to me.