Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday afternoon Nina picture

Picture's a little dark because it was night at the time and she was asleep; I didn't want to risk waking her up by turning the light on. The curled-tail thing is something I've seen her do occasionally, though it's uncommon.

Random plant event: Aloe greatheadii var. davyana offset

I know, I know, an offsetting Aloe really isn't super-exciting stuff. And, actually, the pictures are even less exciting than they sound. But it's a big deal for me.

This particular Aloe, like most of my Aloes, was given to me via a trade at Garden Web in April 2007. Not all of the plants from that batch have survived, but A. greatheadii has both survived and gotten kind of huge. (Comparatively speaking.)

I had thought, after waiting for two years, that maybe greatheadii just didn't offset (by contrast, not only have I gotten offsets from Alworthia 'Black Gem,' but the offsets I divided at the end of July are themselves already offsetting), or that if it did, it would only do so outside in full sun, but I was wrong. It will, even indoors, given enough time. Which is nice to know. I wasn't initially all that crazy about greatheadii, but I've come to like it better the longer it's been around: no pest issues, extremely low-maintenance, pointy enough to be exciting but not pointy enough to be dangerous, etc.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pretty picture: Hoya kentiana flower

Another picture from ex-work, which unfortunately didn't turn out all that well. I went back about a week later to try to get a better shot, but of course by then it had sold, so this is as good as I can do.

I couldn't smell anything from the flower, but that's not surprising, as it was the middle of the afternoon when I was there, and the greenhouse can sometimes be kind of a complicated smell environment to begin with.

I have a Hoya kentiana at home (I bought it from Lowe's, having given up on ever getting one through work, and then within a couple weeks they were on the availability list from work.), and it's a nice enough plant, though it would be nice to have a better spot for it: I suspect it's probably not getting as much light as it would like and is consequently unlikely to flower for me anytime soon. Perhaps someday. I need more windows.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Random plant event: Stapelia NOID flower buds?

About two months ago, I bought this plant at the consignment store:

I hadn't planned to buy it, originally. I was just looking at it. Stapelias are one of those plants I only ever see for sale at the consignment store (like Cissus quadrangularis); we never got any in where I worked, nor were we ever even offered any. So I picked it up, to look at it more closely, and I felt, and saw, a big chunk of it fall off. So I figured I was more or less committed to buying it, then, but that was okay, because I was kind of interested anyway.

In the two months since then, it lived outside for a while, but it was getting sunburned, turning red and brown and looking unhappy, so I brought it in. Then it all turned back green again (which I was not expecting to happen, or at least not so fast: I half thought it was going to be permanent). And then a few weeks later, I picked it up to water it, and I noticed this on one end:

It looks like a couple flower buds, to me, though one of them is off-colored, kind of yellowish, and I'm thinking that might mean it started but then gave up for some reason. They're both awfully small, in any case. So I'm wondering if anybody can confirm that this is in fact a Stapelia flower bud, first of all, and second, tell me what I should be doing to keep it progressing normally.

I told the husband that I thought we had a Stapelia flower bud, and that this was exciting because they're supposed to smell really bad, like either rotting meat (the usual description) or dead mouse (occasionally), and he got this really odd facial expression and said he guessed that would be nice, maybe. I'm looking forward to finding out how bad the smell really is (I've heard conflicting things).

But first, we have to establish that this is even a bud in the first place. Maybe I'm getting all excited over a misshapen aerial root or something.

Oh -- also, this is technically not a NOID, because the pot had a newspaper clipping taped to it when I bought it, identifying it as a Stapelia gigantea. I still consider it a NOID because I have no idea how reliable the previous owner's sources were, and there's not an easy way to tell Stapelia species apart until they flower. So it's probably gigantea, but I'm not sure about that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pretty picture: Neoregelia 'Yang'

I'm surprised that it took me so long to get into Neoregelias. They're really awfully nice little plants. I suppose the reason I didn't discover them before the last year or two is that they're uncommon in stores: we had them where I worked, and I've seen some at, of all places, Ace Hardware, but I don't recall ever seeing them anywhere else. And they tend to be expensive when you can find them. On the up side, they're pretty, and aside from having some problems getting offsets to root, I haven't had any problems with them, no pests or anything.

I don't own a 'Yang' yet: this is a picture from ex-work, the last time I was there. I don't know a lot about 'Yang' specifically, though I can tell you it's a hybrid of Neoregelia carcharodon and N. carolinae lineata, and the patent (may require free registration to read) claims that they produce a lot of offsets, up to fifteen per plant, after flowering. There is also a N. 'Ying,' (sometimes 'Yin'), which I haven't seen in person yet. (Get it? 'Yin' & 'Yang?') 'Ying' is supposed to be the same thing but in reverse: green leaves with pink/white margins, but it's a hybrid of the same two species, and also produces a lot of offsets.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Random plant event: Murraya paniculata flowers

This summer, our big Murraya paniculata was one of the lucky tropical plants that got to live outside. Aside from it being very messy to keep indoors (it was forever dropping old leaves and flowers in the apartment), it'd earned a summer outside, I figure. I haven't had any pest problems with it, and the flowers smell so nice, and we've had it for a very long time (since December 2006), plus, most importantly, it's very big and there wasn't room for it inside.

It's been intermittently very happy with this arrangement: when it first got outside, in mid-July, it responded with a huge flush of flowers, all at once, which made going outside exceptionally pleasant-smelling for a while there. That has since turned into a big burst of new foliage, with only occasional flowers, but it still appears to be happy so I'm not worried about it.

There is one concern, which is that it seems to draw a lot of wildlife. There are flies of various types:

and the occasional unidentified beetle --

-- and I've seen spiders once or twice also. Nothing, so far, that looks like it would be dangerous to bring inside, but I'm still a little nervous. I'll have to check it over pretty carefully before it comes in, I guess, and maybe give it a good spray-down with a jet of water from the hose. It should be fine.

In any case, it's nice to see it enjoying itself, and the flowers have been great.

It's a shame they're not easier to propagate (or, for that matter, buy: since the citrus greening quarantine for Florida went into effect at the beginning of 2008, I haven't seen a Murraya for sale anywhere). Not that they were terribly common before that, either. But they're nice plants.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pretty pictures: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis cvv.

Just a few random Hibiscus pictures that, for one reason or another, haven't made it to a post yet.

This very last picture is my own personal plant; previous pictures can be found here (before it was mine) and here (immediately after it was mine). The color actually does vary a little bit; I don't know if it depends on the age of the flower, or the growing conditions. Pretty hot stuff either way.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fun With Exotic Angel Tags

I had a lucky break, or at least what I hope is a lucky break, a couple weeks ago, when the husband and I went to Cedar Rapids. We stopped at Lowe's, and I found a set of four plants, heavily discounted, that I had considered buying months earlier. It's a plant I really like, and almost never see for sale anywhere, but lack of space at home, plus lack of money, kept me from buying them at the time. But then we went back maybe a month and a half later, and not only were they still there, but they were about a quarter of the original price. So I bought them all. (I guess I wasn't really that bothered by the lack of space.)

Your task: to use the identifying information provided by the retailer (Lowe's) and wholesaler (Exotic Angel), to deduce what I bought.

The pot had a sticker on it identifying them as ferns:

And the tags in the pots said they were Calathea roseo-picta 'Angela:'

(They butchered the format for the botanical name, of course, but one assumes that's what they mean.)

Sooooooo . . . it is obviously which plant?




Why, Asplundia 'Jungle Drum,' (usually sold as Carludovica) of course. I mean, duh.

EA has a logo, but doesn't appear to have an official company motto yet. Their greenhouses, according to the website, have signs in them saying "Taking care of our customers is, taking care of our future," [sic] which is the kind of vapid, mispunctuated slogan that would make me want to slit my wrists within the first month of employment there, and which might be as close as they get to a company motto. Clearly they need something better. I propose "Names, schmames."

Seriously, EA: part of "taking care of your customers" is letting them know what the hell kind of plant you're selling them, and what they're supposed to do with it. So either take care of your damn future already, or get a new slogan.

And lose the comma either way: it is wrong, and it makes you look stupid.