Saturday, November 14, 2009

Question for the Hive Mind: Cycas revoluta weird growths

Life has become momentarily unmanageable, due to a combination of factors, some of which are not in my control, so there will be no Saturday afternoon Nina picture, and the posts for today and tomorrow will be a little lightweight. Sorry about that. Something to ponder in the meantime: what exactly are these things I found in the soil of my Cycas revoluta? I think they're attached to the plant, and therefore probably part of the roots (or maybe some kind of symbiotic nitrogen-fixing something?), but I don't remember seeing anything like this when I initially repotted the plant, plus they're strange, so I thought maybe I should ask the collective.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pretty picture: Anthurium andraeanum 'Pacora'

One of the stranger things about 'Pacora,' as compared to other Anthurium andraeanum cultivars, is that the spadix of the flowers is sometimes green. (This picture makes it look more chartreuse, but I promise it was green.)

I've seen a variety of Anthurium (no name, unfortunately) with large white flowers and pink spadices (spadixes? Whatever.), and 'Gemini' has a pink spathe and a yellow spadix, but I can't think of any other Anthuriums with a green spadix. It's also not consistently so: the spadix changes from green to yellow as the plant ages.

My Anthuriums haven't been thrilled with me since the move: they've been having to make do with natural light from an east window instead of the very bright artificial light they were getting in the apartment. For some reason, though, they're starting to come around lately: I have buds on 'Pandola,' 'Pacora,' 'Red Hot,' 'Gemini,' and a couple NOIDs. The purple one in particular has been going nuts lately. Not sure what this means; hope it doesn't come to an abrupt halt when the weather changes again.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Random plant event: Hatiora salicornioides cuttings

It's not surprising news -- rooting is pretty much the whole raison d'ĂȘtre of Hatiora salicornioides cuttings -- but still, it's nice to see when it happens. This post can pretty much also double as a How To Propagate Hatiora Salicornioides From Cuttings, though there's not a lot to it. First you cut off some pieces,

then you stick the cuttings in soil so that at least one node (or joint between segments) is buried (this is easier if you make the original cuts just below a node, though I can't say I worry about that very much),

and then you wait until you see new growth:

This particular group of cuttings was started in late July, and the first sign of new growth was in early November, so the wait is about three and a half months. Maybe less if they're in good light: these sat on a low, dark shelf in the plant room for quite a while because I didn't have anywhere else to put them. I lost a few, but that had more to do with me trying to water from overhead with a garden hose (unrooted cuttings are easily knocked over, and if they wind up just laying on top of the soil, they'll be unable to get water, shrivel, and die) than with any inherent frailty of the cuttings themselves.

Not sure what it is about this particular plant, but I'm very fond of it. Never given me any problems, propagates easily, has an interesting look.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yearbook Pictures

Pelargonium x hortorum 'Vancouver Centennial.'

I'm having a terrible time keeping up with . . . everything right now. The main reason, or at least one of them, is because I have a very frustrating project going on now which requires me to take pictures of a lot of plants, all at once, and sort through a bunch of other pictures which had already been sitting around. This would be no big deal except that the majority of the pictures I've been taking are crap, usually because the lighting is off, and so I've had to do the same few plants three days in a row, and in most cases I'm still not any closer to a good picture than I was when I started.

The ultimate goal of all this is to be able to put together lists of plants with common characteristics (for example: Ten Plants Native to Mexico; Ten Plants With Fuzzy Leaves; Ten Plants With Purple Flowers), and have pictures there for each one, without having to round up and photograph all the plants involved whenever I decided to put one of these lists together. I get a fair number of hits from people searching for plants that have these sorts of specific qualities, so it seems like this would be helpful to somebody sooner or later. Not to mention that it would be generally handy to have a bank of images from which to draw for all kinds of posts. Prior to this, I was taking pictures of plants as I needed them, which meant a lot more time spent on setting up and tearing down: in theory, in the future, this will save me time.

Euphorbia tortilis.

This impulse is a little frightening, as it follows immediately on a several-day-long compulsion to review the plant difficulty numbers (which have not yet been changed, but will be at some point) and a period before that when I was anxiously trying to make sure all the mentions of, for example, Aglaonema cvv. in the whole blog, all the way back to 2007, were linked to the Aglaonema profile I wrote in March 2008. And then repeat the effort you imagine that to take 84 more times, for each of the profiles I've written so far.

In conclusion, then, my brain is forcing me to do all kinds of stuff that's kind of fussy and OCD, for no discernable reason other than to satisfy my desire to have all the links and posts and pictures just so.

Philodendron gloriosum.

On the up side, by the time this is all done, I may have developed the necessary skills for becoming a high school yearbook photographer. Except for the parts that involve dealing with people, I guess. The plants are by and large pretty calm, compared to teenagers.

On the other hand, teenagers are slightly less likely to be waving their genitals around at the photographer on picture day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pretty picture: Schlumbergera 'Caribbean Dancer'

Here's the first bloom on my second Schlumbergera. The bud progression I reported with the first flower, where they were developing in the order of which ones got the most sun, is no longer true -- this one, 'Caribbean Dancer,' was in the north window, and is ahead of the NOID in the west window. So I guess that's not necessarily how it works, and I no longer have a theory.

I do love this flower, though. Slightly purplish pink and slightly orangish red? And it works, is the crazy part. Who knew?

I'm hoping that at some point there will be several flowers open on this plant simultaneously, so I can get a picture of the whole thing. Two reasons for that: one, I'm betting it will be very pretty, and two, it's actually the only one of my Schlumbergeras that's a full plant, as opposed to just being a couple rooted cuttings, so it's the only one that's presentable at all.

Photos of the third plant's flowers as soon as they open.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Random plant event: Nematanthus flowers

This seems a little bit early, but we'll take it: I have four Nematanthus plants, and two of them have flowers almost developed though neither is completely there yet. Only one flower each, too, but there's still time for that to change.

I never had a proper ID for either of these plants (or for the two that aren't flowering yet, either), but from poking around on-line after posting the picture of the striped one last February, I think it might be the variety called Nematanthus 'Tropicana.'

Both of these varieties have much larger leaves than I think they ought to have, and I'm a little puzzled about why that is, though I suppose as long as they're happy enough to flower I'm not going to worry about it too much. But still. They're like twice as long and twice as wide as the Nematanthus that haven't flowered yet. It's weird.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Recent new plants: Agave, Zamia, Pachycereus, Myrtillocactus

It's fairly normal for me to go through periods of buying the same kind of plant, or sometimes even multiple copies of the exact same plant, and then realize that I was doing this only somewhat later. Most of my orchids all arrived at about the same time, for example, as did most of my African violets (which also all left at about the same time, too: African violets are social plants, and travel in swarms).

Lately I seem to be having a cactus period: in addition to the Astrophytum ornatum I mentioned a while ago, I've also gotten a couple other cacti recently, plus an Agave which, though not a cactus, shares enough characteristics with cacti that I think we can include it as an honorary cactus for these purposes.

Myrtillocactus geometrizans ("whortleberry cactus"). Or at least that's how Lowe's had it marked. I blame Cactus Blog for this one: they'd posted about Myrtillocactus a couple times in the days before I bought this (mid-August). I'm not positive, but I think the cost was something like $4 or $5.
UPDATE: I now believe this is probably not a Myrtillocactus after all, but a Stenocereus pruinosus. This is based on their respective photos at

Pachycereus marginatus, I think. I'd wanted one for a while, but it took me until mid-October to remember that there were some at the ex-job. Not positive on the ID, but hopeful. It cost about $5.
UPDATE: I now believe this is an Isolatocereus dumortieri. Which I am okay with.

Zamia furfuracea? It's a very young Zamia ("cardboard palm" -- though it is neither), anyway. From a hardware store in Iowa City. We'd had these at work before, as much larger, less full plants, and they stayed around for over a year without selling. Then they suddenly all got scale of some kind and we threw them out. (It was more like seven out of eight got scale, and we couldn't be positive about the eighth.) I would have bought one way earlier, but for size and price. This was very reasonable ($6-7?), and only in a four-inch pot, so it got to come home with me about three weeks ago.

Agave 'Blue Glow.' Speaking of getting things in that then don't sell, I suspect Wallace's, in Bettendorf, is feeling this a little. They have a lot of fairly cool Agaves there in four-inch pots, which I think they got in in the spring for people to use in succulent plantings outside. They still have a lot of them left as of Halloween, when I bought this. 'Blue Glow' is supposed to be a hybrid of A. ocahui and A. attenuata. Leaves are a very cool blue-green, and have yellow and red spines on the leaf edges which are easier to see in the full-size picture. This was also about $6, and the plant had offset, so I got two plants out of it.