Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pretty pictures: Plectranthus x 'Mona Lavender' flowers

I've had this plant for almost a year now, and it's flowered off and on in that time, but never anything terribly impressive. It wasn't a particularly big plant, either, of course, but I think the main problem was that it wasn't happy with how much light it was getting. Since we got to the new house, and the plant got one of the choice spots in the southwest corner of the plant room, though, it's going nuts with flowers. Unfortunately, I had trouble getting a usable picture of the whole plant (it's a bit gangly: low light will do that), but there are plenty of close-ups of the flowers.

As far as I can tell, the flowers don't have a scent or anything, but they're pretty anyway.

Most pictures of 'Mona Lavender' on-line have darker-purple flowers than this; the degree of purple depends on how much light the plant receives.

Flowering is triggered by short days, though you still have to have reasonably bright light during those short days; mine didn't bloom much during the winter, despite the day length.

The plant is a hybrid developed in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens; more information about that here.

In DogQuest2010 news, we may get to adopt the "perfect" dog from Fairfield that I talked about in the last post -- I spent most of the hiatus moping about the unfairness of this, but called the Fairfield shelter again yesterday around noon and left them a message saying, basically: we were there last Friday and were looking at Sheba and then somebody else applied for her right after we left and I know this is kind of a long shot and I probably sound crazy for even asking but I noticed that she's still on Petfinder so I thought maybe there was the possibility that she's still available and so could you please just call me and tell me one way or another because I'm kind of obsessing thanks bye. (Sometimes when I'm leaving phone messages, I speak without any punctuation.1)

And an hour passed, and I didn't hear anything, so I took a nap. And when I got up, there were no messages or anything either, and I was like, oh well, I guess I'll have to accept this, then, damn it all to hell, and! Then! at like 4:50 PM, I got a call from the shelter saying that the person who had applied for her was supposed to pick her up today, and didn't, and when the shelter called to ask WTF, the person said they'd decided they didn't want her after all, so she was available again.

Faxed in an application two hours after that. And we will see. I think they're likely to approve us, at least in a tentative kind of way: I admitted on the application that allergies are an issue (which they already knew, because we'd told them about Fervor when we visited before), and that we would need to check on that again in person before adopting officially. They will take her back and refund the adoption fee if allergies turn out to be a problem, though. I assume there's a time limit of some kind on that, but if there are going to be problems, allergy-wise, then they're going to show up within the first week, so I'm not too worried about that.

I mean, I'm worried. But only for myself. They were taking good care of her there, and they would be again if we had to bring her back. As with Fervor when we took him back, she'd be fine and I'd be a wreck.

And I'm trying not to get too excited about this, but she's the only dog we've looked at that we've both liked, and we agreed on her immediately, she had no obvious qualities that would pose any problems for us, and the odds have seemed so long that we'd find any dogs that worked for our situation that I was starting to despair of ever finding one.2

The evidence so far suggests that I may be allergic to her, but less so than I was to Fervor -- I reacted a lot more to Fervor's play-biting than his licking, and almost not at all to his dander.3 Sheba (we will have to do something about this name) didn't seem at all inclined to bite, though she licked a lot.

I've also heard conflicting stuff about whether or not allergies get worse with continued exposure: some people in the comments on the last post said it was possible to gradually increase exposure and eventually stop reacting entirely, but the Iowa City shelter person said that if you're having animal allergies, they will only get worse over time.4 It basically all comes down to me and my stupid immune system.

And I guess my nervous system also: I got itchy spots on my face and right arm just from thinking about my allergic history and potential, while writing this.

So I'm trying not to get too excited about Sheba.

But I'm failing, failing, failing.


1 At other times, I leave phone messages that are practically nothing but punctuation. I like to keep people guessing.
2 After having looked for a whole week and a half. What can I say, I despair easily.
3 Even though the allergenic protein is the same in all three cases. According to something I read somewhere.
4 Which fits better with my prior experiences with animal allergies, though I've been told I have relatives who developed sudden allergies around puberty and then grew out of them in their 30s. Don't know if that's necessarily true, of course.
I do fit at least the first half of that: we had dogs and cats both when I was growing up, and I was never allergic until I was 11 or 12 years old, when I was suddenly really really allergic to cats. Dogs were never a problem until about eight years ago.


Ginny Burton said...

So glad your hiatus is over -- I missed starting the day out with your blog. In fact, I missed it so much, I came back just to read some old posts and found the two new ones.

About the allergies: I'm allergic to cats, but couldn't live without one. So I'm careful about not getting my face too close to her fur, and washing up immediately after I pet her. Also, I give her a sponge bath every night -- wash cloths wrung out in hot water. She loves it and it gives us a wonderful bonding time together. I realize that it would be more time consuming with a larger animal, but it does help keep the dander down.

Anonymous said...

First, Mr. Sub, I do so hope you get Sheba, change her name and are not allergic, or the allergies just go away all together, that would be the best. Now to the plant, this is at the top of my list for this year. My local nursery showed it to me late last fall and it was still blooming its head off, darker purple though, and covered with bees. She promised to offer it again in 2010 and I will be getting some, then over winter it inside and take cuttings. I think the flower might be darker with more sun, but thanks for the tip about short days triggering the blooms so I won't stress out about no flowers until later. Good luck with Sheba, we will send our best thoughts for success you way.

Liza said...

Allergies come and go. You'll be fine. Just don't pet Sheba then say, touch your eyes. Sheba, yeah, change that. Once she's yours that is, and she will be.

Glad to have you back! Fingers crossed for the new pup!

Kenneth Moore said...

Hm... I like the name Sheba. I'll just be the dissenter, then.

Allergies are a tricky thing. I had a cat for 12 years--I wasn't deathly allergic, but I had sneezing fits all the time. Over the years, I became less allergic to her, but maintained my general cat allergy. I don't know if she just stopped being danderiffic or what. I still got red itchy puffy areas when she bit me, but otherwise, I was fine with her, but not with other cats.

But, intermittenly during that time, I was getting allergy shots (I'm allergic to everything that's green or that has hair). My seasonal (not pet) allergies declined a bit, but then I developed food allergies (melon, avocado, carrot, and the like). It all depends on what you're willing to trade for if you really want a pet...

mr_subjunctive said...

Kenneth Moore:

Well, it's not like I haaaaaaaaate the name Sheba. But I'm pretty sure I can come up with something I like better. I mean, I haven't so far, but I have plenty of experience naming things, animals, and whatnot.

Something that struck me when I've looked on-line for lists of dog names is that almost all of them are also human names. It used to be that pets were named for things they did (Rover), gender (Lassie, Tom) or something about their appearance (Spot, Fluffy, Whiskers) or personality (Peaches, Buddy, Bandit), but now they're getting named like they're children ("Max" is the #1 name at the moment for male dogs; either "Molly" or "Maggie" for female dogs, depending on which list you look at).

I don't necessarily have a problem with this -- whatever other people want to name their dogs is fine -- but I'm more interested in an old-school name like Rover. Or a tweaked old-school name like Fervor, obviously.

If all else fails, I can fall back on naming her for a "RuPaul's Drag Race" contestant.[1] It worked for Nina.

mr_subjunctive said...

Whoops. The footnote was where I was going to say that my grandparents had a chow named JuJu when I was very little, and there's a RPDR contestant this season called Jujubee. But I don't want to name her JuJu, so it doesn't work, so I deleted the note.

Nancy in Sun Lakes AZ said...

What a cute dog Sheba is! About how old is she? I like the name Sheba too.

CelticRose said...

The first pic is beautiful Mr. S.

Hope everything works out for you with Sheba (Sheba? That's a cat's name). Got my fingers and toes crossed for you.

Muhammad khabbab said...

i have never such pretty lavender. i wish i could grow some in my soil bed. wish you best of health with the allergy

Anonymous said...

Good Luck, hope Sheba is for you :-)
About pet allergies. I couldn't come near cats as I started to wheeze, got itchy eyes, running nose etc. My closest friend however had 4 cats and one of them always insisted in sleeping on my lap :-) So when I went to my friend, almost dayly, I took something to suppress my allergy... after a year I asked my friend if she didn't notice something special: I wasn't allergy anymore to her cats! Now I have 2 myself...

Same here with dogs. Sometimes my arms get itchy from dogs saliva and hairs. That happened too when I acquired the newest pack member, sort of Rat terrier. After a while, let's say a few months, no problems anymore.

Seems that sometimes exposure to things you are allergic too can make allergies less.

Good luck this afternoon. Hope your allergy test = negative for Shena. Sounds like a great dog for you!

Anonymous said...

What a most wonderful Plectranthus! Well, at least the flowers! We don't see much of the plant, but it's wonderful still!

Tracy said...

So I saw your commment about: (it's a bit gangly: low light will do that) and I am wondering if you ever prune plants to get rid of this. I am pretty new to house plants (even thought I am plant pathologist!!) so I am not sure what to do. I have some violets that look so long and stringy after the winter. Is there any way to get these kinds of plants back into a normal shape?

P.S. I am new here and so far am loving your blog! I share the dog allergy and have 2 golden retrievers that I could not imagine my life without! I use zyrtec and it helps SO much, also good handwashing after I pet them so I dont rub my eyes or something.

mr_subjunctive said...


Not sure, but they're so easy to restart from cuttings that it's probably simpler to start over with a new plant and just give it better light, as opposed to trying to prune back an old plant. Though if you're doing one thing, you're also well set-up to do the other, so I suppose one may as well try.

mr_subjunctive said...

Oh, and --

If you mean African violets, I don't think so. Though you can re-start the ones you have from leaves, or bury long stems, you can't do anything to change the distance between leaves once they're on the stem. You might want to search the archives at the Garden Web African Violet Forum for suggestions on dealing with that kind of thing.


The foliage would be nicer if, again, I had better light. It winds up being very nearly black in strong light. They're pretty.