Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Plants

I guess it's that time again already. I don't feel like I've been acquiring new plants that quickly, but apparently so (mainly through trades). And the ones I'm going to talk about are just the more interesting ones: there have been others.

Also, just to explain: if you sent me the plant in question by trade or other private arrangement, I don't identify who you are in the post because I figure you may not want all of my readers knowing that you have them and pestering you for trades. Not that that would probably happen. But just, you know, for the sake of maintaining privacy, I figure it's best to let everybody decide that for themselves. If you find that you want to claim one or more of these as your own contributions to the Subjunctive Botanical Gardens in the comments, feel free.

So okay. Here we go.

Justicia scheidweileri 'Maracas.'

A couple of these plants are so new that I'd never even heard of them before, and Justicia scheidweileri (sometimes Porphyrocoma pohliana) is one of those. I only have this one because I saw one in a photo someone e-mailed me, and asked about it, and the person very generously sent me one without me even asking for it. I still don't exactly know how to take care of it, but I figure I can try default tropical plant care until I know something more specific. They're related to shrimp plants (Justicia and Pachystachys spp.).

They're apparently mildly invasive when grown outdoors; most of the davesgarden.com comments are about their tendency to throw seedlings all over the place.

Synadenium grantii var. rubrum.

The reader will be forgiven if s/he doesn't see why this is a big deal, but I've wanted this plant forever, so I was thrilled to get a big honking cutting by trade. I cut it into four pieces (the above photo is of the topmost piece), stripped the leaves off of the bottom few inches of each piece, planted it into wet soil, and stuck it under some fluorescent lights in the basement, and all four pieces are now sprouting new growing tips. Though one of the four did defoliate first.

As the regular Synadenium grantii is a personal favorite, and has been started and restarted and restarted from a single small cutting three years ago, I fully expect to have lots of these very shortly too.

Philodendron hederaceum NOID cv.

This one jumped out at me when I saw it in the grocery store a few weeks ago; I've seen multiple types of coloration on Philodendron hederaceum, but this is the first one I've seen that was speckled. It's not especially flashy, but it was relatively cheap, and I'd never seen it before, even in photos, so I got it.

There's a tiny bit of uncertainty in my mind about whether or not it's diseased (surely if there were an actual new variety, I'd have seen it somewhere on-line before seeing it in the store, right?), but that's probably just me being paranoid about admiring any variegated plants, since the variegated Ipomoea a couple weeks ago, and the comment storm that ensued.

Cryptbergia x rubra.

Both Wikipedia and GlasshouseWorks say this plant is a cross between Cryptanthus bahianus and Billbergia nutans. I like Cryptanthus, I like Billbergia, I like intergeneric hybrids, so this was a natural to try to trade for.

Aloe 'Grassy Lassie.'

I've also gotten even more Aloes. 'Grassy Lassie' was a trade. I've seen some pictures on-line that make it look really stunning when in flower, not that I expect to see flowers indoors.

Aloe gastrolea Gasteraloe x 'Midnight.'

The remaining three two and a half Aloes all came from a new place (new to me, not new to the area), Reha Greenhouses, in Wellman, IA. They had a lot of interesting plants, tending toward succulents and old, easily-propagated passalong-type plants. A. gastrolea Gasteraloe x 'Midnight' is maybe the least interesting of the three Aloes, but its leaves do have a weird texture, and I don't have anything like it, so it got to come home with me.

Aloe x 'Pink Blush.'

'Pink Blush' is one of the Proven Winners Aloe varieties; they have twenty-two listed on their website at the moment, including also 'Grassy Lassie' and 'Fire Ranch' (which Karen715 has recently blogged about). It was sort of an obvious one to buy -- the picture doesn't show it well, but the leaf edges are pink, and it looks cool in person.

Aloe x 'Silver Ridge.'

'Silver Ridge' is also a Proven Winners plant, and although it's not as flashy as 'Pink Blush,' it's still mighty cool. Both 'Pink Blush' and 'Silver Ridge' have a very weird, sort of disturbing texture to the leaves, which is maybe easiest to see in the 'Silver Ridge' picture. Or if you can't see it there, look at the Proven Winners site. They have close-up photos of everything. (And, he noted with some disgust, no non-close-up photos of anything, or at least not the things I was interested in. Aloe 'Donnie' is still totally going on the want list, though.)

Euphorbia flanaganii var. cristata.

Euphorbia flanaganii var. cristata is the plant with the most interesting acquisition story: I got it from Cactus Jungle, as my prize for winning an identify-this-weird-object contest. Which I wasn't even sure was a real contest, at the time. (Sometimes it's hard to tell if Cactus Blog is being serious or sarcastic. Does anybody else have that problem?) Also I'd done a couple hours of Google image searching before making my guess (All you people with jobs are too busy to spend two hours Googling to win a $10 gift card, so who's the unemployed loser now, yo?), which maybe counts as cheating, but even if it does, I'm not giving the plant back.

I'd wanted one of these for a few months now; I passed some up at Lowe's a few months ago, then changed my mind and decided I wanted one after all. Unfortunately, by the time I got back, they didn't have them anymore. So I'd been trying to get one again. Cactus Jungle didn't just happen to send me a plant I really, really wanted: I sent them a list of like twenty plants, prioritized according to how badly I wanted them, and of the things they were willing to let me have, this was highest on my list. Which was sort of a roundabout way of doing it, but what would you have had me do, accept a plant chosen at random?

Anyway. So that was all very nice, and the box was well-packed and the plant was undamaged and pest-free as far as I can tell, so that was all a pleasant surprise.

Finally, Kalanchoe prolifera:

Kalanchoe prolifera stump. Yes, I know what it looks like. You do too, obviously, so let's not accuse anybody of having smutty minds. It was an accident of photography, and that's all it was.

Kalanchoe prolifera is another plant I'd never even heard of, prior to receiving it by trade. My trader sent a big section of stem, saying that basically any part of the plant (stem cuttings, isolated leaves, pieces of stem) could produce a new plant, which makes me wish I'd cut it up more first. The stump started to sprout more or less right away, from each of the nodes, but it's since changed its mind about most of those; the stump has been dying back slowly from the top, and only one node now has any growth on it.

I don't know what happens next, nor do I know whether the plant will be even remotely attractive if it does thrive.

I also don't know why there's a Kalanchoe prolifera but not a Kalanchoe prochoicera. (Are plant names really the place for taxonomists to be taking sides on abortion?)1

The pictures of K. prolifera that are out there make it look plausibly decorative, if enormous, with big, pinnate, succulent leaves. (E.g.: it's about 4/5 of the way down the page.) We'll see how it goes.


1 I know they're not. I'm being funny.
Not, you know, very funny. But still. Making the effort.


Liza said...

Did you have to build a wing on the house to accommodate all the new guys?

mr_subjunctive said...


No. I usually wind up sending more out in trades than what I get back. And there are always a few that are dying, or intolerably ugly, or whatever. The number appears to have leveled off in the last year or so: maximum capacity is somewhere between 850-950 plants, apparently.

Sunita Mohan said...

That really is a lot of plants!It must've been such fun getting so many new plants. And they definitely look interesting!

Pat said...

Have you had a Kalanchoe that drops baby cuttings everywhere? They are a real pain, weeding them out from other pots all the time. So, my advice would be to put this plant where there are no other pots nearby. Obviously impossible for you considering what a large plant it will become.

Don't feel embarrassed to admit liking variegated plants. I like many, just the I. nil was not to my taste. De gustibus non est disputandum.

Peter said...

Glad to see the crest got through OK. And if you think it's hard to tell if I'm serious or not on the blog, just ask my sister about me in real life - yow!

If your Kalanchoe prolifera stem is dying from the top down, cut off the top before the rot reaches the part that has new leaves.

There are a few species with the prolifera name and it comes from prolific, not prolife.

mr_subjunctive said...


Haven't had to deal with that at home (I had a Bryophyllum daigremontianum once for a while, but got bored with it.), but at work, yes, I dealt with that a lot.

I don't think that K. prolifera forms plantlets until it blooms, and blooming may or may not happen inside, so I'm safe for a while, I think.


I knew it wasn't from pro-life. But still, all the letters are right there, in order. You can't expect me not to notice and comment.

I'll try cutting off the top, but I'm afraid it's going to be difficult. The dried stuff has a very hard texture to it.

Maybe it would make more sense to just cut off the new sprout? It does have a couple roots forming on it already; it might take.

Peter said...

Kalanchoe plantlets are also a good way to go.

Opuntia prolifera: http://www.cactusjungle.com/images/opuntia_prolifera2.jpg

Unknown said...

NEW PLANTS!!! I had something similar to the Porphyrocoma pohliana 'Maracas' but it had a yellow flower. I really like that one you started from cuttings. I'll look it up after this comment.

The Euphorbia is fun as always. Very interesting form. HELLO Kalanchoe!

Pat said...

Aaerelon, could it have been an Aphelandra? I was struck by the similarity when I saw this (new to me) Porphyrocoma.

Emily said...

I cannot imagine successfully maintaining 850-950 plants. I'm pretty maxed out around 50, and definitely couldn't handle over 100.

Despite the fact that I'm already neglecting some current plants I still have urges to acquire more, however :). Vicariously living through yours'll have to do for now.

Ivynettle said...

Jealous of that Philodendron, diseased or no! *pouts at the annoying different continent thing* It certainly looks healthier than the oddly-variegated ones we had at work (yellow lines spreading out from the petiole) - looked neat, but almost certainly a virus, since the plants didn't grow well, either.

Sentient Meat said...

Hi Mr S,

I was going to suggest it was still not too late to cut the K. prolifera stump in half or thirds. But then I read your follow-up, and I see what you mean about difficulty of cutting through the... um... horny outer layer.

To help ease your plant-care conscience: before I had success with this plant, I did manage to kill cuttings (with sprouts) more than once. When it finally does "take", it's vigorous enough to make you forget your failures and believe it's easy. But it's not foolproof.

Since that sprout has roots, removing it and planting it out does sound like a pretty high-percentage bet. It will yield a more attractive plant, too. But you might want to wait for the sprout to grow bigger first.

One note about cutting it back. It does naturally "die back" an inch or so from the cut. So don't cut too close to a node you hope will sprout.

Sentient Meat said...

P.S. A tiny nit from succulent-land: Gastrolea is an older term (now superseded by Gasteraloe) for an intergeneric hybrid between Gasteria and Aloe. So the genus name "Aloe" should be omitted: e.g. Gasteraloe "September Song" (or whatever), not Aloe gastrolea "September Song".

By the way, I'm a fan of the intergenerics, too. But not most variegates (except the ones occurring naturally, in habitat). All my plant friends love variegates, though, so I must be the odd one out.

Sentient Meat said...

PPS I'm not sure about Peter's advice to cut off the top of the K. prolifera stem just because it's dying back. With my cuttings of this plant, as the tissue at the callous dehydrates, it recedes. But if it's dry (not rotting), cutting it open may just start a new dehydration and self-defense die-back at a lower point.

Now, if you want to restart more cuttings in multiple pots, that's a fine reason to cut it up. But not because the cut edge is dying back a bit.

Mae said...

We actually tried growing Porphyrocoma pohliana 'Maracas' at my work a few years ago. I had one sitting at my desk for almost a year and it got really annoying. I don't know why it annoyed me. After the flowers died, it just looked funny. It never did reflower, then again, we didn't treat it really well, just watered it occasionally and it didn't get any real sunlight.

My boss would occasionally bring in a plant that he saw from one of our parent company growers, plunk it down on the desk and say, "Let's try to grow this!" I don't think it worked out...

Sentient Meat said...

PPPS Oops! Make that, Gasteraloe 'September Song' (single quotes). I'm still learning.

mr_subjunctive said...


Well, that's more or less what I thought at 100 plants, too. Actually, the whole way to 915 (the highest the population has ever been here), I was thinking that I had probably just about reached or exceeded the number I could reasonably care for, but the number kept growing anyway. It's only been since about last February that the number started to level out.

Sentient Meat:

I tried cutting it back already, actually, after the comment from Pat -- it was difficult to do, because down towards the bottom of the stump, the outermost 1/8-inch or so was water-soaked and slid off the stem. So I went ahead and cut the sprout off already, because the water-soaked part was almost down that far. There's one sprout on the opposite side of the plant, and then another pair of sprouts trying to come up from just under the soil, so if the one I cut off doesn't work out, I haven't lost all my chances.

Also --

I'd thought Aloe gastrolea sounded kind of weird, but that's what the tag said, and I hadn't gotten around to checking to see whether A. gastrolea was a real species yet. So okay. I'll change the post.

Sentient Meat said...

On Aloe gastrolea, it's not you... it's the present state of plant labeling, at least in the succulent side of the gardening hobby. It causes a lot of trouble for those of us who take extra pleasure in learning about the science and provenance of the plants we buy and grow.

Come to think of it, this may not be a bad case, if 'Midnight' is the correct, published cultivar name -- all the necessary information is provided. The really noxious cases are where sellers or growers sell previously described varieties under their own, new, trademarked names -- unethical but fairly widespread.

Thanks for writing the post!

Jordan in Oregon said...

I'm liking those Aloes. So far I only have two, vera and what I *think* is PW's Franco. At least, that's what it was labeled. But every time we get a flat in at work, they all seem to exhibit varying degrees of color, blush, and variegation. Having passed up on some before, on this last shipment I finally picked the little guy with the most white leaves. My little ghost aloe.