Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday morning Nina picture

New picture, but we've seen Nina hanging from the ceiling before.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Iowa City Graffiti: Rose

Feeling kind of out of it again today (which is Thursday, even though you're reading this on Friday), but in this case I think I know why: we went to Iowa City on Wednesday and I wound up walking around outside for most of an hour. Not particularly horrible in itself (in fact I kind of liked it), but my body is not accustomed to me doing a whole lot of walking anywhere, and especially not when temperatures are in the 20s (F: this is -2 to -7C). So I'm paying for the walk today in the form of a slight headache and overall tiredness.

But I got to see this.

I'm not positive that this counts as a graffito, in the sense that I'm not positive it's unwanted (certainly it's been at this location for a while, and nobody's removed it, plus it's prettier than most of the other graffiti I've seen), but it's outside, on a building, in spray-paint, so I think it's close enough.

The only question remaining, then, is: what species is it? I'm inclined to go with a rose (even though the number of petals is wrong), because of the shape of the buds, but I think an argument could be made for Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus). Though the number of petals is still wrong, for Catharanthus.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

List: Houseplants With Totally or Mostly Black Leaves

I don't think there are actually any plants that are genuinely black black, but quite a few of them can come close, usually as very dark greens, reds, or purples.
There are also a couple very dark grays out there, but they're few and far.

As a group, these don't photograph terribly well. Too much light and they no longer look black; too little light and you can't see them against a dark background.

As always, I am aware that I've left things out, because there's no way not to. So I'm open to suggestions if anybody wants to leave some.

Alocasia 'Polly.' (African mask plant) More of a really dark gray-purple than a black.

Alworthia 'Black Gem.' I know it doesn't look like it in this photo. That's because it's not. Grown in bright light, though, this will turn a very dark green-black.

Begonia rex-cultorum 'Harmony's Red Robin,' and other Begonia cvv. to greater or lesser degrees. This is not a good example, since the leaves are mostly red, but the solid-color, darker plant I have, which is 'Texas Coffee Star,' 'Gladys Meyer,' 'Black Coffee,' or something like that, photographs weirdly.

Calathea NOID, possibly 'Medallion.' Also some other Calathea cvv. Usually just very dark green, though the leaves usually have a red or purple back to them which makes them look a little darker.

Ficus elastica 'Burgundy.' (rubber plant) The exact color depends on how the light hits it and growing conditions, but this is also a very good approximation of black.

Ludisia discolor. (jewel orchid; Ludisia discolor) Very dark red.

Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Niger.' (black mondo grass) Very dark green. Not much of a houseplant, really: it doesn't do a lot indoors. But it can be grown there. And it's very, very dark. So.

Pellionia pulchra. (watermelon plant) Very dark gray with even darker veins. This picture makes it look greener than it appears under normal circumstances.

Schefflera (Dizygotheca) elegantissima (false aralia) I still prefer calling it Dizygotheca, partly because it seems more appropriate for a plant with such dark green leaves to have a name containing the word "goth."

Zingiber malaysianum. (midnight ginger) Very dark red, sometimes verging on dark orange. Older leaves may be more green than red, especially in lower light.

If I had to choose just three, Alworthia 'Black Gem' would definitely make the cut, as would Zingiber malaysianum and probably Schefflera elegantissima. Though there are others in the above list I like, too. Alworthia 'Black Gem' is definitely the easiest of the above, and it self-propagates well, which are both endearing qualities as far as I'm concerned. Zingiber malaysianum is much harder (somewhere around a 6.1 on the difficulty scale), but the color of the leaves is fun (especially when light is shining from behind them), and the plant also has a light, spicy, gingery scent, which is only appropriate since it's a ginger.

Schefflera elegantissima, which I am still calling Dizygotheca in my head, is also kind of a pain, mostly with regard to pests, but the color and shape are either unique or very uncommon, and at least one of my plants is growing very well for me. (I had three others at one point in the past, which did not.)

Not pictured:

  • Aechmea 'Black Chantinii'
  • Aeonium 'Zwartkop'
  • Alocasia 'Frydek?'
  • Aloe variegata (in bright light)
  • Anoectochilus chapaensis (jewel orchid) (strongly resembles Ludisia discolor)
  • Anoectochilus formosanus (Taiwan jewel orchid)
  • Anthurium x 'Marie'
  • Aphelandra squarrosa (zebra plant)
  • Codiaeum variegatum, some cvv. (croton)
  • Colocasia cvv., some cvv. (elephant ear)
  • Cordyline fruticosa, some cvv. (ti plant)
  • Cryptanthus cvv. (some cvv. like 'Black Mystic')
  • Cyclopogon elatus (jewel orchid) (strongly resembles Tradescantia zebrina in the davesgarden photo)
  • Dossinodes Indra's Net (jewel orchid)
  • some Episcia varieties (flame violet) have dark gray or brown leaves
  • Ficus benjamina 'Midnight' ('Midnight' ficus tree)
  • Ficus microcarpa (at least some cvv.; the one I have cuttings of is very very dark, except for new growth)
  • Goodyera reticulata (jewel orchid)
  • Haworthia attenuata (zebra plant)
  • Haworthia limiifolia var. limiifolia (fairy washboard)
  • Haworthia pumila
  • Macodes petola (jewel orchid)
  • Maranta leuconeura 'Marisela,' other M. l. cvv. to some degree or another (prayer plant)
  • Nematanthus cvv., some cvv. (guppy plant)
  • Neoregelia cvv., some cvv.
  • Peperomia caperata, some cvv. (Emerald Ripple, ripple peperomia)
  • Philodendron 'Black Cardinal'
  • Philodendron 'Imperial Red'
  • Philodendron 'Pink Princess'
  • Pilea involucrata 'Norfolk'
  • Pilea 'Silver Tree'
  • Sansevieria trifasciata, some cvv. (snake plant, mother-in-law's tongue)
  • Solenostemon scutellarioides, some cvv. (coleus)
  • Syngonium wendlandii?
  • Tradescantia zebrina (wandering Jew)
  • Vriesea ospinae var. gruberi
  • Vriesea splendens (flaming sword)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pretty picture: assorted Saintpaulia cvv.

I'm writing this on Monday afternoon. On Monday morning, I woke up with a headache so bad I was basically unable to function (yesterday's post about the Tetrastigma was one I'd started on Sunday, and had mostly finished), which is something that happens to me occasionally. Some kind of sinus thing, I think. So I don't have a lot to say about the above picture. But there it is.

I'm assuming that by the time you read this, I will have recovered and everything will be back to normal again, but I suppose we'll see. Meanwhile, it is time for me to go lie on the couch and watch TV.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Random plant event: Tetrastigma voinierianum cutting sprouts new growth, finally

I took two cuttings of Tetrastigma voinierianum home with me from work as I was leaving last May. Stuck them in potting mix at home, and waited. One died; the second had rooted well enough by September that I declared it an official plant and added it to the plant count and all that.

They're supposed to be super-fast, super-aggressive growers, provided you can give them enough heat and humidity, but mine did nothing for four months after I made it official. During the mid-January round of watering, though, I saw this:


The reader will be forgiven for not understanding why this is a big deal, but I think it shouldn't be so hard to figure out why I'm kind of excited to see a plant do something, anything, after an eight-month wait. I've waited longer for less, though, I suppose.

Once Tetrastigma starts, though, it works pretty fast. The below picture is the same bud, only five days later:

This, of course, brings with it a whole new host of problems, as every source I've seen mention this plant underlines that it can get huge very rapidly. Below is the parent plant, in what looks like maybe a 10-inch pot.

It didn't grow terribly fast at work, mostly, I think, because we weren't watering it enough, and it was rootbound. I moved it up twice in the year and a half I worked there, into a 12-inch pot and a 14-inch pot, and it wasn't until it got into the 14-incher that it really took off and grew, growing tendrils that wrapped around anything handy and carrying itself along some of the support bars for the greenhouse ceiling.

Which I guess I can look forward to something similar, in the near future. Should be a good time.

Monday, February 1, 2010

List: Houseplants Which Trail But (Mostly) Don't Climb

The line here is a bit arbitrary, but sometimes you want a plant that's going to just lay there, and sometimes you want a plant that's going to climb up things. This list is for the plants that are just going to lay there. A lot of these are used as hanging-basket plants.

A few of these plants will climb to some degree if they're being grown outside (some, like Ficus pumila, are downright obnoxious about it), but indoors, you generally have to provide them something to climb and then anchor the stems with some kind of plant tie at regular intervals, or make them some kind of constantly-moist support, or some other impractical thing like that. Most of the plants in this list won't climb particularly well even with assistance, and can be relied on not to get any crazy ideas about running themselves up your curtains. Your mileage may vary, of course.

This is an even less comprehensive list than usual, because the number of plants with this basic growth habit is practically never-ending. I'll add suggestions as people are moved to leave them in comments.

Note: this list was done by request for Joseph Tychonievitch of Greensparrow Gardens, who asked. I don't promise to take all list requests (some lists just can't be done as easily as others), and anybody who wants one is going to have to take a number and wait anyway, because Joseph asked for FOUR of them, but I'm more or less open to doing posts by request, in theory. Just so you're aware.

Aechynanthus speciosus, (goldfish plant) and other Aeschynanthus spp. (lipstick plant)

Cyanotis kewensis (teddy bear vine)

Dischidia ruscifolia (million hearts)

Epipremnum aureum 'Neon,' and other Epipremnum aureum cvv. (pothos)

Gynura aurantiaca (purple passion plant, purple passion vine)

Hedera canariensis 'Gloire de Marengo' (Algerian ivy)

Maranta leuconeura 'Marisela,' and other Maranta leuconeura cvv. (prayer plant)

Pellionia pulchra

Pilea depressa (baby toes)

Senecio rowleyanus (string of beads, string of pearls)

EDIT: Whoops. I published this without adding any commentary on the pictured plants.

I guess my three favorites from the above list are probably Aeschynanthus spp., Gynura aurantiaca, and Pellionia pulchra, with Cyanotis kewensis serving as first alternate.

This is partially process of elimination, because I've had moderately bad experiences with a lot of the other plants on the list, either from bugs (Maranta, Hedera), rot (Epipremnum), or decline from unknown causes (Pilea, Senecio). And I've never actually owned a Dischidia.

Not pictured:

Callisia fragrans (basket plant)
Ceropegia woodii (string of hearts)
Chlorophytum comosum (spider plant, airplane plant, mala madre)
Cissus rhombifolia (grape ivy; oakleaf ivy) (will climb a little)
Cissus rotundifolia (Peruvian grape ivy) (will climb a little)
Codonanthe spp.
Columnea cvv.
Crassula muscosa (= C. lycopodioides) (watch-chain crassula)
Davallia spp. (rabbit's-foot ferns)
Dischidia nummularia ("button orchid," says, though it's not an orchid)
Episcia cvv. (flame violet)
Ficus pumila (climbing fig) (will climb a little)
Fittonia albivenis (nerve plant)
Hedera helix (English ivy) (will climb a little)
Hoya carnosa (will climb a little)
Hoya lacunosa (will climb a little)
Hoya kentiana (will climb a little)
Hoya kerrii (sweetheart hoya) (will climb a little)
Hoya pubicalyx (will climb a little)
Ludisia discolor (jewel orchid) (Also other "jewel orchids" like Goodyera, Anoectochilus, Macodes, etc., though those are a lot harder to find.)
Monstera adansonii (swiss cheese philodendron) (will climb a little)
Monstera deliciosa (split-leaf philodendron, swiss cheese philodendron) (will climb a little)
Nematanthus gregarius (guppy plant)
Neoregelia 'Fireball'
Philodendron gloriosum
Philodendron bipennifolium (horse-head philodendron) (will climb a little)
Philodendron erubescens 'Red Emerald' (will climb a little)
Philodendron hastatum (will climb a little)
Philodendron hederaceum (heart-leaf philodendron) (will climb a little)
Phlebodium aureum 'Mandianum' (bear's paw fern)
Pilea nummulariifolia (creeping charlie)
Plectranthus ciliatus
Plectranthus verticillatus (Swedish ivy)
Plectranthus oertendahlii
Polypodium formosanum 'Cristatum' (E.T. fern)
Pseudorhipsalis ramulosa
Rhipsalis spp. (mistletoe cactus)
Saxifraga stolonifera (strawberry begonia)
Schlumbergera truncata cvv. (holiday cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, Christmas cactus)
Scindapsus pictus (satin pothos) (will climb a little)
Scyphularia pycnocarpa (possum tail fern)
Sedum burrito (burro's tail)
Sedum morganianum (also burro's tail)
Senecio jacobsenii (trailing jade)
Senecio radicans (string of bananas)
Soleirolia soleirolii (baby tears)
A few cvv. of Solenostemon scutellarioides (coleus)
Stapelia spp. (carrion flower)
Stephanotis floribunda (Madagascar jasmine) (will climb a little)
Streptocarpus saxorum cvv. (streptocarpella)
Syngonium podophyllum (arrowhead vine) (will climb a little)
Syngonium wendlandii
Tolmiea menziesii (piggyback plant)
Tradescantia fluminensis
Tradescantia pallida (purple heart, purple queen)
Tradescantia sillamontana (kitten ears)
Tradescantia zebrina (wandering Jew)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Unfinished business: Euphorbia drupifera flowers

Last Tuesday, when I was watering, I noticed that the Euphorbia drupifera flowers were being interesting: they've sprouted little god-knows-whats out of their centers. Maybe anthers (they all look like they're tipped with little yellow dots of pollen, anyway). I really don't understand how Euphorbia flowers are constructed. I'm pretty sure the flowers have done this in years past, too, but for whatever reason, I didn't bother to get a close-up of the phenomenon. So now I have.

The actual point of this post, though, besides getting to show you the cool, super close-up picture above (and it blows up much bigger if opened in a separate window, just so you know), is to note that the flowers have a scent. It's really faint, so faint that I can't get a good handle on what it actually smells like: at various moments, my brain interpreted it as bleach, "hospital," oregano, sour-citrus, "chemical," "spice," and "clean." It was most insistent about "hospital" and oregano. I don't even know what "hospital" smells like, exactly.

The husband's less-talky nose said floral, shading into a sort of citrus. So we at least kind of overlap on citrus.

I know this is not much of a description. Or, maybe, I know this is too many descriptions. I would have liked to be able to be more precise about it, but the smell is right on the verge of not existing at all, so. I'll revise this post if I'm inspired with a perfect description at some point.