Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

Nina had a pretty eventful week this week, in that I have finally cleaned up her terarrium. I removed the Stromanthe burle-marxii, which had grown from a single 4-inch (10 cm) tall baby to a monster with eight clumps of leaves that was taking over two-thirds of the tank, divided it, and potted it up into four pots:

And then I replanted that part of the terrarium with a Peperomia caperata and some rooted cuttings of Pellionia pulchra. None of those were doing that well outside of the terrarium, but I'm hoping the terrarium environment will give them whatever they were missing and they'll be happy.

I left the Vriesea because that's where Nina sleeps sometimes, and it seemed to be doing fine in the tank anyway, without needing any changes.

I didn't take any Before pictures of the terrarium, because, frankly, I was embarrassed by it and didn't want you to see. I do have an After, though the After is also embarrassing in that it looks pretty sparsely planted. I'm hoping the Peperomia will grow tall enough to look appropriate for the space (if it doesn't rot first), and then the Pellionia can do the trailing, ground-cover thing it does. If the Peperomia fails, I have Pilea 'Moon Valley' as a backup, and if the Pellionia fails, I can try Saxifraga stolonifera.

Whether Nina will like this any better or not, I don't know. She wasn't exactly complaining before, and may well have liked the previous version better because it was easier to hide. This is the total feedback I've gotten so far:

Sheba's week was more typical. We're going on way fewer walks than we were, because I overheat too quickly when we do. Instead we've been playing fetch in the back yard in the mornings, for however long she wants to (usually only 10-20 minutes), which is easier on me because I can stand in the shade. I figure she gets her exercise either way.

That's also the reason why I'm not posting as many pictures of plants from gardens around town: we're not seeing them anymore. This'll probably change again in September or so. Summer is a stupid season.

Anyway. So here's Sheba, taking a break from the fetching in the shade of our maple tree:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pretty picture: Laeliocattleya Rojo x Cattleya aurantiaca

The pictures that come up for Laeliocattleya Rojo look an awful lot like this (example), and that same page also lists the parentage of Laeliocattleya Rojo as Cattleya aurantiaca x Laelia milleri. So this is supposedly (Cattleya aurantiaca x Laelia milleri) x Cattleya aurantiaca. I get why one might want to recross with one of the parent species, in general, but I'm confused about why one would want to recross in this specific case, since Lc. Rojo is already such a nice-looking plant. And the cross doesn't even appear to have changed much of anything, at least not to my (admittedly inexpert) eyes.

Pretty, though, in any case. I didn't wind up coveting many of the orchids at the show, but this is one I wouldn't mind having, assuming that I could grow it and have it flower and stuff. I think we're still a ways away from that point. But maybe someday.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Random plant event: The Plucky Little Cereus Peruvianus

This poor little Cereus peruvianus. I don't know what its story was originally; all I know is that it had been cut back at some point before I started working in the garden center (August 2007). I've never seen the plant fully intact; I don't know how it came to be cut back, or how long ago.

Still, though, I'd seen advice to cut the tops off of plants as a way to propagate them, or when they get too tall, or as a way to salvage a plant with fungal or disease problems, usually with the assurance that the plant would sprout new growing tips and recover. So I figured it was only a matter of time, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The whole time I worked there, the plant did nothing at all. August 2008 came and went, then I left in May 2009, and the plant was still there, looking exactly the same. The first indication that something might be going on was in September 2009, when it looked like the plant finally intended to sprout some new growing tips, but they turned out to be flower buds:

And, of course, once there were flower buds, someone was interested in buying the plant, so they took it into the back room to hold for the customer, and the customer never came to get it. Or maybe the customer had a change of mind. I'm not sure. In any case, the plant went to all that trouble to produce flower buds, and then it got moved to a dark spot, dropped the buds, and of course the customer didn't take it, after that.

Being a cactus is, I suspect, often kind of frustrating. Hence the acting out.

But so anyway. Back out to the sales floor it went, and it sat there for almost a year after the flower-bud thing before it elected to do something else.

So now it's got a growing tip again, finally, some three or more years after losing the original, and it looks like it's working pretty hard to make up for lost time. Will this make someone want to buy it again?

Weeellll . . . . I don't know about that. But it's trying. It's like the song says,

I get knocked down
But I get up again
Eventually, when I feel like it
I get knocked down
But I get up again
After three or more years of inactivity. . . .

(real lyrics)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Plants

I guess it's been a while since I did one of these posts. I haven't been doing that much plant-buying lately, I thought, but I seem to have a lot of "new" plants anyway. (Some of these have been around for a month and a half, so they're not exactly "new," but they're still new, in that I have not previously mentioned them on the blog.)

Gasteria bicolor var. lilliputiana.

The florist in town also sells some outdoor stuff, mainly (entirely?) annuals, during the early summer, and I got the first three plants of the post from her. Unlike some people, I like Gasterias, though I have a lot less experience with them than their close relatives Haworthia and Aloe.

Pilosocereus pachycladus.

She also had some cacti in 6-inch pots for $15, back in May (there are still a couple left, last I looked), and I'd sort of been looking for a Pilosocereus pachycladus for a while (since seeing one in Cedar Rapids, at Pierson's, several months ago). It was a good price, there were two plants in the pot, and they were reasonably good-sized. I don't know if Pilosocereus is easy or difficult, for a cactus, but so far, so good.

Agave lophantha.

This plant, too, was a $15 6-inch plant from the flower store in town, and I'd also been looking for an Agave lophantha since the same trip to Cedar Rapids when I saw the Pilosocereus. These have since been divided into separate four-inch pots, and appear to be doing well in the basement under lights.

Crassula falcata.

Crassula falcata is a plant I'd asked about in a walkaways post, and then went back to get after being told what it was. Crassulas and I have a very mixed history together, so I don't know that I expect this to work out particularly well in the long run. But it's an interesting plant: I figured I had to at least try.

Aloe haworthioides. (Aloe descoingii x Aloe haworthioides?)

This came from the hardware store that was selling the 'Jenny Craig' Dracaena. Andrew purchased one of these (or something very similar) recently, too, and came up with the ID of Aloe descoingii x Aloe haworthioides for his. Possibly this is a cross, and not a straight A. haworthioides, but that was the first ID I ran across that looked rightish to me, so that's the ID I'm going with until I get a clearer sense of the difference between the two, and/or see some good pictures of the two side-by-side.

Peperomia orba.

Not a lot to say here. This was another plant I previously posted about as a walkaway; it was cheap, I have mixed but mostly positive results with Peperomia (though my P. argyreia is extremely unhappy with me for the last . . . ever), and I'm interested in what this will look like six months from now. So we're trying it.

Didymochlaena truncatula.

Didymochlaena truncatula is also called the "mahogany fern," I'm assuming because of the brownish-red color of the newest fronds. We had a few when I was working in the garden center that got pretty big, and they were pretty nice-looking. Ferns are sort of a gamble, in that a lot of them also need conditions which are cooler or damper than I'm able to provide year-round. So I'm not sure how this will turn out. Googling about the plant turned up a 50-50 mix of sites saying that they're difficult (mainly talking about outdoor care) and sites saying they're easy (primarily talking about indoor care). Which is interesting.

The botanical name drives me crazy, by the way. I first learned the species name as trunculata, and I've also seen it as just plain truncata, but it's actually truncatula, which I try to keep straight with the mnemonic, "the cat you love is in my Didymochlaena." Mixed results so far, with the mnemonic: I still have to check every time I type it.

The genus name is problematic as well, but in a different way: I've never had any trouble remembering how to spell it, because I learned that correctly the first time, but my brain played with the pronunciation. says the correct pronunciation is "did-ee-moh-KLAY-ee-nuh," but my brain first pronounced it "DID-ee-MO-ka-LAY-nuh," which, I have discovered, easily corrupts into part of the Los del Río song (and cultural sensation) "Macarena." (DAle a tu CUERPo aleGRIa, MAcarENa / Heeeeeeey, Macarena --> DAle a tu CUERPo ale DID-ee-MO-ka-LAY-nuh / Heeeeeeey, MO-ka-LAY-nuh) Which is, obviously, super-annoying.

Even if I used the pronunciation, I'm pretty sure "Macarena" would sneak in somehow ("DAle a tu CUERPo ale DID-ee-MO-klay-EE-nuh?"). It's probably hopeless. Perhaps in this one case, I should go against all my principles and call the plant by its common name, not the botanical one.

Polypodium grandiceps.

The Polypodium, like the Peperomia and Didym mahogany fern, came from my ex-job. They have a lot of ferns right now, because the tropical plant situation in Florida is still suffering the effects of last winter's freeze. (Florida: you get freezes every few years. How can this always surprise you? You have to prepare for these things.) Which meant not much of an availability list, and every box of "assorted" anything had ferns filling in for whatever frozen tropicals were missing.

So they now have basically all the ferns: elkhorn (which is our boy P. grandiceps, above), rabbit's-foot (Davallia), bird's-nest (Asplenium), mahogany (Didymochlaena1), crocodile (Microsorum musifolium 'Crocodyllus'), Boston (Nephrolepis), 'Austral Gem' (an Asplenium cross), button (Pellaea), tiger (variegated Nephrolepis), upside-down (Arachniodes), holly (Cyrtomium), staghorn (Platycerium), bear's-paw (Polypodium), table (Pteris), possum-tail (Scyphularia), tree (Blechnum and Cyathea, among others, though they're not actually ferns) -- basically everything except maidenhair (Adiantum).

Which perhaps makes the fact that I bought a second fern, one I had never particularly cared about or wanted, somewhat more understandable. The odds said I was going to buy some ferns, 'cause that's what they had.

Agave bovicornuta 'Reggae Time.'

The last two plants came from Wallace's, in Bettendorf, IA, last Sunday. We hadn't been there since the orchid show in March, and the weather was such that I could survive outside the house without air conditioning (barely), so it seemed like a golden opportunity to go somewhere. And we did. Oddly, all the purchases from Wallace's had Jamaica-themed cultivar names.

I think I'd seen 'Reggae Time' at Wallace's before, maybe last October, but I asked someone and she thought they'd gotten them in new for this year.2 Either way, it's a big plant for the price ($7.99) -- nearly a foot (0.3 m) in diameter now, and the tag says to space them at least three feet (.9 m) apart. (It actually says 36-60 inches, or 0.9-1.5 m.) So it could, theoretically, get very large, though indoors it probably won't. Still, it's a big, scary, angry-looking plant, and I like those.

Dracaena reflexa 'Song of Jamaica.'

Finally, Dracaena reflexa 'Song of Jamaica,' because they had fairly cheap 3-inch plants I could buy and then pot together. It's not a plant I was searching for especially, but my little 'Song of India' has done well enough inside that I've concluded that Dracaena reflexa is not as much trouble as the rumors say, and I wanted a multiple-plant pot because D. reflexas tend not to be that interesting individually. So I made one, when we got home.

There will probably be a post about the walkaways from these trips within the next week or two.


1 (Heeeeeeeey Mo-ka-lay-nuh!)
2 The ones I remember were definitely not this big, though plants do grow. So these may or may not be the Agaves I remember.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

List: Houseplants Which Have Orange Flowers

Why orange? I don't know. Why not orange? I like orange, in plants anyway. Not so crazy about it for curtains or appliances and so forth. Van Gogh is said to have called orange "the color of insanity" (and he would know); a few little dots of insanity here and there is good. Large, uninterrupted fields of insanity is more problematic, though.

Very few of these plants have flowers which are exclusively orange. In some cases, environmental conditions influence bloom color, though usually not a lot, and in a lot more cases, non-orange varieties, as well as orange varieties, exist. If the flower color is particularly important to you, and apparently it is or else why would you be here, you should buy plants which are already in bloom or get the seller to confirm the bloom color before you buy.

Aeschynanthus speciosus. As far as I know, this species only produces orange flowers, though there are some photos on line that look a lot more red than orange. Also, Aeschynanthus species all look more or less alike until they start to flower, and some of the other species have red or reddish-purple blooms.

Anthurium andraeanum 'Florida' (shown), some other cvv. Anthurium has been heavily hybridized and cultivated, so there are many, many different varieties out there. The most commonly-found are red, white, and pink. Orange, red-violet, and violet flowers can occasionally be found. Yellow, brown, maroon, green, peach, and multicolor (usually red or pink plus green "ears," or white with red or pink streaks) flowers all exist but are quite rare in retail.

Clivia miniata cvv., most cvv. There are yellow, peach, and cream-colored varieties out there, though any random non-blooming plant you buy is most likely to be orange. Photo by Hedwig Storch, at the Wikimedia Commons page for Clivia miniata, because my plant still hasn't flowered yet.

Columnea cvv., possibly 'Early Bird.' Columnea varieties tend to be orange or red-orange, but some red and yellow varieties also exist.

Cuphea ignea. As far as I know, Cuphea ignea flowers are always this red-orange color.

Heliconia psittacorum 'Bright Lights' (shown), and other cvv. Flowers from the Heliconia genus are typically mostly red, sometimes with orange or yellow highlights. H. psittacorum are more consistently orange, though some red, yellowish, or mixed-color flowers can be found.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, NOID cv. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis are available in a wide range of color: white, yellow, red, orange, pink, peach, coral, brown, blue, lavender (though brown, blue and lavender are uncommon), and probably others. Red, pink and yellow are the most common around here, but it's not difficult to find an orange one if that's what you really want.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, NOID cv. There are many, many varieties of Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, with a wide range of bloom colors. Red, yellow, and orange seem to be the most common, but there are also a lot of pink, lavender, and white-bloomers out there.

Nematanthus cv. Nematanthus are most frequently orange, though cultivars with white, yellow, orange-pink, red, and multicolored flowers are also sometimes available.

Strelitzia reginae. Strelitzia reginae are almost always orange and blue, though there is at least one uncommon variety which has yellow and blue flowers. You're also fairly unlikely to get flowers on a plant being grown indoors. Photo by Lauren Chickadel, at the Wikipedia entry for Strelitzia reginae.

For the recommendations, I like Aeschynanthus, Anthurium, and Clivia, with Strelitzia as an honorable mention.

Aeschynanthus is a little bit difficult: mine bloomed in 2008 and 2010 but not in 2009 (probably because of the move), and it's still a little lopsided and gangly looking. This is probably because it started out as a bunch of leaf cuttings, and is still working on filling itself in (even two and a half years after the leaf cuttings were taken). Still, though, the flowers are very bright orange, they last for a pretty long time, and when the plant is happy, there are a lot of them. Plus for a gesneriad, it's not terribly difficult.

Clivia I like even better than Aeschynanthus, though so far that's as a foliage plant, not a bloomer. One of my two Clivias is too young/small still to be blooming, so I don't mind it. The other, which had yellow flowers when purchased, has not bloomed for me, probably because I haven't given it the cold temperatures it wants during the winter. I'm not under the impression that it's particularly hard to get it to bloom, just that I haven't been able to provide the conditions it wants. Maybe this winter. In any case, it's a nice foliage plant, and the flowers are very pretty, even if I haven't seen many in person.

Anthurium's inclusion on the recommend list should surprise no one, since I'm an unabashed fan of the plant, have had all kinds of great experiences with them, and encourage others to buy one on very little provocation.

Lots of good candidates for the anti-recommend, but I'll go with Cuphea ignea. I have very little experience with them, having only bought one a couple months ago, but what experience there has been has been pretty uniformly negative. All the flowers dropped within a couple days, about a third of the foliage followed closely thereafter, and we're only just now getting around to the production of new foliage (but not, so far, new flowers: I will be very surprised if I can convince the plant to flower for me again). I won't give up on the plant unless it gives up on me, but so far it's looking like one of those outdoor plants that needs to stay outdoors. I could pretty much say the same for Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, but at least with Hibiscus you have a chance of seeing some pretty incredible flowers.

Not pictured:
Abutilon cvv. (some)
Achimenes cvv. (a few)
Aloe 'Doran Black' (pink-orange)
Aloe aristata (pink-orange)
Aloe brevifolia (red-orange)
Aloe ferox (depends on specimen but usually some orange)
Aloe maculata/saponaria (pink-orange)
Aloe striata (red-orange)
Aloe variegata (red-orange)
quite a few other Aloe spp.; usually red-orange or pink-orange
Begonia cvv., esp. Riegers, non-stops (some)
Bougainvillea cvv. (a few)
Calathea crocata (uncommon indoors)
Calceolaria cvv. (some cvv.)
Cattleya and Catt. alliance orchids (some)
Chamaedorea elegans (though not particularly pretty, and only orange in strong light)
Chamaedorea metallica (though not particularly pretty, and only orange in strong light)
Chamaedorea seifrizii (though not particularly pretty, and only orange in strong light)
Chlorophytum 'Fire Flash' (though brief)
Columnia cvv. (most?)
Crossandra infundibuliformis (most; there are a few yellow, pink or peach ones around)
Echeveria cvv. (some)
Episcia cvv. (some?; red-orange)
Euphorbia milii? (a few; more peach than orange)
Gasteria cvv. (most/all?)
Gazania cvv. (not particularly good indoors; most are not orange)
Gerbera cvv. (some)
Gloriosa spp. (some)
Guzmania cvv. (some)
Gynura aurantiaca (though not particularly pretty, and definitely smelly; yellow-orange)
Hippeastrum cvv. (a few)
Impatiens hawkeri cvv. (some)
Ixora chinensis and I. coccinea cvv. (some)
Kohleria cvv. (some)
Lantana cvv. (a few; not a particularly good houseplant in my experience)
Masdevallia cvv. (some; yellow-orange)
Medinilla cvv. (some)
Mokara cvv. (a few)
Oncidium alliance orchids (a few)
Parodia microsperma (at least one variety; they're usually yellow and occasionally red)
Pelargonium x hortorum cvv. (a few; red-orange)
Schlumbergera truncata cvv. (some; pale orange / peach)
Senecio jacobsenii (though not particularly pretty)
Stapelia spp. (some spp.; orange-brown or peach or both)
Thunbergia alata (also white, yellow)
Tillandsia spp. (a few; tend to be more peach than orange)
Vriesea cvv. (uncommon; more red-orange)

Anybody have any suggestions for plants I left off the list?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Random Pretty Plant Event Picture: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

Finally, the two Hibiscuses I bought last summer, and overwintered in the basement at considerable emotional cost, have gotten it together to bloom. While I've posted pictures of both of these before, at one time or another, I'm going to do it again, partly because I was beginning to think, after roughly eight bloomless months, that this was never going to happen again.

As you can see below, one of the Hibiscuses is not yet up to full speed. It may be flowering, but it's forgetting to make that fifth petal.

I've recently seen a plant like mine (which I bought as a NOID -- I actually thought I was getting a single orange bloomer like the first picture above) tagged as Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Mrs. Jimmy Spangler,' and in fact a search for that name more or less confirms the ID. (, I like when plant IDs just fall into my lap like that.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pretty pictures: Passiflora spp.

I didn't get variety names for either of these, so I don't know what species or cultivar they are. You know how it is. They're still pretty either way.

It's occurred to me that most (all?) of the plant books I read as a kid, if they mentioned Passiflora, they would go into the whole thing about how the flower is emblematic of the crucifixion of Jesus. As Wikipedia puts it (in somewhat more detail than I would have anticipated):

Which, you know, hey, if you want to look at it like that, more power to you, I guess, but I find it weird that people can find stuff like that meaningful. I mean, when it comes right down to it, these are just some numbers, and some colors, and some fairly common shapes. One could call them "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" flowers, with as much justification:
  • The pointed tips of the leaves represent the stakes with which slayers kill vampires.
  • The tendrils represent the assorted monsters Buffy also kills, some of whom have tentacles.
  • The ten petals and sepals represent the ten characters who were part of the Scoobies during part of the show, but not the entire seven seasons: Oz (seasons 2-4), Tara (4-6), Anya (3-7), Cordelia (1-3), Giles (1-5, 7), Riley (4-5), Andrew (7), Angel (1-3), Spike (4-7), Dawn (5-7).
  • The flower's radial filaments, which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower, represent the 144 aired "Buffy" episodes.
  • The chalice-shaped ovary with its receptacle represents the Hellmouth below Sunnydale High School.
  • The 3 stigmas represent the core Scooby group (the three characters who were major cast members for all seven seasons), Buffy, Willow, and Xander, and the 5 anthers below them the 5 named slayers with speaking roles (Buffy, Kendra, Nikki, Faith, The First Slayer).
  • The red color of some varieties' flowers refer to the blood vampires drink.

Which, yeah, one could quibble with the details of the above (Faith and Joyce don't count as non-core Scoobies? The First Slayer counts as a named Slayer character but the Chinese slayer Spike kills doesn't? Etc.), but that's true of the Passion story too (how can a chalice represent a hammer?). Small numbers, colors, and simple shapes are all common enough things that whatever combination you have, there will be some parallels to something else, somewhere. Doesn't make it meaningful. Flowers have enough responsibilities already, without adding Professor of Theology (or Film Criticism) to the pile.