Thursday, February 10, 2011

New plants

Here are the most recent additions. I was originally not going to do the first three, which I got about a month ago, because while they're nice enough and I'm happy to have them, they didn't seem particularly interesting to me and I wasn't sure you'd care. But, I mentioned this concern to someone I was e-mailing back and forth with at the time, and s/he said I should post about them anyway, because even if they were boring to me, they wouldn't necessarily be boring to someone else who had less-jaded tastes. Which seemed sensible. So if this bores you, blame that person. And even if the first five plants bore you, there's a pretty good chance that the sixth one will not.

Fittonia albivenis cv., Lowe's, $5.

I am still somewhat intimidated by Fittonia, having had a couple bad experiences with them in the past, but it's a pretty decent-sized pot, they're easy enough to propagate (I hear: haven't actually tried it personally yet) if the plant starts to decline, and there's always the possibility that Nina might need one at some point. Looking at it now, that's pretty dumb logic, but the whole trip was triggered by me feeling like I'd go nuts if we didn't go to Lowe's immediately, so I could buy something, so the logic was probably never the point anyway.

It could have been worse than a Fittonia. And so far (this was a few weeks ago) the plant has been fine in the basement. I regret nothing.

Chlorophytum laxum. Lowe's, $2.50.

I think this was also half-price, and it's also something I wouldn't ordinarily have been interested in, but I have seen these and wondered what they were like. I haven't been doing so great with spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) lately, for unknown reasons, and as far as I can tell, this is just a spider plant with petioles (the "stems" that attach a leaf to the main stem of a plant), so this may have been a bad idea. So far, so good, though.

Peperomia clusiifolia. Hy-Vee (local grocery chain), $1.67.

I don't know. This was the same trip as the Lowe's plants.

I've had a variegated P. clusiifolia for a very long time now (four years). We've had bad times and good times, but it's still alive, at least, and things have been going pretty well lately. I may like the plain-green version better (it's less ubiquitous), and it was very cheap, and I felt kind of sorry for it, sitting there all dusty, on the bottom shelf of a crappy plastic display stand. Not bad for the money.

Saintpaulia NOID. Frontier, $3.50.

This one, and the next two plants, were from last week's trip to Cedar Rapids.

I have been trying to get a Saintpaulia with flowers that weren't blue or purple for some time, but it's been unexpectedly difficult to do so. This one, though, not only solves that problem once and (hopefully) for all, it's also a much darker black-red color in person. Very, you know, goth. Which is cool. If one must have little-old-lady plants, one can at least try for the butchest possible little-old-lady plants.

Saintpaulia 'Silverglade Shadows.' Frontier, $3.50

I'm not sure quite what I have in this plant; a Google search turned up no pictures of it, as in not even one, and there were only four hits for the name. It looks like it's going to be a doubled ruffly chartreuse/white flower with pink-red "thumbprints" on the petals, but so far there's only the one flower, which won't fully open, so I'll have to wait for the next round of flowers before I'll really know what I have.

Close-up of the one flower.

The logic with this one was not that it was pretty -- because it really isn't, at least not yet -- as that it would be fun to try to cross it with the other ones I have and see what happens. It has enough odd characteristics that I figure something interesting would have to happen, eventually.

Though now I'm picturing a future in which I have 900 or so houseplants, and then another 900 or so Saintpaulia and Schlumbergera seedlings besides. African violets can produce a lot of seeds, after all. The idea does give one pause.

Finally, the plant you've all been waiting for:

Aeschynanthus NOID. Peck's, $6.

I don't exactly know what I have here. It looks like a lipstick plant, but it doesn't really have noticeable calyces ("calyx" = the cup-like thing that surrounds the base of the flower) like Aeschynanthus lobbianus does, and light pink is a very unusual color for Aeschynanthus, and the leaves are shorter and rounder than what I think of when I think of lipstick plants too. But I asked them about it, and they said that's what it was, and then later I found a very similar-looking plant on-line at the Violet Barn, which they're calling Aeschynanthus 'Thai Pink.'

UPDATE: I have received an e-mail telling me that the pink things in these photos are actually not the flowers, but are the calyces, and there will be proper flowers at some point later. I'd looked inside the calyces before and saw little white things, which I assumed to be pistils because what else would they be, but I just went back and looked again and they're actually small balloon-shaped things that look for all the world like flower buds. So this is apparently not even the interesting part of the show yet.

Close-up of the flowers calyces. So far, the flowers have still not opened up fully. The color really is this faint.

There are other people selling it on-line under that name too, so for the moment I'm going with the name Aeschynanthus 'Thai Pink.' The Violet Barn also says that it's a shy bloomer, so this may be the last flowers I see on this plant for a while, but hell, it was worth six bucks just to see it once. A pink lipstick plant. Of all the crazy ideas.


Ivynettle said...

So those are Chlorophytum laxum? I've seen then a couple of times lately, but always was too lazy to find out what species they are.

Jealous of the red Saintpaulia - I had one one, loved the colour, but had to throw it out due to mites. And haven't found one since. Grrr.

And the Fittonias, I have a couple that are my 'indicator plants' for when I need to water. But I guess with your watering schedule, that wouldn't work so well. In fact, I just chopped mine back this week and started a couple of new pots - never had problems with propagating them.

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Love that 'goth' African violet. Very cool flowers.

Paul said...

The Peperornia really is gorgeous. I'm inspired to get one for my patio now.

Lulz to goth being somehow connected to "butch". It could happen, I guess.

Unknown said...

Jealous of the lipstick plant! I see them all the time and am dying to get one! Also umm.... ever have any extra violet seeds.... be happy to take them off your hands :)

mr_subjunctive said...


Well, Exotic Angel says it's C. laxum, so it may yet turn out to be a new species of Strelitzia. I don't remember whether I checked other sources on the ID or not.

The Fittonia being in the basement is partly because that's where plants go when they're not fitting into the 12-to-14-day watering schedule, so it should be okay.


I'm thinking mostly goth/butch insofar as both groups are opposed to light pink.

Peperomia clusiifolia seems to be more or less the same plant as P. obtusifolia, and obtusifolia is extremely easy. To the degree that I've had trouble with clusiifolia, it's mostly been a matter of over- and under-potting, and possibly some problems with overly peaty soil.

Pat said...

The Aeschynanthus is lovely, I have never been tempted by that genus before but this is quite different.

Bom said...

Very interesting plants. Your friend was right about the less-jaded being able to appreciate them. The Saintpaulia is particularly interesting. A pink lipstick plant sound so "Barbie" (the Mattel kind). :grin:

Carol Ann said...

Personally, I haven't found Aeschynanthus 'Thai Pink' to be such a shy bloomer. And the flowers last a *long* time.

Anonymous said...

I like that yellow-ish Saintpaulia - very rare colour still for the species. I generally turn to the website to check on African Violet crosses, they're not always up to date though and while I see a lot of 'Silverglade _', nothing for your plant. Likely just that it's a newer variety.