Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

It's Nina's turn this week, and I was going to get a brand-new picture of her, just . . . I don't know, just because I was -- but when I first put the camera in the terrarium, she hid. And she was really, really good at hiding, too, because the Pellionia has done such a thorough job of climbing over everything that the actual soil in there is pretty much hidden from view. Plus her coloration is sort of camouflage all by itself. So this is the best I could do for a current Nina picture:

She's under there somewhere.

Since Nina is unable to fulfill her duties this week, Sheba will be filling in.

When Sheba first got here, almost a year ago, right away she wanted to jump up on the couch. And right away we told her no. And that was pretty much that, for a while. She wasn't supposed to be on the couch, and she understood that. (She did forget herself occasionally. I'd be in the office and hear her jump up on the couch and then back down again immediately. I don't recall ever having to tell her to get down, it was that fast.)

But I decided that I kind of wanted her on the couch, when we watched TV, because . . . I don't know. We'd be up there, and she'd be on the floor, and -- the floor seemed so very far away. So we had to re-explain the couch policy, which she likewise understood almost immediately. It's turned out well: I like having the three of us together, the husband doesn't have a problem with it, everybody's happy. Sheba seems to have concluded that we've given the couch to her, though, so that's where she sits, most of the day. She'll still allow us to use it at night, though.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Random plant event: variegated Saintpaulia blooms

Do you remember yesterday?1 Specifically, do you remember yesterday when I said it had proven to be unexpectedly difficult for me to buy a Saintpaulia that didn't have purple or blue flowers? Well, when I got this one (two months ago), I didn't know what color the flowers would be, because it didn't have any at the moment, but I was sort of hoping for pink or red. It seemed like that would go best with the pink in the leaves. But no.

Ah well. Not growing it for the flowers anyway.


1 No? Oh. [pause] You should seek medical attention, then, maybe?

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.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Without comment:

(Via. Who got it from here.)

Sites of Interest

I haven't done one of these posts in a really long time, which makes me feel guilty. I occasionally mean to, but then I think, well, maybe I should wait a few months to see if they're going to keep blogging, 'cause I don't want to be sending people to a dead blog, plus it's a lot of reading for me to do if I'm going to try to figure out what the typical topics are, so I procrastinate, and then I never wind up doing it, because those things never actually stop being problems. I could stand to be more organized about the blog referrals, I guess is what I'm saying.

Anyway. Here we go.

Farmscape Gardens
Writer(s): Daniel Allen, Jesse DuBois, Julia Hejl, Sean Williams.
Location: Claremont, CA and vicinity.
Main topics of interest: Urban food gardening / edible landscaping, food politics, recipes, environment.
I found the blog via: e-mail from Sean.

Writer(s): Derek Powazek.
Location: San Francisco, CA.
Main topics of interest: Houseplants (succulent and tropical), photography, vertical gardening, botany, some outdoor gardening, container gardening.
I found the blog via: StatCounter, following a post at Plantgasm in which PATSP was mentioned, followed closely by an e-mail.

Garden Adventures
Writer(s): Grower Jim.
Location: Central Florida (zone 9B).
Main topics of interest: Outdoor gardening generally, edible tropicals, bromeliads, photography. Also sells a few plants and seeds through PayPal.
I found the blog via: PATSP comments, probably, though Blotanical is also possible. I don't remember.

Bug Girl's Blog
Writer(s): Bug Girl, duh.
Location: "A University in the Midwest."
Main topics of interest: Academia, a wide assortment of insects and other arthropods, feminism, skepticism, the environment, occasionally gardening.
I found the blog via: did a post about a picture of "aphids," which got their commenters all riled up because they're not aphids OMG, which resulted in a brief but spirited taxonomy argument about whether or not springtails are insects. Commenter #9 linked to this page at, which attempts to quantify the stupidity of mistaking one organism for another, and which included a link to Bug Girl's Blog about insisting in a post about cochineal that scale insects are beetles even though they're obviously not beetles. Except that Snopes has apparently changed this since the Bug Girl's Blog post in question was written. I don't normally provide this much detail in how I happen upon interesting websites (and aren't you grateful?), but in this case I remember it really well because it was yesterday afternoon.

A Digital Botanical Garden
Writer(s): Phil Gates.
Location: County Durham, UK.
Main topics of interest: Botany, photography, plant-related trivia. Posts focus on a single species at a time but may be about almost any plant. Has another blog devoted to microscopy, some of which is botanically-oriented and frequently very cool.
I found the blog via: I have no idea. I suspect Google.

Writer(s): Kelly Kilpatrick.
Location: Oakland, CA.
Main topics of interest: Garden design, photography.
I found the blog via: no idea.

Dyckia Brazil
Writer(s): Constantino.
Location: Santa Catarina, Brazil.
Main topics of interest: Dyckias, photos of Dyckias, thoughts about Dyckias, Dyckia-related botany and taxonomy. Also there are sometimes Dyckias.
I found the blog via: I don't actually remember, but it seems like a fairly safe bet that I found it by Googling "Dyckia" at some point.

Plant Chaser
Writer(s): Bom.
Location: Philippines.
Main topics of interest: Public garden displays, photography, tropical outdoor gardening, Tillandsias, cycads.
I found the blog via: comments left on PATSP, I'm pretty sure.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pretty pictures: Cymbidium cvv.

Seen in Cedar Rapids last Friday, at a little florist's shop. The shop in question, Stejskal Florists, is one we'd happened upon once four years ago, looked at briefly, and then didn't go back to again. This is because it's small, and they didn't have much, and the other places of interest in Cedar Rapids are all on the other side of town -- it just wasn't worth it to go all the way across town to look at Stejskal's. But on Friday we went anyway, and they had Cymbidiums, and Cymbidiums are pretty.

Cymbidiums are also sometimes out of focus. So far they've also always been out of my price range, these two in particular (seriously, folks, florists are like the worst places to try to buy plants, if money is an issue), but someday I'd like to try growing one. I'm especially fond of the pink/red ones, like the one below:

I think we mostly just confused the florist when we came in; they don't, I guess, get a lot of people who are interested in looking at the (attached, slightly rickety) greenhouse, and I kind of assumed that we had permission to do this because someone had given permission four years ago, so there was some confusion at first. And then as we were leaving, she wanted to know whether we were with the nearby community college (which has a horticulture program, which is actually what we'd been checking out four years ago), so then there was another awkward moment, where I wasn't sure if explaining that I have a blog that eats pictures at a phenomenal rate will clarify anything for the person who's asking or just lead to more invasive questions about what, precisely, are these "blogs" of which I speak, and why would I need to take pictures for one, and so on. In this case, I mumbled something about having a blog, and she didn't push for further explanation but I felt embarrassed and weird anyway, so I turned to go, but then I was distracted by the pink Cymbidium and was compelled to stop and take photos of it, making an already-strange moment that much stranger. I did not leave the place feeling particularly suave, I guess is what I'm saying.

But I got a blog post out of it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Random plant event: Pelargonium x hortorum 'Vancouver Centennial' keiki?

Okay. Probably not a keiki. As far as I know, Pelargoniums don't do keiki. But it sure looks like a plantlet's forming on the flower stalk. At the very least, leaves are growing where leaves oughtn't grow.

Is this a thing that happens? I was unable to find anything about this via Google.

UPDATE: Gwen tells us in the comments:

This is called Proliferation (or Hen & Chicken). Caused by over feeding and watering at the beginning of spring when the plant has just sarted to grow after resting in winter. Needs to be removed as it will sap energy from the plant.
Gwen, incidentally, has a Pelargonium-centric blog, "Perfect Pelargoniums," which has been on my reading list for a while, which you may find interesting. (I very badly need to write a post about other plant blogs again. I keep meaning to.) So we can be confident that she knows whereof she speaks. Thank you very much, Gwen.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Walkaways Part 12

Well okay. Back in the saddle again, or something like that. Went to Cedar Rapids on Friday, saw some plants, bought some, didn't buy others. And some of this was somewhat interesting. I guess. If you're me. I'll leave the plants I actually bought for another post. (There were three: all three were gesneriads; two were unusual; one of the unusual ones was very cool.)

The theme for the walkaways on this trip: slightly-unusual varieties of perfectly ordinary plants. First up is a variegated Euphorbia milii, from Peck's Garden Center. I'd heard of these, but hadn't seen one myself until Friday. As with most of the walkaways on this trip, I didn't buy it because I had slightly less money than it cost. (In this case, I was also trying to conserve money for later purchases -- Peck's was the first garden center we hit.)

NOID variegated Euphorbia milii.

Same plant as above, seen from top.

Peck's also had a NOID Dieffenbachia I've seen before in Cedar Rapids. One day, I'm going to own this, but I had way less money than needed for this plant.
NOID Dieffenbachia cv. (maybe 'Neptune?')

I liked this NOID cactus, too. The photograph makes it look less impressive than I found it at the time. I assume it's probably a Mammillaria. I could have afforded this, but was saving my money for the super-cool stuff I was sure I'd find elsewhere.

Possibly a Mammillaria of some kind? UPDATE: Believed to be M. spinosissima 'Un Pico.'

Finally, I passed up what I think must be a cultivar of a bird's-nest fern (maybe Asplenium nidus or A. antiquum), because anything that might be an Asplenium is automatically removed from consideration. They hate me, I hate them, we have an agreement and we stick to it. Still, though, I don't think I've ever seen one quite like this before. (I have a nagging suspicion that I may have seen one semi-recently on someone else's blog, though -- has anybody posted about this plant lately?)

Asplenium something?

We stopped at Lowe's, but they didn't have anything I was interested in (I came close to picking up a partly-dead hanging basket of Hoya lacunosa, because it's one of my favorite plants, it only cost $2.50, and it was only partly dead.), so then we went on to Frontier.

Frontier looked like they were getting ready to receive a new shipment of stuff, because a lot of the tables were cleared off, so they had fewer options than usual. I lingered over a Polyscias I've never seen before --

Probably a Polyscias balfouriana variety.

-- which I thought at the time was a new variety of P. fruticosa, but having gotten home and looked at my fruticosa and balfouriana, I think it's actually a mutant balfouriana. Balfouriana leaves are often divided into three leaflets like the above plant and the leaflets are usually rounded. Fruticosa leaves are much more subdivided, and there's nothing rounded about them: they're all angles and points. This makes me feel better about not buying it: balfouriana and I are still not entirely sure we like one another.

Frontier also had a monstrose Cereus peruvianus (or maybe C. hildmannius) that was interesting. I've seen a lot of small monstrose cacti (mostly C. validus or C. repandus?) for sale, and we had them at the ex-job quite a bit, but the bigger ones are rarely available. So I was tempted, but yet again, it was slightly out of budget.

Monstrose Cereus peruvianus.

The main one I went back and forth on (to the point of considering asking the husband if he could buy it for me) was a Zamioculcas zamiifolia. Now, I already have a Zamioculcas. In fact, officially, I have seven. But this is a slightly different variety. I've written about it before (reader consensus was: "yuck."), but had never seen it in person until Friday.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Mini' or 'Zamicro?'

The variety names I've heard for it are 'Mini' or 'Zamicro.' I'm kind of puzzled about why: it's not noticeably smaller than the species, as far as I've seen. Mostly the difference is in the plant shape, but it's a really subtle difference -- the leaflets are a little pointier than the species, and are held more horizontally. You can sort of see the leaflet shape better in the photo from the top of the plant:

Same plant as above, seen from top.

Otherwise, they appear to be the same thing, which was why I kept going back and forth on it. I already had it, but I didn't, but I kind of did, and yet I sort of didn't. In the end, I decided that the species and I don't get along well enough to justify collecting every variety I ever see. (We're doing better lately, but it's been difficult for me to figure out how to water mine: contrary to what you'd expect, I think I was under-watering for a long time before I figured it out.)

So that's what I didn't get in Cedar Rapids. Which non-purchase was the biggest mistake?

The pictures of plants I did buy will be posted relatively soon.