Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

I almost got a good photo of Nina this week, but when I opened the top of the cage to get a better, less hard-water-stained angle, she skittered away into the underbrush. The terrarium underbrush is presently about 180% Pellionia pulchra. It's probably about time to cut those back again. So today's picture is of Sheba, once more:

Sheba's had a fairly normal week, though we did take her to Southeast Iowa on Sunday, to see my sister-in-law and a number of her friends. There were many people around, most of whom she hadn't met before, and some of them were even small children and teenagers, and Sheba was fine throughout (to the point where multiple people commented on how well-behaved she was).

There were only two moments where she wasn't doing well: in one case, a small child got up directly in her face and was also touching her head (Sheba growled, showed her teeth, and swung her head away, but didn't snap at the kid), and in the other, a second dog was involved, and the second dog started growling at Sheba first. That was odd, because they'd met before, and had gotten along okay then. Granted, that was close to a year ago, and they didn't get close enough to one another to smell each other; there was just a lot of barking and whining and straining at the leash and stuff. But otherwise, she spent a lot of time in the car, met lots of strangers (including one previously-unmet dog), and was mostly fine.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Animal: Polistes sp.

Tragically, the paper wasp pictured here did not survive our encounter, because I knocked it down, flung it to the ground, and stepped on it.

It should have known better than to try to start building a nest on our garage door, was my thinking.

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum St. Swithin


My orchid problems continue -- the most recent development is the discovery that the Sophrolaeliocattleya I bought last winter had an impressively developed scale infestation (under a leaf, in a spot that was only visible from one angle -- and apparently I never looked from that angle in the last few months), so it's gone in the trash. I mean, I was looking for an excuse to get rid of it anyway, so.

The others have (after inspection for scale; I didn't find any) been relocated to the living room, where they will receive better air circulation, though it'll be drier air, and better light, and a more consistent watering schedule. And we'll see how that goes. Those of you who were hoping for a PATSP orchid giveaway should take heart; I'm still kind of hoping for one too. I just can't give them away while I think I could try something else to rehabilitate them, so we're making a small effort at rehabilitation. If/when it fails, then the giveaway will happen.

Meanwhile, we have photos from the orchid show in March, and I have to say, this is one of the most incredible orchids I have ever seen.

I do kinda wish that they'd used a different background for their display -- it sort of echoes the coloration of the plant, admittedly, which might be a cool effect, but it's a close enough match that it also sort of blurs the line between plant and background.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Animals: The barn swallows

The previously-mentioned barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) have laid eggs now. I had to use a mirror (the gold stuff at the top), as Errant suggested Saturday, to get the picture.

A web cam, which some of you suggested, was never going to happen -- we don't have one already, and the money's not there to buy one. As Pat said, checking on the nest too often may cause the parents to abandon it and start elsewhere, so I will try to restrain myself, but I don't think I'm capable of leaving them alone entirely. One hopes they'll forgive me.

Random plant event: Chirita 'Deco' flower buds

I mentioned this a while ago, but didn't have a picture then.

So far, I'm liking this plant, though at least some of my fondness is relief that it didn't die; a lot of the plants that arrived at the same time have, and it's been depressing.

The flowers, when they open, are supposed to be somewhere on the purple to white continuum, according to Google. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

List: Houseplants Which Have Yellow Flowers

With most of these I don't have pictures of whole plants in bloom, and in some cases, cultivars with yellow flowers are rare and hard to find, so the inclusion of a plant in the list doesn't mean that it's usually found with yellow flowers, only that yellow is a color which is known to be possible. For the pictured plants, I have gone with plants which usually or always bloom yellow, for whatever that might be worth to you.

Aloe vera. (A couple flower pictures available at the link.)

Aphelandra squarrosa.

Astrophytum myriostigma.

Columnea orientandina. (The cuttings I mentioned recently are still alive so far, by the way.)

Faucaria spp. (I know at least some have yellow flowers; I doubt all of them do but didn't bother to look it up.)

Gynura aurantiaca. (Photo of flowers here.) You wouldn't actually want the plant to flower -- the blooms smell unpleasant -- but it still meets the criterion to be included in the list, so it's in the list.

Hamatocactus setispinus.

Hatiora salicornioides. Pictures of single flowers here, though there are much more impressive multi-flower photos elsewhere on-line. My plant wasn't, let's say, fully committed to blooming. Though considering the circumstances, I'm pretty tickled that it bloomed at all.

Justicia brandegeana.

Leuchtenbergia principis. Photos of a flower here.

For the recommends and anti-recommends, I'm sort of at a loss, because I haven't grown several of these (Aphelandra, Faucaria, Hamatocactus, Justicia) and have only begun to grow (Columnea) or have had mixed luck growing (Astrophytum, Aloe, Gynura) the others. But if I must . . .

I'm very happy with my Leuchtenbergias, and they seem happy with me too, so I'd recommend them to other people. Likewise, I've rarely had problems with Hatiora salicornioides, and think it's a very nice plant. For the third recommend, I'll go with Astrophytum myriostigma, because although we've had problems, I think the problems were almost entirely my fault -- it was top-heavy, and I kept knocking it out of the pot, and then I also was watering it too much in the winter, while the plant was cold, so I was basically begging for it to rot out. Which it did.

Speaking of rot -- my anti-recommend would be Faucaria. I haven't had much direct experience with them, but my understanding is that they're inclined to rot out at the drop of a . . . drop of water, much like Lithops cvv. I don't think it's that they're particularly difficult plants; it's more that beginners tend to show their enthusiasm by overcaring, so plants that just want to be left alone aren't going to be a good match. Plus, I suspect Faucarias also want an unreasonable amount of light, though again, I don't have much direct experience.

Not pictured:
  • Abutilon cvv. (a few cvv.)
  • a few Adenium cvv. are yellow, though reds and pinks are a lot more common (reader suggestion)
  • Allamanda cathartica
  • the occasional very rare Anthurium cvv.
  • Astrophytum ornatum
  • some Begonia cvv.
  • Bougainvillea cvv.
  • some Brugmansia/Datura cvv. (reader suggestion)
  • some orchids in the Cattleya alliance (C., Blc., Lc., Slc., Pot., etc.)
  • some Chirita cvv. (reader suggestion)
  • a few Clivia cvv.
  • a few Columnea cvv.
  • some Dendrobium cvv. (tend to be greenish-yellow, though, at least the ones I remember)
  • Echinocactus grusonii
  • a few Epiphyllum cvv.
  • some Episcia cvv.
  • Euphorbia grandicornis, and other succulent Euphorbias like E. obesa and E. flanaganii, usually have small yellow or yellow-green flowers; the true flowers of most/all Euphorbia species are yellow, though in a lot of cases (E. pulcherrima, E. milii) the bracts overwhelm the true flowers
  • some Euphorbia milii cvv., bracts included, though those I've seen have been more of a pastel yellow
  • some or all Fenestraria spp.
  • Fittonia cvv. true flowers are yellow-white
  • some Guzmania cvv. have yellow bracts; I'm not sure what color the true flowers usually are, but yellow is a possibility there as well
  • some Heliconia cvv. have yellow bracts and/or true flowers
  • some Hibiscus rosa-sinensis cvv.
  • some Kalanchoe blossfeldiana cvv.
  • some Lithops spp. (I think they're all either yellow or white)
  • Ludisia discolor (partly; most of the flower is white)
  • some Mammillaria spp.
  • I've seen a yellow Miltoniopsis orchid picture on-line, though never in person
  • a few Nematanthus cvv.?
  • some Oncidium alliance orchids (Colm., Alcra., Alxra., Bak., Colm., Gdlra., etc.)
  • some Opuntia spp.
  • a few Oxalis spp. and cvv., particularly O. hedysariodes and cultivars derived from it. You may also be growing O. stricta without meaning to, as it's a common nursery container weed. (reader suggestion)
  • some Pachypodium spp. (though not necessarily the ones in the profile) (reader suggestion)
  • Passiflora citrina; maybe other Passifloras?
  • some Phalaenopsis and Doritaenopsis cvv.
  • some Plumeria cvv., though it's debatable whether Plumeria is really a houseplant or not
  • a very few Saintpaulia cvv.
  • some Schlumbergera cvv.
  • a few Streptocarpus cvv.; the first one to come up in a Google image search is S. 'Seren' (reader suggestion)
  • some Thunbergia alata cvv.
  • some Tropaeolum majus cvv.
  • Uncarina spp. are usually yellow, though there are some pink ones out there as well (reader suggestion)
  • some Vriesea cvv. have yellow bracts and/or yellow true flowers
  • the true flowers of Vriesea splendens are yellow, though the longer-lived, more dramatic bracts are red
  • some Zantedeschia cvv.
  • some Zingiber spp. (reader suggestion)

I'm sure I've forgotten all kinds of things, so if you can think of others, say something in the comments.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Unfinished business: Eucharis grandiflora

In the sell/trade post, I mentioned having gotten Eucharis grandiflora bulbs but not being sure if they were any good or ready to resell. (I got them originally from, and have been happy with the service from them so far, if you're interested. Currently they're selling sets of 5 bulbs for $8.95, and then shipping is almost as much again; it worked out to about $3/bulb for me. They'll only ship between March and June, so if you want bulbs from them, order soonish. If you'd rather get a plant that's already potted and sprouted and everything, I will be selling some of them later in the summer; I'm not sure when, but I'm thinking around August. I'll let you know.)

These were the bulbs when they first arrived:

I potted them up on April 22, and here is what they looked like on May 20:

Not particularly lush or impressive, but you can still see that all but two of them (the second and third from top, in the left column) had leaves to some degree or another. One of those two now has a very small green shoot starting to emerge, so I think it's going to be fine. The other was quick out of the gate with a partly-formed green leaf above the soil, then something happened to change its mind, and the leaf turned brown. The bulb still feels firm (or at least what I can feel of it at the top, without digging it all up), so I think it's still alive, but I'm not sure whether it's going to shape up and grow again, or what the problem was in the first place. Still, though, 14/15 is not a bad success rate.

And they're growing fast now that they're fully awake: as I write this on May 30, the leaves are considerably bigger than they were in the picture above. (I apologize for the lack of photo: I originally thought I was doing a different post today.) So we've got some momentum going. I'm excited to see how big they'll get in the next couple months.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pretty pictures: Pinkish Red

Pressed for time again -- we were elsewhere for a good chunk of yesterday.

Most of these were taken at the ex-job; the rose was at Lowe's.

Dianthus NOID. I should know what the variety is: it's the same thing we sold during the two springs I worked there. I just forgot, and there's no time to try to look for the ID.

Lamprocapnos x 'King of Hearts.' I regret not getting a clearer photo of the foliage on this one; it seemed different. Not that I'm hugely familiar with bleeding-heart foliage.

NOID Cattleya alliance orchid.

Paeonia 'Hoki.' ('Tis the season.)

Cyclamen persicum NOID. If anybody still remembers my Cyclamen experiment from last fall: it looked worse, and worse, and worse, and worse, and then I moved it to the (cool, humid) basement under shop lights, and it's doing massively better. Among other things, it's growing HUGE leaves. Which I guess is good. I was getting sick of it and considering throwing it out, so it's shaping up just in time, pretty much.

Rosa 'Radtko' (doubled knock-out rose). I'm sure there are roses out there that I could find interesting and exciting, but I haven't run into them at Lowe's. Not that I expected to. I'm just saying.

Dianthus NOID. Dianthus were one of my favorites to sell, at the ex-job; they smelled nice, and I enjoyed deadheading them. I'm not currently growing any, and probably won't in the near future, because we're still working on establishing a raised bed in the backyard, and even if we had a bed already I maybe still wouldn't grow any because I don't know if I'd want to, but they were nice, occupationally speaking.