Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

Having a touch of ennui this week (okay, not a touch. More like a face-punch of ennui.), for real but uninteresting reasons. So maybe just the picture today, with a brief explanation:

It's more or less impossible to take a decent picture of a dog while playing tug of war with her. In particular, one risks pressing the button while a finger covers most of the flash, because it's hard to hold the camera one-handed. But it wound up being sort of an interesting effect anyway.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pretty picture: Abutilon seedlings, again

This isn't the greatest picture, but it's the best I could do under the circumstances. All three of these are from seedlings of the 'Bella Red' / 'Bella Pink' / 'Bella Vanilla' crosses: these are just the first three to produce flowers.

The one I posted about previously is on the far right, the very pale pink one (it did in fact lose some of the orange color as it aged, like 'Bella Vanilla' does). I'm pretty pleased about this whole Abutilon experiment, especially that they've all been different colors so far. (I'm less thrilled with Abutilons for being messy, thirsty, hungry, and ungraceful agers, but on balance they're still worthwhile.)

I'm curious about some of the claims I've seen regarding the 'Bella' series, especially the self-branching business (mine are not particularly into branching, even when pinched back). Maybe it would have been different if they were outside, but supposedly they also like cooler temperatures, so I'm not sure how that works. (Possibly they'd have made it to mid-July and then burst into flames?) Maybe I'll start some seedlings this summer, so I have plants to play around with outside next year.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

They Grow Up So Fast, Part 3

I've had a wouldn't-it-be-nice sort of project to get all the plants photographed this summer, or at least to try to get decent pictures of 1) the species/varieties for which I have no good photos already or 2) the ones that have grown significantly since the last time I took pictures. For most of the summer, though, I've been thwarted by the weather, lack of time, or whatever.

Then a couple weeks ago, we got a run of three days that weren't completely unbearable outside, and I dragged plants around and got like 1000 photos (literal) to sort through, which kept me occupied until . . . well, until basically now.

And then I thought: oh, wait, what was I going to do with all these pictures again?

So this post is an attempt to justify the photos I've taken already, as a way of psyching myself up to take more (hopefully the weather will cooperate Thursday and Friday mornings). Also, I thought that people who had sent me plants in the past might be interested in how they were faring here.

So. This isn't a comprehensive list, both for space reasons and because I don't have all the plants photographed yet. You shouldn't assume that if a plant you sent me isn't on this list, that means it's dead.

Though in some cases, yeah, that's what it means.

Philodendron mexicanum

May 2010. Pot: 3 inches (7.5 cm).

I didn't have much hope for this one when it first arrived; the original sender said it had been accidentally severed from the main plant and wasn't rooted or anything: basically just the two leaves you see in the photo plus a little bit of stem.

Dec 2010. Pot: 3 inches (7.5 cm).

But it rooted like a champ anyway, and seven months later, it was an established plant that was outgrowing its spot in the basement.

Jul 2011. Pot: 4 inches (10 cm).

It's not a common plant in the trade, and I'm not sure why, because it seems to be easy enough to grow. I could see how it might have a problematic habit (it's a climber, so I suppose it might suffer a bit if you don't have something for it to climb), but I'm still enjoying mine.

Anthurium schlechtendahlii

Aug 2010. Pot: 4 inches (10 cm).

If I thought Philodendron mexicanum was hopeless when it arrived, I was almost angry about receiving Anthurium schlechtendalii. Surely these tiny seedlings were never going to survive, and this was a waste of time.

Feb 2011. Pot: 4 inches (10 cm).

And yet. I kept it in the basement, under lights, and kept it covered to maintain high humidity, and it actually did quite well there. Eventually it outgrew the spot in the basement, so I moved it to the husband's office (also under lights) and kept it in a large V-shaped vase with a plant saucer on top, and it soon outgrew that spot as well.

Jul 2011. Pot: 4 inches (10 cm) though it has since been moved to a 6 in / 15 cm pot.

So now it's in the living room, without any covering, and it's going to have to make do with the humidity levels it finds in there.

I can't say A. schlechtendalii has been free of problems -- it insists on playing with spider mites, even though I've forbidden it from doing so and explained at length how they're a bad influence. The leaves have also been yellowing in the last few months, which may or may not be mite-related (also possible: too much light, nutrient over-/underdose). Still, though, this is the best I've ever managed to do with any of the foliage Anthuriums, and damned near miraculous considering the starting point.

Sansevieria hargesiana

May 2010. Pot: 3 inches (7.5 cm).

I received Sansevieria hargesiana when at a particularly low point in my Sansevieria-growing confidence level, but it's survived me anyway.

Jan 2011. Pot: 3 inches (7.5 cm) though it has since been moved to a 4 in / 10 cm pot.

This is a plant I don't have a good July 2011 photo for, but it hasn't changed that much since January (the plantlet on the right is perhaps slightly bigger now), so this still works. My confidence level is slowly edging back up again, but Sansevierias still make me nervous.

Euphorbia flanaganii var. cristata

Sep 2010. Pot: 4 inches (10 cm).

The Euphorbia flanaganii var. cristata from Cactus Jungle has had some ups and downs; it didn't do much for quite a while after arriving, possibly because I was scared to feed it much.

July 2011. Pot: 4 inches (10 cm).

It's done better since I started using the fertilizer containing trace elements. (This is a common feature of my relationships with Euphorbias -- unlike some plants, they won't try to grow if the nutrients aren't there. Almost all of my plants have begun new growth this spring or summer, even the ones that had done nothing for years prior.) I did have to cut off a piece that was dying at one point this spring, but other than that, it's been a pretty quiet, well-behaved plant.

Pereskia godseffiana

May 2011. Pot: 3 inches (7.5 cm).

This was a very recent acquisition -- I've only had it two months -- but I'm pleased that it has, in fact, decided to root and grow.

Jul 2011. Pot: 3 inches (7.5 cm) though it has since been moved to a 4 in / 10 cm pot.

Not surprised. Just pleased. Pereskias are apparently very easy to root; everyone says so.

The cutting's even grown a new set of tiny, bright pink leaves since the second photo was taken.

Agave americana

Aug 2010. Pot: 3 inches (7.5 cm).

Agave americana may become a problem in the near future. I knew they got big, but I didn't think this one would get so big, so quickly.

Jul 2011. Pot: 3 inches (7.5 cm).

I don't really have a suitable spot for it at the moment, so I guess I'll have to keep my fingers crossed that it slows down until I do. It was never likely to reach full maturity inside the house, but I would like to have it a couple more years, at least.

Agave americana medio-picta alba

Aug 2010. Pot: 4 inches (10 cm).

The variegated version, on the other hand, is growing much more slowly. I mean, yes, I expect it to be slower, because it doesn't have as much chlorophyll to work with, but it's a lot slower than it should be. It even gets some full sun, which the non-variegated one doesn't. (The non-variegated one is in the basement under plant lights, so it may have more consistent light, and maybe even brighter light, but they should still be pretty comparable.)

Jul 2011. Pot: 4 inches (10 cm).

It's still grown, though. I can't complain. Agaves are unpleasant to handle and will eventually get too big, but they're really very cooperative houseplants otherwise, if you have enough light for them.

Begonia 'Tiger Kitten'

Aug 2010. Pot: 3 inches (7.5 cm).

Begonia 'Tiger Kitten' arrived in rough shape (plants with brittle, fleshy leaves like Begonia, Episcia, Saintpaulia, etc. tend to be difficult to ship), so I wound up cutting one of the leaves into sections and starting new plants in vermiculite. The original died, but several of the leaf-sections grew. Unfortunately, only one survived being transplanted to soil.

Jul 2011. Pot: 3 inches (7.5 cm).

That one plant, though, is doing well. It looks a bit darker and less colorful than the original (it's probably getting too much light), but at least it didn't die. Rhizomatous begonias are a decent substitute for rex begonias -- they're considerably less fussy, and look close enough as far as I'm concerned.

Eriobotrya japonica

Aug 2010. Pot: 4 inches (10 cm).

Eriobotrya japonica (loquat) hasn't done much since arriving, and I'm not sure if that's because it's naturally a slow plant, or if I'm doing something wrong.

Jul 2011. Pot: 4 inches (10 cm).

I've been warned that they're prone to spider mites, but so far that hasn't been a problem for me. I haven't really had any problems at all, actually, aside from the slowness.

Ceropegia woodii, variegated

Aug 2010. Pot: 3 inches (7.5 cm).

I had some concerns about this one, because previous attempts to root Ceropegia woodii either failed immediately, or succeeded so slowly that by the time there was new growth, I didn't care anymore. This was pretty slow, too, but once it got going, it made up for the lost time.

Jul 2011. Pot: 3 inches (7.5 cm).

Such a strange little plant, though.

Hoya obovata

Jan 2011. Pot: 4 inches (10 cm).

Hoyas are kind of upsetting me lately. They grow great for a year, two years, three years, and then suddenly die for no reason. This has now happened with H. carnosa 'Krimson Queen' (though I managed to salvage cuttings, which are doing well), H. pubicalyx (no salvaging possible), and most recently H. tsangii 'DS-70' (we'll see if cuttings can be salvaged; so far about 25% have died too). I don't know why this keeps happening, but it's a pattern now.

Jul 2011. Pot: 4 inches (10 cm).

So I'm scared for H. obovata. Its behavior here has given me no reason to worry so far; it's a champ, in fact. On the other hand, it's a Hoya, so I worry anyway.

Breynia disticha 'Roseo-Picta'

Nov 2009. Pot: 6 inches (15 cm).

I didn't get a picture of my Breynia disticha when I first got it (October 2008), but I'd estimate it was about half as tall as in the above picture. It's always been a steady grower, if not a particularly fast one. During last winter and spring, I cut it back a few times (to get cuttings to root) and started feeding it differently, and it's responded and responded and responded:

Jul 2011. Pot: 8 inches (20 cm), though it has since been moved to a 9-10 inch / 23-25 cm pot.

There have been a few short-lived problems with spider mites, and it drops a lot of leaves whenever I let it get too dry, but neither has been particularly serious. I'd like it if I could get it to produce the multicolored leaves I know it's capable of, but even without that, it's getting to be a favorite plant.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pretty picture: Brassolaeliocattleya Morning Glory H & R

This doesn't really fit my mental image of Brassolaeliocattleyas, but that's what the tag said. Even though the tags are frequently wrong to one degree or another, that's all I have to go on, so here it is.

I'm not sure if I like these flowers or not, but the flowers aren't exactly the point today, because today is mostly about celebrating Bom's upcoming 1-year blogiversary1 with him. It's a bit self-interested of me (there's a prize giveaway involved, which I am entering by posting this) but hey, maintaining a blog for a year is a big deal, and there are also several birthdays involved, so it's also a general celebratory thing. Which, frankly, I think we could all use, times being what they are. Click the image below for his post on the subject.


1 I checked Google to see what spelling everybody's going with these days, and the most popular vowel for "blog[]versary" was O: blogoversary had about 4,000,000 hits. Not sure why that would be, since the word is clearly coined by analogy with "anniversary." I am, therefore, making a stand here for the letter "I." The full results:

blogOversary 4,000,000
blogIversary 1,200,000
blogAversary 428,000
blogversary 133,000
blogYversary 4590
blogEversary 1140
blogUversary 39

The biggest surprise for me is that more people use Y than E (I expected Y to come in last).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

*whimper* again

Image credit: National Weather Service. (With some modification.)

Tomorrow's supposed to be about 10 degrees (F) cooler, but still. Motherfucker.

Monday, August 1, 2011


(NOTE FROM MR. S.: Sorry this is late. I didn't realize that I'd mis-set the date until six hours after it was supposed to post.)

Pandanus amaryllifolius passed away on July 23, 2011, at her home in Plant Room Heights, following a brief illness.

P. amaryllifolius is survived by a sibling, Pandanus veitchii.

P. amaryllifolius moved to the Plant Room Heights area last August. She was an accomplished baker and grew up in Florida.

In lieu of genitalia, the family requests that memorials be sent to the Root Rot Awareness Foundation of North America.


My theory now is that P. amaryllifolius isn't grown indoors as much as P. veitchii because it's a less robust plant. I suppose it's unfair to make that judgment from a single experience, but as expensive as it was, I don't see me having a second go at it, so a single experience is probably all I'm going to get.

I'm not sure what happened to the plant. It had been doing fine, as far as I knew, for a long time, and then I repotted it in June or maybe early July.

Then on July 15, I took the plant outside to get the above photo, and when I brought it back in and was getting ready to put it back on its shelf, I noticed that it had a few spider mites on one side. So I mixed up a batch of neem oil, sprayed the plant, let it dry, and put it on the shelf. The next time I checked it, I noticed that the stilt roots and stem seemed to be dying from the ground up, and the stem was already rotted through. So I tried cutting the suckers off the plant and potting them up separately, but they'd all yellowed and wilted within a few days, and they looked bad enough that I figured they probably weren't going to come back. So on the 23rd, I gave up.

This sort of thing -- sudden decline of a plant which had previously seemed healthy -- seems to be happening a lot lately. I won't go into the full list, but you've heard about at least one of them recently. I don't think the deaths are all related to one another -- I lose plants year-round, always have -- but it feels like the number of plants that die before I even know something's wrong with them has taken a huge jump in the last few months. Maybe this means I used to pay more attention. I don't know.

In this particular case, the circumstantial evidence points to the repotting as the likely cause, though I still don't know how the one thing led to the other thing. And I'm pretty sure that under the same circumstances, P. veitchii would have let me repot it. Which brings me back around to the theory that P. amaryllifolius might just be a weaker species.