Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rumble Among the Jungle, Match 4.7

What happened in match 4.3:

Phalaenopsis / Doritaenopsis cvv. beat Hoya carnosa cvv. by 64 to 50. I can't say I'm terribly surprised, though it wasn't my preference. Round 4 is just sucking for me; so far it looks like my picks will only win one of the first five rounds.

So anyway. The Apocynaceae are out of the running now.

I bet I can see the results of today's match coming too.

Match 4.7
Haworthia spp. vs. Self-heading Philodendrons ('Autumn,' 'Prince of Orange,' 'Moonlight')

Top row, L-R: Haworthia tessellata (?), H. NOID.
Middle row, L-R: Haworthia limifolia var. ubomboensis, H. cymbiformis (?), assortment.
Bottom row, L-R: Haworthia attenuata, H. limifolia var. limifolia.

Clockwise from top left: Philodendron 'Prince of Orange,' 'Moonlight,' 'Autumn,' 'Prince of Orange,' 'Moonlight.'

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

Sheba is particularly fascinated by the smells near bodies of water (the above photo was taken in the general vicinity of the Iowa River), though the one time the husband took her to a river, he reported that she acted freaked-out by it, like she'd never seen one before and seemed scared of it.

I suppose it's entirely possible that she hadn't ever seen a large body of water before. We don't really know anything about the first year of her life. Either way, the smells are apparently fascinating.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rumble Among the Jungle, Match 4.6, Plus Bonus Music Video

Outcome of match 4.2:

For some reason, more of you voted for Philodendron hederaceum cvv. than for Aglaonema cvv. in match 4.2. I infer that this is because 56% of you are extremely high. I don't want to hear your feeble excuses; just know that I am very disappointed in you.

Philodendron wins, 64 to 51, and will face Saintpaulia cvv. in match 5.1, which will begin on 31 October.

Match 4.6
Oncidium alliance orchids (dancing ladies) vs. Sansevieria trifasciata cvv. (snake plant)

Left side, top to bottom: Beallara Marfitch 'Howard's Dream,' Oncidium Tsiku Marguerite 'NN #1.'
Center, top to bottom: Vuylstekeara Aloha Sparks 'Ruby Eyes,' Odontocidium Tiger Crow 'Golden Girl,' Wilsonara Lisa Devos.
Right side, top to bottom: Oncidium Saint Dawn Gold, Bakerara Truth 'Silver Chalice.'

Top row, L-R: Sansevieria trifasciata 'Black Coral,' 'Laurentii,' 'Bantel's Sensation.'
Center row, L-R: S. trifasciata NOID, 'Hahnii,' 'Hahnii Pearl Young.'
Bottom row, L-R: S. trifasciata 'Moonglow,' 'Black Gold.'

As a bonus (though 56% of you don't deserve it), here is a music video for the video "2012," by the group WORLD ORDER. (The main guy is apparently a retired Japanese mixed martial artist-slash-kickboxer named Genki Sudo, who writes and sings the songs, choreographs the videos, and could completely incapacitate you in 0.4 seconds using only his pinky. I only heard of him for the first time last night, so I know basically nothing about the man.)

The video is a slow build, but I suspect that it works better if you let it build, rather than skipping ahead to the big finish. (Also helpful: keeping in mind that what you're watching is choreography, not special effects. If that fails, you can watch the plants: it was filmed in Mexico and there are several plant-relevant locations.) If you're not feeling thoroughly entertained by 3:57, I will apologize to you personally. Not in person, but, you know, I can call or something.

The video (and song, actually) for "Machine Civilization" is more of the same, if you want more.

Pretty picture: Rhyncholaeliocattleya Sea Swirl

This orchid is neither marine nor swirly. Take it back and bring me another one immediately.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rumble Among the Jungle, Match 4.5

Result of match 4.1:

And then there were fifteen. Clivia cvv. vs. Saintpaulia cvv. ends in a win for Saintpaulia, though it was pretty close (73 to 62). I was expecting more of a blow-out for Saintpaulia.

So now the Amaryllidaceae is out.

Today's match:

Match 4.5
Spathiphyllum cvv. (peace lily) vs. Echeveria cvv. and related plants (Sedeveria, Graptoveria, Pachyveria, etc.)

Center and left top: Spathiphyllum NOID, possibly 'Golden Glow.' Bottom left: NOID, possibly 'Domino.' Top right: NOID, possibly 'Sensation' or 'Mauna Loa.' Bottom right: NOID.

Top row, L-R: Echeveria 'Perle von Nurnberg,' E. 'Topsy Turvy,' E. setosa.
Middle row, L-R: Graptosedum 'Alpenglow - Vera Higgins,' Echeveria coccinea flowers, Echeveria 'The Rose.'
Bottom row, L-R: Echeveria nodulosa, Pachyveria x glauca, Echeveria x shaviana 'Pinky.'

List: Green-Leaved Plants With Red or Purple Undersides

I could have sworn that I'd read that leaves with red or purple undersides are an adaptation by understory-dwelling plants to collect more light. Damned if I can find a source to back me up, though: Google failed me completely. I checked some of my books, too. So maybe that's not true. Most of these do appear to be understory plants, though, whatever the reason for their pigmentation.

Alpinia luteocarpa (bamboo ginger)1.

Calathea roseopicta 'Medallion.' I think.

Cissus discolor (begonia vine).

Cyanotis kewensis (teddy bear plant).

Excoecaria cochinchinensis (Chinese croton).

Hemigraphis exotica (purple waffle plant).

Nematanthus NOID (guppy plant).

Philodendron hederaceum micans (heart-leaf philodendron).

Selaginella erythropus cv. (red spike moss)

Tradescantia spathacea. (oyster plant, Moses in the cradle)

Making recommendations from this batch of plants is pretty easy, since there are only four plants on the list that I've had good experiences with (Cyanotis, Nematanthus, Philodendron, Tradescantia).

Of those four, Philodendron hederaceum micans is far and away the easiest; it's an adaptable, flexible plant that will survive a fair amount of abuse while still looking good. Tradescantia spathacea is next: it's a perfectly nice plant, and also very tolerant, but it won't develop the purple coloration without a lot of light, so it is demanding on that one point.

Cyanotis kewensis and Nematanthus cvv. are both a little fussy for me: both are usually robust and fast-growing, but both also sometimes die back for no obvious reason, and Nematanthus sometimes abruptly defoliates, which is likely either a cry for more light or a delayed response to drought. Both also need fairly bright light, and not all Nematanthus varieties have the red underside. So those are tied for my third recommendation.

The rest of this field is not very promising.

I've never tried Alpinia luteocarpa, but the ginger family plants I am acquainted with aren't plants I'd necessarily recommend to anybody.2

Calatheas are virtually never a good idea, for anybody, though they're not the worst choice from the list.

I've heard of people keeping a Cissus discolor indoors for any substantial length of time, but I think the people telling those stories are lying.

Excoecaria cochinchinensis and I only just met, so I have no idea what it's like.

I've tried Hemigraphis exotica twice now and will not be buying a third one; they need very intense light to maintain their coloration, plus they can't go dry, even briefly. Since briefly going dry is something that's very likely to happen to a plant that's in intense light, this basically means that you really have to be on the ball with the watering.

And, finally, Selaginella erythropus, which may be the very worst choice possible from this list, unless you plan to put it in a terrarium. In a terrarium, it'll probably do great.

Not pictured:
  • Several Alocasias have green or gray surfaces with purple undersides, including A. amazonica 'Polly,' A. 'Mayan Mask,' and A. lauterbachiana. They're a bit too attractive to spider mites for my tastes, and 'Mayan Mask' is huge, but it is possible to grow them indoors. (suggested by tay696)
  • Many Begonia cvv. have red undersides; B. x erythrophylla, the "beefsteak begonia," has a particularly vivid green-red contrast and is easy to grow.
  • Virtually all Calathea varieties have red or purple undersides: C. burle-marxii, C. insignis (rattlesnake plant), C. makoyana (peacock plant), C. ornata, C. roseopicta, C. 'Corona,' C. rotundifolia, and C. rufibarba would all qualify, among several others. The only two I can think of that don't have a contrasting underside are C. concinna and C. zebrina. None are particularly recommended as houseplants, for a number of reasons.
  • Some Columnea species / varieties have red undersides; the only one I know of specifically is C. orientandina, and its leaves are only red underneath at the leaf tips. Columneas seem to grow okay for me, though I've only had any since spring; other people appear not to find them terribly difficult. (suggested by allandrewsplants)
  • A handful of Euphorbia species have green leaves with red-violet to violet backs: E. millotii, E. pachypodioides, and Synadenium grantii;3 Synadeniums are typically either uniformly green with red flecks or uniformly red-violet, but there are plants out there which are green with a red-violet flush on the undersides of the leaves. I have only grown Synadenium, which is ridiculously easy; I don't know what the other two are like in cultivation. (suggested by Sentient Meat)
  • Geogenanthus poeppigii (seersucker plant; formerly G. undatus) has highly textured leaves (texture is similar to Peperomia caperata) which are dark green with silver stripes on top and purple underneath. I don't know what it's like as a houseplant; I don't think I've ever even seen it for sale, but it's in a lot of the books, so people must have grown it once.
  • Tahitian bridal veil, Gibasis geniculata, has small green leaves with purple undersides when grown in good light, and is a fairly easy-to-grow, if messy, plant.
  • Homalomena 'Purple Sword' has broad leaves, mottled in green and gray, with purple backs and petioles. (It is, for some reason, often sold as an Aglaonema or Schismatoglottis; there doesn't seem to be much consensus on the ID, from what I could find on Google.) I haven't been happy with the Homalomenas I've tried to grow (though 'Emerald Gem' and I did eventually reach an understanding), and I've never seen a Schismatoglottis for sale so I assume they're probably difficult as well. Aglaonema and I get along great, which is a major part of my concluding that the plant in question is probably not an Aglaonema. (suggested by tay696 as Aglaonema)
  • Hoya curtisii has small heart-shaped leaves which are marbled green and silver on top and flush brownish-red on the underside in certain conditions. I've never grown one, but assume their care is similar to that for other Hoyas. (suggested by Tigerdawn)
  • In bright light, Maranta leuconeura var. erythroneura (prayer plant) leaves will have a red back. The other varieties of M. leuconeura never have red undersides, as far as I know. Not recommended, though people do grow them.
  • Monadenium rubellum (sometimes M. montanum var. rubellum) is an unusual caudex-forming succulent. The leaves are green with dark red undersides. I've never seen one for sale or tried to grow it.
  • Musa zebrina has large green leaves which are splotched with red above and solid red below. I've never tried to grow this one, either, but I would guess it's probably fairly difficult indoors. They may be grown outdoors during the summer and then brought in to go dormant during the winter.
  • Paphiopedilum delenatii and some other Paphiopedilums have reddish-purple backs on the leaves, at least in some conditions. Not recommended for beginners, but growable. (suggested by orchideya in comments)
  • Peperomia rugosa has glossy, bumpy, olive green leaves with a red underside. I don't know how it is as a houseplant, but I'm about to find out 'cause I just got one. (I didn't know what it was, or I wouldn't have. I'd been hoping to find out that it was a Begonia with atypically symmetrical leaves.)
  • Pereskia aculeata cv. 'Godseffiana's (lemon vine, yellow rose cactus) leaves aren't so much green on top and red underneath as they are yellow on top and hot pink underneath, but I figure it's close enough. I've only had one briefly (since May), but I like it a lot, and all indications are that it's going to be an easy plant.
  • Philodendron linnaei is sometimes, but not always, green with a purple underside (possibly light-dependent?). It doesn't seem to be sold very widely, so I have no idea what it's like as a houseplant.
  • Philodendron mexicanum has glossy, long green leaves with a red back, and is pretty easy to grow.
  • Plectranthus ciliatus (candlestick plant, blue spur flower) develops a purple underside in strong light; I had trouble finding a way to get enough light on my plant, when I tried growing it indoors.
  • Plectranthus x 'Mona Lavender' leaves are green on top and dark purple underneath. Easy to keep alive indoors, but best color requires ridiculous amounts of light. My main problem with them has been water-related: a potbound plant dries out too quickly, but when I repotted, the plant died. (suggested by Don and Kapt'n Splash in comments)
  • Many but not all Saintpaulia (African violet) varieties will get red undersides to the leaves under good conditions. Saintpaulia and I have a troubled history, so I don't recommend them personally, but many, many people get along with them very nicely, and hey, you might be one of those people.
  • Saxifraga stolonifera's (strawberry begonia) leaves are gray with a red back. It's usually a very easy plant; mine are being weird at the moment and I'm not sure why.
  • Stromanthe sanguinea 'Magicstar' has dark green leaves with white flecks and a red-violet underside; 'Triostar's leaves are pink underneath and irregularly brushed with white and green on top. Both are approximately Calathea-level difficulty; I've been successful with mine, over reasonably long periods, but not everyone is so lucky.
  • Syngonium erythrophyllum has dark green leaves with red undersides; I have only ever seen it for sale on the (now defunct) Asiatica Nursery and have no idea what it's like as a houseplant. (suggested by tay696 as Syngonium)
  • Some cultivars of Tradescantia zebrina (green/silver on top, red-purple beneath) or Tradescantia fluminensis (dull olive green on top, purple beneath) qualify. It's also possible to turn a T. zebrina that's supposed to be purple green by not giving it enough light; I think in those cases the underside turns green too, but it's been a while since I've seen it so I'm not sure. T. zebrina is easy to grow, if prone to running a bit out of control; T. fluminensis didn't do well for me indoors the one time I tried it. (T. zebrina suggested by Tigerdawn)
  • -->I'm open to other ideas, if anybody can think of other plants that fit the category.<--

1 "Bamboo ginger" is also the common name of Costus stenophyllus, which looks nothing like this and has leaves which are solid green on both sides. Just so you know. 2 Except maybe for Zingiber malaysianum, which did very nicely for me for a very long time, though we're having some relationship problems at the moment. Some of this is Sheba's fault. 3 (Which is technically Euphorbia umbellata now, but sometimes I have trouble letting go of the names.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rumble Among the Jungle, Match 4.4

Results for matches 3.15 and 3.16:

It used to be clear enough who was going to win after the first day or so of voting that I could write most of these posts in advance and then just pop in the actual numbers when the voting ended, but lately I'm having to wait until the very last possible moment to start writing.

Aeonium spp. ended match 3.15 with an 8-vote lead over Tillandsia spp. (air plants), 62 to 54, which surprises me enormously. (I've tried, but just don't see the appeal of Aeoniums.)

Match 3.16 found Calathea cvv. defeating Agave spp. by 60 to 56. They're both nice plants, so I wouldn't have been surprised by either outcome, as long as the vote was close. (If Calathea had clobbered the shit out of Agave, or vice-versa, then I would have been surprised.)

The report for round 3:

Four families were removed from contention: Araucariaceae, Bromeliaceae, Cycadaceae, Polypodiaceae. So it goes.

Still in the competition: Amaryllidaceae (1), Apocynaceae (1), Araceae (4), Asparagaceae (2), Cactaceae (1), Crassulaceae (2), Gesneriaceae (1), Malvaceae (1), Marantaceae (1), Orchidaceae (2).

My prediction skills have improved: I called every match correctly this time except for 3.13. (I thought y'all would go with Adenium obesum instead of Haworthia spp.) So that's a big 94% correct for Mr. Subjunctive.

All three of the plants I'm watching closely (the one I would prefer to see win, and the two I think are most likely to win) made it into round 4 intact.

Speaking of round 4, here's today's match:

Match 4.4
Schlumbergera cvv. (holiday/Thanksgiving/Christmas cactus) vs. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (tropical hibiscus)

Center and top left: Schlumbergera 'Caribbean Dancer;' others are NOID.

All unidentified cvv. except left center ('Mrs. Jimmy Spangler') and bottom right ('Sunny Wind').

Random plant event: Ceropegia woodii

This is not the first time I've posted a picture of a Ceropegia woodii flower, but this is a much better photo than the other was. This is also a bit special in that it's my own personal plant blooming, not just one at work.

Despite the rumors that the flowers smell like rotting meat, I haven't been able to detect any smell from this flower. Possibly I was trying at the wrong time of day, though.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rumble Among the Jungle, Match 4.3

The outcomes for matches 3.13 and 3.14:

The outcome of match 3.13 was pretty easy to call in advance: Haworthia spp. built a commanding lead over Adenium obesum and then held on to it, eventually winning 66 to 46.

Match 3.14, on the other hand, was ridiculously close through the whole voting period, and the lead flipped back and forth between Cycas revoluta and the self-heading Philodendrons ('Autumn,' 'Prince of Orange,' 'Moonlight') several times. At the buzzer, the Philodendrons had a three-vote lead, 58-55, so they will advance to the fourth round. Sorry, cycad fans.

Haworthia spp. and the self-heading Philodendrons will square off in match 4.7. Voting begins on 29 October.

And now, the match of the day.

Match 4.3
Phalaenopsis and Doritaenopsis cvv. (moth orchid) vs. Hoya carnosa cvv. (wax plant)

(All unidentified Phalaenopsis cvv.)

Clockwise from top left: Hoya carnosa 'Krimson Princess,' 'Chelsea,' all-green revert of 'Krimson Princess,' 'Krimson Queen.'

Pretty picture: Zantedeschia NOID

So I was proofreading the lead-ban post Monday night when it hit me -- I was sick of reading and thinking about lead. I mean, seriously, it's been like a solid week, and although I learned a lot in the process, and had fun, I loaded the page and was just like, I don't think I can do any more of this. So just forget I said anything, okay? It may come back at some point later on: it's not unheard of for me to shelve a post for months, then dust it off and publish it.1

If you're all disappointed because, damn it, you were looking forward to reading about lead contamination, I recommend Root Simple, who recently got their soil tested for lead, with depressing results. (Subsequent testing produced a happier number.) RS has decided to make a theme week out of it, which just happens to coincide with National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, so there should be all kinds of exciting lead-related information over there, which as a bonus will probably be more relevant to PATSP readers anyway, since it has more to do with plants and gardening.

Zantedeschia NOID. It's yellow.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Rumble Among the Jungle, Match 4.2

Results for matches 3.11 and 3.12:

In match 3.11, the Oncidium gang (Oncidium alliance orchids) took down Beaucarnea "The Orchid Killer" recurvata by 62 to 49, possibly to avenge the Dendrobiums defeated in the previous round by Beaucarnea.

Sansevieria trifasciata took out Dracaena deremensis cvv. in match 3.12, by 68 to 37.

Match 3.12 was going to suck for me either way it went. Much like today's match, actually. . . .

Match 4.2
Aglaonema cvv. (Chinese evergreen) vs. Philodendron hederaceum cvv. (heart-leaf philodendron)

Clockwise from top left: Aglaonema 'Emerald Bay,' 'Brilliant,' 'Mystic Marble,' 'Sparkling Sarah.'

Clockwise from top left: Philodendron hederaceum 'Brasil,' P. hederaceum micans, NOID, P. hederaceum 'Aureum' or something similar, species, P. hederaceum 'Frilly Philly.'

New Plants

The lead-ban post continues to kick my ass behind the scenes. I know way more about lead, environmental science, hunting, fishing, and wildlife management than I did two weeks ago, but the learning curve has been steep, and I'm still not quite there yet. I'm hopeful that I will be able to post it tomorrow, though.

In the meantime, please enjoy these plants, which I've gotten since the last New Plants post:

Aglaonema 'Sapphire Suzanne.' Ace Hardware. $18.

I'd originally dismissed 'Sapphire Suzanne' as being the plainest of the "Jazzed Gem" series of Aglaonemas, but I ran into one that was unusually cheap (The same plant would have been $32 at the ex-job, and this is the only other place I've ever seen one.), and decided it was still a nice plant, and worth buying. I've had it about four weeks, and it's behaved itself so far.

Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor.' (Was tagged 'QuadrAcolor,' but Google calls that a misspelling.) Ace Hardware. $4.50.

I've seen this cultivar for sale a few times, but always more expensive and usually larger specimens. I had pretty much given up on getting one (and anyway I have two of the species to deal with, which are getting ever-larger and pointier, so I hardly needed another), but I couldn't pass up $4.50, especially since I know from the experience with the other specimens that it's likely to do well for me indoors.

Excoecaria cochinchinensis. Ace Hardware. $5.

This plant is relatively new to the area -- I don't think I'd seen them for sale prior to last spring -- and I initially had zero interest in it on the grounds that it was being sold as a "Chinese croton." I don't need any kind of croton, no matter what language it speaks, was my thinking, and it really did look a lot like one, particularly the cultivar Codiaeum variegatum 'Andrew,' which has the same bumpy leaves and marginal variegation but lacks the red underside.

But then a reader who'd just bought an Excoecaria e-mailed me to ask if I knew anything about them, and in the course of looking that up, I discovered that it was in fact not a croton. (Also not a Ficus, even though the tag on the e-mailer's plant said it was an "Exciting new Ficus Variety!") So I was like, well, maaaaaaybe, if I find one really cheap somewhere. And then I ran into the page for it, where one commenter (of only two) said that s/he'd never seen any insect or mite activity on his/r plant.

I also found information that a different Excoecaria species is known as "blind-your-eye," which sounded a bit ominous, but I have so many Euphorbias already that poisonous sap is almost as much motivation to buy the plant as to not. (Excoecaria, like Euphorbias and Codiaeum, is in the Euphorbia family.)

So when I saw the above plant, tagged $5.99 but during a 20% off sale, I thought, sure, what the hell, and I bought it. The next day, when I went to take the above photo, I noticed what looked like spider mites on the underside of some of the leaves and felt a chill go through me. This may not mean anything: spider mites will sometimes live opportunistically on plants they don't especially like if they can't find anything better, and it's not like it was the cleanest plant area in the world. Maybe the mites wandered over from something else and were all, "What a dump! But we can't afford to move, so. . . ." Or perhaps I'm being uncharacteristically hopeful.

I've since realized that the commenter hails from Garland TX and may well keep the plant outdoors for most of the year, in which case his/r spider mite experiences are not really relevant to my situation at all and I might have been better served going with my initial "It's a croton? Then I don't want it" impulse. I'll have to keep you posted.

Or maybe you'll have to keep me posted: anybody else have any experience with this plant, for good or ill?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rumble Among the Jungle, Match 4.1

Since we're more than a month into the RATJ now, I'm going to just assume everybody has read the rules instead of copying and pasting them into the posts over and over.

Final numbers for matches 3.9 and 3.10:

In match 3.9, Spathiphyllum surprises me once again, by defeating a plant I see as obviously superior. This is apparently going to be a thing with me and Spathiphyllum. The margin of victory was slim: Spathiphyllum beat Aeschynanthus spp. by 62 to 54.

The first poll for match 3.10 was glitchy, for unknown reasons, so some people couldn't vote in it. I replaced it with a new poll that worked properly, but there were then two sets of votes to count. The glitchy poll gave Echeveria et al. 14 votes and Chlorophytum comosum 7; when added to the results of the more functional poll (43 and 49, respectively), we get Echeveria et al. winning over Chlorophytum comosum by 57 to 56. This is perhaps close enough to warrant a do-over, but that would screw up the posting schedule, so I'm not gonna.

As we are now in round 4, I'm slowing down the votes yet again and only posting one match per day. Partly, this is because it's more dramatic this way (after three rounds of selection, the plants that have gotten here ought to be pretty good fighters), but also I have to: now that we're down to a small fraction of the original field, the three-day wait for the final tallies means that about half of round 3 is still collecting votes while we begin round 4. (By round 6, the semifinals, I'll have to start skipping days between matches.)

Match 4.1
Clivia miniata cvv. vs. Saintpaulia cvv. (African violet)

Top: Clivia miniata. (Picture by Guérin Nicolas at Wikimedia Commons.) Bottom: NOID cv.

Saintpaulia cvv.
Top row, L-R: NOID, assorted NOIDs, NOID.
Middle row, L-R: NOID, NOID, NOID.
Bottom row, L-R: 'Harmony's Red Star,' 'Mellow Magic' close-up, NOID.