Thursday, March 8, 2012

Random plant event: Aglaonema 'Maria,' with special guest star

This could also have gone into Tuesday's unfinished business post, but it seemed special enough to warrant its own. In this case, the news is that one Aglaonema seed I started around December1 has actually germinated. Not that it's particularly interesting to look at yet:

But even so. I didn't expect this to work at all, so having anything happen is pretty neat.

I planted the seed in a mix of soil and unchopped sphagnum moss, per the instructions from the University of Florida. The soil/moss was put in a clear plastic cup, covered with saran wrap (held on with a rubber band, because it wasn't staying on by itself -- saran is less sticky when wet), and left on a shelf with a shop light overhead and another underneath, giving it maybe a little bit of bottom heat.

It actually gets better (and weirder) than that, though, because the first thing I noticed happening in the plastic cup was not that the seed was sprouting, but that the sphagnum was sprouting. Not only did I not expect this to happen, I wasn't even aware that it could happen: I thought the sphagnum was dead by the time it got packaged up and sold.

I've seen plenty of claims on-line that peat moss2 is being harvested at an unsustainable rate from the wild, mostly for garden soil and related gardening products, though the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association, unsurprisingly, disagrees. It would therefore be interesting to produce my own, I guess, though 1) I doubt the husband would permit me to build a sphagnum bog in the basement and 2) even if I did, I'm guessing proper habitat reproduction would require a fair amount of energy, which might negate the environmental benefits of having a home bog. Though I'd get to tell people I had a sphagnum bog in my home, which gives coolness points3 which would partly negate the increased energy usage, in the sense that I'd mind less about destroying the environment if everybody thought I was cool.

But whatever. The sphagnum sprouts are kinda neat-looking. I'll probably try to keep the stuff going in the cup after I take out the Aglaonema,4 just to see what it decides to do next. I mean, why wouldn't you?


1 Not sure of the exact date. The first Aglaonema seed I started was in December, but this is the second one. The first was planted in vermiculite, and hasn't done anything yet. So we may be looking at a germination time of around 8 weeks, give or take, depending on exactly when the second seed was started. There's a third seed as well, currently still on the plant, though the berry is starting to shrivel up a little so I should probably hurry up and do something about that.
2 Wikipedia explains the difference in terms thusly: "sphagnum" is the live organism that grows on top of the bog; "sphagnum peat" is the decaying old growth underneath. It then becomes "peat moss" after decaying, compacting, and being packaged up.
3 Fine. Eccentricity points, then.
4 (Which will probably be whenever the Aglaonema hits the top of the saran wrap.)


Ginny Burton said...

What is "unchopped" sphagnum? Is that what people use to line the bottom of hanging baskets? Its sprouts are adorable!

Tom said...

No no, you were right the first time, it would be coolness points. Congrats on the new baby plant!

Paul said...

The moss likely contained dormant spores. It's also possible -- given the small dustspect like size -- that some airborne spores settled on the sphag before you got the saran on.

CelticRose said...

That's cool! I've never heard of sphagnum sprouting for anyone.

Liza said...

I wonder it would take to get home bogs to become the latest rage?

Thomas said...

Once ordered some Disa seed, and the catalog stated they would germinate best in live sphagnum and suggested using dried moss. Someone told me it wouldn't work, so I had to try. I used a 2nd hand large clear plastic "fruit ripener". It was kinda cool, for a while I had a mini bog.

You could tell the husband you've been thinking of putting up (down?) some bog butter.