Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Somewhat last-minute grab bag

Okay, so I spent the first half of yesterday trying to work on yet another post about dyed orchids, because I saw something new about them and had All! These! Ideas! about what that signified. The further I got into writing about it, the more interesting it got, until: I realized that I'd been misreading something, and the whole case I was trying to build fell apart. Some of the post is probably still salvageable, but it may be a while before I can work on it again.

Which means I need something to write about, so here's a grab bag of recent random plant events, new plants that aren't actually new anymore, and unfinished business:

1. Philodendron bipinnatifidum sucker

I'm not sure this signifies anything particularly good; the parent plant (which started out as my mother-in-law's, and she gave it to him twelve years ago) dropped three out of four leaves at about the same time this side shoot began to grow. I worried that this meant it was giving up, but it's since produced a new leaf, so apparently it's going to stick with us a while longer. (The leaf shedding was possibly a response to being cold; it sits on the floor of the plant room.)

This doesn't mean a lot -- I don't intend to try to root the sucker separately or anything -- but it's an event.

2. Tacca chantrieri flower, close-up

Also not hugely significant, but this is the first time I've gotten the chance to take a photo of the flowers when fully open and not yet dying. (Previous attempts.) So that's what they look like.

Yep, still weird.

3. New plant: Euphorbia milii 'Candyland'

This is really stretching the definition of "new plant," since I got it last November. But I hadn't written anything about it yet, and have meant to, so here it is. This is a distinctly different kind of variegation from the other variegated E. milii I've encountered; that one was speckled, and this one has white margins. The flowers -- which I've not yet seen on my own plant -- are red. It's been a little pouty, not growing much since this photo was taken. I suspect it may be unhappy with the amount of light it's getting.

4. Springtails on a dead Cyclamen

The Cyclamen experiment is over. This is also fairly old news; it was pronounced dead on 7 January 2012. The cause of death was probably overwatering during dormancy.

I don't think I'm inclined to try Cyclamen again. It was fun getting it to rebloom the one time, and I do still think they're gorgeous plants, foliage and flowers both. It's just difficult to keep track of when I'm supposed to be watering and when I'm not. Plants with pronounced dormancies are untrustworthy. (The reader may, at this point, wish to pause for a moment to say a short prayer on behalf of my new-as-of-last-fall Amorphophallus konjac bulb.)

Also, this is the best picture I've gotten yet of springtails, which I've run across before, once when they were killing my Anthurium seedlings and baby ferns, and then again when they kept coming out of the drainage hole of our Dracaena sanderiana: I thought I'd posted pictures of the latter but apparently I never considered the photos I got good enough to post. (Also, if you're wondering: the D. sanderiana was originally the husband's, though I've been taking care of it for the past few years. I don't especially like it, and the husband actually has given me permission to throw it out, but it's one of those things: I don't feel like I can get rid of it unless it dies on its own, and it won't die on its own.)

Springtails aren't ordinarily a huge problem for indoor plants. I mean, I don't think there are any situations where they're beneficial, but they eat decaying organic matter, which is basically what potting soil is, so they generally won't do anything much to plants. The Anthurium seedlings and baby ferns suffered only because they were planted in vermiculite, and there was really no organic matter available for the springtails to eat except for the baby plants.

5. Murraya paniculata seed sprouts

Not a shock. We've seen this before, fairly recently, but in this particular case, I labeled the pot when I started the plant, so I know that germination took 28 days to reach this point. (This photo was taken 27 March 2012.)

6. Unfinished business: Furcraea foetida 'Medio-Picta' offsets

Among the plants that have responded strongly to being fertilized regularly are the Furcraeas. These two are both offsets from my parent plant, which I got in June 2009. Whichever one is oldest got started in May 2010, and hadn't really done much as of March 2011. The second one was potted up in July 2011, a year behind the other, which makes it odd that they're both so nearly the same size.

7. Question for the Hive Mind: the new Ficus benjamina

I've noticed that one of the shoots on the new Ficus benjamina has an unusual variegation to it, which none of the rest of the plant seems to have. It's sort of the reverse of the E. milii 'Candyland' situation, in that I've previously only seen marginal variegation on Ficus, not speckling, whereas with the Euphorbia I'd seen speckling, but not marginal.

I'm wondering whether this is a virus. There are, I know, some plant viruses that cause this kind of speckling in their hosts, though I couldn't find any photos of Ficus benjaminas that resembled this. The shoot in question has four leaves, all spotted more or less the same way, and it seems improbable that a virus in one tiny branch of a multi-plant pot would hurt anything much, so I'm inclined to leave it alone (or, possibly, try to propagate it, if it seems robust enough to cut back), but I'm wondering what everybody else thinks about this. Is it a virus? Might it be a virus? If it is a virus, how much should I care? And if it isn't a virus, then what the hell is it?


Pat said...

I have definitely seen that sort of variegation on other Ficus. F. elastica possibly? I would go with non-viral as an explanation.

Lauren said...

I love that E. milii.

Unknown said...

BTW - Murraya paniculata seedlings
3 years ago, I decided that I wanted a M. paniculata. I ordered some seeds on Ebay, even though I wasn't too optimistic about their viability. I know that Citrus-and-alike seeds are only supposed to be viable when fresh.
Anyways, the "seeds" that arrived were, in fact, bone-dry berries. They looked quite hopless, but I decided to give them a try.
I soaked the dry berries to remove the flesh; from some of the seeds I also removed the hard-ish outer coat (this usually works to speed-up Citrus seeds sprouting).
Surprisingly, some of the seeds DID sprout, despite not being very fresh.
At the moment, I have 4 of those seedlings. They are somewhat disappointing though: growing very slowly, they haven't flowered yet, even though some growers report them blooming when just a few months old...