Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

Yes, Nina is still around. I don't post about her a lot, both due to embarrassment over how water-spotted and overgrown her terrarium has gotten and because she just doesn't really do that much that needs documenting -- I mean, if you've seen one Nina photo then you've pretty much seen all of them. But yes, she's still here. I also still need to replant the terrarium (possibly without the Pellionia pulchra -- I'm happy that it's done so well in there, but it might be nice to have more than one species represented, too1). Replanting is one of those things I think about every few months but never actually attempt, partly because I dread trying to catch Nina, partly because I can't decide what I want to plant in there instead.2

But in any event, Nina herself is doing fine. I think so, anyway. Not really sure what a lizard "acting out" would look like.


1 There was a Fittonia in there at one time as well, but no longer: between being eaten by crickets, rebounding poorly from the inevitable droughts, and being outcompeted by the Pellionia, it faded away to nothing some time ago.
2 I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, but never manage to come up with a plan. Most of the options are also problematic because they have the same advantages and drawbacks as Pellionia -- I have lots of material from which to start new plants, and I'm confident that they'd root, but they'd also quickly take over the terrarium, and then I'd be back in this position again.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

[Exceptionally] Pretty pictures: transmitted light -- Part XLVI

This isn't maybe the prettiest set of transmitted light photos I've got, but what they lack in beauty, they make up for in having unusually diverse textures. Or at least that was the feature that jumped out at me when I first looked at them as a group.

Ordinarily when I post a set of transmitted light photos, I'm doing so because I can't come up with anything else to post. Not the case this time, though: this time, I'm doing it because I had the realization that if I don't start posting them once in a while, I'm never going to end up publishing them all.

(The previous transmitted light posts can be found here.)

Ficus microcarpa.

Alcea sp. Obviously a leaf from late in the season: a spring leaf wouldn't be as scarred and torn.

Acer sp., autumn.

Pulmonaria 'Raspberry Splash.' One of the two Pulmonarias I planted when we first moved in died this spring; the other had to be relocated and, I fear, may not come back. It needed to be divided, I think, but the husband was the one who moved it, and I hadn't told him it needed to be divided, so . . . we'll see what happens, I suppose. I think I like Pulmonaria well enough to buy replacements if the survivor doesn't come back, but maybe I won't need to. We'll see.

Polyscias scutellaria. The photograph is, I think, a technical failure but an artistic success: the shadows are maybe excessive, but they also make me think of bubble wrap, which I like. (Who doesn't like thinking about bubble wrap, after all?) This is actually, I think, my favorite photo from this set, despite being plainer than most of the images that follow.

Strobilanthes dyerianus.

Epipremnum aureum. It's strangely impossible to come up with a decent transmitted light photo of E. aureum, and I have no idea why. It's like Dracaena deremensis varieties and Tradescantia pallida -- however many different ways I try of doing it, I still always get crappy photos. But what do the three of them have in common that Philodendron hederaceum, Dracaena fragrans, and Tradescantia zebrina don't? It's a mystery.

Glycine max, dead leaf. This improves a bit when full-size. It's also one of the more map-like leaves in this set.

Begonia 'Soli-Mutata.' The texture is pretty striking by reflected light, too, though the colors aren't going to make anybody's list of most colorful Begonias.

Calathea makoyana.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

To the Person(s) From Cedar Rapids Who Keep(s) Checking PATSP for Updates:

[Please ignore if you are not in Cedar Rapids, IA.]

If you are who I think you are:

1) You really should have sent me an e-mail a loooong time ago;
2) You will probably be interested in the addition at the top of this post;
3) The post you are so eager to read won't go up until Friday, at the very earliest, and there's a good chance I won't get it together until Monday.

If you aren't who I think you are:

1) The above probably made no sense to you at all;
2) You're now confused,
3) And I'm sorry. Please disregard.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Random plant event: Hatiora (?) NOID

This is a good news / bad news random plant event. The good news is that there was a bloom --

-- and the bad news is that I think it's probably the only one I'll ever see.

And it's already finished.

I got the plant in question from a reader last May. It was very large and full then, and got larger and fuller for several months, which was great. And then in early October, it began to shatter, dropping a few segments here and there. Which was disturbing. Then it did it again in mid-October. Finally, at some point in early November, it blew itself completely the fuck up. (I think the largest remaining piece had about six segments to it. Just, segments everywhere. Oh the humanity.) Also, it got a sort of dusty look to it, like maybe there were spider mites, though I didn't see spider mites on any of the plants that were nearby. And we have a lot of dust here, so it's sometimes hard to be sure.

So I sprayed with neem oil and dishwashing liquid. And was rewarded with another shattering. I pulled all the pieces out, cleaned off any rotten bits, and replanted all of them into new pots and new soil, carefully balancing them against one another so they would stay more or less upright. Then a couple weeks later the husband decided to wipe off the table they were sitting on, and moved the pots of rooting segments, which then all fell out and had to be replanted again, with the careful balancing and etc. But did I say anything mean to him about this? I did not. Because I am a saint.

In the midst of all this chaos, though, a flower bud formed on one of the segments, and against all odds, it developed fully, was open for about 3-4 days, and then dropped off. And then it was over.

The segments have now been sitting for maybe three weeks, undisturbed, and I don't think they're rooting terribly well. Even if they are rooting, they probably aren't going to root upright, like the plant was when it arrived, and I'm not optimistic about the long-term prospects of the plant, but both hope and the plants are still alive.

From the Schlumbergera profile, I see I wrote

Easter cacti aren't particularly popular because they're harder to grow: if they're in a draft, too wet, or too dry, they shatter, dropping all the stem segments, which is obviously kind of a jerky, passive-aggressive thing to do. Also they're less consistent bloomers. Which is also passive-aggressive. Basically Easter cacti are pricks, is what I'm saying. Care is basically the same as Schlumbergera, but the margin for error is much narrower.
The most likely cause, according to that, would be draft, followed by too wet: they're in the plant room, and the door we use most to get in and out of the house is in there too.

There's a pretty good chance, based on the flower color and flower timing, that it wasn't an Easter cactus (Hatiora) after all, but was instead a true-Christmas Christmas cactus (one of the older Schlumbergera hybrids). I have no way to tell at the moment.1

I don't have any immediate plans to write a plant profile on Easter cacti, but if I did, I'm thinking I'd have to choose Suicide Bomber, or possibly Patsy Cline,2 as the "person."

Probably Patsy. Very few suicide bombers blow themselves up more than once. Though an argument could be made for suicide bombers being more passive-aggressive than Patsy Cline.


My other Hatiora NOID, which was sold to me as a wildly-overpriced Rhipsalidopsis, has orange flowers, has doubled or tripled in size since I got it (also last May), and has yet to shatter at all. They've been right next to one another, getting the same care, same temperature, same humidity, so the fragility is soil-related, cultivar-related, or both. For whatever that's worth.


1 Easter cacti were previously known as Rhipsalidopsis, and are often sold under that name, though at the moment our botano-taxonomic overlords are preferring Hatiora to Rhipsalidopsis. These Hatioras also strongly resemble Schlumbergeras, especially the older Christmas-blooming Schlumbergeras, so misidentification is common.
Hatioras are a lot more prone to shattering, as a rule, but both genera can shatter. (My Schlumbergera x buckleyi, also a reader trade, has done a tiny bit of this in early December.) I'm continuing to assume that the plant I'm talking about in this post is a Hatiora, because: that's how it's written down on the spreadsheets and elsewhere in the blog, that's what the original owner thought it was, it allegedly blooms in spring, and the shape and texture of the segments is subtly different from the plants I have that I'm pretty sure are Schlumbergera x buckleyi.
On the other hand, I have no way of ruling out that it's a Schlumbergera either, since both plants could produce actinomorphic magenta flowers in early December. Either time will tell, or the plant will die and make the question moot.
2 "I Fall to Pieces" (YouTube)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum Lawless Zauberflöte

To answer the obvious question: Google Translate renders "Zauberflöte" as "The Magic Flute" in German.

I might have gone with something more like "Paphiopedilum Lawless Really Fucking Yellow," but that's me: no imagination.

Also I wouldn't necessarily be surprised if it were mislabeled, since 1) almost everything at the show was to some degree or another and 2) the coloration is similar but different on all the photos that Google Image Search comes up with. Specifically, the long, narrow petals (sepals? I forget which is which, on orchids.) to the left and right usually have some brown or pink streaks or spots in them.

Of course, those photos are posted by amateurs and/or eBay sellers, and can't necessarily be trusted either. So it may not be Paphiopedilum Lawless Zauberflöte, but there's a solid chance that it's at least a Paphiopedilum. And failing that, I'm like 95% certain it's an orchid.

Maybe only 90%.