Thursday, May 22, 2014

Unfinished business: Strelitzia juncea and Araucaria bidwillii, plus Something Personal-ish

Last September, I got 18 seeds from 5 Strelitzia juncea, 10 Calathea lutea, and 3 Araucaria bidwillii. Including shipping, I paid $16.80.

I knew going in that all three plants are slow and irregular germinators, but even taking that into account, I've been really disappointed. Two Strelitzia seeds came up in October and November, and those look like they're going to be reasonably healthy plants, knock wood. I also have an Araucaria seedling as of January, which appears to have survived being transplanted (did that on 10 April), and is producing new growth as you read this. But I had been expecting a lot more plants than three, and more species than two. If I want to pay $5 for a plant, there are plenty of garden centers around that would accommodate me.

The Strelitzia seedlings as of yesterday.
Also shown: Polyscias fruticosa 'Elegans' (upper right), Euphorbia leuconeura seedling (right center), unidentified Episcia (lower right).

I've purchased several other kinds of seeds from,1 and in most of those cases, I think it was my fault I didn't get any plants. Usually the problem was moisture, either too much or too little (or both). But I feel like I was doing everything right with these seeds, and I'm not getting any better results. So I'm pretty frustrated.

The Araucaria seedling, post-transplant. I was worried for a little bit, but the top third of the stem is all new since the transplant, so it's clearly fine. (Left: Tradescantia pallida; right: Ceropegia woodii.)

I gave up on the Calatheas, and the ungerminated Strelitzias, on Tuesday (20 May); the remaining Araucaria seeds are probably not going to do anything either, but they're in one of the pretzel containers and consequently require no maintenance, so they get a little while longer to try.2 This is also probably the last time I buy anything from The service was prompt, as far as I know they sent me the things I asked for, and the prices aren't outrageous, but there's little point in buying the seeds if doing so doesn't eventually result in new plants.

In other news, on Tuesday morning I woke up with what was likely the worst pain I have ever experienced, just to the left of my spine, on my upper back. Well, upper back, shoulder, and neck. That whole area. It turns out that not only is it possible to whimper involuntarily, it's possible to whimper involuntarily without even being fully aware that you're doing it. The pain became, eventually, manageable with ibuprofen. Wednesday was less awful but still pretty bad.

I was worried enough about it to see a doctor late on Wednesday. The best-case scenario I was envisioning was that she'd tell me to just eat lots of ice cream and read my new book about Anthurium breeding,3 and that that would make the pain go away completely, and it would never come back again.

And, well, not quite. The diagnosis was that it was just a pulled trapezius, albeit maybe an especially painfully pulled trapezius. Which I suppose I'm glad that it's nothing serious (The worst case scenario was a slipped/ruptured/herniated disc, which seemed plausible when I was googling on Tuesday night.), and that it will heal. On the other hand, though, if this wasn't something particularly serious, that means that it could happen again. I could wake up shrieking in pain basically any day from now until I die, and there's apparently nothing to be done about it. So, going to sleep at night has just become that much more fraught.

Though I suppose in theory, anybody could wake up in staggering amounts of pain at any time, from one thing or another. The possibility was always there; it just wasn't real to me until this week.

In any case. I did at least get a prescription out of it, because my doctor has a sense of humor. (And because I asked.)


1 Pandanus utilis, Cissus rhombifolia, Cordyline fruticosa, Haworthia pumila, Ficus religiosa, Trichocereus peruvianus (possibly Echinopsis?), an Aloe assortment, Carludovica palmata, and a Schefflera of unremembered species (probably S. actinophylla).
2 The seeds were still, in theory, capable of germinating, but the more time went by, the less optimistic I was that anything would happen. Also, the more time passed without any sprouts, the more cool things the Anthurium seedlings did, and the less exciting the prospect of having a Calathea lutea seemed when I could up-pot Anthuriums and watch them do cool things.
3 Oh! I have a new book about Anthurium breeding! (Breeding Anthuriums in Hawaii, Haruyuki Kamemoto and Adelheid R. Kuehnle, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1996, $7.81 used on Amazon and that included shipping) And if you think there are not eventually going to be blog posts about the things I am learning from the book, you are hilariously mistaken.


Diana at Garden on the Edge said...

Ouch. Pulled muscles are not fun. I prescribe regular Yoga to help prevent these sorts of things in the future (seriously, it does help, says the woman with bad joints). And have your husband do all the heavy lifting. ;)

Looking forward to more stories about Anthuriums. I don't think my last attempt as pollination worked (I tried to cross pollinate two of mine with a paintbrush but no seeds came from it, cause we ALL need more Anthuriums).

DJ Marcussen said...

Yeah, it's amazing how painful pulled (twisted, mangled?) muscles can be. But the plants are worth it!
To commenter Diana: I've no doubt yoga is (ultimately) helpful, but it did me in this season. Remember to tell people to start slowly and warm up first!

Uncle said...

Only a 1x refill on the prescription??? That's not exactly what I'd call compassionate healthcare. (Butter Pecan is known to work wonders.)