Thursday, July 31, 2014

Anthurium News

The scale is back. (On #280 "Jujubee" in the photo,1 though I've seen them on #076 "Bob Humbug" as well.)

The thrips never left. (#243 "Sal Monella" in the photo, but I could pick any plant that's blooming and have at least a 50-50 chance of finding thrips on it.)

I despair. Having tried imidacloprid granules, zero-tolerance for infested plants, irregular and incomplete rubbing alcohol sprays, and hand-squishing, we're moving on to "white oil."2 The optimist in me notes that at least white oil has the potential to get rid of both scale and thrips at once.3

Should white oil fail to do the job, I . . . I don't know. I don't know what to do.


[somber pause]


There's also some bad news about two of the Anthuriums I said in the last post might have blooms: both #265 "Madame LaQueer" and #040 "Ivy Winters" have aborted their blooms. Ivy has already started work on a new bud, which is surprising.4

But the news is not entirely bad. #203 "Anna Mae Hemensouz" has finally opened its bud, and --

I mean, yes, it's very much like #005 "Chad Michaels," but I like Chad a lot, so that's fine with me. As it did with Chad, my camera understates how dark the spathe is. The plant as a whole is actually pretty nice, though I don't have any photos that show that very well.

#218 "Noah Fence" makes his debut today too:

I was not expecting the purple spadix, so I guess that's something to be pleased about. This probably also means that Noah is 'White Gemini' x NOID purple. That NOID purple sure got around.

You've already seen it, but in the last post, #179 "Katie Boundary" hadn't fully opened when I took the photo. So this is more what she really looks like:

'Peppermint Gemini'5 has produced a new bloom, after a very long wait:

This has me sort of excited, because speckling in spathes is, according to the book, an incompletely dominant trait, so if I can get it crossed successfully with something else, I should be able to get some speckled seedlings eventually.6 Really, I'd be pretty happy if I could just get some seedlings from seed parents other than 'Gemini' and 'White Gemini.' As divided up by seed parent:

'Pandola' and the NOID red are probably much better represented on the pollen-parent side of things, but several of my stock plants appear to have made no contribution at all to the seedling-genetics situation.7 Which I suppose makes it all the more impressive that I've gotten the sort of color range out of the seedlings that I have.

You may also notice from that pie chart that the second generation is officially upon us now. Eight of the seedlings have #276 "Zach Religious" as a seed parent. They aren't yet old enough to be doing anything interesting, and won't be for some time, but they exist, and seem content not to die, which is all I ask for at the moment.

Left column, top to bottom: #636 "Lourdes Prayer," #637 "Abby Damned,"
#638 "Rosetta Stoned," #639 "Vicky Tacky."
Right column, top to bottom: #640 "Penny Tration," #641 "Ciara Mist,"
#642 "Bianca Donk," #643 "Fauxnique."8

Seeds from #271 "Wanda Reulthemal" and #234 "Ross Koz" have also been sown, though none of those are big enough to pot up yet, and it's beginning to look like there may be something wrong with the one seed of Ross's so I'm not getting my hopes up. (He has others. It'll be fine.) Another four plants9 are very close to having mature berries, so there will probably be some seedlings from those potted up too, by maybe December.


1 There are three scale insects visible in the photo. Can you find all three?
2 Vegetable oil, dishwashing liquid, and water, mixed together. The recipe I intend to follow calls for a 4:1 mix of oil and dishwashing liquid, mixed up, and then diluted to 4 Tbsp of that mix in a gallon of water. Which doesn't seem like it could possibly be enough oil to accomplish anything, but that's the recipe I found, so that's what I intend to try.
3 (The pessimist in me just keeps calling the optimist an idiot until he cries.)
4 According to the Anthurium-breeding book, blooms emerge from the leaf axils. If a bud aborts, then, you usually have to wait for the plant to produce a new leaf, a process which takes about a month, before you can see the next one. For the most part, this matches my observations, but Ivy and a few other seedlings seem to have found a loophole, possibly by switching to the axil for an older leaf, being faster to construct leaves than I anticipated, or producing a leaf while I was distracted by something else.
5 Technically, I don't know for sure that this is 'Peppermint Gemini,' as it wasn't tagged when I bought it, but it did say it was produced by Twyford, and it's the only speckled white/red/pink variety of theirs that I know about, so it seems safe to assume, at least provisionally.
6 There are already 13 seedlings with 'Peppermint Gemini' as the seed parent, three from 21 September 2013, and ten from 19 February 2014. So it's going to be a while before I find out whether speckling acts like the book says it does. And even if it does act like the book says, the book also says that when crossing a speckled plant with a non-speckled plant, even if the offspring are speckled, the speckles are usually coarser and less evenly-distributed than in the parent. There has to be some environmental component there, though, because the first bloom I saw on this plant had color a lot more broken up than this; see this post.
7 Specifically, there's been no confirmed contribution from 'Florida,' 'Midori,' 'Red Hot,' 'Joli,' or the NOID red-purple which may be 'Krypton.' ('Krypton' itself has gotten involved, though.) The last three of those have either killed off the developing berries before they matured, or haven't rebloomed for me yet. I've tried to pollinate 'Midori' and 'Florida,' and the spadices of both have changed, but there's no definite sign that either one intends to produce berries.
8 The only names I might take credit for are "Lourdes Prayer" and "Vicky Tacky," which I'm pretty sure I came up with. ("Lourdes Prayer" is not that great, but I'm pleased with Vicky.) All the others came from somewhere on-line. I linked the names I know to belong to actual drag queens; the others may or may not refer to anyone real. It's not like there's an official registry somewhere. Though the site that "Ciara Mist" links to seems to be trying pretty hard to be an official drag registration site.
9 (#005 "Chad Michaels," #059 "Bijoux Tuit," #239 "Russ Teanale," and #247 "Selma Carr")


Paul said...

Peppermint is quite an interesting little flower -- I think one of the most unusual ones you've had.

Liza said...

The oil recipe is interesting. I tried it on the lemon tree, coated the leaves and branches several weeks ago. But I'd already moved the tree outside so it's difficult to tell if the oil mix got rid of the scale, or if the scale left because there was so much more to eat in the outside world. The tree is thriving, so it didn't mind having its leaves covered...although most of those leaves have since been removed. I used canola oil since it was handy. I'm not sure how it would work indoors - it was messy and gross to apply.

I'm sorry to hear about the pests, it's totally disheartening.

mr_subjunctive said...


Yeah, I'm not sure how it's going to work indoors either. I may have to spray them in the tub and then leave them there to drip for half an hour before spraying the next batch, or something like that. Or try doing it outside after dark. Either way, yeah, it's probably going to be something of a mess. (I'm also wondering if the oil will go bad after a certain period of time, and if so whether the whole basement is going to smell like rancid soybean oil.[1])


[1] Soybean oil because it was cheap, and because I knew I was going to need LARGE quantities of whatever I used.

Liza said...

Oh yikes, I never even thought about the oil going bad. That would suck!

I wonder if the oil is best applied with a brush. I used a spray bottle, so it went everywhere. No big deal since it was outside.

I'm not a fan of coating the leaves with anything. But the proponents of the oil recipe were very enthusiastic about its effectiveness so I decided to give it a shot.

Martin O said...

Hello, I am not sure if this is a workable suggestion. In 2012 and 2013 I also had a serious problem with thrips on a number of plants. I simply got rid of all of them (sic) by leaving the plants at room temperatures ranging between 10 and 12 degrees Celcius during the winter season.

We had a relatively warm winter this year, so I decided not to heat at all the rooms where the affected plants were located. All of them are tropical plants and they are doing just fine although the minimum recommended room temperature was often 5 degrees higher. The low tmeperatures effectively killed all the thrips. They never came back.

mr_subjunctive said...

Martin O:

Temperatures that low would kill the Anthuriums, alas.

Anonymous said...

Love the speckled anthurium flower and that the 2nd generation is getting started!

I'm bummed for you that the scale is still a problem. It must be very frustrating to try to deal with this and to keep having problems.

Since your blog has brought a lot of entertainment and education to so many, I think it might be reasonable to ask readers if they would be willing to contribute to a fundraiser to raise money so you can purchase some real agricultural chemicals to "nuke the scale from orbit".
With a collection of the size you're dealing with, I guess I have to admit that I am skeptical that the usual home remedies for scale will work.
I think it would be justified to move on to agricultural chemicals.

Since it's warm out, maybe you could even set up a makeshift quarantine greenhouse in your backyard where you can isolate any plants that are infested or exposed to infested plants.

I feel so bad for you that your very nice collection is plagued by these horrible insects!

mr_subjunctive said...


Well, when I tried moving some plants with scale outside last year, I wound up spreading the scale to previously-unaffected plants, so I doubt an outdoor quarantine would be very useful. Plus I don't have a shaded spot to put them in, so I would spend a week or two moving them in and out all the time, which would be hard on both them and me.

I'm not sure pesticides are the way to go here, if for no other reason than that I've already tried the most obvious one (imidacloprid) and it didn't work well enough to solve the problem. At least one commenter has said that white oil was the only thing that worked for them when they had a scale problem, so it seems like it has potential, and if that doesn't work out, then . . . I'll do something else. Or I'll do something again. Or I'll do a bunch of somethings simultaneously.

James said...

One of my favorite flowers is red anthurium.

Anonymous said...

I definitely hope the white oil does the trick. I guess my theory is just that maybe a lot of houseplant scale has become resistant to the normal hobbyist treatments like imidacloprid
since that's what EVERYONE who has houseplants uses. Surely though there are commercial greenhouses that have to fight scale and have found other ways to fight them.
I kind of think that your situation is more like what a commercial grower is facing than a normal houseplant fan is facing. :)
Good luck though. I want to see you win!

Anonymous said...

The local grocery store had a whole shelf of anthuriums for sale this week. Thought of PATSP immediately. Two orange and the rest rest. I looked at the plant tag and no cultivar name, so I guess they were generic. The tag said to water with 1 1/2 cup ice twice a week or something like that. Why ice?

Texas Anon

mr_subjunctive said...

Texas Anon:

That's a thing now. Because marketers are terrible.

Anonymous said...

Should have been "rest red" instead of "rest rest". Not sure how that happened. Once I got into reading the older blog post re: ice, I remembered reading it before but it had faded to a vague recollection. Thanks for sending me back. It was an entertaining and useful post. Useful far beyond just Anthuriums. Too often the 'care' info on the tags is useless.

Texas Anon

Anonymous said...

Wow, the peppermint Gemini spathe is awesome! I've never before seen a variegated spathe, guessing they're somewhat rare.