Friday, April 4, 2014

Random plant event: Breynia disticha

I now have three Breynias in the house: the original, and two (barely) smaller plants from cuttings of the original. If they were easier to propagate from cuttings, I would have even more than that, because I like them,1 but a lot of cuttings fail. (Cutting failure is a good thing in this particular case, though, because they get big quickly, and if all the cuttings had been successful, we would probably have had to give them all their own room.)

I happened to notice a couple months ago that the original Breynia had decided to bloom. The flowers are small and inconspicuous, to the point where although I know I've seen them once before,2 I could easily believe that my plants have flowered several other times without me noticing.

This has no real practical application to anything -- I doubt I could pollinate them successfully. Nor is it particularly decorative, appealingly fragrant, or otherwise desirable. But it is news, technically, in that it is something that has happened. So make of that what you will.


1 They're easy, except that they always seem to need water. With a lot of plants, you could just move the plant up to a larger pot and get some relief, but Breynia roots fill any additional room they get almost instantaneously. So I've learned to just check for wilting more often, and water them out of turn if they need it.
Otherwise, Breynia is a good plant for me: not overly demanding of light, not prone to bugs (so far, though there have been brief minor spider mite infestations), copes well with indoor humidity and temperature. It's not my favorite plant or anything, but I like it well enough to have three of them.
If you live in a more tropical climate, be advised that Breynia disticha will propagate itself throughout your yard/garden, as well as those of your neighbors. If you live in Florida or Hawaii, in particular, you should not be growing Breynias outdoors. Not that it's going to bring back the native ecosystems, but you can at least try not to make things worse.
As houseplants, obviously, the damage to the ecosystem was done when the house was built, so grow whatever you want, just keep it inside.
2 Those photos are better than these photos, if you care.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Early April Anthurium (and Schlumbergera) Seedling Update

I think I finally have the color-fidelity problem licked. If not, all the photos in this post were taken on the same day, in as close to the same conditions as I could manage, so if the colors are biased, they should at least all be biased in the same direction.

Everything with buds on it as of March 24:

First column, top to bottom: 088 ("Charlotte F. Babylon"), 213("Nadya Falt"), 239("Russ Teanale"), 238("Rudy Day"), 234("Ross Koz"), 247("Selma Carr").
Second column: 066("Barbara Seville"), 085("Carson Trucks"), 046("Aurora Boreanaz"), 108("Deena Sequins"), 005("Chad Michaels").
Third column: 040("Ivy Winters"), 200("Mario Speedwagon"), 031("Sylvester"), 243("Sal Monella"), 058("Betty Larsony").
Fourth column: 202("Mason Pepperspray"), 280("Jujubee"), 283("Anne Pursand"), 118("Elijah Sturdabowtit"), 231("Rhea Listick"), 063("Audrey Quest").

Aurora Boreanaz appears to have a thrips problem. I was really excited about Aurora at first, because there was a little bit of purple in its spathe, but the bud in the picture has opened since that photo was taken, and it's a dead ringer for Deena Sequins: red with a dark purple spadix. So not only does it not have a new color, but by the time the spathes open they're pretty thrips-ravaged. It's not seeming like a promising candidate for future breeding. I may have to discard the plant and recycle the name.

Mario Speedwagon has gotten darker in the last week, which is a good sign, and a new, light pink, bud has appeared. This suggests that it's going to keep getting darker until it opens, which would make for a very pretty inflorescence. Lots of potential so far. Rhea Listick is looking pretty good, in similar ways: more on her in a bit.

Chad Michaels and Alexis Mateo (#002) both produced buds at basically the same time, and they were both very, very dark red, verging on black. Alexis's bud caught on part of the plant as it developed, and wound up snapping itself off (!), so I don't know what it would have done; Chad's is staying very dark. Very dark red Anthuriums already exist, but I don't have one, so I'm kind of excited about this.

Sylvester has started to open since this photo was taken, and it has remained orange. (The previous orangish bud, Elijah Sturdabowtit / #118, took a sharp left turn to pink as the spathe opened, which was disappointing. Worse, it wasn't even a pretty pink, and was so short-lived that I didn't even manage to get a picture. I'd been hoping it would be my first orange -- the seed parent was 'Orange Hot' -- but Elijah fizzled out in every way possible.)

Pretty much every time I water the seedlings, I spot a new bud or two; so far (as of 31 March 2014), 40 of the Anthurium seedlings have at least attempted to bloom. The only bud not in the above collage is 097 ("Colin Ambulance").

I've also seen new inflorescences on the Spathiphyllum seedlings (#3, #9, #11), and a few more Schlumbergeras (#007, #022, #024, and #057).

The Spathiphyllums look like Spathiphyllums. At least one of them (#3) has scented inflorescences, which is kinda special.1

The Schlumbergeras are, unexpectedly, all pretty similar to #25 ("Clownfish"). #24 is basically exactly the same as #25. #22 hasn't fully opened yet, but looks the same as #25 so far. #57 is slightly more pink/coral; I'm pretty sure there's a difference, but you probably wouldn't notice it in a photo. #7 has a lot more white in the petals, which should be exciting but in reality just makes it look kind of washed-out and sad. I suppose it's nice to know that if something happens to #25, I have replacements ready, but I had been hoping for more variety than this.

There are 19 Anthuriums with fully-opened spathes at the moment, 7 of which are interesting enough to show you.

"Eileen Dover" (#116)

Eileen is pretty similar to 'Red Hot.' So nothing new, but I suppose she's still nice. Eileen spent several weeks pretending she was going to be orange or coral, so the sudden swerve toward red at the very end was a surprise. I don't know why all the 'Orange Hot' children lie so much. Not raised right, clearly.

"Heather Boah" (#149)

You can't tell in the photo because of how I cropped it, but the most surprising thing about Heather is how tiny the flower is. The biggest of the seedlings' spathes run about 2.5 inches (6 cm) long and wide; the average is probably about 2 inches / 5 cm; Heather's one spathe to date was just over 1 inch (2.5 cm). Not a very commercially-viable trait, but I've noticed that several of the seedlings produce larger inflorescences now than they did when they first started blooming, so maybe Heather will bulk up with time.

"Zach Religious" (#276)

Zach's spathe looks pretty trashed these days, but the berries seem to be developing normally. It's still the only one of the seedlings I'm sure has been cross-pollinated, but 271 ("Wanda Reulthemal") seems to be getting a little bumpy, so Zach may not be alone for long.

"Barbara Seville" (#066)

Barbara's here because she happened to photograph well and it's her first bloom.

"Yvette Horizon" (#275)

Also the first one for Yvette, though she didn't photograph so well.

"Ross Koz" (#234)

I am increasingly infatuated with Ross. The only thing keeping him from being basically perfect is spathe size. On everything else -- spathe color, foliage, lack of blemishes, number of blooms -- he's up toward the top of my list. One of the reasons I'm looking forward to seeing what Rhea Listick does is because there's a good chance she's from the same parents, the bud is similarly purplish, and it's already looking larger and broader than Ross's. But Ross is a good plant regardless of what Rhea does.

"Sawyer Ad" (#245)

Sawyer is another potential full sibling of Ross's,2 and also a good candidate for my favorite seedling. The color, obviously, is not that special, but the flowers are good about not cracking, large, pleasantly-shaped, and longer-lasting than most. As a bonus, the spadices are a bright, saturated yellow. I wasn't initially that impressed, but Sawyer's growing on me.

The next seedling update will probably happen once I can show you what happened with Rhea, Chad, and Mario's buds, plus a week or two to take and crop pictures. So maybe late April or early May. I will try really, really hard to write some general houseplant stuff before then.


1 The seed parent didn't have scented inflorescences, but apparently it didn't self-pollinate like I originally thought.
The plant I think must be the pollen parent has a sort of soft, powdery, lilac / baby powder fragrance. It's nice, but it's not particularly strong, and often doesn't seem to be coming from the plant: any number of times I've gone hunting around the basement, trying to figure out where the smell was coming from.
The seedling's scent is similar: not very strong, lilac / baby powder, but when I first notice it, I often pick up a flicker of cinnamon before I notice the rest of the odor. I can't tell if that's actually part of the fragrance, or if "cinnamon" is just my brain flailing around for something to call the smell: it happens that fast.
2 The reason why I don't know is because I don't record attempted crosses, because I don't have much of a way to know if they worked or not. So far, I've just been randomly crossing things any time there are multiple flowers in bloom. The reason why I think they might be related anyway is because my notes say that they came from the same seed parent ('White Gemini') and were sown on the same day (5 May 2012). Since it's possible that not all the berries on a given spadix have the same pollen parent, and it's also possible that I took berries from more than one flower when starting the seeds, the relationship isn't really provable. But Ross may be siblings with:
Rhea Listick (#231)
Rowan DeBoate (#235)
Rudy Day (#238)
Russ Teanale (#239)
Sal Monella (#243)
Sawyer Ad (#245)
Selma Carr (#247)
and 32 other seedlings which have yet to produce flower buds. So far, Rhea is the only one to resemble it in inflorescence color, but one of the nonbloomers (#244, "Sara Problem") has similarly-shaped foliage.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Pretty pictures: Rhyncattleanthe Mary Weiss (?)

And here's the last orchid from last year's show; it's a contender for my favorite out of that batch just because the color is so weird. (The other contenders: Phalaenopsis Mistral's Sunrise Flame 'Mendenhall', Dendrobium pierardii, Caulaelia Snowflake 'Northland' (which you'll be seeing again in 2014), Rhyncholaeliocattleya Dick Smith 'Aloha Spirit,' Vanda Fuchs Cherry Chips, Cattleya amethystoglossa. It'd be a difficult decision, if someone forced me to pick a favorite.

Rhyncattleanthe Mary Weiss = Rhyncattleanthe Memoria Christine Sineni x Rhyncholaeliocattleya George King

As for the blog, well, the husband has returned, so we're good there, but then I did something terrible to my back while trying to pick up the big Murraya paniculata on Saturday, which is complicating my life in a number of ways. So I feel pretty confident in saying that regular blogging (whatever that even means anymore) will resume at some point, but I have no idea when or what that will be.

I'm considering some kind of public service announcement post about what a bad idea it is to put large plants into clay pots. I just need a rhyming slogan of some kind.