Saturday, May 3, 2014

Random plant event: Huernia oculata, Plus an Outdoor Question

I realize that I just posted about Huernia oculata a month ago, and it wasn't that interesting then either, but not much is going on with the non-Anthurium plants lately. This is also the first bloom I've seen on this particular specimen of H. oculata, which presumably makes it at least a little newsworthy even if it isn't fully open yet.

On an unrelated note: when we first moved to this house, I had bought a bunch of plants from the ex-job. Planted most of them in containers, because we didn't have beds established yet (and, five years later, we still mostly don't, though we're working on it), and I remember being struck by one color combination in particular -- Geranium 'Rozanne' (blue-violet) and some unnamed red-orange Zinnia. (See the last picture on this post.)

I'm wanting to do something like that again somewhere, eventually, though maybe with something more of a true blue and true orange. Would anybody want to recommend some plants for me? Ideally, they would:

1) Be reseeding annuals (preferred) or slowly-spreading perennials, that
2) bloom at more or less the same time (ideally over a long period of time),
3) either aren't fussy as to soil type or could live together in the same soil type, whatever the ideal type might be,
4) could coexist for a reasonably long time without one crowding or shading the other out,
5) would survive a very windy, bright location in zone 5b.

The idea got re-sparked when I ran across the Annie's Annuals page for Nigella damascena 'Miss Jekyll Dark Blue'; I'm also possibly interested in thoughts on Lobelia erinus 'Monsoon', Eschscholzia californica, orange Tagetes patula cultivars, Zinnias, or whatever.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Late April Anthurium (and Schlumbergera) Seedling Update

A few exciting things this time around, in that I've seen some new colors among the Anthuriums. In a couple cases, I'm puzzled about how the color even happened, genetically. And, oh, there are also some new Schlumbergeras except they're all orange.

Chad Michaels (#005)
Seed parent: 'Gemini'

This picture doesn't capture it well, because there's no regular pink-red spathe to compare it to (and my camera auto-adjusted the color), but Chad is absurdly dark red, and the spadix was yellow-green when it first opened. Usually I can at least guess how unexpected colors might have happened, but not in this particular case. I may have better theories once I see Chad's siblings bloom.

The little light-colored dots in the spathe are surface features, not reflections from deeper down,1 but in photos, they sort of look like metallic flakes.2 When I uploaded these pictures to the computer, I was struck by how much Chad resembled like a car painted candy apple red. (e.g.; Google Image Search also has some great pictures for "candy apple red," like whatever this is.)

A less appealing comparison: what with being dark dark red, irregularly shaped, and shiny, it also kind of looks from a distance like a small chunk of liver, or some other meat, sitting on top of a red-brown stick.

A poorly-cropped natural-light comparison of the plain-red "Sawyer Ad" (#245, left) with "Chad Michaels" (#005, right), which hopefully makes it a little clearer how much darker and more meat-like Chad is than any of the other seedlings.

Sylvester (#031)
Seed parent: 'Orange Hot'

Sylvester is my first real orange, and as far as I'm concerned improves twice on its seed parent. 'Orange Hot' is orange-like, but it's really between pink and orange, leaning a little to the pink side. It's not a color I'm fond of, and it's close enough to my skin color to make me feel a little uneasy about being around it. I'm not sure why anyone thought it was a nice enough cultivar to market, but I suppose I could just be growing it wrong.

'Orange Hot' also has a matching spadix. I sometimes like matching spadices, but not usually, and I definitely don't in 'Orange Hot.' So getting a real orange and a contrasting spadix so early in the process feels lucky.

The only thing I object to is the size of the blooms. They're not the smallest (that's probably still "Heather Boah," #149, which I talked about last time3), but they're definitely on the small end of normal.

Elijah Sturdabowtit (#118)
Seed parent: 'Orange Hot'

This is the second bloom for Elijah. (The first came and went so quickly that the only photo I got was when the spathe was barely open.) As you can see, he takes after his mother in having a matching spadix. He's also a lot less decisively orange: the first bloom turned sort of ambiguously orange-pink shortly after opening. That seems to be happening to this one too. Not my favorite, but it's new, and I suppose it's sorta interesting.

Mario Speedwagon (#200)
Seed parent: NOID purple

I have been waiting for so long for a real purple purple. Can't tell yet if Mario is it, but he's as close as I've gotten so far. The shade of purple could be better -- the color is almost exactly the same as the NOID purple he came from -- but I'll take it.

Like Elijah, Mario seems to be turning pink as he ages, especially down the center of the spathe. The above photo was taken on April 18. Five days later, the same inflorescence looked like this:

Some of the difference may be because of different lighting, so I'm not sure that the change has been quite as drastic as this, but there's undeniably been some drift toward pink.

Audrey Quest (#063)
Seed parent: 'Gemini'

Audrey has one of my favorite names,4 but I included her in the post mainly because of her spathe's strange proportions: the spathe is 45 mm tall and 57 mm wide. (The perspective in the photo exaggerates this, but it's really a W:H ratio of 1.27. Usually the ratio is about 0.9, ±0.1. So it's very squat-looking.)

I like when they get weird.

Rhea Listick (#231)
Seed parent: 'White Gemini'

The bud got this far, and then started going brown from the inside out. Womp womp. Sucks, too, 'cause I had especially been looking forward to it.

At a guess, Rhea looks like she was headed for something in the pink-purple range, like "Alyssa Edwards" (#035), "Carson Trucks" (#085), and "Ross Koz" (#234). We'll find out eventually: there's already another bud on the plant.

Jujubee (#280)
Seed parent: 'White Gemini'

Not quite red, not quite pink. Nice in person, though the spathe is, again, pretty small. I'd hoped for something more amazing from Juju, since she's one of my favorite real-life queens, but these things happen.

Wes Coast (#273)
Seed parent: 'White Gemini'

Russ Teanale (#239)
Seed parent: 'White Gemini'

Wes and Russ are awfully similar, but that contrasting spadix makes a big difference to the overall impression. (For the record, Russ is pretty much superior in every other respect too: larger, glossier, better proportions, better foliage.)

All Anthurium buds as of 2014 Apr 15:5

Top row: "Colin Ambulance" (#097), "Erin Dirtylondry" (#126), "Jillian Jamm" (#216), "Wanda Reulthemal" (#271)
2nd row: "Rhoda Badcek" (#232), "Yvette Horizon" (#275), "Laganja Estranja" (#281), "Rowan DeBoate" (#235)
3rd row: "Anne Pursand" (#283), "Barbara Seville" (#066), "Sarah Problem" (#244), "Mason Pepperspray" (#202)
4th row: "Eliza Boutisecksis" (#120), "Delta Badhand" (#110), "Aurora Boreanaz" (#046) twice
5th row: "Elijah Sturdabowtit" (#118), "Patty Cake" (#223), "Alyssa Edwards" (#035), "Aurora Boreanaz" (#046) again
6th row: "Eileen Dover" (#116), "Bijoux Tuit" (#059), "Carson Trucks" (#085), "Jujubee" (#280)
7th row: "Deena Sequins" (#108), "Rudy Day" (#238), "Ross Koz" (#234), "Rhea Listick" (#231)
8th row: "Betty Larsony" (#058), "Peaches Christ" (#026), "Selma Carr" (#247), "Dave Trading" (#282)
9th row: "Alexis Mateo" (#002), "Chad Michaels" (#005), "Mario Speedwagon" (#200) twice
Not pictured: "Anna Mae Hemensouz" (#203)

As for the Schlumbergeras, the flowers come and go fast enough that I can't always get pictures. Consequently, I'm pretty sure some seedlings have bloomed without me being aware of it. But here are the better photos from April 9 and 15:

Top to bottom: 11, 13, 18. Something about number 13 makes my back hurt. It's like a Schlumbergera as bred by Rob Liefield. (This picture in particular.)

Number 12 got the best photos this go-round, though. Two photos, because it was impossible to choose which one I liked better:

And that's all for another four or five weeks. The next seedling of interest is #097 / "Colin Ambulance." His mother is the NOID purple, but so far, he's sort of a pale peach color. Whatever he does after this, it'll be a surprise.


1 The metallic sparkles and sheens of some plants, like Begonia, Selaginella, and Aglaonema, come from the way the cells are layered, and the air pockets between them, and really are reflections from deeper down in the leaf.
2 (It may help to view the photo full size.)
3 Not mentioned last time: Heather's spathes are nearly as dark as Chad's. I didn't think so when the spathe first opened, so that may be a recent development.
4 My official favorite Anthurium seedling name (and, by extension, drag queen name) belongs to #543, "Estee Lauder Harder Faster."
5 Except for #002 / "Alexis Mateo," which is from 16 Mar 2014. I included it because I'd skipped it earlier; that's the plant that made a bud and then snapped it off on its own by getting the bud caught in the cataphyll, without any interference from me.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pretty picture: Vanda Blaupunkt

The tag said "Vandofinetia Blaupunkt," but the International Orchid Register says both parents are Vandas (Vanda coerulescens x Vanda falcata).

"Blaupunkt" means "blue dot" in German, and is also the name of a German electronics equipment manufacturer. I'd argue that these flowers are not blue, dot-like, or electronic equipment, but I gave up long ago on expecting orchid names to make any sense.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Random plant event: NOID NOID

The scale infestation continues. It is in fact looking like what people say is true: once you have scale, you always have scale. It's never very many insects, they're never on very many plants, I can occasionally even remove an infestation from an area entirely by repeated spraying with rubbing alcohol.1 But it always seems to move somewhere else, and always seems to return to the plants I removed it from. Between the scale and the sunburn and rot caused by putting plants outside before they were ready, I'm on the verge of throwing out all my Agaves, Furcraeas, Manfredas, and Mangaves and being rid of those genera forever, the same way I abandoned Hedera and Codiaeum to the spider mites years ago. I mean, look what happened to my Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor' after two days outside:

September 2013:

April 2014:

I did salvage an unrotted offset from it, and I had a previous offset (taken over a year ago, when I'd thought the scale might lead me to throw the plant out), but that's small consolation for losing a specimen as large and pretty as it was. Especially since the offsets will likely die or get thrown out before reaching that size themselves.

But we're not here to mourn the Agave; we're here to marvel at the recuperative powers of my NOID fern.2

I discovered scale on several of the fronds around the beginning of March, maybe the end of February. I started cutting off any fronds that had obvious scale, and any fronds that were close enough to have had honeydew dripped on them. As I progressed, I realized that 1) this would result in me cutting off most of the fronds, and 2) any fronds that I left would probably have enough undetectable scale on them to launch a new round of infestation, so I'd have hacked my fern to bits but accomplished nothing. So, I cut all the fronds off down to the rhizomes. Maybe the plant would come back, maybe it wouldn't, but at least the scale would be gone.3

I'm not certain about the date, but my best guess is that I cut the fronds off on 28 February. By 18 March, new ones were coming up all over:

And by yesterday morning (26 April), it was back to what it had looked like before, pretty much:

That's an incredibly fast comeback.

I don't know yet whether this had the intended effect of getting rid of all the scale. I haven't seen any yet, but then I've also been too busy and too scared to look for it. I'm impressed with the plant's recovery either way, though.


1 If you want to recommend that I try pesticides, especially imidacloprid: been there. Done that. More than once. It costs too much for something that works as slowly and incompletely as it does.
2 It was a hitch-hiker in a Rhipsalis I bought years ago. Took it out, nursed it along, and it is now much, much larger than the Rhipsalis ever dreamed of getting. Because the fern wasn't supposed to be in the pot, though, there was no ID for it. My best guess is that it's a Phlebodium of some kind, possibly P. aureum. When I expressed this opinion in a previous post, someone popped up to tell me that it was cleeeeearly a Hawaiian wart fern (Microsorum scolopendria or Phymatosorus grossus) and not a Phlebodium at all. Based on the lack of scent (M. scolopendria fronds are supposed to smell like vanilla.) and the less-orderly arrangement of its spores, I'm pretty certain it's not that particular Microsorum (or Phymatosorus). Though I don't rule out that it could be a Microsorum (or Phymatosorus).
3 In theory. I was assuming that the scale wouldn't be able to survive on the hairy rhizomes long enough for the plant to grow new fronds. This may or may not be a good assumption.