Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 114

Hard to come up with a lot to say about 114A: it has longer, narrower petals than average. Pleasant, I guess. I don't know. I'm afraid the most notable thing about it will be how difficult it is to name, but we'll see.

I had 30 TinEye names, which I condensed down to four.1 I wasn't crazy about any of those, so I kind of panicked and threw in three names from the emergency names list (all of which were originally racehorse names, I think). So, seven options overall. Not thrilled about the longer list either, but let's see what we get:

Unsubtle would probably apply equally well to all the Schlumbergeras. Flowers are unsubtle on purpose, to attract pollinators. So yeah, the name technically applies, but it doesn't say anything. Pass.

Francis S. is a sort of indirect reference to someone who was important in my life, and in theory I like the idea of naming seedlings after people I actually know, but if I name a seedling after one person I actually know, then do I have to name seedlings after everyone I've ever met? (Obviously, no, but where do you draw the line, right?) So this is maybe a name that would start me down a slippery slope, and is therefore best avoided.

Copper Kismet has things going for it: it's almost certainly not already in use, it refers to the flower's color, and the alliteration makes it kind of fun to say. On the other hand, it doesn't actually mean anything.

I grew up near, and spent a lot of time in, Fairfield, Iowa, so even if the name isn't especially related to the bloom, there's still a strong pull toward the idea of naming a seedling after the town. The husband (who also has significant connections to Fairfield) says that the ideal color for a Schlumbergera "Fairfield" would be a bright yellow or slightly orangey yellow, though; my own mental associations would color the ideal "Fairfield" white or a very pale yellow. So seedling 114A is in the ballpark, but maybe not the right seedling for the name, which I reluctantly drop.

So we're down to three finalists now:

Fervent also appeals for primarily personal reasons, recalling the dog we had briefly before getting Sheba, who we named Fervor. Fervor was only here for four days, but I was pretty intensely upset when my allergies turned out to be bad enough that we had to take him back to the shelter,2 and I still think about him from time to time. And a firey red-orange is one of the more appropriate colors for a word like "Fervent," so it works there too.

The down side: it's a little abstract, and possibly a word people aren't very familiar with. That doesn't always doom a name prospect -- plenty of obscure and non-English names among the seedlings -- but it's something to consider.

Apollo is a lot more familiar, and it's even one letter shorter. Apollo was the Greek god of (among other things) the sun and light in general, so orangey-red is borderline color-appropriate,3 and I think he's one of the nicer Greek gods,4 which is why so many things are named for him already. This is also the down side, as there's a better-than-average chance that a Schlumbergera 'Apollo' already exists, or would by the time I got around to making the name official.

Finally, Gallant Fox, another racehorse name. It's long, but also unlikely to be in use already, color-appropriate,5 and depending on what outfit you imagine a gallant fox wearing, it could even be sort of a pleasant mental image. There's even a very thin Iowa connection, which makes up a bit for dropping "Fairfield." Possible downside: "fox" has taken on some additional meanings lately.

Once again, I slept on the question after narrowing the choices down. The morning after writing the above, I was less enamored of Apollo, considering how many namesakes he has already, but I was completely deadlocked on the other two, so I wound up flipping a coin, which came up Gallant Fox. So there we are.


1 Though I want to give an honorable mention to a fifth, Rebolation. I hadn't heard the word (the name of a Brazilian dance style), and looking into what it was meant that I got to see a lot of videos of people dancing impressively. (Made me think of what you'd get if you crossed Michael Jackson with Michael Flatley.) Turn the sound down on your computer/device and watch this:

Finding out about this sort of random stuff that I would otherwise never have heard of is my main motivation for doing the seedling names the way I am: since TinEye results can be, literally, anything that anybody has decided to take a picture of and upload to Flickr, I almost always wind up learning something about the world by the time I manage to pick out a name, whether that turns out to be Dusty Springfield's sexual orientation, the existence of ginger beer, the German word for lipstick, the Spanish word for "cobra," a new tropical fruit, the name for grooved sections of highway that make growling noises when you drive across them, etc.
2 He got readopted, eventually (not a given: adoption is often slow for gigantic black dogs). Fervor's fine.
3 Again, a golden yellow would probably be a better match to the name.
4 Of course, the benevolence of Greek deities has to be graded on a curve: I don't think any of them were entirely benign. In particular, don't let Apollo challenge you to a musical contest, 'cause that never ends well.
5 Appropriate to "fox," not to the racehorse, who was a bay.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 077

Seedling 077A isn't very impressive: just another orange/white, a little smaller than average. It only produced one bloom, which was distorted, unhappy-looking, and not photogenic. I was still happy to see it; it had started a bud at the end of spring 2015, and developed it for quite a while before dropping it at basically the last possible moment. So I knew it was probably going to be an orange, but I'd been in suspense about what kind of orange for about six months.

Since the seedling's not that great, the name isn't likely to matter very much, so coming up with a name is relatively low-pressure. I picked 5 potentially acceptable options out of TinEye's original 30.

The bloom has the approximate shape of a Betta; orange isn't a common betta color, but they're out there.
On the down side, it feels like underwater life is pretty well-represented already, with 018A "Nudibranch," 021A "Spider Crab," 025A "Clownfish," and 091A "Flying Fish."

Grendel isn't what you'd call a particularly sympathetic character (though there are other schools of thought), but I could stand to have more literary references.1

Boomerang was previously considered and rejected for seedling 054A "Alberta." There's a slight connection between seedling and name this time, insofar as boomerangs are crooked pieces of wood, and the bloom is sort of distorted and crooked in shape, and boomerangs return when thrown, and this plant's bud "returned" after a several-month delay.

Or perhaps a not-great Patrick Swayze movie is the logical name for a not-great Schlumbergera seedling, in which case Roadhouse.2

Finally, this is the midpoint of this season's first-time blooms: 13 seedlings before it, 12 after it.3 So in a sense, one could say that the Schlumbergeras are hitting their Full Stride, with 077A.

The only two names that interested me after writing that out were Grendel and Boomerang, and after sleeping on the decision for a night, I decided that Grendel was the slightly more interesting of the two, even though Boomerang is a more entertaining word. Therefore, I christen 077A Grendel.


1 The only literary references so far barely qualify: 056A "Demons Begone," 082A "Strawberry Madeleine,", and if comics count, which I'm not sure they should, 113A "Helper Dog."
2 Which I watched on Netflix semi-recently and, in fairness, kind of enjoyed, but I would have enjoyed it just as much with the sound off. (1989 Swayze was pretty.)
3 Though there are four previously-unbloomed seedlings teasing me with some buds as of 19 December -- 003, 058, 204, and 208 -- and I'm expecting at least one of those, probably 208, to produce a full bloom before New Year's.
It would be foolish of me to try to guess what will happen in February/March/April this year, but I will: my guess is that once all the results are in for the year, 077A will wind up being slightly before the middle of the pack.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Pretty picture: Phalaenopsis Purple Queen

This one was striking for the sharpness of the purple/white divide. I don't remember seeing that in any other Phalaenopsis. It's probably especially impressive when one gets a really big spike, with lots of individual flowers. There aren't a lot of phals I can imagine really wanting to own, but I wouldn't mind having one of these. (Or I-Hsin Balloon. I mean, if you want a list, I could come up with a list.)

Most years, I'm not impressed with the Phalaenopsis at the show, but I really liked most of the ones I got photos of this year. Whether this is because they're getting better, my standards are lowering, or I'm just not taking photos of the boring ones, I'm not sure, but if I had to guess, I'd guess the third option. I know there was at least one gigantic plain-white phal that I didn't bother taking a picture of.

Phalaenopsis Purple Queen = Phalaenopsis Regnier x Phalaenopsis schilleriana (Ref.)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 056

056A has been exceptionally difficult to name. TinEye gave me 31 options, and I found problems with all of them.1 Fortunately, I have a list of emergency seedling names, which (mostly) don't come from TinEye,2 from which I selected _________ that seemed to fit this seedling well enough, and we'll try to make one of them work. The full emergency names list has 86 names on it; I brought that down to 15. Which is a lot, I know, but I'll try to make it quick.

The main distinguishing feature of 056A is that it's very severe: the color is intense, the petals are flexed back hard, the dividing line between the dark orange petals and the pale pink tube is sharp.

Torchy and Make-Out City seemed cleverer when I first put them on the list. So never mind. Rampage is a little generic, or something. Voladora (Spanish: "flying") is pleasant to say, but I'm not sure the meaning lines up properly.

Pants on Fire certainly nails the color well enough, but I don't think the seedling is dishonest enough to warrant the name. Accipiter (the name for a group of birds of prey, the sparrowhawks and goshawks) gets the shape more or less right (if you squint and tip your head slightly to the side, it could be a hawk diving at something, blurry with speed), but I don't like the sound of the word very well. Molly Ivins absolutely deserves a seedling someday, and it'd make sense for the seedling to be orange, like her hair, but Ivins' hair was never this orange, nor did she seem particularly severe.

And now we're at the point where I like all the remaining options and have to make up things to find fault with, so I can narrow the field to one winner. Meteor Storm gets the shape right, again, but I just don't like it as well as some of the remaining options. Sun and Snow gets the color right, but ditto. Gato del Sol (Spanish, "sun cat" / "cat of the sun") amuses me tremendously, but is perhaps too funny for such a serious-looking seedling.

The remaining five are all fire- or heat-related, though sometimes very loosely so:

Arcturus is a very bright orange giant star in the constellation Boötes.3 (Wikipedia link)

Demons Begone is a racehorse. Wikipedia doesn't have a page on him, but he finished last in the 1987 Kentucky Derby, due to a sudden hemorrhage from the lungs that as far as I know was never actually explained.4 I have two reasons for being interested in this as a seedling name: the first is the plain, surface-level meaning of the name, which I approve of, and then the second is that Demons Begone gets a mention in a book I really like, Jay McInerney's Story of My Life.5 Bright Lights, Big City got all the attention, but I enjoyed Story of My Life a lot more and think it's a better book.

Exothermic is the chemistry-class term for chemical reactions that release heat, and is mainly a reference to the color.

Fornax is a Southern Hemisphere constellation, previously considered and rejected for 106A "Jaws of Elmo."

Svarog may or may not be the name of a Slavic fire/blacksmithing deity.

So okay. I feel like Svarog is maybe a little too strange of a word (one should be cautious around any word that's easier to pronounce backward than forward), and Arcturus is sort of difficult to pronounce. Of the remaining three, Demons Begone has the best story attached to it, and is the only one composed of relatively familiar words. On the other hand, it also contains the word "demon," which people get weird about. Though banishing demons is something I think most people can get behind, so maybe that's a wash. Fornax is fastest to type, and has a nice science-fictiony sound to it. I can't think of anything Exothermic does better or worse than the other two.

I've noticed that when I talk about multiple names before selecting one, the one that usually wins is the one I wrote the most about. So part of me wants to go with Fornax, just to interrupt that pattern, but . . . I can't. I just like Demons Begone better; Demons Begone it is.


1 I did actually settle on one, briefly, which I won't identify because if I tell you what it was then you'll all be, oh, but [name] would be perfect, you should go with [name], and since I've already decided that I don't want to use it, and since I can't figure out exactly what I don't like about it (I just know that I'm uneasy about it for some reason), I figure there's no point in teasing you with a name that I've already decided that I don't want to use. Maybe it'll pop up again anyway.
2 Many of them are racehorse names; there are also a few famous(-ish) people who I sort of want to name seedlings after at some point or another. The remainder are TinEye names I liked but rejected for other seedlings, and names that popped into my head at random that I thought would maybe work.
You would think that band names would be a good source -- people are always noting that this or that combination of random words would make a good band name -- but I was unable to find any ideas I liked at the sites that came up in a search. (Actually, there was one -- "Traditional Desert Gentleman" -- from a bluegrass band name generator that might have been passable but for its length.)
3 (Stars aren't "on fire" in the way that wood can be on fire -- nuclear fusion is not at all the same thing as rapid oxidation -- but they are certainly very hot, and they glow, and this particular one is orange. So, close enough?)
4 Apparently this is just a thing, with racehorses? Sometimes they run really fast, sometimes they hemorrhage from the lungs? I know nothing about racehorses aside from the fact that a lot of them have goofy names.
Oh, and I should probably add that Demons Begone wasn't killed after/because of this; he survived to race again. In case you were worried.
Though he's dead now. 1987 was a long time ago, after all.
5 Chapter 9 takes place at a Kentucky Derby party; I had always assumed that Demons Begone was a name McInerney invented for dramatic fictional purposes, a horse/idea for the main character to root for, but no: there was an actual horse by that name. I'm unsure whether this makes me more impressed with McInerney, or less.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 074 (again)

074B is a really pretty coral --

-- and it needs to have a great name to go along with that, but which one to choose? TinEye gave me 31 options to start with,1 which I reduced (with difficulty) to 7. And then the slow, painful process of elimination began.

Fondant tends to be lighter, more pastel colors like this, so it seems reasonable as a name, plus I like the word itself for some reason I can't identify, but fondant could also be any other color at all, plus one of the more distinctive things about fondant is its smooth, even texture, which Schlumbergera petals don't share. (It might make a more appropriate name for an Anthurium seedling, from a texture standpoint.)

There's also nothing obviously wrong with Zenith, though my personal associations are all wrong -- the Sinclair Lewis novel Babbitt and the TV manufacturer. I like the idea of a name beginning with Z, but there are probably better Z names.

Google translates Pesche Dolci as "sweet peaches" (via Italian). Though they look more like sugared peaches in the photo. In either case, though I can see how TinEye got there, actual peaches are more orange-yellow (inside) or red-orange and orange-yellow (outside). I like the name (and it's extra classy-sounding, being in Italian and all), so I'll keep it in mind for later, but this isn't the right seedling for this name.

Minnesota somehow just seems right, but there's not a whole lot in Minnesota that is actually this color, as far as I know -- I mostly think of Minnesota as white, green, blue, or a combination thereof. This is very much the color of certain winter sunsets. Although Minnesota gets the same number of sunsets that everybody else does, it has way more winter than most, so the name is maybe color-appropriate in that way, but that's quite a stretch. I don't know. I like Minnesota as a name, and I could be satisfied with it if there were no other options, but let's keep going.

The three remaining names are Ice Castle, Sunrise From Bed, and Crone Island.

Ice Castle seems appropriate for a pastel-type bloom, and I like both the name and the mental image, and it seems like it could go with this flower fine, but that's sort of as far as it goes. Like Minnesota, I'd be happy with it if it were the only name standing, but it's not, so let's move on.

The actual title on Sunrise From Bed was "Amanecer Desde La Cama." This could also be something like "waking up in bed," I think, but since the photo shows a sunrise, and since sunrise is way more colorful, I'm going to assume Google Translate got it right. It's the only color-appropriate option remaining, and it's sort of a nice mental image. (I suppose it depends on how you feel about waking up.) It's a little long, as names go, but otherwise adequate.

Crone Island was actually tagged "islamujeres," an actual place near the northeast tip of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. The reason it didn't stay "Isla Mujeres" is because this made me think of Crone Island.

Crone Island will take some explanation.

Though there are at least two real places called Crone Island,2 the one I have in mind is a mythical island conceived in this thread about emotional labor at MetaFilter.3 Crone Island isn't an imaginary place where there is no emotional labor, and it's not necessarily a place without men either: the fantasy is that it's a place where emotional labor is noticed and reciprocated, which also happens to have margaritas and tacos. Which sounds like a good enough idea to name a seedling after.


1 I flip through TinEye until I've got at least 30 plausible names, is why there are always like 30-32 initial options.
2 (Internet searches mainly turn up the one in Alaska, a nearly-microscopic piece of land nearly in the exact center of the Aleutian Islands, but there is also one in Minnesota, east-northeast of the city of Courtland, which is about 90 minutes due southwest of Minneapolis.)
3 The thread is very, very long (2115 comments -- Firefox claims it would be 737 pages long if printed out.), and difficult to summarize well, and the concept of emotional labor alone is sort of difficult to talk about, because the term was being used differently at MetaFilter than it is elsewhere. I'll almost certainly do a bad job of explaining, but since I brought it up, I suppose I have to try anyway:
The usual meaning is occupational. Emotional labor is the work it takes to display the emotions your employer expects of you. This has more relevance to some jobs than others -- a waitress is going to devote more energy toward being pleasant to customers than a factory worker will.
At MetaFilter, the term was used differently, because the article under discussion used it differently: the article never exactly defines emotional labor, but it's described in terms of "offering advice, listening to woes, dispensing care and attention." It's the sort of thing that you'd think is just part and parcel of friendship, or parenting, or being married, but it can become a big problem if it's unevenly balanced, as it frequently is. It's an even bigger problem because so much of it is taken for granted and therefore basically invisible. If you've had a friend who is constantly wanting to talk to you for hours about problems they're having with relationships and family and so forth, things you're supposed to care about even though they don't directly affect you -- and of course you'll listen to them; they're your friend, after all -- but when you have a bad day and try to talk to them about your problems and they go, yeah actually I'm really busy right now; I'm sure you'll figure out what to do, though, welp gotta go TTYL, something about that friendship begins to feel wrong. And what's wrong about it is that the balance of emotional labor is off.
What I found so fascinating about the MetaFilter thread, though, was that the discussion pulled a lot of other activities into the "emotional labor" umbrella, things that went beyond obvious emotional support, into what I'd call "emotional management." Like, early in the thread, examples of emotional work are things like husbands asking wives to listen to blow-by-blow accounts of workplace drama repeatedly, and "taking care of someone else's emotional needs without having your needs even acknowledged." Several more comments in, though, and emotional labor has expanded to cover sending greeting cards, arranging playdates, and decorating the living room. Which aren't about being a shoulder to cry on, but are still about going out of your way to consider the feelings of others.
Like I said, I'm probably doing a terrible job of explaining this, but the discussion actually made sense of a lot of things that I'd never understood before. Greeting cards in particular had long baffled me, because I couldn't see a practical use for them. The MetaFilter discussion revealed that they're about relationship maintenance, about letting someone know that you've thought about them and remain invested in the connection you share. They're symbolic, not ends unto themselves.
Likewise, I've always thought it odd that U.S. culture is so insistent that men just aren't concerned with emotions and don't notice or care about anniversaries or having a clean house and so forth, but I never had a good counterexample until someone noted that men actually think a lot about other people's feelings during courtship, and will go way out of their way to consider feelings, buy gifts, remember anniversaries and birthdays, clean their place before someone comes over, and so forth; they stop doing so after marriage because acknowledging those things takes effort to do, and nobody expects men to because we all know that men are terrible at feelings/anniversaries/etc.
Also I was astounded at the number of grown men who don't know how to do laundry. Like, literally have no idea how laundry even works, couldn't even guess at how to do laundry. And that's not even close to the worst story. Not by a long shot.
Anyway. If this sounds interesting to you, check it out. Nobody expects you to read all 737 pages if you don't want to (I haven't gotten to the end myself.), but you don't have to read the whole thing to get the idea. If this doesn't interest you, then you've wasted a couple minutes reading this footnote, but you never have to think about it again.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Unfinished Business: the parent Schlumbergeras

So the original plan for this post was to show you pictures of, and talk about, the sixteen named varieties of Schlumbergera I have. That's not the post you're going to get, though, because:

Six of the sixteen were brand-new cuttings in October, and although a few have budded, I don't expect the buds to open. I mean, maybe, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up.

I didn't actually take photos of many of the rest of them this year. For one thing, the blooms mostly look the same from one year to the next, so there's not much point to re-photographing them. For another, the thing about having lots of Schlumbergeras is that they all bloom at once, which means that during the time when I could have been documenting the 2015 blooms of all the parent Schlumbergeras, I was running around trying to get all the seedlings photographed. So this will be a significantly abbreviated version of the post I intended to write, and instead of sixteen plants, you'll see six.

NOID red-pink

I actually bought a new Schlumbergera this year; I think this is the first time that's happened since 2010. It fills a gap in the rainbow of Schlumbergera colors for me, and it was only $5.1

I may have been so excited about the color that I wasn't paying attention to the condition of the stems. (The shriveled stems may be the result of the car ride home, or the plant's location in the plant room. It certainly got worse after this photo, which was taken more or less immediately after it got home, so probably it's my fault.)

I'm not worried about the long-term survival of the plant, which is full enough that I'm sure some part of it will survive regardless, but I'm a little concerned about the fruits being able to hold on long enough to ripen. It produced enough fruits that I'm sure I'll have seeds to sow, but I'm more interested in some combinations than others, and since I don't know which fruits come from which pollen parents, I want them all to ripen.

NOID yellow

The NOID yellow produced a decent number of flowers this year, but its timing sucked: most of them were over before the other plants started to bloom. Worse, most of the flowers were spent before I thought to start writing down which crosses I was attempting. My guesses, based on which plants started blooming early, are: 'Caribbean Dancer,' 018A "Nudibranch," 082A "Strawberry Madeleine," 025A "Clownfish," 099A "Dessert Room," and NOID magenta. But I'll probably never know which is which.2

I don't think the NOID yellow has been a strong spring bloomer before, but I can't remember for sure, so there's a chance that maybe I'll get to make some recorded crosses later.


The only real story with 'Stephanie' is that she's really come into her own this year: finally large enough to produce a decent number of blooms (though of course no multi-bloom or whole-plant photo. Sorry.). They were all streaky like this. The color isn't very interesting, being close to some of the 'Caribbean Dancer' seedlings (especially 022A "Sad Tomato"), but again, a deeper gene pool is a good thing.

NOID lavender-pink

Last spring, I got a cutting from Virginia Burton of a plant with lavender/pink/lilac blooms. This is her picture of the original plant (with some color-adjustment):

And this is what most of its blooms have looked like for me, this fall:

NOID lavender-pink, 22 November 2015.

It's not that there's no pink at all, but if I didn't know it was supposed to be lavender-pink, I'd call this a white bloom. I mean, my actual NOID white, which at one time truly was producing entirely-white blooms --

NOID white, January 2010.

-- has produced quite a few blooms this year with some pink on the "tubes." Not quite this pink, sure, but there's enough pink on the "white" plant that the pinkest "white" blooms look a lot like the "lavender-pink" blooms. And the last of the "lavender-pink" blooms was basically pure white:

NOID lavender-pink, 13 December 2015.

So there's enough overlap between the two to make it plausible that they're the same variety. I doubt that they are, but I can't prove that they're not.

In some ways, this sort of thing is a nice surprise. It's always interesting when a plant doesn't behave like it's supposed to, and now I have a mystery to solve. In other ways, well, I was sort of hoping for a color I didn't already have. So it winds up sort of a wash: not upset, not pleased.

NOID lavender-pink, 22 November 2015.

I've attempted to cross the NOID white and NOID lavender-pink together, so I may be able to determine whether they're the same variety within a few weeks.3 If not, what accounts for the different coloration? (I may never be able to answer this.4)

NOID lavender-pink, 22 November 2015.

The tendency of Schlumbergeras to do things they're not supposed to do, or things they've never done previously, will come up again in a little bit.

x buckleyi

X buckleyi is another one finally coming into its own; I've seen seven eight blooms from it so far this year (The previous record was two.), and I've of course attempted to pollinate all of them because it's what I do. The potential pollen parents: 021B "Birthday Dinner," 025A "Clownfish," 031A "Baby Carrots," 078A "Art Party," 083A "Psychedelic Bunny," 'Caribbean Dancer,' 'Exotic Dancer,' and NOID white. Two of those (probably from "Birthday Dinner," "Clownfish," and/or 'Exotic Dancer') have pretty definitely taken; the others were recent enough attempts that it's not yet clear whether pollination happened.

I'm a little hesitant to include x buckleyi in the breeding, for various reasons. I'm not crazy about its drooping habit -- the more upright S. truncata hybrids look nicer to my eye, and I know they're more commercially viable. I'm not that into the rounded stem segments. It's a pain to bring into bloom because it's fussy about day length.5 (At one time, I worried about breeding it with other plants because it's supposed to be a true Christmas-blooming Christmas cactus, and would therefore not usually bloom at the right time to cross, or would produce seedlings that bloomed late. It actually bloomed at more or less the same time as all the others, though, so that turns out not to be a problem.) None of these are qualities I'd be happy to see in a seedling.

At the same time, though, the flowers have a slightly different shape to them, and the colors are nice. I especially like the slight orange tinge to the petals at the back of the flower. It would be interesting to see this sort of coloration in a seedling that wasn't so picky about day length. So I'm going to experiment with it a little bit anyway. Check back in 2019.

NOID peach

I have two NOID peach plants, which may or may not be the same variety. Someday I should attempt to cross them to find out, but the newer, smaller plant has only produced one bloom in its history here, so it could be a while before I get the chance.

The older, larger plant has been my most variable parent. The blooms are typically a solid light orange, like so:

Probably 2010?

but occasionally they've been more pink than orange. (Hence calling it the "NOID salmon" or "NOID salmon-peach" for a few years before settling on "NOID peach" this year.) Lately, it's been peach, no pink, but even then, the color varies. In 2009, the flowers had an even, solid color, like in the above photo, but this year, the pigment has been concentrated near the petal margins. The petal centers have flecks of orange in them, but are otherwise white or very pale pink. And this is true for every single flower.

And again, I have no idea what this signifies. The plant doesn't appear to be in very good shape: the segments are slightly shriveled, and it's not using as much water as it used to. So it may be a stress response, because of the roots rotting or something along those lines.

Also pointing toward a stress response: the NOID peach has produced a lot of blooms all at once. This is sometimes plantspeak for "well, you've finally done it, you've killed me. You want flowers? Here, have some fucking. flowers. Have so many flowers you drown in them. Have so many flowers you choke on them. I'd rather die than let you keep treating me like this."

But lots of flowers could just mean that the plant is older and larger than it used to be, and therefore capable of producing more flowers. (Plants think they're good communicators, but they're actually very bad at it. Lucky for us, since if they ever get organized and really come for us, we're completely hosed.6)

I've seen streaky blooms before, on a number of plants (most notably 'Caribbean Dancer,' 'Exotic Dancer,' NOID magenta, NOID red-pink, 'Stephanie,' and 088 "Cyborg Unicorn"), but of those, only 'Stephanie' approaches this amount of speckling. Nor do the streak-prone plants have anything in common as far as I can tell. They don't all appear to be dying, they're not all close to the floor, they're not all exposed to a lot of direct sun, etc. Nor do all of the plants capable of streaking actually do it all of the time: NOID magenta and 'Stephanie' are always streaky; 088A "Cyborg Unicorn" and 'Caribbean Dancer' only do it occasionally, the NOID red-pink is too new for me to know what's normal, and the NOID peach has been doing it lately but didn't a few years ago. So there's another mystery to try to figure out. (Have you observed streaking on your own plants, ever? Was there anything weird about them -- did they seem stressed or anything?)


1 (Reha Greenhouses, Wellman, IA, for anyone who might be in the area. Run, don't walk.)
2 I've decided that what I've been doing with the Anthuriums -- known seed parent, unknown pollen parent -- has been working well enough that I can do the same with the Schlumbergeras.
The reasons I don't try to make deliberate crosses with the Anthuriums are: 1) doing so would mean washing the paintbrush out every time I switched to a new source of pollen. 2) I'd have fewer opportunities to attempt crosses, since any given bloom only produces pollen for a short period, and only accepts pollen for a short period, so if I try to pollinate A with B's pollen, and I'm too early and A wasn't accepting pollen yet, by the time I get around to trying to pollinate A again, B probably isn't shedding pollen anymore, and the whole bloom goes to waste. Whereas if I'm indiscriminately pollinating everything with whatever pollen I have on hand, I'm much more likely to get some berries from each bloom, even if they're not the berries I would have hoped for.
With Schlumbergeras, I don't need a paintbrush, because I can make reciprocal crosses between flowers by brushing the flowers together, so pollen purity isn't an issue. Plus, even though the pollen-shedding and pollen-receiving periods are both shorter than in Anthuriums, Schlumbergeras produce so many blooms at once that if there's a specific combination I'm interested in making, I'm much more likely to be able to attempt it. (Also, making reciprocal crosses means that even if it's too late for A to take B's pollen, it may not be too late for B to take A's pollen, so I have better odds of making a cross even when the timing isn't ideal.)
So it would be much easier for me to keep track of the pollen parents. I haven't been trying, partly because I don't want to tie even more pieces of yarn onto the seedlings, and partly because in the past it hasn't really mattered -- I'd been thinking of myself mostly as an Anthurium breeder who was dabbling in Schlumbergeras, so I wasn't that interested in the backgrounds of the Schlumbergeras. (Lately I'm thinking of myself more as a Schlumbergera breeder who dabbles in Anthuriums; I'll explain why in a later post.)
In the future, I'm probably going to try harder to keep track of which fruits come from which crosses, but this year, I only kept a list of which crosses I attempted to make, without trying to mark their locations. But my original point was that with the NOID yellow, I don't even have that much, since it was done blooming before I started recording the attempted pollinations.
3 Schlumbergera genetics prevents self-pollination, so if a cross is successful, they definitely aren't the same variety.
If a cross fails, they may be the same variety, but it's not as certain. The genes used to prevent self-pollination have a limited number of types (I think I remember reading that there were 12 or 13?), so there's always about an 8% chance that two randomly-selected but different plants will just happen to match on these genes.
(I think. I don't actually know that the 12 or 13 different versions of the compatibility gene are equally abundant in the Schlumbergera-breeding world. If one happens to be a lot more widespread than the others, then the odds of a pollination failing due to coincidence become a lot higher.)
UPDATED 20 December: they are plausibly the same variety; the fruits dropped off. This could be the result of them getting bumped or pulled accidentally, since they were still fairly large and green when they came off (when a cross fails, usually it remains attached, and the developing fruit shrinks and shrivels before dropping off). I may or may not get the chance to try again in the spring; we'll see.
4 I don't know what factors influence bloom color, aside from one: colder temperatures are supposed to produce pinker blooms. So if Ginny's plant is kept colder than mine are when buds are setting, that could explain what we're seeing. I'm not actually sure what temperatures my plants reach in the fall, though: the plant room overall gets down into the mid-60s F sometimes, for sure, and particular locations within the room probably get colder than that, but I don't know how much colder or for how long.
This can't be the whole story, though; as mentioned in the last-year's-seedlings posts (part 1, part 2), 061A "Leather Fairy" and 078A "Art Party" came up significantly pinker this year than last year, and 073A "Laurie Anderson" was less pink. And they were all in the same locations they were in last year, and are pretty close together (all within about 12 inches / 30 cm of each other). So there must be some other factors that can influence coloration. Maybe light intensity? Day temperatures? Age of plant?
5 Part of my success with it this year is because one of the side effects of redoing the basement shelves was that I had to take a light from the plant room, two shelves above x buckleyi, to use in the basement.
6 Shyamalan 2008.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Pretty picture: Psychopsis Mariposa 'Twins'

The tag said 'Twin,' but the internet says it's 'Twins,' and PATSP is on the internet, so.

If this looks familiar, that's probably because it's the offspring of a previous orchid, Psychopsis Kalihi.

If it looks shitty, blame the brown background and the other orchids in the shot -- this was a bear of a photo to edit. I stopped editing not because I felt I'd gotten the best photo I was going to get, but because I was too frustrated with it to continue.

Psychopsis Mariposa 'Twins' = Psychopsis papilio x Psychopsis Kalihi (Ref.)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 106

The story for 106A is all about the name Jaws of Elmo. That picture showed up last year in the options for 019A, and I rejected the name in favor of Belevenissen, on the grounds that Elmo, the "Sesame Street" Muppet, was red, and the blooms on 019A were orange. But now the picture has shown up again, on a red-blooming seedling, so the question is: is there any name I could possibly like any better than Jaws of Elmo?

So. Thirty options originally, condensed to five serious contenders.

Furnace is short, color-appropriate, and boring, but it brought to mind Fornax, the constellation, which still means "furnace" but sounds a bit more sci-fi and weird. Had to stop and think about it a little, but neither option is better than Jaws of Elmo.

Deer Devil is weird, and a cool picture (?), but "devil" is a problem for reasons described elsewhere, and aside from maybe a slight similarity in shape between deer antler and Schlumbergera bloom silhouettes, there's really no reason to involve deer in this.

Martian Tequila has problems similar to Raspberry Vodka, plus you know the first tequila produced on Mars will be awful.

Until her name came up for this seedling, I was only familiar with Dusty Springfield from Pulp Fiction ("Son of a Preacher Man") and the Pet Shop Boys ("What Have I Done To Deserve This"). So I listened to a bunch of YouTube videos, and: well, she was talented, no question about that. Nothing jumped out and grabbed me in a this is my new favorite song kind of way,1 but I sort of feel like I gained an appreciation for her as a person, if that makes any sense. I also learned from a frighteningly thorough Wikipedia article that Springfield2 was a lesbian, which explains the Pet Shop Boys' interest.3 In the end, I wound up willing to name a seedling for Springfield at some point, but not this seedling.

So Jaws of Elmo it is. Finally.


1 (and I really dislike "The Look of Love," for unknown and unexplored reasons)
2 (born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien)
3 Not that the Pet Shop Boys can't hire whichever guest vocalists they want, but a lot of people could have done Springfield's part in What Have I Done To Deserve This, but they wanted her. So now I have part of an answer as to why. As if "Son of a Preacher Man" wouldn't be reason enough.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Anthurium no. 0091 "Bob Sharunkle"

So do you miss the Anthuriums yet? 'Cause I can (finally!) accommodate that. Meet Bob.

Bob currently holds the record for the latest full bloom; he was sown on 18 November 2011, and produced his first bud 46 months (nearly four years!) later, on 29 September 2015. This isn't the record for the longest sow-to-bud time,1 but it's close.

Was it worth the wait? Well, no. Not really. You can see the thrips haven't left him alone, and this pink-red color isn't anything new either. I have, nevertheless, moved him up to a 6-inch pot, because:

• A new shelf became available, following another Anthurium purge, so there was room.2
• Bob's spathe is substantially larger than standard,3 and seems especially large in comparison to the other recent Anthuriums.4
• The color is somewhere in between pink/pink (boring) and red/pink (interesting), which rounds up to interesting.

The leaves have fared a little better against the thrips than the spathe did:

The plant as a whole is difficult to photograph well, because the petioles and peduncles are both long. The internodal distance concerns me a little, but the plant's four years old; it's earned a long stem.

(Photo is before the move to a 6-inch pot. This pot is 4 inches / 10 cm, measured on the diagonal.)

So, I'm not saying Bob's one of the top tier of Anthurium seedlings or anything,5 but he's fine. We'll see how things go.


1 That record belongs to 0045 "Lineysha Sparx," at 47 months: 1 October 2011 to 24 August 2015. Lineysha, however, has aborted her one bud so far, and doesn't appear inclined to try again. Since I get to set the rules, I've decreed that first buds only count when there's eventually a bloom.
(Ideally, I would be tracking the opening of the first flower, not the appearance of the first bud, but this is harder to pin down to a particular date, as some buds take a long time to open. At what point is the spathe officially "open?" With "first spotting of a bud," the signal is a lot less ambiguous: either one sees a bud, or one does not. The solution would probably be to make "when you can tell what color the spadix is" the point when a bloom is officially open, but it's probably too late to change.)
Also: 0115 "Erlene Adopter" will be tied with Bob at 46 months, if/when she ever opens the bud she's working on currently. As I write this on 3 December, it seems likely that she'll complete the bloom, but it ain't over 'til it's over.
2 Also promoted: 0335 "Donna Fanuday," 0314 "Camille Yen," and 0264 "Trey Lerpark."
Donna's still producing blooms on short peduncles -- that's apparently just how she rolls. The thrips leave her blooms alone, though, and the spathes are a good size and color. Maybe she has novelty value and could be useful in breeding. Or something.
I kind of always wanted to up-pot Camille, just because of her unusually large leaves. The blooms aren't anything special, but sometimes having interesting foliage is enough.
Trey wasn't impressive at all in his first appearance, but he's done better than most at blooming multiple times in reduced light, and holding on to blooms for a long time, which both seem like good traits to have.
3 I know the seed parent is 'Gemini,' which doesn't usually produce blooms this size, but 'Pandola' does. 'Pandola' might also account for the hint of orange on the spadix -- the other candidate for pollen parent, the NOID pink, sticks to pink or purple-pink spadices as far as I've seen.
4 I.e., 0408 "Tex Messich," 0406 "Tricia Nullmaritch," 0532 "Amber Alert,", the five seedlings with upcoming posts (0424 "Jen Antonic," 0527 "Mrs. Lucia Love," 0547 "Cate Sedia," 0537 "Bridgette of Madison County," and 0516 "Brooke Enhart"), and most of the last few months of blooms, actually, now that I think about it. The last Anthurium seedling to produce a bloom anywhere close to this size was 0380 "Ewan Watarmi," and that happened in September.
5 As I write this (3 December), 121 seedlings have produced full blooms. I don't have an actual ranked list sitting around, but if I were to name the best 12 (10%) of seedlings off the top of my head, in no particular order, I'd say:
• 0330 "Faye Quinette"
• 0200 "Mario Speedwagon"
• 0276 "Zach Religious"
• 0234 "Ross Koz"
• 0334 "Jean Poole"
• 0031 "Sylvester"
• 0231 "Rhea Listick"
• 0596 "Alisa Summers"
• 0275 "Yvette Horizon"
• 0108 "Deena Sequins"
• either 0580 "Marsha Marsha Marsha" or 0586 "Vera Special" (they're more or less interchangeable), and
• 0357 "Rhea Litre,"
because, taken as a group, they have the best combinations of bloom color/size/frequency, thrips resistance, overall compactness, and attractive foliage. Though the list would probably be a little different the next time you asked.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum unregistered hybrid #2

It's certainly possible that there are places selling unregistered orchid crosses, but I like the idea that someone in the Illowa Orchid Society might be breeding their own Paphiopedilums.

Of course I would like that idea, I suppose. But it doesn't seem so far-fetched. Orchid-flasking services exist, and Paphiopedilum is one of the genera they'll flask, so maybe? I mean, who uses flasking services, if not the people who like orchids so much that they enter them in shows, right?

In any case, whether one of the orchid show folks created it themselves or purchased it, I like this bloom. I think it's the white stripe across the top that clinches it for me.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 079

I started out with 30 name options for 079A, but as I picked through them to get the short list, it became clear pretty quickly that there were really only two names I was seriously considering: Yayoi Kusama and Nebula. And really, there was only ever one choice: y'all know I love Kusama.

The only reason I hesitate is because Kusama does so much with dots -- dots of pigment, small suspended lights -- and the seedling isn't spotted. She's not really known for doing stuff with pointy shapes, like Schlumbergera petals.

But it's not like I'm ever going to come up with a rounded, polka-dotted plant to name after her -- the closest I could get would be one of the offspring from Anthurium 'Peppermint Gemini,' but there are very few seedlings of 'Peppermint Gemini' to begin with, they may or may not ever bloom,1 if they do bloom it's not likely to happen for a while,2 and if they do bloom and it's soon, I'm not sure I expect them to produce mottled blooms like their seed parent.3 So there's no point holding my breath for a mottled Anthurium to name after Kusama (who isn't a drag queen, and consequently isn't really right for an Anthurium seedling anyway), and I may as well run with this. Therefore: Yayoi Kusama.

Kusama does seem to be fond of the color red, at least. So the seedling is appropriate for her to that degree.

079 is also one of the more prolific pots to bloom this year: lots of blooms, over a reasonably long period of time. (Crowding has kept the bloom rate down for a lot of the seedlings. 079 happens to have gotten one of the better spots.)

079A has done a little bit of the magenta-margins thing, though there's never a lot of magenta, and it doesn't last long.

This year, I'm not trying to keep track of which blooms I attempt to pollinate, but I am trying to write down which crosses I attempt. Mostly I'm focusing on crossing the plants that aren't my seedlings, since seedling-seedling crosses have a 50% chance of failure due to the peculiarities of Schlumbergera genetics, but I've still attempted to cross 079A with 021B "Birthday Dinner," 079B [name TBD], and 023A "Stoked." At this point, it looks like one of the three worked, but I don't know which one it was.


1 'Peppermint Gemini' itself is very reluctant to rebloom for me. I think it had one bloom open when I bought it in 2013, then opened a bud shortly thereafter for bloom #2. It's produced one flower since then, in July 2014. And that's all. Very disappointing.
2 Based on the average bloom timing -- 28 1/2 months after their sow date, 12 months after being moved to 4-inch pots -- we're getting close. The first two 'Peppermint Gemini' seedlings to be repotted would bud in early January 2016, if they hold to the average timing, and the later three would bloom in late April or early May. However: even if they bud on-schedule, going from bud to open inflorescence takes a while, it's common for first buds to abort, and the earliest two are on flats that have been hit especially hard by the thrips. So the odds of seeing a decent bloom in the next six months seem pretty slim.
3 The Anthurium-breeding book says mottled blooms usually have mottled seedlings, but that the mottling is coarser and blotchier in the offspring.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Unfinished Business: last year's Schlumbergeras, Part 2

Continuing the revisit of last year's first-time Schlumbergera blooms:

064A "Rose Hoses"

I was unimpressed with "Rose Hoses" last year -- it was fine, sure, but it didn't really do anything for me. But this year, for some reason, it seems a lot better. It doesn't hurt that it threw a little magenta at the margins of its petals, something several of the seedlings this year (and seed parent 'Caribbean Dancer') have done.1 It's still not my favorite seedling, but it's jumped up a few notches.

073A "Laurie Anderson"

Top: 29 March 2015; Bottom: 22 November 2015.

"Laurie Anderson" tricked me briefly into thinking that there were two seedlings in the pot -- last year's blooms were mainly orange and pink, and this year the same pot produced a combination of orange/pink, orange/white, and red-orange/pink. I mean, it's still possible that there are two seedlings in the pot, but the color ranges of each one overlap to the point where it's just as plausible that they're all the same seedling, so I'm calling the whole pot 073A until I have more solid evidence of multiple seedlings. I have similar problems with 025A "Clownfish," which has been orange/white or orange/pink for me this year.2

078A "Art Party"

One of the questions I had before the start of Schlumbergera season was whether "Art Party" could make more than one bloom in a season. (I think it made two last year, technically, but I was frustrated at how infrequent they were.) The answer is yes; it's made two already this year, and there are a few buds on the plant still. So that's nice. I was more impressed with the color change, though -- last year the petals tended to be light pink tube / pink / red tip, and this year the blooms are much darker overall, more like magenta / magenta / red. It doesn't photograph as strikingly, but it's prettier in person. Either color version is good, though: even if it isn't loaded with blooms all the time, it's still one of my favorites.

082A "Strawberry Madeleine"

"Strawberry Madeleine" looks the same as last year, but its blooming behavior is different: last year, it made a bunch of blooms late in the year, maybe ten, over the space of a couple weeks, and then was more or less finished. This year, it seems to be pacing itself: since 30 October, it's pretty much always had one or two blooms at any given moment. Never zero, never three. Which is easier for breeding purposes (always a bloom available to accept / shed pollen), if harder to sell.

083A "Psychedelic Bunny"

I feel like "Psychedelic Bunny" can speak for itself.

Same bloom, two days later:

I was looking forward to "Psychedelic Bunny" blooming, obviously, but had pretty much convinced myself that it wasn't that much more incredible than all the other seedlings, I'd just been so surprised by it that I'd exaggerated its magnificence in my memory. But no: it actually is this fantastic, particularly when the bloom first opens.

The camera has trouble with extreme reds and violets: in person, the magenta is darker than this. Equally beautiful, though.

And, of course, this means that now I know what to take cuttings from, so I can make more of them. It's been making me anxious, not having backup copies of "Psychedelic Bunny."

084A "Downward-Facing Dog"

"Downward-Facing Dog" was shaped a little more like a standard Schlumbergera bloom this year. It's still not good, but if it'd been doing this all along, I probably wouldn't have called it a dog.

088A "Cyborg Unicorn"

"Cyborg Unicorn" started early, with a remarkably vivid orange/magenta bloom, and . . . then it stopped. I think it's suffering from a lack of light; the low shelf it's on was fine last year, but I've put more plants on the shelf directly above it, so it's probably getting less light than it used to. I should move it to a larger pot anyway; hopefully it won't have to live in the dark much longer.

099A "Dessert Room"

I've mentioned this already, in the post for 099B "Karma Cobra," but "Dessert Room" rebloomed much lighter this year than last year, and was gorgeous.

113A "Helper Dog"

"Helper Dog" has produced blooms in the same colors consistently; it's always a pretty middle of the road orange / pink. What changes are the shapes. Witness this progression of blooms:

2014-15 season (26 April)

2015-16 season (14 November)

2015-16 season (18 November)

2015-16 season (30 November)

And then by early December, it was back to the first type of bloom again, with the glued-down-looking petals. So "Helper Dog" isn't exactly a dog anymore either, though it's a toss-up as to whether it's going to look like a normal Schlumbergera (the "Jennifer Aniston," if you will), all slicked-back and skinny (the "Carrie-Anne Moss"), or permed all to hell like a long-lost member of Warrant.3 I haven't decided yet how I feel about this.

Give me another ten days to work on it, and I'll give you a third (and final?) unfinished business post, about the parent Schlumbergeras and what they've been up to this year.


1 I hadn't noticed 'Caribbean Dancer' doing this before this year, though in fairness I wasn't looking for it. Neither "Rose Hoses" nor 'Caribbean Dancer' do this consistently, but it's nice of them to do it at all. I just wish I knew how to get them to do it on purpose.
2 A reader reports that their 025A "Clownfish" cuttings produced much redder blooms for them than they did for me. I'm happy that the cuttings were capable of blooming at all, but a little distressed that people aren't getting the colors they asked for.
This is a way that Anthurium-breeding and Schlumbergera-breeding may differ: Anthurium seedlings' blooms may vary a bit in thrips damage and overall size, and the first bloom is often a little different from all the subsequent ones, but once they've decided on a color, shape, and size, they stick with it, even if the growing conditions change. (If the conditions change too much, they'll just stop blooming, rather than produce dramatically different blooms.) As a result, the difficult step in Anthurium-seedling selection is finding a seedling different enough from its parents to be interesting.
In my experience with Schlumbergeras, every seedling looks pretty different from its parents (I'm actually kind of shocked at the range of colors I've gotten from a single cross), and virtually all of them are interesting, but the size, quantity, shape, and color of the blooms vary so much with growing conditions that I'm wondering if consistency isn't the main hurdle to get over. A hybrid will be more commercially valuable if you can predict what it's going to look like when it gets sold: nobody wants to pre-sell retailers a red plant, then invest months of water, fertilizer, and time growing them, only to ship a plant that's closer to orange, magenta, or pink than it is to red.
3 80s hair didn't exactly seem normal at the time -- I remember being struck by what a tremendous amount of effort my female friends were putting into getting everything hair-sprayed just so -- but it didn't seem quite as ludicrously cartoonish as it does from a distance of 30 years.