Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Unfinished Business: last year's Schlumbergeras, Part 1

So the big lesson this year, when it comes to the Schlumbergeras, is that although most of them will look the same from year to year, a few won't. This is possibly because the plant room is different this year (different light, different temperatures),1 and there's always some variability with the photography, but it's also possible that some of them are just genetically that variable. I've seen 'Caribbean Dancer,' the seed parent, do at least three types of blooms so far this year.2

There were a few questions I had at the beginning of Schlumbergera season, and I'm now in a position to give you the answers. This isn't going to be an exhaustive list of every single seedling I've got, just the ones that are doing something worth commenting on.

008A "Frightened Dog" and 008B "Candor"

I now believe that 008A "Frightened Dog" and 008B "Candor" are probably the same seedling. I haven't seen any "Frightened Dog" blooms from that pot this year, anyway, and "Candor" has produced both orange-orange and red-orange blooms, so it's probably just that variable. This screws up the bookkeeping considerably, but 008B "Candor" is now the name for the whole pot, and 008A "Frightened Dog" never existed.

012A "Sofa Fort"

012A "Sofa Fort" hasn't bloomed very much this year, and the first couple flowers were more orange/white than orange/pink, which was disappointing to me, since I really like this particular seedling's orange/pink. Later blooms, like the one in the photo, were more in line with what I was expecting.3 It's also kept the narrower, more sharply pointed petals that it had last year.

021B "Birthday Dinner"

I don't remember being particularly impressed with "Birthday Dinner" last year; it didn't bloom very much, and didn't stand out from the crowd when it did. But this year, wow. Lots of blooms, and many had such strong pink on the "tubes" that it's practically magenta. As a result, I now think of it as one of my best seedlings, instead of merely average.

022A "Sad Tomato"

022A "Sad Tomato" did bloom this year, and the blooms were consistent in color and shape with last year's, but there weren't very many. I took some cuttings from it late in the summer, which may have contributed to this; it's also in a different location than it was in last year, and is probably not getting as cold.

025A "Clownfish"

025A "Clownfish" is still the only seedling to have graduated from a 4-inch pot to a 6-inch one, and it's begun to fill in quite a bit. Lots more blooms than last year. (I don't have a photo of the whole plant to show you: I did try to take some, but my photo set-up is badly-suited to taking pictures of larger plants.) Not all of them were orange/white this time around; there were a few orange/pink. I was pretty sure last year that the whole pot was a single seedling, and I still think so, so I'm not sure why the change. Though even in the cases where the tubes were pink, it was a pretty light pink.

027A "Kiln"

027A "Kiln" has bloomed quite a bit, but all of the blooms' petals do what they're doing in the picture above -- they kind of curl up toward the tips, making them look narrower and sharper than they really are. That, on its own, could be interesting, but "Kiln" is also an unappealing color -- not pale enough to be a pretty pastel, but not dark enough to be a vibrant, full-saturation orange, either. I haven't actually thrown away any of the 4-inch Schlumbergeras ever,4 but as the blooms pile up,5 I'm starting to look at them with a more critical eye, and 027A "Kiln" is at the top of my "maybe I should throw this one out" list.

028B "Neon Like"

(photo is from April)

028B "Neon Like" has not bloomed at all this year, as far as I can tell, and I think the reason is that I took too many cuttings of it last year. It was only ever just one branch, I think, and not only did I cut it back a lot, but its pot-mate, 028A "Phil Collen," has gotten bigger in the meantime. So it may be the first seedling to bloom and then die of natural(-ish) causes. I still have two pots of cuttings, though, so even if the original plant dies, it's not lost forever.

030A "Diwali"

One of the questions I was hoping to answer before the Schlumbergeras began to bloom this year was whether 030A "Diwali" was genetically inclined not to open its flowers fully, or whether it was just bad luck or poor care that was causing it to do so. It bloomed early and abundantly for me this year, and all the blooms looked perfectly normal, so apparently the answer is bad luck / poor care.

Also, the first bloom from "Diwali" opened on 11 November, which is either exactly on-time for Diwali or a day late: Wikipedia says it was 10 November this year in South India, but otherwise 11 November. (I didn't read the article closely, but I didn't see it explain anywhere why South India was different.) This is unlikely to happen in subsequent years (this year's Diwali was unusually late), but it's nice that the timing worked out.

057A "Pyrotechnic"

057A "Pyrotechnic" has gotten really large -- nearly as big as 025A "Clownfish," and it's still in a 4-inch pot. This is actually a little bit of a problem, since it's also a lot less vertically-inclined than most of the seedlings, so it's been leaning on its neighbors pretty hard, and probably suppressing their blooming. I should move it into a bigger pot, if for no other reason than to get it away from its neighbors, but I don't have room. Going to have to relocate a lot of plants soon. It's not going to be pretty.

061A "Leather Fairy"

Finally, 061 "Leather Fairy" was peach and white last year, but came back peach and pink this year. The blooms are prettier than last year, and it's also produced a lot more flowers than it did last year, so I really shouldn't complain, but it was also the only seedling I had that was peach and white, so I'm a little disappointed with the color change, too.

In a week and a half, on 11 December, I'll have the second part of this post, covering seedlings 064 to 113. There will be a lot of pictures of 083A "Psychedelic Bunny," so if you need to prepare yourself for that, start now.


1 In particular, cooler temperatures are supposed to lead to redder/pinker blooms. I don't know whether this is true, but it's what they say.
2 There's the regular red petals and magenta tube that it's supposed to look like, a streakier version of the same, with stripes of the magenta extending up into the petal quite a ways, and then a lighter and oranger version that resembles 055B "Fort Venus." They're not different plants in the same pot; it's all the same plant. The paler version often occurs right next to a normal-color version, a segment or two away.
3 Very early and very late blooms seem more prone to atypical colors and forms: one of the last blooms from 026A "Brick Wall" last year was unusually pale, and didn't open fully. 088A "Cyborg Unicorn" got streaky toward the end of the year last year as well. 008B "Candor's" first bloom of last year was less red than the ones it would produce later, and the petals were overly reflexed. That sort of thing. There doesn't seem to be any consistency to the way the blooms are unusual: they're not necessarily smaller/oranger/overreflexed/paler. But it does seem like if they're going to do something weird, they'll do it as one of their first blooms, or one of the last ones.
4 (Though I did give away 060A "Wet Dog.")
5 (Almost literally -- I try to pull dead blooms when I can, but sometimes they fall off without my help, and wind up on the floor in a spot that's tough to get to.)

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