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.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 103

I was just sure that the color on this one, in person, was a lot lighter and yellower than this, but the dried-up flower is as dark or darker, and the photos don't look nearly as light as I remembered, so maybe I'm thinking of some other seedling? They do all sort of blur together after a while. Not that I need to tell you that. (I appreciate your patience with all the seedling posts. Hope you can remain patient through mid-February.1)

Anyway. I had 33 initial ideas from TinEye, which I narrowed to six that seemed plausible.

In order of elimination: Honey Cowl is out because nobody knows what a cowl is,2 and because "Cowl" is weird to say. Little Cheesy is gone because I was unable to think of a single reason to keep it: it's not wrong, but I just don't like it. Not sure how it made it on the short list in the first place.

I am bothered by Electric Cheetah because actual cheetahs have spots, and this flower does not. And this is really the wrong color for Peach Ice Cream.

Which leaves either Ginger Beer or Thom Yorke. I've never had ginger beer before,3 but I'm intrigued by its description, and at least some of the photos I found of it online make it look like the color is plausible.

On the other hand, I'm already familiar with Thom Yorke (lead singer for Radiohead), and I like Radiohead, or at least some Radiohead,4 so that seems plausible too. True, Yorke isn't bright orange, but he could be someday.

On the gripping hand, Thom Yorke would be one more musical reference on the list, and he's young enough that he could become a horrible person someday, if he isn't already. Plus: is it really fair to single him out when there are four other members of Radiohead? Probably not. So I guess Ginger Beer.


1 Not a joke, alas. Though at least it's not going to be two and a half months of nothing but Schlumbergeras: there will be some Anthurium seedlings in there too, the orchids will continue, and you'll see the occasional plant that is neither a Schlumbergera nor an Anthurium. So: monotonous, but not quite as monotonous as it maybe sounds. At least they're pretty: 25 new blooms this year (so far), and none of them are "dogs."
2 A hooded monk's robe. If you already knew that, add 5 PATSP points to your previous total.
3 (Never had Thom Yorke before either, as far as that goes.) *rimshot*
4 I like the obvious albums, the ones everybody likes: OK Computer, Kid A, In Rainbows. (I own, but don't especially care for, Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief.) And I like the most obvious songs on the albums I like. So I'm not an interesting Radiohead fan, but I'm still a Radiohead fan.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Pretty picture: Miltoniopsis Echo Bay 'Midnight Tears'

It seems likely that the repeat orchids (previously: 2012, 2013) are the same specimens, being grown by the same people, coming back to the show year after year, but I've never asked.

You would think I could just compare the photos from year to year. Does it look like the same plant? Is it the same name tag? Well, then it's probably the same plant. The displays differ from year to year, though, and it's not always possible to get a whole-plant photo to compare. Like, this year, it was pretty difficult to get photos of entire plants without incorporating neighboring foliage and blooms (and ribbons, and name tags, etc.) in the shot as well, so crammed together were many of the displays. And I don't usually keep the pictures of the name tags once they've served their purpose, so I can't look at those either. So I don't know.

I like to imagine they're the same plants coming back year after year, though. Sort of a hey, good to see you, how've you been, mind if I get your picture? kind of thing. Or at least that's how it feels from my end.1

Miltoniopsis Echo Bay 'Midnight Tears' = Miltoniopsis Woodlands x Miltoniopsis Rose Bay (Ref.)


1 I imagine the orchids think something along the lines of Oh, great, *this* asshole again.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Schlumbergera seedling no. 107

A post is coming up in a few days, which contains, among other things, new photos of Schlumbergera 083A "Psychedelic Bunny." 107A is not as amazing as that, to be sure, but it's one of a few seedlings this year that have had magenta petal margins during all or some of their development, which I don't recall happening previously with any seedlings other than "Psychedelic Bunny."1

32 possibilities originally, nine(-ish) serious candidates. In order of elimination:

Lipstick is an incredible picture, but is maybe too plain of a name -- any Schlumbergera flower is probably the color of some shade of lipstick or another. Though I was tickled to learn that the German word for "lipstick" is "Lippenstift," which is a great word. German has great words for a lot of things, I'm discovering. (Also Dutch.)

Beautiful Lunch evokes some kind of complicated colorful salad or something, and appeals to me a little bit, but it's probably not a good idea: as far as I know Schlumbergeras are edible, or at least not poisonous, but I probably don't want to encourage people to eat them, either. It's also a little uncool: if you have to tell people your flower is beautiful, it smacks of desperation. Or is that just me?

Devilette kind of seems to fit, but I'm a little iffy on both parts of the name: "Devil" would bother some people (OMG a Satanist Schlumbergera!2) and "-ette" makes me think of The Smurfette Principle.

Conversely, Pterosaur doesn't bother me at all as a name, and I don't think it would bother many other people either, but it doesn't feel like it fits this particular seedling very well.

Europa the moon is white and brown; the continent is more colorful but I hear it leans more toward greens and browns. The flower's colors seem a little loud for the mythological figure though what the hell do I know about how mythological figures dress, I suppose. In any case: seems like it could work, but the color associations are all wrong.

Big Bang feels a little vague and dry. Appropriate -- one could argue that it'd be an appropriate name for any Schlumbergera seedling, as they all look somewhat like explosions if viewed from the right angle -- but not very memorable, somehow.

Raspberry Vodka is memorable and somewhat specific as to color, so that's good. I'm a little uncomfortable associating the seedling with alcohol, though I don't quite understand why.

Nova Zembla suggested the alternate option of "Nova Prospekt," because I am on some level determined to name at least one of the seedlings something that relates to Half-Life 2.3, 4 The problem is that "Nova Prospekt," which can be variously translated as "new way," "new road," and "new avenue," depending on what Cyrillic-alphabet-using language you want to use and what sort of spin you want to put on the translation, isn't positive or appealing at all, in-game. As an out of context seedling name, being read by someone unfamiliar with the game, I imagine it comes across as misspelled or nonsensical or both.5 But I still like it.

Carousel Horse was suggested by the photo's "Prancing Horse." I didn't like the latter, but the coloration is pretty perfect for a carousel horse. And it's sort of the opposite situation from Nova Prospekt, in that Nova Prospekt is completely wrong but I want to name the seedling that anyway, while Carousel Horse is exactly right, but I don't want to use it.

What finally tipped the scales was the realization that I have an awful lot of animal-related seedling names already,6 and I really do love the Half-Life series. So even though it may be a mistake, I'm going to go with Nova Prospekt. If I wind up really hating it later, I can always change it.


1 The other seedlings that have done this: 064A "Rose Hoses," 067A [name TBD], 074A "Vroom," 079A "Yayoi Kusama," 099B "Karma Cobra," 106A [name TBD]. The seed parent, 'Caribbean Dancer,' was observed doing a little of this for the first time this year as well, which explains where they get it from, but not why it's inconsistently expressed.
2 (I am not a Satanist.)
3 Nova Prospekt, in HL2, is a former prison that has been converted to a detention facility by the Combine, the Borg-like transdimensional empire you spend most of your time fighting against in the game. I swear it's a lot less stupid than it sounds.
4 The Anthurium seedlings may have this covered, though, actually: the character you play in the Half-Life games is "Gordon Freeman," and Anthurium 1270 is named "Gorda Freeman." ("Gorda" = fat, in Spanish.) It's awfully specific, but at the same time, there's probably a queen out there somewhere for whom this would be the perfect name. So if that's you, honey, use it with my blessing, and as a bonus, you've got an Anthurium seedling named after you already.
Though if you make a gown based on his HEV suit -- and you ought to -- you have to have to HAVE TO 1) do a good job on it, and 2) send me a picture. Do we have a deal?
5 Nova Zembla itself is the Dutch corruption of the Russian "Novaya Zemlya," ("new land"), a group of islands in the Arctic Ocean, notable for being the site of detonation for the largest atomic weapon ever detonated (the "Tsar Bomba") and for being fucking cold. (Average high temperature in July: 50F/10C. So stop complaining.) For reasons unknown to me, a Rhododendron variety was named 'Nova Zembla,' which is why it came up in my TinEye results in the first place.
6 018A "Nudibranch," 021A "Spider Crab," 025A "Clownfish," 035A "Patito," 083A "Psychedelic Bunny," 084A "Downward-Facing Dog," 088A "Cyborg Unicorn," 091A "Flying Fish," 099B "Karma Cobra," 113A "Helper Dog."