Friday, April 29, 2016

Unfinished business: NOID ferns

The original plant was a hitchhiker in the pot of a now-gone Rhipsalis NOID, which I carefully plucked out and potted up on its own, and it went from this

to this

in a year and a half. (And just so we're clear about how much growth that was, the pot in those pictures went from 4" / 10 cm to 8" / 20 cm.)

Not quite a year after that, I saw a couple scale insects on it, so I cut all the foliage off and sprayed some rubbing alcohol around or something. Two or three weeks later:

18 March 2014.

And a mere two months after getting cut back:

26 April 2014.

Just monstrous. I've recently learned that there's one exception to the remarkable speed, though.

I'm not sure when it started producing spores; my guess is the summer of 2013. I didn't necessarily want more of these plants (where would I even put another one of these plants, after all?), but you know me: I can't help myself. So I sprinkled some spores around in one of the Anthurium germination containers, and also in a separate sealed plastic container containing some potting soil, as an experiment. I think this was in September 2013.

And nothing happened. I'd done the same thing with Cyrtomium falcatum, earlier, and nothing happened then either, so I concluded that I was destined for greater things than propagating ferns, and forgot about it all.

So when something started coming up in the germination containers with the Anthurium seeds, it took me a little while to figure out. They didn't look much like the fern I'd started with: the fronds were so thin they were practically transparent, and the wrong color besides -- sort of a pale apple-green instead of the blue-green of the fully-grown plant. Wasn't 100 percent sure what I had, but when in doubt, pot it up and see what happens.1 So I potted up a banker's dozen2 in individual three-inch pots on 20 September 2015. I don't have any photos of them until 24 November; I'm guessing I didn't want to put the time into taking pictures if I didn't know for sure what they were or whether they were going to live. By November, though, it was clear they were ferns:

24 November 2015.

And it quickly became clear that these were the quick-growing monster-type ferns. Ten weeks later:

3 February 2016.

And by now, late April, they've grown so much that it's hard to get a picture of them all at once:

25 April 2016.

They've grown so much that they're already bending their pots out of shape

and their rhizomes are jumping over the pots' sides.

So I should maybe be thinking about moving them up to 4-inch pots already.

You may have noticed that I've avoided saying what they are. I've had some trouble settling on an ID. Obviously the original plant, as a hitchhiker, didn't have an ID on it. I thought for a while maybe it was Phlebodium aureum,
though I wasn't sure, because the only P. aureum I had to compare it to was my (since-deceased) P. aureum 'Mandianum,' which has a similar color but much rufflier fronds. There were other reasons to doubt the ID too; I no longer remember what they were, though.

And then I had an anonymous commenter do a drive-by to tell me that it was obviously a Laua'e fern (Hawaiian Wart fern), Phymatosorus grossus. Image searches seemed to argue against Phymatosorus, which has glossier, greener fronds, and also Phymatosorus is supposed to have a pleasant scent, which my plants do not. The arrangement of the sporangia seems subtly different, too, though it's harder to say exactly what's different about them.

In any case. After comparing pictures of the venation on Phlebodium aureum 'Blue Hare' (here) with the venation on my fern, I'm about 75% confident that I have P. aureum. If any fern experts are reading this and feel like weighing in, feel free. I'd look into it harder myself, but I'm kind of busy trying to figure out what to do with all these.3


1 The ones in the separate sealed plastic container with soil also started coming up at about the same time, which either means that they just take two years to develop from spores, or some freaky coincidence was happening. 'Cause they weren't in very similar conditions, aside from the high humidity: different temperatures, different light sources, different light durations.
2 (Most internet sources will tell you a banker's dozen is eleven, but in this case I mean ten. The joke works for any number under twelve.)
3 (I don't even know what to call them. I mean, they're not seedlings if there were no seeds, right? As far as I could find from, admittedly, a kind of half-assed search, there's no botanical, technical, or horticultural word for ferns analogous to "seedling." Any fern experts in the audience are invited to answer that question too; in the meantime I guess I'm going with "sporeling.")

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Anthurium no. 0534 "Celia Putty"

Celia was a little bit exciting, in that the bud seemed like it was going to be a little bit lavender-pink, but by the time the spathe opened, it was just plain pink. Maybe even red-pink. With thrips scarring. Of course.1

So that was slightly disappointing. And the foliage was definitely subpar, mainly due to thrips. One assumes. The basic shape and texture is okay, though. I mean, without the thrips, it'd be a nice, broad arrowhead sort of shape,2 which is all right.

Celia was also a reasonably compact plant in October,

which I suppose is worth something. She's grown a lot since then, and may no longer qualify as compact, but the internodal lengths are still acceptably short. Realistically, she's probably too thrips-prone to keep, but I'd still like to see a second bloom before making the final decision.


1 At this point I'm basically convinced that if we had a cat, it would give birth to thrips-scarred kittens.
2 The leaf and whole-plant pictures were taken in October, and she's grown a lot of new leaves since then, all larger and broader than the one shown, though just as damaged.
I can't remember why I started doing it, but I usually take leaf and whole-plant photos when I first see a bud, rather than waiting until there's an open inflorescence. It made sense at the time. Though I'm realizing as I write this that open-inflorescence photos would be better at showing the relative sizes of the blooms, which is hard to judge from the close-ups.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pretty picture: Rhyncattleanthe Zul

Thanks to those who expressed sympathies yesterday about my expanded thrips situation. The glory of the orchid posts is that they have nothing to do with me -- they're not even my plants! -- so there's no way I can make horrifying discoveries about them. And for this, we are grateful.

My memory of this bloom is a lot pinker and/or redder than what the photo shows; I don't know whether this is a problem with the camera or a problem with my brain. The camera is well-known to make up colors from time to time, but in this case I suspect my brain is the culprit. (When I'm at the shows, I'm generally trying to take a lot of photos as quickly as possible, and I think sometimes my memories get a little scrambled, where I mentally combine a plant with another plant that was physically near it, or that was photographed just before or just after it.)

Though I did find plenty of photos that were pinker (e.g. one, two), and I found one image of an orange Rth. Zul in a search engine, in two different places, but one link was broken and the other was to Pinterest, which I can't actually see via links because Pinterest really, really wants me to sign up for an account with them. So you'll just have to take my word for it that Rth. Zul can go a lot oranger than this too.

They're not normally this pale, though. We might be able to blame that on the camera.

In any case, it's, you know, nice. Pretty. Looks properly orchidy.

Rhyncattleanthe Zul = Guarianthe skinneri x Rhyncattleanthe Orange Nuggett (Ref.)

Haven't seen this one before, but it's half-siblings with a couple orchids we've seen previously: 2014's Rhyncattleanthe Lily Marie Almas 'MGR' and 2015's Jackfowlieara Appleblossom (also 2010). Not a huge resemblance in either case, but for those people who care about such things (it's not just me who finds orchid genealogies intriguing, is it?), there you go.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Schlumbergera seedling no. 013

Hey, you know what we haven't had here at PATSP for a while? Terrible, despair-inducing news. But I can remedy that right now!

I've been a little concerned about the Schlumbergeras in the plant room lately, because a lot of the blooms I've seen in the last four weeks or so have looked kind of bad. Nothing extreme (well, I guess one of them was kind of a wreck, but a cool wreck, you know? You'll see that when we get to the post for Schlumbergera 092A.), really, just little patches of petal without pigment here and there.1 The affected plants seemed to be mostly the ones closest to the windows, so I thought maybe it was cold damage. Not that satisfying, as hypotheses go, because it'd definitely been colder in the plant room before and I hadn't seen anything like that, but it was the only explanation I could come up with.

Or, rather, it was the only explanation I could come up with that I was comfortable believing, because -- as you no doubt thought when you looked at footnote 1 -- that looks a hell of a lot like the thrips damage on the Anthuriums, doesn't it?

And then I started noticing the same kind of marks on some of the ripe Schlumbergera fruits, in an entirely different part of the plant room, where cold damage wouldn't make any sense at all. But I told myself, well, it could still be something other than thrips; after all, I've never actually seen a thrips on any of the Schlumbergeras, ever. For all I know, they may be immune to thrips.

Then on Friday 22 April, I saw a thrips crawling around on seedling 099. So I had a smoking gun. Can't deny it any longer. As if it's not bad enough to have been dealing with two pest problems for the last four and a half years, one of the pest problems has just gotten a whole lot bigger, and threatens to ruin the one group of seedlings that was still making me happyish.

Nothing makes the problem go away. Or at least nothing I can afford to do makes the problem go away, which is the same thing. It has occurred to me that if I had, back in 2012, just thrown all the plants in the trash, keeping only the seedlings I had in germination containers at the time, by 2016, I would have new seedlings starting to bloom now and things would be more or less back on track again. So I'm asking myself, what is 2020 Mr. Subjunctive going to wish that I had done?

The obvious problem being that, especially when it comes to the Anthurium and Schlumbergera seedlings, not only am I emotionally attached, but I've also created some plants that I would literally not be able to replace, ever, were I to throw them out. I've only gotten one seedling like 083A "Psychedelic Bunny;" that's probably not going to happen again. I only have the one 0330 "Faye Quinette;" who knows whether I would ever get another one. It would also seem unfair to throw out certain plants: the Euphorbia tirucalli has never had any pest problems; why punish it?

And as far as it goes, I don't even know for sure that getting rid of all the plants and starting over would even work. I don't know where all the insects might hide; I don't know where the eggs might be. Even if I did throw out all the plants, what's to say it would even solve the problem? The only thing worse than having 2020 Mr. Subjunctive mad at me for not throwing out all the plants and starting over would be to throw out all the plants, start over, and have 2020 Mr. Subjunctive discover that the problem didn't actually go away.

So I feel awfully stuck. Pestilence if I do, pestilence if I don't.


Seedling 013A was fine. Sort of a yellow-orange / pink, along the lines of 012A Sofa Fort or 028B Neon Like. I think there was only one bloom, so, you know, I don't have much to judge it by, and this was a couple months ago anyway so I don't even really remember it. I'm not feeling very playful at the moment, which is going to show up in the name options.

Despair is kind of obvious, I suppose, but it names the mood well.

So does Fuck Thrips, but that's probably even less commercially viable than Despair.

Double-Bind could maybe work, and seems really appropriate.2

Or Hopeless.

Downward Spiral maybe.

Sisyphus is sort of dead-on, and has the advantage of being a mythological reference. Those are always classy.

Oh! Or Tantalus, who was punished by the gods to stand forever (?) in a pool under a fruit tree, with low branches, which would raise up whenever he reached for any of the fruit, and the water in the pool recedes whenever he bends down to get a drink. It'd be perfect as a name if not for the reason Tantalus was being punished in the first place: depending on the story, his crime was:

• stealing ambrosia and nectar, the food and drink of the gods, and giving it to his people,
• cutting up his son, boiling him, and serving him to the gods (the son got better), or
• either stealing a golden dog (i.e., a dog, made by Hephaestus, out of gold) or hiding the dog on behalf of a friend who stole it.

None the crimes feel metaphorically appropriate to my situation, but Tantalus is much better known for his punishment than for his crime (the punishment is also the origin of the word "tantalize") so I could overlook that. I mean, if you look into the stories, people punished by the Greek gods often (but not always) had it coming.3

So. That seems like enough options to be able to choose one.

Fuck Thrips, though heartfelt, is out for obvious reasons. Downward Spiral is nearly the title of a nine inch nails album (The Downward Spiral), which is a good album and I like it but . . . no.

Hopeless and Despair are basically synonyms, and the latter is one character shorter to type, so bye-bye Hopeless.

If I'm being punished by the gods of Greek mythology, it's a lot closer to Tantalus than Sisyphus,4 we'll drop Sisyphus.

So that leaves Double-Bind, Despair, and Tantalus. They all kind of work, but, you know, look how much talking I've done about Tantalus here. I obviously want to name it Tantalus. So I will.5


1 Examples:
Top: 023A Stoked. Bottom: 066B Sigrid the Haughty.

2 Wikipedia: "A double bind is an emotionally distressing dilemma in communication in which an individual (or group) receives two or more conflicting messages, and one message negates the other. This creates a situation in which a successful response to one message results in a failed response to the other (and vice versa), so that the person will automatically be wrong regardless of response. The double bind occurs when the person cannot confront the inherent dilemma, and therefore can neither resolve it nor opt out of the situation."
In my case here, the communication that's causing the distress is coming from the plants: nothing ever actually works, but a lot of things do seem to help, or appear to work for a while. So the message is a mixed "try harder" / "give up" feedback that leaves me stuck between exhausting myself trying to keep up with multiple time- and money-consuming treatments or feeling the pain of throwing out plants that I've had for a long time and really like, some of which are literally irreplaceable.
I mean, you wouldn't think it would be possible to be in an emotionally abusive relationship with houseplants, but . . . here we are. Maybe Cleve Backster was right and they do have feelings after all.
Evil, evil feelings.
3 Sisyphus appears to have at least killed a lot of people, though that wasn't the only reason he was being punished, or even the main one.
4 I feel like with Sisyphus, the focus is much more on all the wasted effort: there's nothing inherently awesome about getting a boulder to the top of a mountain. While it's true that taking care of the plants involves a lot of work, discovering that there are bugs again doesn't turn all of the watering and whatever into wasted effort; I've still gotten something out of it, I'm not having to start over again from the beginning.
Tantalus strikes me as being more about the desire -- he could see and smell the fruit; the water's right there; they're both just out of reach. I'm always seeing blooms that would be fantastic if not for the thrips, I'm constantly having to discard Anthurium seedlings with great foliage, because they've got a scale problem. The suffering is all of the so-close-yet-so-far-away kind. Almost, almost, almost.
5 We'll put a pin in Double-Bind, though. 'Cause I bet that's gonna be useful later.