Saturday, October 22, 2016

Random plant event: Aechmea 'Del Mar'

Here's something considerably more cheerful than the last post. About once a year, it seems like, some plant takes it upon itself to bloom when I'm not expecting it. The Hatiora salicornioides in 2009, Eucharis in 2010, Clivia and Epiphyllum in 2012, Phalaenopsis in 2014. In most of those cases, that's also the only time they've ever bloomed for me.1

The 2016 surprise bloom is Aechmea 'Del Mar,' a plant I have had since 2008. The original plant died, but it offset, and the offset survived years of frankly-not-great conditions and then decided to grow a flower spike.

This year's bloom looks different from 2008's (specifically: the colors seem a bit less intense), which I attribute to the lower light it's been getting here. It was already in bloom in 2008 when I bought it, so that inflorescence had formed in some tropical Floridian shadehouse, under basically ideal conditions; this one had to work with what light it could get from an east window.2 And not even the full exposure of an east window: it's so big that the only place I can keep it is up near the ceiling. Basically no overhead light at all.

Also shown: Neoregelia 'Ardie' (left), Philodendron 'Golden Emerald' (lower left), Anthurium 'Pandola' (right).

I'm honestly not sure why I was even keeping 'Del Mar' around. The leaves are plain green and of basically no ornamental value. The leaves are edged with marginal spines that are sharp enough to leave marks on me (which then usually itch for a couple hours3), and more often than not, after I move the plant for any reason, I wind up with a few of those spines broken off somewhere in my hands or arms and have to dig them out with tweezers. It was top-heavy and off-balance (at least partly from the side-lighting), and from time to time when I was putting it back on its shelf, it would fall over and dump water out on me. I had no expectation that a rebloom was possible, especially given how long I'd been waiting. In the final tally, I suppose it was just doing too well to throw out. I could justify discarding a plant that was obviously miserable, but aside from dropping the occasional leaf, which I expect all plants to do from time to time, 'Del Mar' never complained. Never really occurred to me that throwing it out was an option, even as I cursed the marginal spines.

It's almost like it knew that in October, we would all be sick of Anthuriums and desperate for anything else to look at.

Other sites allege that the inflorescence can hang around for 5 to 7 months; this seems about right. The 2008 bloom hung around for what seemed like a really, really long time; it could plausibly have been 5 months.

I don't always have the best luck getting bromeliad offsets to root for me, but I expect I'll try doing it again.

Final note: Aechmea 'Del Mar' is, according to its patent, a hybrid of Aechmea fendleri and Aechmea dichlamydea var. trinitensis. The general shape and coloration seems to be from A. dichlamydea, with A. fendleri contributing a smaller size, though 1) genetics doesn't really work like that exactly, and 2) this is speculation based on less than 10 minutes of online searches, so don't hang your hat on it.


1 The sole exception from those examples is the Eucharis, which has bloomed several times since 2009, though it doesn't do so on any kind of predictable schedule.
2 I'm not positive that the 2008 bloom received ideal conditions before I bought it; some on-line sites show much darker inflorescences than mine had then, with considerably less white, and a much darker pink. The patent-holder's website shows a 'Del Mar' that looks a lot more like my plant than those, and you'd think the patent holder could keep them straight if anybody could, so it's possible that the other sites have mistaken 'Blue Tango' for 'Del Mar.' Or maybe the cultivar is just that variable.
My plant's inflorescence has developed a heavier pink coloration as it's developed, with the photos from 16 October (last two in this post) showing a much lighter, yellower color than the photos from the 19th. I have no idea what colors it might bear when it fully matures, nor when this might happen. I'm keeping an eye out for the true flowers (the whole colorful show I've photographed so far are just the bracts, the brightly-colored bits meant to attract pollinators to the actual flowers), though I may or may not get pictures of them.
3 Also a problem with plants having similar defenses, like Neoregelia, Yucca, Dyckia, Agave, Pereskia, and Pandanus. I itch a lot on alternate Sundays, which are both Aechmea- and Pandanus-watering days. I've thought about long sleeves, but I think they'd cause more problems than they solve.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Anthurium no. 0446 "Venus Xtravaganza"

If you've seen the documentary Paris is Burning, you're familiar with the real-life Venus Xtravaganza. It's been a long time for me, so I don't remember much in the way of details, but I can at least recall that she seemed sweet. Not innocent, but . . . I don't know. Quiet. Vulnerable. Like someone you'd want to be friends with, maybe. See for yourself (*may not be safe for work*):

It's easy to forget, looking at Paris is Burning from the perspective of 2016, how terrifying it was to be gay back then sometimes.1, 2 How lonely. I'm approximately Venus' age, and in 1990 I couldn't have imagined there even being a place I could have gone where people could know I was gay and like me anyway. Where people would look out for me like family. So, when I watch that video, I'm slightly jealous, on the one hand, and on the other, I just ache to protect Venus. So tiny, so fragile, so sweet.

Which means that the ending, where you find out that she died shortly after her part had been filmed, and in a particularly ugly and horrible way,3 it hits you like a truck.

I didn't actually know her. Documentaries are shaped and framed to make people look one way or another way. I might not actually have liked her; she might not have liked me either. Who knows. But her story is tragic all the same, and while acceptance of gays is a lot further along in 2016 than it was in 1988, when Venus died, acceptance of transgendered men and women has barely begun to shift, in the last 10 years or so. And while it's appalling how comfortable Americans are with seeing one another killed, period, it's especially appalling that the justifications are so often explicitly bigoted.

After saying all that, I realize there's some mood whiplash in switching to talking about an Anthurium seedling, and even more whiplash involved when it's not even a particularly good seedling.4 But the seedling's the reason we're here, so let's just do the pictures:

Boring color, thrips damage, no reason to keep. A pretty typical seedling from the BF group.

I hope the next Venus Xtravaganza seedling will be more worthy of the name.


1 Though Venus was transgendered, not gay, some of the others in the documentary identified as gay. They're very different things, but in 1990, when Paris is Burning was made, not many people bothered to make the distinction.
2 One of the startling things about watching Six Feet Under for the first time, in 2014, was recognizing myself in David's whole first-season dilemma about where to be out and where not to, the constant worry about what would happen if someone found out, and so on. Living where and when I do, I don't really worry about being out of the closet, even with people I don't know very well: there just aren't that many dangers anymore. But Six Feet Under started in 2001, and watching those first few episodes brought it all roaring back -- I started a new job in the middle of 2001, and spent a tremendous amount of time trying to decide who I could trust and who I couldn't, worrying about whether it would be a big deal or not, talking to friends in other states on the phone about whether to do it or not. It was intensely preoccupying, not to mention that it distorted my relationships with co-workers and casual acquaintances in ways which were probably not helpful.
3 I won't describe it here, but it's not hard to find out. Pretty much anything you read about her mentions it at some point or another. And violence against transgendered people is still appallingly common, as Wikipedia attests.
4 Just a reminder: the names are assigned well before I have any idea what the blooms will look like. Having one's name associated with a good or bad seedling is entirely the luck of the draw, and unless there's some compelling reason to keep a bad seedling around (e.g. unusual spathe color), I recycle the names.
The least lucky name so far is "Dawn Kekong," who's died five times -- 0102, 0315, 0664, 1054, and 1696. The name will come up again somewhere around seedling 2500, if I keep going that long.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum Magical Contrasts

I'm bothered by this photo because of the odd-shaped brown thing just below and to the right of the flower. What is it? Why is it there? Why didn't I notice it at the time?

Magical Contrasts is another Lehua orchid, though they appear to have taken the page down from their website at some point between March and October. It used to read:
Classic sukhakulii shape and many with very dark petals. We used the Magic Pulsar to try to enlarge the sukhakulii pouch. It did not work, most have the classic pointed pouch. Not the greatest form on the one we photographed, but what color. This one has already been bred with!
I think this was the darkest Paphiopedilum from the 2016 show, though not the darkest one I've ever seen -- that would be Paphiopedilum sukhakulii x (Black Cherry x sukhakulii) from 2015. They're pretty similar to one another, save for the top ("dorsal") sepal, which is tan and black striped there and purple/purple here.

Paphiopedilum Magical Contrasts = Paphiopedilum Love Song x Paphiopedilum Magic Pulsar (Ref; the Lehua page had it more specifically as Paphiopedilum Love Song 'Contrasts' x Paphiopedilum Magic Pulsar "The Schnoz.")

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Anthurium no. 0045 "Lineysha Sparx"

Not that much to talk about, with Lineysha. She's a bit larger than the recent new flowers have been, I guess, and although red/white isn't a new color combination, she does it reasonably well.

The leaves are better than average, too.

The only notable thing I can think of about Lineysha is that she's the only blooming seedling to have 'Pandola' as her seed parent. There are a few seedlings I suspect have 'Pandola' as a pollen parent (particularly 0276 Zach Religious), but I can only be sure about Lineysha.

So. Lineysha's probably a keeper, but she's not likely to move up to a 6-inch pot anytime soon.

Not really any other news to share at the moment, though the Schlumbergera seedlings are still budding up just like they're supposed to, including three seedlings of the NOID magenta (180, 182, and 193) and two of the NOID white (119 and 281).