By now, the reader will have noticed that PATSP has been nothing but orchids for the last six weeks or so, and I feel like I should explain. The plants, led by the Anthurium seedlings, chose November to try to break my heart. It's not yet clear whether they succeeded in breaking it, exactly, but it's at least pretty damaged. And this is on top of the episodic panic attacks and what have you; the plants waited until I was weak to strike. As they do.
November was shitty.
How did they try to break your heart, you may be asking. Well, on top of the scale that I've been trying to get rid of for the last five years or so, which I periodically get really close to eliminating via imidacloprid and then discover that nope, it's still here, and on top of the thrips, which have been uglifying the Anthurium flowers and leaves for nearly as long, and for which the only remotely effective cure is "white oil," which not only makes the whole house smell like rancid vegetable oil for weeks afterward but also causes all the Anthuriums to drop any flowers or buds they might have, and doesn't even eliminate the thrips, I've added two new ongoing and ineradicable1 plagues to the Anthurium seedlings.
The Xanthomonas infection has been spreading through the Anthuriums for most of this year (also likely before this year -- I suspect it came in on the NOID pink/green Anthurium -- but bacteria that spread via water droplets really go nuts when you start spraying all the foliage with water every time you water, in an attempt to blast off the thrips, which didn't even work), and is now uglifying some of the seedlings which had remained more or less pristine through the thrips and scale. There's also, as far as I can tell, nothing I can actually do about it, save for throwing out all the affected seedlings. I'm aware of a treatment that places beneficial, or at least non-harmful, bacteria on the leaves, making it harder for Xanthomonas to establish itself, but as far as I can tell, that's only a preventative measure, and doesn't do anything to cure plants once they've been infected. If there's a way to cure infected plants, I haven't run across it yet, and if I did run across it, odds are good that I wouldn't be able to afford it. So it's possible that the only option I've got is to throw out all the affected plants and hope to outrun the Xanthomonas, which I'd be more optimistic about if that had worked for me with any plant pest or disease ever.
And then in just the last couple months, the mysterious unidentified mites from this post in 2014 have made their way to the Anthuriums downstairs. (They'd been on the upstairs ones, intermittently, for longer, but I hadn't made the connection between the mites and the leaf damage until the last few weeks: I'd been assuming thrips. The ghost mites2 prefer to feed on larger leaf veins, and appear in such numbers that affected leaves wind up looking like they've been hit by especially anal-retentive thrips: dead brown streaks that follow all the large veins, with relatively little damage in the spaces between them. The ghost mites also seem to be perfectly happy hitting older leaves, as opposed to the thrips, which prefer new growth, so really there was no reason to ever think that this was thrips damage, but perhaps I can be forgiven for not being willing to believe that I had another plant pest in the house, given the circumstances.
And it hasn't just been the Anthuriums, of course. Had a scary bunch of defoliation happen on the Neofinetia falcata out of nowhere, which briefly had me convinced that it was in the process of dying. (It has since stabilized, or at least wants me to think it has. No doubt waiting until I'm weak again.) A number of Dracaenas have broken out in spots that remind me of pictures I've seen somewhere. I can't remember if the pictures were of a bacterial leaf spot disease or a fungal leaf spot disease, as if the distinction matters. A very tall Pilosocereus pachycladus fell into my shoulder during watering, which hurt (spines in the shoulder! Lots of them!) and then hurt (the part of the cactus that hit me the hardest hollowed out and turned blue, purple, and finally black -- it's not clear whether the damage is continuing to spread).
I had decided in the spring of 2016 that I was done with the Euphorbia grandicornis. It was a salvaged cutting from a much larger plant that had never done very well for me, due to inadequate light, but I couldn't quite bear to just throw it out, so instead I planted it in one of the Canna beds, figuring that it could live (for a while) if it wanted to, and we'd see how that went. Naturally it loved it outside, even after the Cannas grew over it and I forgot that it was even there. Saw it in the fall and was like, holy crap, that's pretty impressive, maybe it deserves a chance to live in the house after all.
So I pulled it up and brought it inside,
and gave it its own pot of fresh soil. Whereupon it immediately shriveled, blackened, and died, proving once and for all that the Euphorbiaceae is the least appreciative plant family. A Gasteria seedling (the last one in this post, the light green one with thin leaves) died on me without warning or explanation. Lost another Polyscias seedling (#10), and now #8 isn't looking so hot.
Even the Schlumbergera seedlings are letting me down a little bit this year. As predicted, I've finally seen some colors outside of the red / orange-red / red-orange / orange / light orange spectrum, which should be good. But A) not nearly as many as I had expected, and B) the non-red/non-orange seedlings have been very similar to plants I already had: the NOID white seedlings have been either white/white or magenta/white, and the NOID magenta seedlings have been magenta/white, white/white, or in the red-to-orange spectrum. The three second-generation seedlings (all from 025A Clownfish) have been orange/white (239A), orange/pink (240A), and red/pink (244A). So I'm not breaking any new ground at all, color-wise.3 Plus, the most recent first blooms have been all chewed-up,
because the thrips have finally eaten enough Schlumbergera petals from the early-blooming seedlings that they've multiplied and prospered. Now the thrips can start attacking the late-blooming buds, meaning the late blooms look like shit as soon as they open.
And this isn't even all; there's one plant-related thing from November/December that is literally still too painful for me to tell you about,4 there's the usual steady stream of Anthurium-seedlings hitting the walls and exploding5 (28 seedlings since mid-November), there are the mostly-disappointing new Anthurium blooms,6 there's the first scale sighting on a Clivia since I've had Clivias. And, mostly, there's the increasingly firm conviction that nothing I do is going to make any of these things go away. There are too many plants, too many hiding places -- the only way forward is to dump a bunch of them, cure the remaining ones, and then build back up again. Or maybe the smart thing would be not to build back up again.
So the reason I haven't been blogging about the plant collection is that the plant collection is horrible, and hurts just to think about, and I've been on the verge of throwing out like 95% of the Anthuriums for something like the last six weeks but haven't been able to bring myself to do it. Throwing them all out is clearly an overreaction, throwing none of them out is obviously an underreaction, throwing some of them out requires hard choices about who lives and who dies and why, plus if I keep a seedling I should have thrown out then I don't even get rid of the problem. So I've been continuing to water and despair, postponing the decision, while everything gets worse. I'm no longer starting new Anthurium seeds already, as of 23 October: the berries just wither and die on the spadices now. This wasn't originally a conscious decision, but once I realized I was doing it, I decided it was just as well, so it's a conscious decision now. Not sure whether I'm going to bother potting up all the seedlings that have already germinated: I'm postponing that decision too.
I'm toying with the idea of going on indefinite hiatus from the blog as of late March, when the last of the 2016 orchid photos is scheduled.7 This is more likely to happen than not, I think, because the plants have been steadily less and less fun over the last five years and there are things I would rather do with my time,8 but I do still want to get the Schlumbergeras named -- hardly urgent, but I've come up with some names I like and want to use them -- and although I'm not sure you need to see all ten, at least half of the Anthurium blooms since the last Anthurium seedling post are interesting in one way or another. So there will probably be some non-orchid posts coming eventually. We'll see how I feel about plants in March. (If you hear me humming "Freedom 90" a lot in February,9 brace yourself.10)
Almost doesn't seem worth bothering with the orchid, but I promised a Phalaenopsis in the title, so here you go.
"Jade" seems like an exaggeration. I mean, yeah, yellow jade is a thing, as an image search will confirm for you, but it's not the color people think of when they hear "jade." I have a note here that the bloom closest to the tip of the spike was darker yellow than the others, but I can't remember whether that means it was the youngest bloom or the oldest bloom. Which direction do Phalaenopsis buds open, again?
I also noted that I got really tired of light yellow, when I was going through the photos from this year's show. Didn't notice it as a theme when I was taking the photos, though.
I found photos of a couple named clones of Norman's Jade ('Green Angel' and 'Montclair Canary'), the first of which seemed sort of green, but alas, both were on a site that sells orchids, and the pages have been taken down since I found them, presumably because they're no longer selling those particular clones.
I suppose in the abstract, this is a nice color,11 but it doesn't do much for me as a Phalaenopsis.
Phalaenopsis Norman's Jade = Phalaenopsis Prospector's Dream x Phalaenopsis Norman's Mist (Ref.)
2 (My own term; I still don't know what they are. I'm positive they're not cyclamen mites or spider mites, though. Or at least not the normal species of cyclamen/spider mites: they're not rounded and shiny enough to be cyclamen mites, and they're the wrong color, and not mobile enough, to be spider mites. They also don't produce webbing like spider mites. Therefore: ghost mites. Until I come up with an ID.)
3 It is beginning to seem plausible that the cross that started this whole thing, the 'Caribbean Dancer' x NOID peach, was the only cross I could have made that would have resulted in anything new or interesting, and it's just dumb luck that it happened to be the cross I started with.
4 Q: well Jesus, Mr. S., if you're not going to tell us what it is then why even bring it up?
A: I don't know. I'm sorry.
5 Dramatization (you have to imagine that the cars are seedlings):
7 Why not immediately? Well, I made notes on the orchid posts when I uploaded the pictures, so I don't have to work as hard to come up with something to say about them. Schlumbergera- or Anthurium-seedling posts require more work. Posts about other plants are even more work than that.
8 Like what? I dunno. Maybe I'll dye my hair. Maybe we'll move somewhere. Etc.
9 (♫ Take back your pictured pollen grains / Take back your yellowed, dead dumb canes / I just hope you understand / Sometimes the plants do not make the man ♩♪)
10 Also, RIP George Michael. :^(
11 I mean, if you get abstract enough, any color is as nice as any other. They're just varying proportions of photons, of different energies, hitting your retina and being interpreted as color by your brain. Seems silly to say this combination of photons is beautiful but that combination of photons is disgusting. But we say that. All the time.