Friday, September 30, 2011

Recent Additions (Ceropegia linearis 'Woodii')

Ceropegia linearis 'Woodii'

I feel like I've been searching for one of these for forever. There is no reason why it should have taken me this long to find Rosary Vine. This is one of those classic 70's easy to propagate houseplants. I should be seeing specimens that look like this, all over New York.

So I was about to finally give up and order some cuttings from Glasshouseworks when I just happened to come across it at the Union Square Market.

It's started taking off already. Hopefully I'll have one of those super cool classic specimens that I think all house plant enthusiasts would love.

Just look at those cute little leaves... you know you want one.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rainy Morning Propagation

I'm a morning person these days. I don't mean that I couldn't function at night if my work schedule would allow for it but these days I'm more accustomed to getting things done early. So there's nothing like waking up a bit later on the weekends (9 will do) and taking a slow morning to eat breakfast and catching up on some things I've been neglecting around the house.

Autumn is coming soon and already the nights are getting cooler here in New York. Spring or late winter are usually better times for propagation but with the hurricane leaking water into my windows a few weeks ago, I already have some Mammalia cuttings that I've tried to rescue off the water logged mother plant. Cactus and succulent cuttings usually fail from root related problems. If you don't let them heal over before watering, or if you water too much (or too little) the plants are prone to disease and dessication.

Cell Packs Galore!

Apartment living is always a hassle when it comes to keeping plants. If you have a sunny window, cacti and succulents are some of the most forgiving plants. They don't require as much care and diligence as many other plants. They'll allow you to escape the city for a week without dropping dead in mid summer too, something that most other plants won't tolerate. However winter can sometimes be an issue. Many of these plants are sensitive to cold and the severity of their cold sensitivity can be made worse by improper watering.

Remember that every plant is an individual and most have their own specific needs. One should research a plant before acquiring one to insure against disappointment when you realize that you cannot provide the conditions needed to keep the plant from looking like its half dead. Generally, when growing cacti and succulents, I try to keep them all in clay pots. Clay is very porous, it allows for both air and water flow which makes it less likely for plants to rot out in the winter. Which for tribes like Stapeliae, rot is always something to keep an eye out for during the winter. I give most of mine the smallest bit of water in the winter to keep the roots from dying and I make sure they're in small pots. Small pots keep the moist media to root ratio in check.

During the summer, many of my plants tend to put on alot of growth or offsets. While I'm always happy to see my plants doing well, sometimes the pots become over crowded and it becomes difficult to water without added attention. It seemed like most of my unidentified plants were subject to rapid growth this year. I got a Gasteria from a friend two years ago, it was just a few plantlets last year but this year the plants crowded in the pot so tightly that I could only water from bellow. I guess that's really the proper way to water, but I generally don't spend enough time watering that way. I have to assume that the plant I have is Gasteria gracilis. A few of the plants have the gold striping typical of 'Variegata' so that's my best guess. My one 4 inch pot filled four 2 inch pots. Hopefully I can pawn them off on some friends.

I also have what I assume is some sort of Echinopsis. I haven't been taking good care of it either. The mother plant was dropped when we moved, it hasn't been getting enough sun and it was just potted up too soon. So I have an irregularly shaped, offset loaded, dented, lime green, golden barrel cactus. Repotting cacti is always a daunting task. I just never look forward to the prospect of messing up and having a hand full of cactus spines. I moved the cactus down to a smaller pot, removed the offsets and put it in a brighter window. Hopefully the plant will be happy for the windows. 

Why do I care? I have no idea. I will have waay too many barrel cacti in 5 years or so. This is another case where I better hope that some of them die off. (Considering I'm also growing two from seed.)

Ooo Dicots...

 Lastly, I had some Agaves to work on. My Agave 'Kissho Kan' did something like this, all around the pot and all of the pups were causing all the water to run off every time I tried watering.

I also have a plant that was labeled as Agave americana (it definitely is mislabeled) and most of the pups on that have died since I couldn't water around them. For that plant I took off all the dead pups and now the mother plant looks fairly nice.

Well, maybe there will be a plant trade soon. =]

Friday, September 16, 2011

Recent Additions (Faded Edition)

I've added a bunch of plants to my collection over the past month. Most have come from annual displays that have been dismembered. Let's see how long I can keep them alive before I kill them or move on to something else.

Pelargonium x hortum cv 'Vancouver Centennial'

Alright, I'd be lying if I said I was really crazy about Pelargoniums. I see their use as annuals in containers and the like but they're normally not something I would take the time to try to overwinter. For those of you who weren't aware, most annual plants labeled "Geranium" are actually Pelargoniums. Geraniums are a different genus of plants entirely. Common names sure do make a nightmare of things.

Honestly, I'm not too crazy about either plants. We have a bunch of true Geraniums in the park and they're pretty happy and bloom like crazy, but for whatever reason, I'm just not that impressed. I do like the smell of the leaves, but it won't be something I'll be planting at home any time soon. As far as Pelargoniums go, when I first got into plants I knew a bunch of people who were very hyped over "scented geraniums." Sure they smell nice, but I think they're just too much of an old lady plant for me. I guess I'm still not seeing what all the fuss is about, there are plenty of other plants that smell nice and are just way more interesting.

Our spring display ended up with more Pelargoniums then we had originally intended. A bunch of pink flowering ones were donated after they were used as center pieces at one of our fundraisers so my fellow gardener massed them in the annual beds around the playground. We often have serious issues with our four annual beds there. It seems those beds get shadier and shadier every day and between squirrels digging up everything we plant, kids pulling on stuff and people just being slobs, those beds are usually in bad shape. Much to our surprise, the Pelargoniums did great. They bloomed all summer, didn't get disease and survived being dug up just about every other day.

I guess I have to give these another chance but for now there are two varieties that I can say I like. Pelargonium x hortorum 'Tricolor' just has awesome variegation and Pelargonium x hortum cv 'Vancouver Centennial' which remind me of maple leaves. Vancouver Centennial ended up in our display urns this season so now that summer is over, its sitting in my bathroom waiting to get potted a placed in a window. Right now the leaves are pretty faded but hopefully the rusty color will come back once fall hits.

Oxalis vulcanicola 'Copper Glow'

As a kid I always knew oxalis as a weed. I still hear its very weedy in many people's yards, containers and the whole nine yards. I've seen plenty of them sold in March as shamrocks. They're not real shamrocks of course... but I can see why people would relate the two. I've had my eye on Oxalis adenophylla for some time now. I might actually order it for spring next year, if I don't go overboard on species tulips again. It's cheap enough, I just don't imagine it'll perennialize in my father's yard.

Either way, we put 'Copper Glow' in our display urns. It did well. The plants were nice and full, but they really don't have the copper color that they're known for. I'm wondering if this is another plant that has summer fade out. I'll keep you posted. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cyclamen graecum - Part Two

So for those of you have read my last Cyclamen post  you might be interested to know that I've found a serious infestation of Cyclamen mites on  my Cyclamen graecum. I seriously want access to a photomicroscope right now so I can take pictures of these things. Stenotarsonemus pallidus are tiny brown to clear Arachnids. They're sucking 'insects' so they remove sap and nutrients from the plant. They can cause all sorts of problems for cyclamens, begonias, and african violets. They generally cause curling of leaves, stop flowering and create weak plants. I've seen damage on african violets before, but I hadn't seen serious damage on cyclamens.

I'll be honest. I hate mites. I hate spidermites more specifically. I've gotten to the point with spidermites where I go out of my way not to have plants that are prone to them. ...Well, maybe that is not entirely true I still have a Chamaedorea elegans that I got from one of my floral classes. My Schefflera elegantissima kicked it on my vacation so I should be fairly spider mite free this winter. I just have little hope of getting rid of the things these days. I've sprayed everything under the sun, added kept things more humid, sprayed alcohol etc. Nothing ever seems to do the trick. I just end up throwing the plant out after all the leaves are bleached and the plant is on its last leg.

I'm going to try a repot and soap this time and see where it goes. Else, I'll be down to one cyclamen.

Seeing how it looked before, I'm not entirely sure its going to be salvageable anyway.

Flowers and Lions and Bears Oh my!

I love plants who belonging to Asclepiadoideae. In fact.. I'd have to say that most of my house plants string from either this subfamily or from Asparagaceae. So when John Pilbeam recently published Stapeliads, I preordered it on amazon as soon I heard it was coming out. (I'm still drooling over this and hoping that one day I can find a copy to look at.)

Realistically speaking though, most of my plants aren't at flowering age yet. The one exception is seemingly my Huernia macrocarpa which has produced at least one flower about every three weeks throughout the summer. I've been very pleased with this specimen. I haven't had any winter rotting. Its flowered enough where I've been able to identify what it is (because Asclepiads are never labeled for whatever reason). So far, no complaints. One other thing about Asclepiads is that they usually are pollinated by flies and like insects so their flowers often give of the smell of rotting flesh. I've detected a faintly unpleasant smell with this one, but I really have to stick my face in the thing to notice it.

Huernia macrocarpa (and coffee pot.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cyclamen graecum ssp. anatolicum Rhodes Form

Part of being a plant geek includes picking up plants that you have no business owning. This happens all on a whim, against your greater judgement. For me it tends to happen way more in the winter when I'm garden starved and nothing new has caught my eye outside. 

Sometime in late February we headed out to a witch hazel talk down at Rarefind Nursery.We ran into the Tylers who were selling a ton of Hellebores and we got to talk with them about their book. There was also a cyclamen grower there who had a ton of irresistible, adorable specimens.

I've taken care of florist's cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) for quite awhile now. I've never had it go dormant on me either which I hear is pretty unusual. Not to mention the thing blooms every 4 months for me. With that in mind, I figured that I could probably handle one that would be a little more exotic. It is pretty big and leggy now, but considering it hasn't hit dormancy, I'm impressed.

I ended up picking Cyclamen graecum ssp. anatolicum. Edgewood gardens has some other lovely pictures.

Unfortunately this is the only picture I have of my specimen. Its the small thing in the glass terrarium. Schrodinger doesn't look too impressed either.

"Cyclamen graecum. This interesting and charming autumn-flowering species forms an entity of its own, with several characters that are unique to the genus. The species Cyclamen graecum is grown for its autumn flowers as well as for its handsome and often striking foliage, which comes in a great range of patterning and colouring. It is native to southern Greece, the Greek Islands, southern Turkey and Cyprus and blooms from September to November and has pale to deep pink flowers with 3 magenta pencil-line streaks at the base of each petal and auricles around the mouth. The tuber is globose and corky and fleshy roots come from the center underside. Cyclamen leaves change even in the same season (but also from season to season as the plant matures). Cyclamen graecum ssp. graecum is found on mainland Greece and some of the Islands. It hasovate leaves that are green or grey-green and pink flowers with well-developed auricles that are mostly unscented and marked with a basal blotch that extends along the veins. Its flowers appear above, or before the wonderfully patterned leaves." (

Sounds nice huh?
This is mostly what mine has looked like since April.

One leaf.

We'll see. Maybe this will go under plants I've killed sometime soon.

I'm going to try more light. I hope that will work. I've just been very disappointed with this thing so far and considering that it should be flowering soon, its got of catching up to do.