Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Pachypodium Succulentum In Flower

I really shouldn't surprised that my Pachypodium Succulentum started flowering in December. Last year, if I remember correctly, it flowered in winter as well. However I had basically been putting this plant through the motions of getting it to go into dormancy. It didn't get any water since mid November and I was almost ready to put it in a cooler spot. But just in time for Christmas it has decided to bloom with its candy striped flowers. In the end I am glad I decided to prune them in early spring.

So far there are just two branches in bud, so it won't make much of a show piece, still there are plenty more flowers to come.

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Monday, 10 December 2012

Crassula ´Gollum´

Just in time for the release of The Hobbit, I scored this little Crassula ´Gollum´. Now I will admit I was a bit snobby over these rather ubiquitous Jade plants but this variety is really rather cool looking. It ticks all the boxes that I like, namely a succulent that grows to look like a little tree. The curled leaves look appropriately alien.

As you can see the plant is covered with water stains so I will shower it with some rain water soon. Also rather likable is the fact that this came nice and cheap. There are three plants to the pot which makes it about 70 cents per plant. Come spring I will divide them and pot them up separately  because I want to stress the ´tree´ aspect and not the ´bushy´ look. Apparently these are really really hard to kill and quite the growers when they are happy. I imagine a large specimen of this plant is quite impressive.

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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Mealybugs Nooooo!

The Pachypodium Bispinosum I bought some time ago has not been particularly happy. I noticed some time ago that the caudex was feeling a bit soft but wasn´t sure if it was rot or dehydration. After inspection yesterday I saw the whole plant was covered in mealybugs and it was time for action.

So now I have a soft trunked and mealy bug infested plant that is obviously not happy. Time to try and remove the bugs. I rinsed the plant with some soapy tepid water which removed most of the bugs but not all of them. I removed the plant from its pot and saw there were very few roots, especially in relation with the upper branches.

So I decided to give the plant a haircut. I removed the three big branches and with it most of the mealybugs. I made sure to remove all remaining bugs from the plant. Now it is going to dry out a for a couple of days and I am going to force it to hibernate by keeping it cooler and dryer. I don´t think there is rot in in the caudex and the caudex if fat enough to handle some drought. Hopefully this plant will start growing a healthy root system again in spring so it can support the new branches. I will be spending more time on bug patrol from now on. I would normally prune pachypodium at the beginning of the growing season and not the end but in this case I think it is wiser to take direct action.

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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Birthday Presents

My cousin generously gifted me with a garden centre gift card for my birthday (thanks Su!). So I went and checked out the bargains. There were a lot of orchids on sale now they are almost finished blooming. I was very tempted by some huge (I mean HUGE) pots of Oncidium and Brassia hybrids but I ended up choosing a Zygopetalum since I don't have that one yet. Besides even though it is in a normal sized orchid pot it is stuffed with bulbs so will be repotted into a slightly larger pot come spring. Usually these are quite expensive at this garden centre but since it is almost done flowering it was on the sale table. I have seen pictures of Zygopetalum with a lot of blue in the flowers which this one unfortunately doesn't have but it still is a pretty cool flower.

This is Nepenthes 'Bloody Mary' which I had in my vivarium but which unfortunately died. But I liked the plant so much that I bought this nice large specimen. I might divide this eventually and try it again in the vivarium but for now its main task is to look pretty and to catch any escaped fruit flies.

Finally I also bought a NOID little cactus for the sole reason that I thought it would look great in macro shots. Edit: I think I have IDed it as Ferocactus Macrodiscus

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Sunday, 25 November 2012

Schlumbergera Time-Lapse

I've wanted to make Time-Lapse video's for forever and now I have a DSLR I finally can. The process itself is quite frankly rather complicated and by the flicker in the video you can see I still have some way to go before I perfect this form. I'm going to make a blog post on my other blog about the techniques I used (and mistakes I made) making this vid and I'll post a link here when that is written. This winter I can practice on some forced bulbs and the like. This was a tiny 1 euro Schlumbergera and seemed like a prime candidate to practice on. I have some paper white narcissi and an amarylis lined up next. Hopefully by next spring I'll be good and brave enough to make some Time-Lapses of my more valued plants.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Dendrobates Aureus Microspot

Not easy to take a good photograph of my pretty poisoned tree frogs. Not only are they quite skittish but it seems near impossible to get the lighting right. The terrarium will need a bit of a renovation this winter. I made the background and sides using the clay (kitty litter) method but it is difficult to keep that wet enough to be stable. I also hope one of the many orchids decide to bloom sometime in the near future.

You can see he/she is geting more mature now the black spots are taking on a bronze colour.


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Sunday, 18 November 2012

Fun With New Camera

I finally have a proper camera (birthday present), it is a Canon 600d and as you can imagine I am having some fun with it. There are not a lot of flowers around at the moment but still there is enough to practise on. This is a little hybrid Dendrobium, nothing special per se but I am happy I got it to rebloom since I don't have much luck with Dendrobiums in general.

Thankfully the Prosthechea Cochleata (Encyclia Cochleata) is still in flower, those flowers deserve their close up.

 There were also some flowers outside ready for their shot.

 A thistle looking all nice and symmetrical.

And the last of the Rhapsody in Blue roses. The photo could be a bit sharper but it shows just how nice the colour of this rose is.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

NOID Euphorbia Identified

When I got this little Euphorbia for the staggering amount price of 50 cents at an mixed succulent table I had no idea what it was. I gathered it was an Euphorbia because the leaves reminded me so much of Euphorbia bupleurifolia. Well after some eBay browsing trying to find an elusive Euphorbia 'ghost' I stumbled on a plant marked Euphorbia japonica and it looked exactly like my little NOID. Some googling later I am convinced that it is indeed Euphorbia japonica. It is actually a cross between Euphorbia bupleurifolia (whoo me for recognising) and Euphorbia susannae. In Europe they often label it Euphorbia japonica. Anyway I think it was quite the steal.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Winter Storage for Summer Bulbs

Though it isn't freezing yet all the summer bulbs have lost their foliage and are ready to be stored for winter.
First off the last Pleine that needs storing. My other Pleiones already lost their foliage and were stored two weeks ago but the Pleione Formosana kept going for a little bit longer.

It has a nice and rather pretty fat bulb that should store without any problems.

The method I am using is a bit unusually but still very simple. I add a bit of the moist bark from the pot to a zip lock baggie and add the bulb and the label. Pleione can overwinter completely dry but a tiny bit of moisture to prevent dessication is a plus. Just seal the baggie and put it in the veg crisper in your fridge. In a couple of months you get them out again for a nice spring display.

Pleasingly the Gloriosa Rothchildiana tubers have doubled going from three to six. Due to the crappy summer  we may not have had a grand flower display but it hasn't hurt the bulbs from growing fat and plenty.

This next one is still a NOID but it has white trumpet like flowers that smell nice at night. there are still only three bulbs but especially the one on the left has tripled in size.

   I have left the best for last. The Commelina started out this year as three octopus like clumps but when I turned over the pot it was completely stuffed with bulbs (or tubers). I can fill at least four pots next year and I might even put a couple into the allotment and my grandmother's garden to add a bit of colour in summer.

I am really chuffed with how well they all multiplied and they should provide a abundance of flowers next year. Last year I removed all the earth and kept them between some newspaper in the shed. This year I shook of most of the soil and layered them in a pot and put them in the shed. Here is a picture of the summer bulbs in Spring.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Growth Report: Aeonium Velour

 The Aeonium 'Velour' has proved to be an easy and above all easily propagated plant. Together with my Ceathea Australis I moved it to my grandmothers annex to be relatively cool but frost free in winter. Already it has lost most of its colour now there is less light. The biggest problem with this big headed Aeonium has been the fact that the branches have some trouble supporting the big rosettes. Because of this I now have 9 rooted cuttings (I say cuttings but they basically just fell off and I stuck them into the ground somewhere).

 To get a more open plant and to hopefully prevent more branches falling off I cut off two rosettes on the lower branches. As you can see the bare branch has now exploded with tiny new rosettes forming. It seems to suggest that you can prune an Aeonium almost anytime you want, especially if it is still growing.

 In the end I might end up doing this for more branches to create a taller and more open plant. Next year I am going to repot this (though likely back into the same pot) because the fact that it is not planted in the centre is giving me a headache.

As for the gazilion cutting I have at the moment, If anyone is interested in one leave a message. I am going to be experimenting a bit with leaving them out in the cold. Secretly I am hoping some damage to the growth centre might result in a cristate.

And now a pic from when I got it in March.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Growth Report: Gasteria carinata cv. Snowstorm

Gasteria carinata cv. Snowstorm has done well, it has grown a couple of leaves and a new offset. It lost the reddish colour it had in spring which I guess if because it hasn't got a whole lot of sunlight. I am still quite enamoured with the pattern and hope it pups freely to become a nice pot filler.

 Here is the before picture from when I got it in spring.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Growth Report: Adenium

So this is how all my Adenium look after their second summer. It has not been a particularly good summer and I think that goes some way towards explaining why they have not grown that much. No flowers yet (they are capable of blooming in their first year though that is rare) and though they have grown they have not done it that fast. That said most have grown a little caudex and branched. And when you take some side by side with pictures from spring you can see that they have indeed grown up a bit.

Here I have Adenium Arabicum 'Desert Night Fork' (the biggest plant in the group photo).

And here are the two Adenium arabicum 'Desert night fork'  in March. The test was to see if a bigger pot would mean more growth. And indeed it seemed this has had some effect. On the other hand the other arabicum that I left in a small pot is the second largest Adenium in the group shot so it seems that genetically this one is programmed to grow bigger and faster than their obesum brothers.

 Here we have Adenium obesum 'Fragrant star' , when looking at the photo's from March you can see this has done some admirable growing. It is sprouting a multitude of branches at the moment which is going to make for a nice specimen.

 Here is one with my finger next to it for perspective.

Here are the fragrant stars in March. I guess you can say that though they haven't grown much taller they are shedding their seedling look and getting nice caudex and looking much sturdier.

This is probably my favourite. It is Adenium  obesum 'Dwarf Black Giant' which is meant to stay quite short. But its main attraction is the colour of the stem which gets darker with sun exposure. It is getting nice and fat and has nice low and symmetrical branches, I think this will be a very good looking plant.

Here it is in spring as you can see it has done some good growing and it gained a lot of colour in the sun.

I think I am wrong to be too disappointed with the growth this year. There are websites claiming you can grow big specimens in a matter of years but I am not sure you should want this. Most of my plants have gone from being short thin and soft seedlings to indeed still short but much sturdier and 'adult' looking plants (some have not yet grown a caudex but most have). I am actually quite pleased with how stubby they remained seeing as it was quite a dark summer and I could have ended up with lanky plants that would never be able to grow into nice specimens. Last winter I kept them watered and heated on the radiator and I did not let them go dormant. This meant that they grew all winter (albeit slowly). This year I think it would be best to let them go dormant, especially the arabicums. For now I still water them and I have them on the orchid table but come December I will stop watering and move them to a cooler bedroom when completely dry. I might only do this with the ones that have a caudex because those without one might not have enough water stored to survive dormancy. Come spring all are getting repotted. Some will go onto other pots but others will just get new soil. Then I can check if it is indeed true that smaller pots mean bigger caudex.