Sunday, 28 October 2012

Its Alive ...Drimia Capensis

 Drimia Capensis was the gift plant I got with my succulent tissue culture order. I don't have much of a clue how to treat this South African bulb and it showed by losing its leave pretty soon after I got it. Apparently it had only gone dormant because it has grown a new leaf. I might have to go and do some more thorough internet research to find out exactly how you should grow this but for now I am quite glad it is in fact alive.

Growth Report: Pachypodium Saundersii

 The Pachypodium Saundersii are now six months old and out of six four have survived. They appear to be slower growers compared to Pachypodium Rosulatum which already had nice little caudexes at this stage. Whether they stayed protected inside or left to their devices outside that has not significantly affected growth. Funnily enough the one seedling that has the best growth and the fattest caudex is the one on the right. It fell of the shelf and as an quick fix it I let it hitch a ride with a Adenium seedling. Apparently this has made it very happy because it is the best looking seedling of the bunch. Is it because it has a slightly deeper pot? Might be but it seems happy like this for the moment.

Only six short month ago.

Growth Report: Agaves

 The AgaveVictoria Reginae and Agave titanota 'Red Catweasel' have both happily grown a couple of new leaves this year. However my feelings about the growth of the two diverge a little bit. First of Red Catweasel is a very new very rare new hybrid so I am very happy it is doing well and it has grown two new leaves. It has lost a little bit of red colour now I put it inside but all in all I am very happy with it. Agave Victoria Reginae  is a bit of a different story. It has undeniably grown.. a bit. The thing is that this agave is prettiest when it is a bit older and forms a lovely globe showing of its variegation. At this rate it is going to take a very very long time to reach that state. When I visited the biggest garden centre a couple weeks back they had several Agave Victoria Reginae much bigger than my one for really not a lot of money at all. I am going to resist temptation and wait patiently while this grows but it is still a bit of a bummer.

Before at the end of May.

Growth Report: Plumeria

 Though they have not yet gone dormant it is fair to say the Plumeria are just about done growing in their second year. Flowers in their second year would have been hoping for too much but at least they have put on a good amount of growth. I lost my biggest seedling last winter to rot so these three are going to be kept warmer and dryer and downstairs so I can keep an eye on them. As you can see the middle on has become especially large which might simply be due to the fact that I potted it up in a slightly larger pot. The thing is that I want them to flower and branch while they are still relatively short so I might not pot them on next spring.

One of the smaller seedlings has branched spontaneously.

Here is the right seedling in the same pot. Comparing these photos you can see that while it is not a huge plant it did in fact grow a lot.

This is a picture of the largest seedling in spring. I still have the makeshift support in place because the stem is a bit thin on the lower side and it needs a bit of support to keep it from keeling over. With the impressive growth this year it needs the support even more.

Now I am really hoping for flower next year. I guess I should really pay more attention to the fertiliser regime next year. The thing is that it is nigh impossible to get a good bloom booster fertiliser here so I might have to get it online. I am so curious whether all three are the Polynesian sunset variety or whether one  of the seedlings is from the generic rubra seeds.

Growth Report: Tylecodon Cacalioides

 Tylecodon Cacalioides (or walichii) was also part of the May order from succulent tissue culture. Quite frankly I thought this plant had died. Late in summer it dropped all its succulent leaves and I decided to keep it dry and hope for the best. As you can see it is still alive and has pushed out some new leaves. I am rather happy because although I managed to propagate a new plant from a fallen leaf I accidently dried it out. I'm a bit stumped as how to treat the plant now since it has started a flush of new growth. I think I'm to let it grow if it wants to. Has it grown much? No, but I sure am happy it is alive.

Growth Report: Aloe Hybrids

Aloe snowflake and Aloe somaliensis x rauhii were part of the May order from succulent tissue culture.  I basically ordered them to bulk out the order and to get some plants that were very hard to get wrong and I liked the variegation patterns on these two. Aloe snowflake even flowered this year with rather lovely flowers. I had not even realised how much they grew in a couple months until I uploaded the before photos.

As you can see it has grown substantially, not only the main rosette but several new pups have formed.

The same goes for Aloe somaliensis x rauhii which has maybe even grown more (but it hasn't flowered).

All in all I'm very happy, lovely hard to kill plants with very nice patterns. As for winter care: they are now on the orchid table inside where they will stay until summer.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Odds and Ends

The one and only Atlantic Giant finally ripened and just in time for Halloween. It isn't huge but will make a good carving pumpkin nonetheless.

The kale is doing great and once we had a couple of nights of frost we can begin harvesting some.

You should always wait for the first frost before harvesting you Jerusalem artichokes but I had to remove some to put of the trellis for the kiwi berries. And they are looking great, big fat tubers without any mole cricket damage.

Finally I stuck in some Anemone blanda corms to provide some colour in spring. Next time garlic...lots of garlic.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Kiwi Berry Project

Couple weeks back at a fall fair I tasted kiwi berries (Actinidia arguta) for the first time..and they are awesome. The size of big grapes they are like miniature kiwis you don't have to peel and just pop into your mouth. I found out that these berries grow on plants that are much hardier than their full sized cousins and picked up four plants to make a little kiwi berry grove on the allotment. First up I made a bit of a makeshift trellis with some bamboo canes.

They grow best in full sun but can tolerate some shade. If they get going they can grow metres of vines in a season so in the end this may not suffice but I rammed 4 large bamboo sticks into the ground.

Added some small cross bamboo sticks for sturdiness and support.
 Here you can see I have a purple and a reddish variety (purple kiwi!)

 And here the normal green one and importantly a male plant. Kiwi berries need a male plant to fertilise the flowers. You can have seven females to one male. They are wind pollinated but this corner of the allotment gets wind from almost all sides so I didn't put the male in a special position.

Here they are planted, it does not look like much yet but by planting them now they still have time to start growing a good rootsystem and get a flying start.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Ed the Hungry Hedgehog

Meet Ed, he is one of the four hedgehogs we are currently fostering. To make sure they grow fat enough to go into hibernation this winter they are fed about every four hours. They are weighed every morning and are growing strongly. Here is a slightly better vid of a feed.

Growth Report: Epiphyllum Cuttings

All the Epiphyllum (I know two of them are a diffrent species but I am still not sure what) cutting I got at the end of May have rooted nicely and almost all of them are putting on new growth (in diffrent ways but still). Only the one right back is not showing much growth but you can see it has fattened up compared to how it looked as a cutting. It is funny to see that some of them form growth at the top and others sprout new shoots at the base. To get them to flower they need a cold period but since these are still probably too small to flower I might keep them growing as long as I can this winter and only but them somewhere colder when they go dormant themselves or maybe in January. I know these like to be pot bound but the ones in the smallest pots will probably need to go up a size regardless.

Assorted Newbies

  I visited the largest garden centre in the Netherlands 'Het Oosten'. It is indeed quite big especially their greenhouses with tropicals and succulents. Their normal garden plant selection was not that impressive (really Global Gardens is bigger and better in that respect) but they did have some banging exotics  They had some ginormous tree grasses and yuccas but those were basicly just for show since I don't see many people coughing up thousands of euros for them. They also had a lot of big succulent specimens that were also impressive but also very expensive. They had large (not branched yet though) Aloe plicatilis and a lot of big caudex plants. Thankfully they also had a good selection of small/young plants for much better prices so I did pick up some of those.

 First of a small Euphorbia obesa. It was not labelled as such but I am pretty sure it is one. There is something really pleasing about the symmetry of this globe.As you can see it got slightly damage in transport and is leaking some latex.  I don't know what it is about South Africa but it does have some of the coolest plants around.

 I like dinosaur age plants and I have had a Cycas Revoluta when I was younger. This has become something of a bog standard house plant and I could easily buy a big plant for not that much money. So why in hell did I buy a seedling? Well, I am not saying it is logical but this seedling just looks so damn elegant and charming with its young fronds. So  I picked up this baby because it was just too darn cute.

 This is a Fockea Edulis and you know I find it hard to resist a new caudiciform plant. I have a feeling this might grow into a nice specimen plant in the next couple of years.

Finally to round out my Pachypodium collection is this Pachypodium Bispinosum seedling. I am growing one Pachypodium species a year from seed (first rosulatum and this year saundersii) and I have a large Pachypodium obesum but this looked like it would fit right in. Almost indistinguishable from obesum except from when it is flowering this small seedling already has a nice looking caudex (about the size of my thumb).

All in all a successful trip and when I have some extra cash to burn on some big specimen plant I know where to go.

Growth Report: Aeonium Schwartzkopf

I brought my Aeonium Schwartzkopf (also known as zwartkop) inside a couple of weeks ago and you can see that it has lost a lot of colour already. I got this plant of eBay almost exactly a year ago ('before shot is the last pic on the page). It is amazing to see how it reacts to light, darkening almost immediately. Aeoniums are known as potentially very fast growers, so in that respect the growth this year is slightly disappointing. It did grow however as you can see. The rosettes have doubled in size (maybe even more than doubled) and there the stems have also grown about twice as long as you can see quite clearly in the pic below.

Here you can see by the colour difference that the branches have grown about twice as long. At the height of summer it went semi dormant and did not grow at all but right now there is actually something of a growth spurt of a couple of fingers breadths. How I am going to prune it will decide how the plant is going to look in the future. Most people strive for a full bushy plant full of rosettes. But I much prefer a plant with a lot of exposed stem, an airy and architectural look. To try and get that look I will postpone pruning it too soon. As soon as you cut of a rosette you encourage branching. I think I will wait with pruning until the branches are twice as long again and then I might cut of one of the rosettes. I will probably have to repot into a larger and mostly heavier pot  because the rosettes have grown so much and it is starting to get a bit top heavy.

Winter care: I have put this inside because the chance of a sneaky frost is a bit too high for my liking. It is still in active growth so I am still watering once a week, though I will nudge it into dormancy in a month or so.

Growth Report: Aloe Plicatilis

The Aloe Plicatilis seedlings have done well this year. From just a green speck in a seed tray at the end of April to these two little seedlings above. 2 seedlings out of 5 may not seem like much but one was never really viable and with two of them I was too quick to pot them on, a lesson I have now learned. With the seedlings they have a tendency to grow ever larger leaves but in the process also use up the smaller leaves so they have continually grown with four leaves. When the fifth leave starts growing the plant consumes the oldest leave, and so on and so on.

The larger plant is one I ordered from succulent tissue culture. I got the plant at the start of May and it has done very well indeed. This one also discards its older leaves but now supports six leaves. I think the seedlings should reach at least this size next year. Also I suspect the seedlings may have more growing power than the tissue culture plant so maybe they will even catch up completely next growing season. As for winter care I have taken them inside and for now they are going to get water ever week since the soil dries out very quickly. I might move one of the seedlings to a colder bedroom at the end of November as a test.
 Germination was at the end of April.

The tissue culture plant with some damaged leaves just after it arrived.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Growth Report: Pachypodium Rosulatum

The Pachypodium Rosulatum seedlings now had two growing seasons and I could not be more pleased with how they are growing. This is how they looked in March, notice how there is not really that much difference between the one grown inside (pic 1) and the one grown outside during its first summer (pic 2).

Look at the difference now! I still kept one outside and one inside but what probably also helped is that the one grown outside got a bigger pot. The one kept inside has grown but nothing compared to the big one.

Seedling one has put out a good amount of leaves but really the growth of the caudex has been disappointing. This one is going in a bigger pot in spring and will be spending its time outside just like its big brother.

 Just look at it! Growing all tall and fat. I know you are supposed to grow caudex plants in a relatively small pot to promote the caudex but I am tempted to move this one up in size again next spring. The only thing that annoys me is that the base of the plant stays so skinny. I think when I repot I will bury it gravel. I have done so a little bit and roots sprouted from it so I think it will be fine to do it with the complete 'stalk' without risking rot. Maybe I will let this one go into dormancy this year ( I didn't last year it just kept going). In about a month I will stop watering and put it in a colder room. Allowing it to go dormant might enable it to flower next year and hopefully also branch. As a bit of an experiment I'll try to keep seedling 1 active for as long as I can.