Thursday, June 30, 2011

Another aroid from seed

Growing plants from seed has never been my strong suit.  I'm not sure what I would say my strong suit has been, but seed has not been it.  My first encounter with seed grown aroids was more than a year ago, at the 2nd MidAmerica chapter meeting, when an IAS member, Danny, offered me a seedling Anthurium plowmanii he had grown from seed he collected at a Chicago botanic garden.  The plant was small, but seemed healthy.  For whatever reason it has stayed small and healthy looking.  Seriously, in the more than 15 months that I have had the thing, it hasn't done diddly squat.  That is, until about a week ago.  For some reason those stagnant, tiny leaves started to get bigger...

Anthurium plowmanii seedling, finally starting to grow.
The same IAS member recently sent me three pots with seedlings he had started of Anthurium bakeri.  I put the little pots in a couple of different places and two of them got hammered by the hail a couple of weeks ago.  They have since been moved into the greenhouse, where they might get a little hotter, but will be more protected from the wind and elements.

Anthurium bakeri seedling also from Danny
I have recently had the opportunity to start a couple of different aroids from seed and had some success, so I thought I would share the pictures of my own little aroidlings (aroid seedlings).  The Anthurium pallidiflorum seeds I got from Albert and planted back in April are holding steady.  Not a lot of growth lately, but they seem to be doing okay.  Maybe they will burst forth after 15 months, like the A. plowmanii!

Anthurium pallidiflorum I started from seed - pictured on April 23.
My friend, Leland, sent me several hundred seeds from one of his hybrid meconostigma Philodendron that recently flowered and fruited.  I then sent a bunch of the seeds to 5 or 6 different people around the country that were interested in trying to grow these plants.  We all had very good germination rates.  I didn't count the number of seeds that I carelessly scattered over sphagnum moss, but I wouldn't be surprised if every one of them had germinated.  It certainly seems that way.

Hybrid Philodendron seedlings
The really cool thing about aroid seeds is how fast they germinate.  I mean, it was a matter of a day or two before they were popping open and showing their cotyledon leaves.  It was several more weeks before the first true leaf would arrive for me.  But even then, I had a small plant in very little time.

Pinellia seedlings
Hybrid Philodendron seedlings showing the first true leaves.  The true leaves are the cordate (heart-shaped) ones.  2011-07-01 Correction: Hybrid Philodendron seedlings, still not showing the true leaves.  Cordate leaves are Pinellia tripartita seedlings.
Leland doesn't know the exact parentage of these seeds, but we know that Philodendron stenolobum is involved.

Another IAS friend and fellow blogger, Derek, sent me some seeds from his Pinellia tripartita, which had bloomed and fruited recently.  Unfortunately, neither of us had any luck getting these to germinate, so perhaps they weren't viable. [2011-07-01 Update: I was wrong!  The cordate leaves above are actually the Pinellia seedlings!  So I got germination from those seeds after all, and my Philodendron seedlings are not as far progressed as I had thought.]

If my Aglaonema berries ever mature, maybe I'll finally get to give them a try.  They have been on the plant for several months now, but I am waiting until they start to fall off the plant to know they are ripe.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Amorphophallus growth

My aroid friend Jason and I have been talking and trading plants a  lot this summer.  He is an Amorphophallus nut and he's been giving me some of his extra tubers, so now I have a little Amorphophallus jungle of my own.

Amorphophallus konjac
Amorphophallus konjac petiole
I have several Amorphophallus konjac, probably the most commonly kept species.  One of these I planted in the ground last fall and it came up recently.  I had thought that it must have died over the winter because my potted tubers had already come up.  Jason said the ones planted in the ground are slower to come up and to keep watching.  Finally it emerged.

Amorphophallus albus
I also planted one Amorphophallus albus tuber last fall, and it was even slower to come up. In the meantime, Jason gave me another pot of this species.

Amorphophallus yuloensis
I have one pot of Amorphophallus yuloensis, which are a little slower than the albus to emerge.

Amorphophallus symonianus
And the Amorphophallus symonianus are even a little slower than the yuloensis.

Anchomanes nigritianus
This last one isn't from Jason and it's not an Amorphophallus.  But it is a tuberous aroid, so I thought I'd go ahead and include it.  It is Anchomanes nigritianus, which I got from the Fort Worth Botanic Garden at our third MidAmerica chapter meeting.

I'm hoping next year a couple of my tuberous aroids might produce an inflorescence for me.  I haven't had one yet.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Amaryllis in bloom

I have gotten several Amaryllis bulbs over the years and have kept them alive, with leaves nearly all of the time, but rarely get blooms from them.  About a month ago, my friend, fellow IAS member and plant blogger Jason was at my house standing in the greeenhouse, talking plants.  He's a big Amaryllis nut and I mentioned that I had three growing on the bottom shelf there in the greenhouse.  I mentioned that I just let them grow year round and don't bother forcing dormancy or anything.  He said that is really the best way to grow them.  But, I told him, mine never bloom...  That's when he said, "But, you've got one about to bloom right now!"

My recent Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bloom
I looked down to see that one of the Amaryllis had, sure enough, put up a stem, which was growing through the next shelf level.  I carefully removed the plant from the shelves and brought it in the house to a sunny window, where it opened a couple of days later.  None of my plants were labeled - probably from the beginning - since they were grocery store bought bulbs.  But this one has really nice vibrant red and white blooms.  Up close the flower is even more attractive.

Closeup of Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)
I looked back in my blog history and could only find one other picture of one of my Amaryllis bulbs in bloom.  Thankfully it was a picture of both of the other two plants, so now I know what I have - a solid red, a solid pink and a red and white striped.  I don't know the names, but maybe Jason will help me out with that over time.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Plant Find: Beallara orchid

My parents visited San Francisco a couple of weeks ago.  While they were there they visited the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers and saw lots of really neat orchids.  They visited another place where you can see orchids, as well - Trader Joe's grocery store!

Beallara Eurostar 'Green Valley'
They found this cool orchid and brought it home to me.  It is Beallara Eurostar 'Green Valley.'  To be honest, I hadn't heard of the Beallara genus before.  The flower looks kind of like a Brassia to me, with long spider-like petals.  This particular orchid has really neat colors in the flowers.

Beallara Eurostar 'Green Valley'

My mom named him Sylvester. :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Microburst = microplants

Over the last couple of years, our quiet little college town of Norman, Oklahoma has been hit with the full spectrum of natural (non-major) disasters.  Last year we had several wildfires that really scared some residents (who fortunately only lost trees, grass and a couple of fences).  We've had 3 tornadoes within city limits in the last 3 years (2 of them fatal).  We had an earthquake measuring somewhere between 4.3 and 5.1 on the Richter scale.  We've had flash flooding and three pretty substantial snowstorms, including one on Christmas Eve.  We had an ice storm that mangled all of our trees and knocked out electricity for most of Norman for a couple of days.

Angry mammatus clouds, just 30 minutes before the madness ensued.
Lately it's been really hot (>100F) and dry (actually kind of humid, but no precipitation).  Literally out of the blue, a storm formed just a county west of us last Tuesday (June 14) in the early evening.  It quickly turned into a beast and dumped some really heavy rain and hail on Norman.  When one of these storms creates a strong surge of precipitation and air towards the ground, it is called a downburst (or microburst).  When all of this momentum hits the ground, it spreads out, creating very strong horizontal winds.  In this case there were measured winds in excess of 70 miles per hour.  There are likely locations without wind gauges which had speeds around 90 mph.

Norman microburst June 14, 2011. This is the best picture I captured with my iPhone during the event.
This microburst in Norman caused lots of houses to have shingle damage, downed fences, broken windows, battered trees and associated damage.  My sister's chimney blew off their house.  Some people who don't understand the physics behind this process claim there had to have been a tornado to cause the damage they see, but it was definitely a downburst.

Philodendron cordatum with holes punched in the leaves. Those are not natural fenestrations.
For the last couple of weeks my poor plants have been requesting a little drop of rain.  What they got instead was about 10 minutes of crazy wind and a pelting from marble to golf ball sized hail stones.   The more fortunate (top heavy) plants tipped over quickly and were laying on the ground in somewhat of a sheltered position.  The other plants really took a beating.  To give you an idea of the storm, watch this video.  Here's another.  Since Norman is a town full of weather nerds, you can find plenty of videos and photos, if you search "Norman June 14 microburst".

Philodendron bipennifolium with holes punched in the leaves.
Many of my plants with "tougher" leaves are showing damage in the form of black or white bruises  where they were pelted with hail stones.  My Brassovola orchids which were sitting outside are showing white bruises, which I think is really interesting.  The pineapple plant is showing both black and white bruises.

Pineapple leaves with damage.
Thankfully, I don't think any of my plants are dead from this storm and my greenhouse survived without any noticeable signs of damage.  (Oh yeah, our house is okay, too.  But that's really of less concern, right?)  Most of the plant damage is just a setback or cosmetic.  My plants which were sitting outside are not going to look nice for a while, but they'll most likely all survive.  Probably the worst injury was an Aglaonema, which snapped along the stem.  But it was not the only stem of that species that I had, and the snapped stem will probably put out new growth shoots within a month.

Completely beat up Beefsteak Begonia. This thing used to have quite a few leaves.
This Beefsteak Begonia got totally battered.  The good news is that it is one of 2 or 3 that I have and the others look pretty good.  Also, this plant grows super fast and gets pretty big.  I'm not all that worried about it, just showing it for illustration purposes.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Trip Report: This and that in northern Arkansas

For our six year anniversary, Christie and I went to Eureka Springs for the weekend.  It was a relaxing weekend getaway.  Here are some snapshots of different plants we saw on our trip - ones I don't see often (or ever).

Large flowerbed of red Monarda
One plant that I have never seen before in person (that I can recall), but have seen in the plant catalogs is Monarda.  There were a lot of these in Eureka Springs.  They are really attractive when in bloom, but are tall and gangly.  They could be mistaken for a weed, if not obviously planted in a well-maintained flowerbed.

Canna at the Crescent Hotel
The canna above was growing in the gardens of the hilltop Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs.  We toured the notoriously quirky Quigley's Castle, known as "the Ozark's strangest dwelling."  I debated writing a whole post about this place, but decided to just include it in this post with other plants from the area.  This house has flowerbeds inside the house around the entire perimeter, with plants growing up against the windows two storeys high - Bougainvillea, Hibiscus, Epiphyllum, Asparagus fern and others.  The most impressive plants (by virtue of their health and attractiveness) were the African violets and relatives.  The Flame Violets (Episcia) were particularly striking.

Various blue, purple and pink African violets (Saintpaulia) and red Flame violets (Episcia) in bloom.
The house - excuse me, "castle" - is surrounded by really nice gardens with some neat plants.  One of them looked a lot like Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum) to me, but was obviously something different.  It had some seed heads developing on it, so I had missed the flowers, unfortunately.  I posted photos of this plant on a forum and also sent pictures to a friend who lives in NW Arkansas.  They told me this plant is Uvularia grandiflora.

Uvularia grandiflora (Bellwort)
I looked at some photos online and it is really neat when in bloom.  I liked it even out of bloom for the interesting way the leaves attach to the stem.  They are called "perfoliate" leaves, which means that the leaf (or foliage) is seemingly pierced (or perforated) by the stem - perfoliate.  Perfoliate leaves are a subcategory of "sessile" leaves.  Sessile means that the leaf is attached directly to the main stem without a stalk or peduncle leading to the leaf base.

Uvularia grandiflora (Bellwort).  Check out the unusual (perfoliate) way the leaves attach to the stem.
On our way home we passed through Bentonville (headquarters of Wal-Mart), following our outdated GPS directory to a once-existent location of the famous AQ Chicken House.  After finding this location was no longer opened, we headed to Springdale, the original location.  Thanks to this detour, we happened upon a nice nursery, which Christie let me enjoy, giving our bellies a little more time to get hungry for lunch since it was still early.  The blue-gray leaved plant below is now on my landscape plant wish list.  Isn't it awesome?  I just need to find a place to plant it.  Then I need to find one for sale closer than Arkansas!

Fothergilla major Blue Shadow
At our most recent MidAmerica chapter meeting of the IAS several members were discussing hardy plants (to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas) that have that tropical look, with large, glossy leaves.  There was a plant growing at this nursery (below) that, upon first glance, I thought was a Philodendron.  Pretty quickly I realized it was not a Philodendron, and not even a tropical.  It is Acanathus mollis 'Oak Leaf', commonly called Bear's Breeches (what a weird name for a plant...).

Acanthus mollis 'Oak Leaf' aka Bear's Breeches
The nursery had these large Begonias going for $30 each.  That's more than I want to spend for a Begonia, but they were very mature and an attractive variety - in nice pots, no less.

And yes, I did buy a couple of small plants at the nursery - a yellow shrimp (Pachystachys lutea) and a red shrimp (Justicia brandegeana).  I've had both of these in the past, but lost mine.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Daylilies blooming at the chapel

My wife's family owns a wedding chapel just outside of town.  For the past couple of years Christie and I have helped maintain the flowerbeds and do other projects.  This year we've handed the job over to some other relatives who wanted a side job, but when we were there recently I got to see some of the fruits of our labor.

Hemerocallis 'Always Afternoon'
The Daylilies we planted a couple of years ago are all in bloom.  It is nice to see some splashes of color on an otherwise green palette of grasses and other drought-hardy plants.

Peach daylilies

There are several of these peach-colored daylilies and they are also the most prolific bloomers of the bunch.

Hemerocallis 'Irving Hepner'
I don't recall all the varieties that we ordered, but they are all doing really well, spreading and blooming more each year.  I'm wondering if any of these will naturally cross-pollinate.  Does anyone know?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Plant Find: Helping out the poor orchid sellers from eBay...

Lately I have just felt so sorry for those poor people who sell orchids on eBay that I have given them all of my plant allowance.

Bepi. Femme Fatale - Notice that there is a bud spike beginning to emerge from the center!
This Bepi. (Brassoepidendrum) is really cool in bloom, and pretty neat foliage when it's not.  The blooms have cool speckling of purple overlaying white and greenish-yellow petals.  The plant is pretty small, but it must not get very large when mature, because it is already producing buds.  This is a blooming size plant!  I've got a pretty good collection of miniature orchids now, which is nice, since room in my greenhouse is limited.

Dendrobium atroviolaceum with several large buds, ready to open anyday.
Sometimes I am a little disappointed with plants that arrive on my doorstep, being a little smaller than they appeared in the pictures online or being a little worse-for-wear after shipping.  One case where this definitely was not true was with the Dendrobium atroviolaceum which came in this shipment.  The ebay seller used reverse psychology on me, posting pictures of the plant in bloom but stating that the plant was no longer in bloom.  The plant I received had a couple of half-spent flowers on it and, upon closer inspection, quite a few bud spikes starting.  The plant looks really healthy and I feel good about the chance of these buds opening for me!

Dendrobium victoria-reginae
I can't say that this Dendrobium has been on my want list for a long time, but I can say that it has been at the top of my list from as soon as it was on the list.  I know: It looks really pathetic.  But take a look at this picture and tell me I'm a fool for buying it!  (I won't say confess how much I paid.)

Hamelwellsara June 'Indigo Sue'
My Hamelwellsara (above) was also posted as a non-blooming plant, but came to be with flowers open and many more buds ready to follow!  The color of this bloom (below) is just amazing.  It is closely related to the Zygopetalum genus, as you might have guessed.

Hamelwellsara June 'Indigo Sue'
I also purchased two small Brassovola glauca 'Woltmon' orchids (below).  These have really neat creamy white blooms that appear just at the top  of the cluster of leaves - not on long spikes or racemes, like many other orchids.

Brassovola glauca 'Woltmon'
The species name 'glauca' refers to the powdery coating on the leaves which makes them appear bluish-gray (not so obvious in my picture above).  Another plant which has the name 'glauca' is the blue fescue grass (Festuca glauca).

Megaclinium saurocephalum
The next orchid (above) was sold as Megaclinium saurocephalum.  I have also seen this plant with the genus name Bulbophyllum and I haven't yet determined which is considered the current valid name.  Either the Megaclinium genus was sunk into the huge Bulbophyllum genus, or divided out.  Either way, it's a really cool plant.

Megaclinium saurocephalum bloom spike
Don't you just love the weirdness of this bloom spike?

Megaclinium saurocephalum spike closeup
Hopefully I'll have some bloom photos to share soon from my Dendrobium atroviolaceum and Bepi Femme Fatale!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Plant Find: Two new Passionflowers, one in bloom

Since our family cruise over Thanksgiving last year left from Galveston, Texas I figured it would be a good opportunity to visit a nursery or two that has some tropical plants.  I did a little scouting ahead of time and asked for some recommendations from people that live in the area.  I ended up stopping at the Houston nursery of "Zone 9 Tropicals", which specializes in Gingers, Passionflowers and other flowering vines.

Christie really liked the historic neighborhood and will be happy to go back there again.  She wandered the streets while I wandered around looking at the plants.

Passiflora 'Lady Margaret'
My first bloom from Passiflora 'Lady Margaret'
I purchased 5 plants in all from Zone 9, including two Passiflora.  The first is Passiflora 'Lady Margaret'.  This is one of the more popular red(ish) Passionflowers.  It is a hybrid of P. coccinea and P. incarnata.  That first parent is more of a solid red, while the hybrid 'Lady Margaret' is a wine red.  You can see the influence of P. incarnata in the wavy tendrils.  Passiflora incarnata has very long, wavy tendrils.

Passiflora 'Sunburst' leaves in the signature "batwing" shape.
The second is Passiflora 'Sunburst'. This is a hybrid of P. gilbertiana and P. jorullensis.  The small flowers have incredible colors and apparently smell like turpentine.  The leaves of this plant are also very unique.  Since mine hasn't bloomed yet, I am just enjoying the leaves.  I need to get this one put on a trellis.  For now, it is growing in the greenhouse, kind of laying up against the bark wall, but not really attaching to anything and not getting as much light as it would probably prefer.

Underside of Passiflora 'Sunburst' leaves.
Neither of these Passifloras are hardy in my zone 7a region, so I will need to overwinter them in the greenhouse.  I'm hoping I can get my 'Sunburst' to bloom this summer.

Monday, June 6, 2011

DIY trellis

For the last couple of years we have had a couple of non-hardy plants growing on trellises that we transport back and forth from the greenhouse to the back fence with the changing seasons.  This way we can enjoy some near-tropical climbing and flowering plants in the yard during the summer and keep them alive over the winter.  I mounted brackets on the back fence for reattaching the trellises each year and I have Christie help me move the potted plant, attached to the trellis back and forth.

One of our purchased trellises.  Notice the Passiflora bloom.  More on that later...
This year I had another plant (or two) that I wanted to add to the shuffle, but I was out of trellises.  I knew that I could buy another trellis to match the ones I have, but it would require a trip to Oklahoma City and also would cost a bit of moolah.  And we had some wood lying around...

Veritable smorgasbord of unknown projects
So I decided to just make my own trellis.  It's a pretty simple contraption and it didn't even need to be an exact match to look legit.  After previous unpleasant incidents with the circular saw, I had Christie on hand to help me hold the wood while I was cutting these slivers of wood.  It helps to have a supervisor nearby who reminds you not to do stupid things - like getting your fingers in the way of whirring blades that don't notice the difference in wood and finger.

My new trellis, crafted by moi.
About fifteen minutes of work and we had a new trellis mounted on the back fence with my Flame Vine (Pyrostegia venusta) planted at the base.  (and I still had all my fingers!)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Plant Find: Two new jewel orchids

My good friend, Warren, recently sent me some starts to a couple of jewel orchids.  This is the same Warren who gave me the Sarcoglottis last year.  What a great friend!

My new jewel orchids are Macodes petola and Ludisia discolor.

Macodes petola
The Macodes has bright green leaves (though mine are more yellow right now) with prominent veins that look like gold thread.  They are notoriously hard to photograph in a way that shows off their attractive veins.

Ludisia discolor
The Ludisia looks similar to another jewel orchid in the Macodes genus - Macodes lowii.  However, M. lowii has rounder leaves and more prominent branching of the veins, while Ludisia discolor has pointed leaves and bold red parallel veins.  Both of these orchids have very dark leaves, but I think Ludisia discolor is darker.  In fact, Ludisia discolor is sometimes called "The Black Jewel Orchid."

The newly dedicated orchid terrarium
I talked with Warren about how to best grow these orchids, since they are a little different from some of the others that I grow and he suggested a terrarium.  So, I decided to do a little remodeling in my tall glass terrarium that has been more or less vacant for a while.  It now contains these two jewel orchids, my Macodes lowii and an Anthurium bakeri seedling.  I am setting this terrarium in a shady place in my greenhouse and hoping to get some good results from these orchids.

What do you think?