Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Plant Find: Dragonfruit

The Dragonfruit plant (Hylocereus, also called Pitaya) is a climbing cactus which produces tasty horned fruits after it blooms.  The plant is closely related to Epiphyllums, the orchid cacti, and the blooms look nearly identical.  One of my blogging friends recently took a trip to Thailand and got to see dragonfruit growing in an orchard.  These gangly plants are growing in a tangled mess on top of poles in a big field.  It's crazy to see.

After I saw Derek's pictures, I decided I need to try out this plant myself.  I'm not a big cactus guy, but I do like my Stapelias and I'm excited about the possibility of my Epiphyllums blooming for me one day.  So I got on eBay and found an inexpensive cutting of a dragonfruit hybrid, which has red fruits - Hylocereus polyrhizus x. H. undatus.  The cutting was not really rooted, but I was assured that it would be easy to root.  So I stuck it in some potting soil when it arrived in the mail just two weeks ago.

Hylocereus sending up a new growth
I don't know what's going on underneath the soil, but up here it's doing really well, producing new growth!   It must enjoy 100+ temperatures.  Now I just need to decide whether I want it to climb a totem or let it dangle from the pot like most Epiphyllums are grown.  It seems most people grow them climbing up a totem and then let them go crazy Medusa-like once they get to the top.  I'm not sure if there is a reason for that or not.  It might be close to their natural habitat, where they are most often tree-climbers.  I'll have to do some more research.  Interestingly enough (according to wikipedia), the native region for this plant has never been resolved.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Aglaonema update

I guess you could say this whole schebang got started with Aglaonemas.  My mom had a plant with silver markings on the leaves when I was growing up that I liked.  It was Aglaonema 'Silver King' I believe.  Then about 4 years ago as I started to grow more houseplants on my own I came across two large Aglaonemas that got me started on the collecting bug.  My first real post to this blog was just to post pictures of those first Aglaonemas.  Shortly thereafter I got a comment from a guy named Russ, a stranger in Florida, who sent me a bunch of plants (for free!) just because he was a cool guy that also liked plants and wanted to encourage me to grow more aroids, which, at the time, I didn't know much about.  All I had to do was reimburse Russ for his postage costs.  I quickly learned that plant people are very generous and pass along the generosity of those that encouraged them.

Here I am four years later - to the day - posting an update concerning my Aglaonema collection.  Since then, I have added quite a few Aglaonemas to my collection, while only losing a few along the way.  They are really pretty easy plants to grow, while also having some of the most attractive leaves I know.

Here's a rundown of what I have, along with a short description of how each plant is doing, and a picture for most.

Aglaonema 'Abidjan'

Aglaonema 'Abidjan': This is an attractive older cultivar.  You might wonder why it is named after an African city, when Aglaonemas are native to southeast Asia.  Well, I'm not sure how it got there, but A. 'Abidjan' was found by an American man growing at a nursery near Abidjan, Ivory Coast in 1974 and brought back to Florida.  It is thought that the plant traveled to Africa with a nurseryman from South America.  How it got to South America is yet another mystery.

Aglaonema alumina armandii

Aglaonema alumina armandii: One of my favorites.  Silver-blue leaves.  Variegation is subtle, if at all.  Single stem growing very slowly, with about 4 leaves right now.  This plant has an interesting collection history, having been discovered by Armando Cruz (the plant's namesake) near Manila in 1976.  It was found on a mountain just covered in this plant, which was given species status 9 years later.

Aglaonema 'BJ Freeman'

Algaonema 'BJ Freeman': Very healthy large plant with large leaves.  This is the biggest plant I have.  I have hacked up a couple of the longer, lankier stems to start new plants.  My pot has probably 8-10 stems currently, ranging from small and young plants to plants that are 5-10 years old and about 3 feet tall.

Aglaonema black lance

Aglaonema 'black lance': Another one of my favorites.  My plant was ailing for a while, but I put it in my ICU pot (which I'll describe another time) and now it is doing very well.

Aglaonema commutatum v. maculatum f. maculatum

Aglaonema commutatum v. maculatum: This plant is doing pretty well.  There are 3 or 4 stems and it bloomed for me for the first time last fall.

Aglaonema 'Decora'

Aglaonema 'Decora': This is a very attractive hybrid I picked up at a local nursery.  It is a vigorous grower that is currently in bloom.

Aglaonema 'Gold Dust'

Aglaonema 'Gold Dust': I got this plant from a fellow blogger a while back and I would have to say the original stem hasn't grown much since then.  However, it has produced a couple of offsets, which is even better than having the original stem growing.  This cultivar is based on the species A. brevispathum.

Aglaonema 'Green Lady'

Aglaonema 'Green Lady': This plant is my most vigorous offsetter.  That's probably not a word, but it is producing offsets at a rapid pace.  The variegation is really nice on this plant when you stop and look at it.  See how many different shades of green you can count.  I think there are 4.

Aglaonema 'Lilliput'

Aglaonema 'Lilliput': This is a really cool hybrid which has lanceolate (slender, lance-like), undulate (wavy) leaves.  The variegation is really nice, too.  I shared this plant with some friends, so it is about half the size it would be otherwise.

Aglaonema 'Maria' (not pictured): I have two separate pots of this plant.  It is the most common Ag to find for sale.  It grows reliably and is very easy to keep happy.  For some reason, I have some stems rot on occasion, but usually whatever piece of the stem has not gone mushy will produce it's own plant.

Aglaonema 'Peacock'

Aglaonema 'Peacock': This is one of my two large Ags.  This one was so tall and lanky that I divided it into two pots shortly after buying it.  I also took the more lanky stems and cut them into pieces, which produced new plants.  Now I have one pot at home and the other resides permanently at the wedding chapel, with a couple of my other plants that are too large to go in my greenhouse.

Aglaonema 'Royal Ripple'

Aglaonema 'Royal Ripple': It's hard to tell in this picture that the leaves are rippled, but they truly are - just like 'Lilliput.'  This is one of my more compact, profuse growers.  It's a very pretty plant, with lanceolate leaves.

Aglaonema 'Silver Bay'

Aglaonema 'Silver Bay':  This plant is my second most steady grower, producing offsets quite often.  It probably has 4 or 5 stems right now.

Aglaonema NOID (possibly 'Stripes', 'Cory' or nitidum
Aglaonema NOID (possibly'Stripes', 'Cory' or nitidum):  There are a number of cultivars and hybrids with stripes like this plant.  I haven't nailed down which one mine is, but it definitely has parentage with A. nitidum, which is the striped species.

Unidentified Aglaonema

Aglaonema NOID:  I don't really have any idea what this variety is.  Maybe 'Maria Christina'?  Do you have any ideas which one this is?

My stories come from two hard-to-find books: The Amazing Aglaonema by B. Frank Brown and The Aglaonema Grower's Notebook by Roy Jervis.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Plant Find: Seedling Plumerias

My friend, Leslie, recently sent me some small Plumerias that she grew from seed over the last year.  Leslie is a pro at growing things from seed.  She ordered the seed on eBay from a seller in Thailand.  You know Thailand, crazy color varieties and leaf variegations and all.

These little seedlings are surprisingly attractive at a young age.  I have never thought of the Plumeria leaves as particularly attractive, but these are really nice.

Plumeria 'Wipadelight' seedling
She sent me the varieties: Granny Grape (magenta), Wipadelight (light pink with yellow center), Orange Kerasin (probably orange, but I haven't found any pictures of this one), Three Kings (pink and yellow with dark pink blotches), Jakdao (white with yellow center),and Dang Siam (red).

Plumeria 'Orange Kerasin' seedling

Cool plants, huh?  Now... what can I send Leslie in return?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Plant Find: Two miniature orchids

I got two miniature orchids in the mail yesterday.  First, I give you, Encyclia dickinsoniana.

Encyclia dickinsoniana.  (Note: the spelling on the tag is wrong.)
Next, is Epidendrum longicaule, which is currently in bloom.

Epidendrum longicaule
Pretty nice, huh?

"Just how big are these miniatures?" you might ask.  Well, here's a little size comparison.

Dendrobium 'Marie McFarlane' and Epidendrum longicaule (tiny)

Note: the larger Dendrobium orchid is really not a big plant.  That tiny thing sitting at the base is my Epidendrum longicaule.  Needless to say, Christie really likes my tiny blooming orchid.  After all, it's tiny.

Monday, July 18, 2011

July OOS meeting

I attended my second Oklahoma Orchid Society meeting on Sunday and once again came home with some loot.  These meetings are wonderful.  You get to spend 2-2.5 hours listening to people talk about orchids, seeing pictures of their orchid collections and growing spaces and then seeing some orchids in person at the end of the meeting.

Beautiful spotted orchid. Notice how the spots are on the back side of the petals but the front side of the lip.
This time I even had an orchid to share in the "show and tell" portion of the meeting - my blooming octopus orchid.  One of the members was showing off a Miltassia which had a nice, dark bloom.  He mentioned that it has been growing really well for him and that it is bursting out of the pot.  He offered to give some people offsets, if they were interested.  Needless to say, I came home with a chunk of that plant.

Miltassia Dark Star 'Darth Vader'

I also came home with a raffle Dendrobium in full bloom.

Dendrobium Marie McFarlane.  The blooms are more purple than they appear in the photo.  It is hard to capture with a digital camera.

I like these meetings!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Garden toad

Over the last week I have had several sightings of one of the biggest amphibians I have seen I have seen in our yard. Actually, we don't really see amphibians around our house - maybe once or twice. This one is big!

Our garden toad - possibly Bufo woodhousii
He is sitting in a 4" pot, to give you an idea of his size. Maybe he is a fan of Asparagus and is waiting for the plant to arise from the soil, since it has been promised by the plant tag. I don't know how to break it to him that the tag is marking an Asparagus macowanii (fern), which is not edible.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Octopus orchid in bloom

I purchased an octopus orchid (labeled Encyclia cochleata, but actually Anacheilium cochleata) on eBay back in January.  At the time, the plant had a bloom spike.  However, the travel was too taxing on the plant and the spike quickly withered, so I didn't get to see the weird little blooms.

Encyclia (Anacheilium) cochleata
Anacheilium cochleata shortly after I noticed the bloom spike for the first time.
However, the seller did mention that this orchid blooms on each new growth (pseudobulb).  What I didn't notice was that the largest growth on my plant was actually the "new" growth that hadn't yet bloomed.  When a newer growth started recently I got excited, thinking that a couple months from now, it might start to bloom.  But then shortly thereafter I noticed there was a bloom spike growing out of that larger pseudobulb!

Encyclia (Anacheilium) cochleata
Anacheilium cochleata flower almost open
Doesn't this orchid have the coolest flowers?

Encyclia (Anacheilium) cochleata
First Anacheilium cochleata flower
I was operating under the assumption that the genus name Encyclia was correct for this plant, but I was surprised that the bloom shape looks so different from the other Encyclias. Then I found out that this and a couple of other plants have been tossed around among a couple of different genera over the years - including Prosthechea, Encyclia, and Anacheilium. For now, the taxonomists seem to have settled on the last one. Many people in the orchid world just refer to this plant by it's species name (cochleata), since that is the only part of the name that has stayed consistent.

Encyclia (Anacheilium) cochleata
Anacheilium cochleata buds and back side of bloom
There are a total of 5 buds on my orchid right now, so hopefully I will have a little "school" of octupi soon. I don't know if "school" is really the right word. There might not be a correct word for a group of octopus, since I don't think they are social creatures, by nature.

One reason the blooms of this orchid look different from many Encyclias is that they are resupinate, which means they are upside down from the normal orientation. Regardless of whether this is an Encyclia or not, or has the same orientation of normal Encyclias, I seem to be drawn to plants which have had the name Encyclia attached at some point or another.  I think one thing that attracts me to many Encyclias is the color combinations in the blooms.  Many of them are kind of a brown/mauve background, sometimes with a splash of color, sometimes not.  Some of them almost look like dirt.  Sounds pretty cool, huh?  A flower that is the color of dirt.  Anyway, I like them.  Check out these Encyclias!

I have one true Encyclia in my collection - Encyclia polybulbon.  It is a mounted specimen that has neat, yellow brown blooms.  One really nice thing about Encyclias for me is that they are mostly small, so I can have quite a few of them without taking up too much space.  Some people would consider their small blooms to be a downside, but I like their size - and their dirt brown blooms.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Alocasia appearing

Lately it seems my Alocasias are really taking off.  While many of them don't like direct sun, they sure do like the heat!  Some of my Alocasias kind of died back over the winter, but they have reemerged with new offsets after their dormancy.  First, I give you my Alocasia amazonica, also known as African Shield.  I like to call it the "pterodactyl plant" and I'm not sure why everyone else doesn't do the same.   This plant I have had for 2.5 years.  I know, because I blogged when I bought it (the second time).

Alocasia amazonica
Next, is Alocasia wentii, which is fairly new to me.  I just got it last fall, before it stopped growing.  It didn't go completely dormant, keeping one or two leaves through the winter, but it wasn't actively growing.  Now it is putting out a new, glossy leaf and the coloring is really nice.

Alocasia wentii
This next Alocasia is my favorite.  I have had it for a couple of years.  It was big and mature when I bought it, but it went through spider mite and mealy bug infestations and lost a lot of leaves.  Now the original plant is doing pretty well and even has put out 4 offsets!  I have an Alocasia gageana, a gift from Steve Lucas, which constantly produces new offsets, but my others have been much slower to do this.  I'm looking forward to my little herd of Alocasia lauterbachiana.

Alocasia lauterbachiana offsets
Another "Alocasia" I got in the fall went completely dormant through the winter.  I thought I had lost it.  But I cut back on watering, so as not to rot out the bulb.  Then I started watering again in the Spring and it has sprung to life!  I got the plant through a trade labeled Alocasia 'Hilo Beauty', as it has been called for many years.  It turns out the plant belongs in the Caladium genus and it is a true species, Caladium praetermissum.  I don't really know how it ever got the name Hilo connected with it, unless a grower in Hawaii started distributing it first.  Maybe someone just decided it looked like something that would grow in Hawaii...  Apparently the incorrect name started with Graf's Exotica, a book which is well known as a source of wonderful pictures and outdated names.

Alocasia 'Hilo Beauty'
Anyway, it is not surprising that this plant's genus was misappropriated for many years.  The Caladium, Alocasia, Colocasia, and Xanthosoma genera are the most often confused in the aroid family, as I've mentioned before.  Many people avoid this confusion by calling them all "elephant ears."  Score 1 for common names.

Alocasia aurora
The final plant is Alocasia aurora (Alocasia 'Pink Stem'). This one, as you can tell by that second name, has a very distinct pink petiole. This one also has a new pup forming.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A time for orchid growth

Many orchids bloom in the spring and subsequently start new growth.  This year my orchid collection grew quite a bit.  Some of the orchids I purchased while they were in bloom or just after they finished blooming.  It will be almost a year before I get to see if they will bloom for me.  In the meantime, there is a good sign in that many of my orchids are producing new growth.

Bepi 'Femme Fatale.'  New growth can be seen coming from the base on the left side.
I'm still holding out hope that the Bepi above will bloom for me.  The bloom spike is still present, just emerging from the center of the plant, but it is doing so ever so slowly.

Blc 'Golden Tang.'  The bright green is new growth.
Most of my new orchids are sympodial, which means that they produce offshoots, rather than continuing on the original growth.  Above you can see a tall, new "lead" growing from the side of my Blc 'Golden Tang.' This is a Cattleya hybrid, more so that any of my other orchids, these hybrids really enjoy the heat.  They are growing like crazy right now.

Polystachya paniculata new growth
One of my Ethiopian orchids, Polystachya paniculata, has a small offset that has been present since I bought the plant.  Now it is starting new growth from the original and tall stem.  I don't know if this is normal for this plant or not.  But it seems to be happy, so that makes me happy.

Dendrobium atroviolaceum new growth
I'm also holding out some hope that my Dendrobium atroviolaceum will bloom for me.  There is one large bud that has been on the plant since I received it over a month ago.  It still hasn't opened for me.  There are also several bloom spikes that are starting to emerge from the top of a couple of the stems, but they aren't really doing anything lately.  It might be the heat.  The good news is that there are 4 or 5 new growths starting from the base of the plant.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Correction: Pinellia seedlings

Yesterday I posted about my recent adventures into growing aroids from seed.  I told you that I've had luck with a couple of different species of Anthurium and Philodendron, but that the Pinellia seeds I got from Derek didn't germinate.  Boy was I wrong!

The Pinellia seeds hadn't done anything noticeable as of last week, so I started making use of those pots by thinning out my Philodendron seedlings and transplanting some in there.  Then, earlier this week I noticed there were some big (relatively-speaking) cordate leaves in the pots that originally housed the Pinellias.  I did consciously notice that those leaves were only in the pots where the Pinellia seed were, but I was thinking it might be some interesting phenomenon concerning my transplanting of the Philodendron seedlings.  I didn't think it could possibly be the Pinellias.

Pinellia seedlings
My now-community pot of Philodendron (small leaves) and Pinellia (large cordate leaves) seedlings.
Thankfully, Derek didn't put both in the same pot, so he knows for certain that the seedlings which came up for him this week are Pinellias.  And now I know, too!  So, I knew I had Philodendrons, and I thought I didn't have Pinellias.  So I used the Pinellia pots for my Philodendrons, then noticed some of my Philodendrons looked different, only to find that my different-looking Philodendrons were actually Pinellias!  Got that?