Thursday, February 17, 2011

Subdividing Schlumbergia xBucklyi

S. xBucklyi is an important plant in the Christmas cactus world as it is truely a cactus that blooms at Christmas, unlike S. truncata cultivars, which are often known as 'Thanksgiving Cactus" due to their blooming habit. S xbucklyi lost the fight because it did not breed true, with flower color changing from plant to plant, and the flower is pendant, rather than more upright on truncata.

It is easy to recognize as the two horns are missing on the top of each leaf, which is distinctive.It is a cross between S truncata and S russelliana by William Buckley at the Rollisson Nurseries in England around 1840. S truncata took over rapidly, but forcing bloom at Christmas and having color lines that ran true.

As you can see from the photos, the plant was over grown before I got it around Christmas 2009 for $20. Watch Craigslist.org for great plant deals. Well I gave the plant a hair cut in the summer of 2010, and decided to subdivide it this winter. I had no idea what I was going to run into, but it became easier that I thought, and I divided it into 8 plants that reside in 6-8" pots. It got interesting, as all the branches converged at the bottom of the pot, where the majority of roots were. I cut the plant multiple ways, and sawed the wood under the soil, using rooting hormone before repotting. That's one of the secrets of old Christmas cacti, cutting wood below the soil will generate roots, above soil, it creates a place for more leaves to grow.

These will be sold at a local Cactus club meeting, holding back of course, one plant for me. But do watch out for those old Christmas cacti which have smooth leaves without the horn.

More information can be found at: http://cactus.biology.dal.ca/paulS/christmas/christmas.html

Thursday, January 13, 2011

More on Schlumbergera "Wintermarchen"

A white bud. Around are fading flowers.
I posted a pretty low grade picture of this plant in the past. It is probably the oldest single plant in my possession, and has the most beautiful blooms, white buds that open to reveal a long 3" pale pink flower that is near transparent, when it fades and dies it is like wet silk to remove.

Close up of flowers
This has to be one of the most unusual flowers on a Schlumbergia I have ever seen, and I just offer these to show this plant to others.

More flowers up close.

still more.
"Wintermarchen" is the name that I got from a book on Schlumbergia hybrids, so it may not be correct, but my work, I am pretty darn sure of its name.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Marie blooms!

I was quite impressed with this bloom of S 'Dark Marie'. I found earlier in the fall, that the stems were looking to start to rot off at the soil line. So I potted it up on Hydroton to see what effect it would have. I was pleased to see buds the last few weeks, and today they opened.

The 2 or 3 plants on the left are Hippeastrum reticulatum var. striatifolium, which is a species of Amaryllis. All known Amaryllis that we normally get are actually in the genus Hippeastrum. There is only one Amaryllis, A belladonna which hails from South America. Hippeastrum are all from Africa and bloom with the onset of the winter rains. Notice the rear pot is also on Hydroton, and it appears to be growing successfully.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Finally a few blooms!

H. 'Blossom Peacock'

Finally today my Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) 'Blossom Pecock' burst out of its buds. H 'Black Pearl' I gave to my in laws on condition I could see and plant it out in the spring. H 'Minerva' looks to be working hard at this too. But boy does it make a difference where the bulbs come from.Black Pearl and  Blossom Peacock are  from a nursery at $10-15 each, and Minerva is a Home Depot rescue for $6.99.

These plants will not bloom just once for me, as I will be planting both in the ground for the summer, where they may bloom or not, uprooting them in August or September and cooling them down for a rest before repotting around Thanksgiving.
H. 'Black Pearl'

Thank god that Schlumbergias are easier to culture. Just a little shade in the summer, and they will bloom sometime a lot, sometimes a little, but they always perform.  I have S. Dark Marie in bud right now, and it looks like lipstick. I cannot wait for the flowers.

    S. 'Wintermarchen'

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    A day that was great for ducks, but not my mood.

    I ended up this morning coming home with a new plant Rhipsalis baccifera ssp. horrida, which despite its name, has nothing to do with horrid. Its just a small round Rhip, that I scored at Home Depot. Later in the day I went to my den of iniquity, "The Indoor Sun Shoppe" and hunted around for Dyna-Grow K-L-N Concentrate and split home, I read many place on the web that I should use this when moving plants over to Hydoton. So then I got ready and moved this morning's find and my H.  salicornioides to Hydroton. KLN has trace amounts of NPK and Vitamin B1 according to the label, but what the heck. Bottle said 1 tablespoon per gallon in the Hydroton soaking solution, and then 1 tsp per gallon in a solution for soaking the roots.

    Man, these were tough to get potting soil out of their roots. It was soak (in a non KLN solution) and pick, got the 'horrida' pretty clean, but the salicornioides was not going to let go of some, so I left it there. Then I took the soaking solution and watered all the other plants on Hydroton with it so maybe they get over the shock, my first trial was an interesting bunch and I still wonder what they are thinking on the new substrate: Massonia depressa,  Hippeastrum reticulatum var. striatifolium and  Drimia harworthoides. The Drimia, and Hippe seem to be doing the same old thing, but the Massonia has kept its leaves vertical, not dropping them to the ground as it should. I hope the KLN helps these or they go back on soil. All but the Hippe are desert growing bulbs the Massonia had just done 8 undisturbed months in a pot with dry soil.

    Massonia are a very cool species, as the put out 2 big leaves and have a large flower that is eaten by hamsters, which pollinate the species. The Hippe is actually the genus for the cultivated Amaryllis but reticulatum var. striatifolium is a collectors prize, I bought one from a show, with an offset, and found the other in some Freesia laxa that were wintering in the garage.

    I have decided to try growing hybrid Amaryllis this year, along with Paperwhite Narcissus. The Narcissus are growing like crazy, even though they were potted up just last week, must be 6" tall right now. 2 of the Amaryllis are from Nursery stock where I paid a good price,   "Black Pearl" and  "Blossom Peacock". "Minerva" was my 3rd plant and bought at Home Depot for $4.99. Both Black Pearl and Minerva are growing strong with Black Pearl showing 3? bloom shoots, Minerva is just showing one. Oh and Minerva is the smallest of the bulbs by far. Blossom Peacock has had trouble starting as its top leaves were cut too low and is finally showing some green in its leaves. So maybe I will have some color this winter after all.




    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Rhipsalis moved to Hydroton Semi-Hydro

    Hydroton is a expanded clay which is both inert, but able to wick water from a reservoir. It allows for more air circulation and more consistent moisture to the roots of the plant. Orchid growers moved from "orchid bark" to Hydroton Semi-Hydro years ago, and I am trying it out with some of my plants, some which have given me a very hard time growing in modified potting soils.

    Tonight I took cuttings I received in the late summer of Rhipsalis elliptica,  micrantha,  occidentalis and an unidentified plant from their small pots where most had some rooting going on. I removed them from their pot and got the majority of the dirt off the roots, then I soaked them for a few minutes and cleaned more of the organics from the roots. Hydroton should be soaked 4 hours or more before using. I then replanted the plant in this material. I moved my plants back to where they were resting and watered them with a weak solution of Dyna-Grow Bloom fertilizer, filling the saucer with the solution, which will keep the Hydroton moist. 


    There is a bible to semi-hydro on the web at http://www.firstrays.com/hydro.htm . I am not interested in the dogma of the side draining pot in most applications, the saucer will do fine. With my epiphyllums, I intend to use a similar pot, probably homemade to avoid a saucer on a hanging plant that is outside 60% of the year. I need something that is easy to hang first. 


    Semi-hydro has been used with many species of plants which are listed at firstrays.com. Try it and see how it works for you. Hydroton is available at your local hydro shop, the prime agra touted on First Rays is exclusively sold by them, and I don't want to have little clay balls mailed to me these days.

    Hooverville and Exotics aka Snoozing plants and cold weather

    The current Hooverville
    I have a number of Epis and they need a 55-45F rest for winter to bloom properly the next yesr. Looking into what others do, from a dark garage shelf to a temperature controlled greenhouse, I came with my solution. 2 -2 light 4' flourescent fixtures in the garage  and a thermometer so I could see what they were enduring. Up until this week of cold all was good at about 55F. Naturally other dormant plants came down: Orinthogalum caudatum, Pelargonium cotyledonis, Pelargonium alterans, Pelargonium worchesterae,  Pelargonium sidoidies,  Pseudobombax ellipticum, Raphionacme burkei,  Sinningia canescens, Uncarina decaryi all of these either were seriously dormant and did not need light during dormancy, or not going dormant as they should in the house, so they got the garage, and I can see several P alterans, U decaryi, P ellipticum all losing leaves and dormancy seems near.P alterans just wants to grow grow grow and that is bad for the plant form.



    Well this week of cold has been nerve wracking for me, and the garage dropped to 45F the lowest I wanted. I wrapped the Epi shelf with blue plastic and a wool blanket, and a outdoor chair cushon on top to help heat loss. I got up this morning to 40F and added an oil heater under the blanket on low (I can hold it between my fingers for extended periods when on and its constantly checked). All the non Epis got moved to the inside the house when the blankets were placed on.

    I am also looking at a Hatoria salicornioides and thinking about repotting it. It got badly sunburned last year, and I think its in too big a pot. I am thinking about taking it out of the pot, examining the roots and probably putting it on Hydroton. More on Hydroton later. If you are curious the plant just right of the Hatoria is on Hydroton.

     






     Oh, the Senecio barbertonicus was outside until this cold wave, its inside among the plants of the living room and looking good.