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.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

So this is an exotic plant blog and I will not let you down.

I like mostly species plants, but I have more hybrids than I can shake a stick at. I have been growing plants as long as I can remember, not saying anything about it to my friends. My current crop contains Caucidiforms, Bulbs, Chrismas Cacti, Epiphyllum, Roses, Tulips, and a few thousland Dandelions. 

But being November I really don't need to talk about the outside right now. What's growing now? Well, sprouting I have Amaryllis "Black Pearl",  "Blossom Peacock", "Minerva" and Narcissus  "Paperwhite Ziva". I plan to force these to bloom this winter and will put them in the garden when the time is right, so I can force them next year without having to buy more. I have 2 Thanksgiving Cacti that are not blooming at all  Schlumbergera "Marie", "Wintermarchen" and one real Christmas cactus, also not blooming, Schlumbergera Xbuckleyi.

The real kick in the pants was to see a plant I attempted to sell at the club sale this year, then donated to the club given to the president leaving office, with 40 or so blooms and as many buds. Maybe I am not watering them enough or I gave them too much fertilizer this summer. The joy of plants. 

The First Matter of Business

No, I am not a Shriner, or have an interest in being one. I am way too independently minded. I just ordered it off E-Bay when I found it was considered to be the most useless hat ever made. I cannot find the source for it, but apparently they were finally abandoned by the British when it was found they used the red hat as targets. Thus, I wear one, if only to show off the foolishness of clothing.