lblanchard: (swannfountain)
Some years ago I swapped someone some cuttings of Nopalxochia for cuttings of the ric rac cactus, Selenicereus anthonyanus, because I liked the leaves/stems. Last week I thought about getting rid of the plant because it has ugly aerial roots, its stems reach out like tentacles to grab me when I walk by, and it hasn't bloomed. I think the plant read my mind and decided to earn its keep.

Walking by it yesterday afternoon, I saw this:


Well, hello there, says I. I wonder when you'll bloom and for how long. So I looked it up. Blooms at night, it said. Only one night, it said. Very fragrant, it said. So before going to bed last night, I thought I'd check on it. Well, hello there!





They said it was fragrant. I associate that term with a pleasant odor. Pungent is how I would describe the smell -- strong and sharp and verging on repellent to my taste -- the way old stems of parsley, cut and bruised, might smell if parsley were poisonous and caustic. But that should help it to get the job done in the wild during its one-night bloom -- I could smell it two rooms away and I'm a mere human. And it certainly has lady parts like a landing strip. No way Mr. Pollinator will miss that on its way to the nectar!

A pity I have nothing to pollinate it with, thinks I to myself. But wait! Didn't I read that they'll hybridize with disocactus? And isn't Nopalxochia a disocactus? And don't I have one solitary bloom on the backup Nopalxochia in the second-floor bathroom?

Do I need another hybridizing experiment? On the other hand, what are the chances I will have both these plants in flower at the same time again in my lifetime?

It was the work of a minute to scamper downstairs, pinch off a generous pinch of anthers, scamper back upstairs, and smear them around the lady parts. Time will tell whether I have anything. It being a cactus, it will probably take a year for the fruit to mature if this arranged marriage takes. The ovary is about the size of a big fat supermarket grape as it is -- this ought to be huge, if it takes.

This morning the flower has closed up and the smell is gone. Now I wait.


(In other windowsill and back garden news: I found a new flower stalk emerging on my H. striatum. And when I went a-weeding in my two large annual herb pots out back, I found two, count 'em, TWO forgotten juvenile hippeastrums emerging. They overwintered! In single digit temperatures! O frabjous day!)
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
H. striatum pod stopped growing a couple days ago. This morning I thought I noticed that it was deflating. However, the hippeastrum that cross-bred with it so successfully last year has two buds showing, whee!
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
The market pack in the front holds six seedlings from the seeds [livejournal.com profile] pondhopper sent me. The market pack in the back holds six seedlings from last year's cross of one of my 2006 seedlings with H. striatum.



Both groups of seedlings have plants that have already put out offsets -- outside my experience with seedlings that are well under a year old, but that just goes to show you. What it goes to show you I don't know.

In other hippeastrum news, the self-pollination I performed on H. striatum a little over a week ago is looking successful. But I recall that my last attempt aborted at 10-12 days so I'm not getting my hopes up yet. If it is successful, [livejournal.com profile] pondhopper gets the lion's share.
lblanchard: (swannfountain)


Do you remember last year, when one of my favorites failed to root so I chopped the bulb (a practice called "chipping") in little bits and put them in moistened vermiculite in a dark cabinet?

Seems to have worked. I have three bulbs the size of shooter marbles. I removed them from their plastic cups yesterday and potted them up. They have LOTS of roots!

Outdoors, all the hippeastrum have greened up deliciously. They looked a bit pallid and wan when I first took them out -- the shock of the sunlight, I think. A couple weeks of lovely rain water and they're looking quite perky, as opposed to peaky. I did serious triage on the batch of seedlings known as Babymax because they share a birthday with our great-grandson. I kept eight: one for Sara, one for Margaret (daughter-in-law), one for Pam (Sara's mother) -- assuming any of them want them -- and the rest for me. The rest of them will get potted up and placed in a shady place this weekend, since the temps are supposed to go up to the high 80s.

The hippeastrum our son Roy brought us in March appears to be diseased with the dreaded Hippeastrum mosaic virus. I have it quarantined in the living room and will attempt a heat-treatment later this summer. Also, I will disinfect that entire part of the living room before re-introducing any plants. That virus is supposed to be highly contagious, fatal, and incurable, but some folks think a heat-treatment will work, and it worked for some other hippeastrums when I tried it around 2011. We'll see...

Sharing windowsill space with 2006-3 (that being the name of the chipped bulbs) are sprouting seeds of 2006-2 x Striatum. When the sprouts show a leaf I move them to a shallow container to grow their first roots. They'll get planted on in plastic pots this fall and so it goes...
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
The changeover in the back garden is largely complete. I planted out my herbs -- basil, thyme, sage. The parsley went out a week or so ago and is starting to take hold. Many of my overwintered coleus are unlovely as the result of growing toward the grow lights. I have taken a few new cuttings and will see how they do.

I bought a plant! The Acme has labeled it a mini regal. We'll see how I do with it. My overwintered zonals are sadly leggy but I'll keep them and see if they get bushy.


Next I will rain death on the aphids on the Rose of Sharon in the tree pit out front. (Edit: No, I won't. I bought spray and not systemic drench and it was windy. A new jug o' poison has been ordered. FYI, I only use poison on the (nonblooming) RoS and the (nonblooming) hippeastrums and am careful about not contaminating anybody else. )

Hippeastrum update, 5/13: One of the 2006-2 x striatum seeds has germinated. There may be hope for the rest, and [livejournal.com profile] pondhopper may get her seeds, after all.
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
YAY for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which has a lending library. I suspect that my long relationship with the library director (they're a member of PACSCL) helped as the books don't usually circulate and wouldn't at all if they weren't the second of two sets. I now have the two volumes of On the Eaves of the World, Reginald Farrer's light-hearted account of the first year of his two-year collecting trip on the China-Tibet border, on summer loan. Not due back till August.

I had been reading a pdf of the book on my netbook. Turned sideways, it's not a bad substitute for a real book. I can slouch on the sofa and balance it on my stomach like a real book, and don't need to hold the weighty thing upright. Still, there's nothing like a real book. So I'm more than halfway through Volume One and loving it all.

The book is absolutely hilarious. Farrer is so pleased with the country, the flora, the comic-opera aspects of dealing with the natives and the brigands! This book was written before World War I. His book on the second year of his expedition (which I believe was 1913) wasn't written until he'd spent some sobering time visiting three World War I fronts and writing about his experiences for the propaganda office. Thus, this second book, The Rainbow Bridge, is reputed to be more somber. It was published posthumously; whether he would have lightened the tone had he lived I don't know.

I have The Rainbow Bridge in a $.99 Kindle edition but wanted to read them in sequence...

My own decidedly nonmimpish Leontopodium / Edelweiss / Flannel Flower seedlings are coming along nicely and will be ready to be potted on into market packs in a couple weeks. Have a look:



Today will be a day for indoor and outdoor gardening. My herbs and peppers need to be potted on to market packs now and set out to harden off in a day or so. Some things that have been hardening off should go into their various containers. If I am so moved, I will also start work on all the hippeastrum seedlings that need to be triaged. I need to decommission my upstairs growlights, at least temporarily, in a couple weeks to make way for the nuptial springerle I have promised my niece. Getting the seedlings potted on will be a step in the right direction.

My one and only successful hippeastrum cross, 2006-3 x striatum, yielded a bumper crop of seeds from the one pod -- 74 of them. As an experiment, I floated 20 of them the day of harvest and another 20 two days later. I am holding the remaining 34 in reserve in case the germination is less than wonderful. I'm also hoping that by next weekend I can send the adult hippeastrums to hippeastrum summer camp. Some of them are on the folding table we use for our back yard seating area, so they are flies in the ointment of progress.

I caught another mouse last night, maybe two. I say maybe because the trap is missing! I heard some odd noises last night and suspect a desperately wounded mouse dragged himself and the trap under the refrigerator, to die a horrible death. Roy and I will move the fridge later today. Poor thing. The one I definitely caught was a juvenile. I had bad luck re-baiting the trap and caught my finger twice but all I did was cause some bleeding from broken blood vessels -- no hematoma, no swelling, no pain after the initial misery, just discoloration. (EDITED TO ADD: I moved the fridge and it was indeed a baby mouse, hind foot and tail caught in the trap, very much alive and crying, with his little chest going in and out almost faster than I could see. I felt very bad for him and for a mad moment thought about putting him in an aquarium with wood chips and feeding him cheese. But The Scamp was, finally, intensely interested. If he'd caught the mousie fair and square I would have let him have his way. But he hadn't, so I dropped the poor guy in the toilet. He swam frantically, and I flushed quickly, and flushed again. Probably as merciful a death as any other I could give him, short of chloroform. Still... but I'll still set another trap tonight.)

We have paid the man to paint the masonry at ground level outside our house, and also the vestibule. The vestibule is finished. The masonry has been scraped and primed and then it rained and rained and rained. He is hoping to finish today.
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
I am going to run out of windowsills soon and very soon -- except that, mercifully, I'll be able to move some of the new babies down to the second floor.

I've potted up the Class of 2015A and the mixed bag of L,M, and N. They're potted three to a cup in 1-pint plastic cups. A couple more sub-classes are just about ready for the same treatment, but I think I'll give them another week or two in their communal flat. Class of 2015J, with few seeds, has been floating for longer than I usually allow. Some of the leaves are 3" long, which will make them very easy to handle.

Best of all, I decided to look at the chips of 2006-3 in their vermiculite. The instructions said to keep them in the dark, so I took them into our windowless bathroom with the light off and just left the door open a crack. I see signs of big long questing roots. I only need one to flourish, but I think I may have three.

The Pope is due to say mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in a little more than three hours, and then he'll be heading for the airport. Life should slouch back to normal tomorrow.
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
The papilio that my daughter-in-law gave me in 2012 divided in three last year; this year one of the three bulbs rotted from the top. I hope the other two will be okay. It gave me one seed pod in 2012, so it will live on after a fashion even if the other two keel over.


That other hippeastrum that I thought I'd saved fell out of its pot. Lovely green leaves but no roots. I am planning to try cutting a slice off the basal plate, cutting back its leaves, soaking it in fungicide, and leaving in the back house to cool off in a dark place. At least it birthed a lot of seeds before collapsing.

lblanchard: (swannfountain)
Sunday I was pretty active and logged upwards of 11,000 steps on the iPhone pedometer. Yesterday I was pretty shaky -- felt as though I'd consumed an incredible amount of caffeine and was also a little dizzy.

Might be cause and effect, but this morning I looked at my third cup of coffee and said no thanks.

Roy is out of town till Wednesday evening. Yesterday, before going out, I carved up that whole pork line into eight chops and two roasts, and roasted one -- very simply, with a sprinkling of marjoram and black pepper and a skootch of dry vermouth in the bottom of the roasting pan. That will make lunch and dinner until he gets home and a nice cold dinner when he does. (Clearly, I can tolerate a high degree of monotony in my diet.)

I hit Peak Garden last week. This week the coleus are geting leggy and trying to bolt.


Cuttings will be taken this weekend. The hippeastrum will get a shot of Death To Everything next weekend and turned on their sides so that they'll begin to dry out in preparation for fall dormancy.

Inside, I gave BabyMax and friends a shot of dilute Miracle Gro and I swear they've all doubled in size. There are third leaves emerging from many of BabyMax now.


They will need to be potted on soon, in deeper pots. The ones on the right aren't so far along.
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
That hippeastrum at death's door (2006-3)? I did what the nice man told me and look at this:

Hippeastrum 2006-3



I think it's going to be all right. Maybe no bloom next year, but all right.
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
O noes! My favorite bulb from the Class of 2006 is on life support. I shouldn't have let it set seed on five pods -- the poor thing just propagated itself to death, I think.

Before I left on vacation all its leaves died back. I trimmed them made a note to check on it when I returned. When I got back I found the pot on its side on the ground, and a rootless bulb some small distance away with what appeared to be some signs of ick in the layers. Peeling them away, I found that an embryonic flower scape had aborted and was rotting. No flowers from this bulb for me next year, I fear, if it survives at all. Right now it's in a relatively cool place (my kitchen windowsill, curing. When the outermost layer gets a little papery I'll re-pot it in a very light soil mix and hope for the best.

Sigh. I really liked this one.

2015-04-01_0035hippeastrum2006-3


In other news, I floated a cohort of 25 seeds of 2015A, aka Hippeastrum 'baby max,' yesterday. I'll start a couple more in the next few days.

In other other news, all my spider plants are infested with something -- mites causing deformation, perhaps, or a virus. No one seems to know for sure. But I just consigned them all to a contractor bag, although there are four more in my front window boxes. I may harvest a couple pups as soon as they've reached a size and try soaking them in 115F water for a little bit, same as I did with my dodgy Hippeastrum bulbs. I don't like to give up entirely on plants that have been with me for decades.
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
In prior years, I had at maximum two pods ripening. This year I have thirteen (give or take a couple). So far, no pod that has ripened appears to have produced infertile seeds, as in the year that I crossed Appleblossom and Gervase.

It's going to be hard to keep them all straight! As an aide memoire, I put tags on all the pod stems, indicating pod and pollen parents. I also took photos of all the parents. So I can do photojournals of all the classes. This will be of particular interest to [livejournal.com profile] pondhopper and [livejournal.com profile] halfmoon_mollie, who will be playing along at home with their own little hippeastrum factories, once I've sent the seeds.

So here we go. Click the images to view larger versions

2015A: Pod parent 2011A3 (left), pollen parent 2009-1 (right)

2015-03-22_0032hippeastrum_xgervase3 2015-03-14_0582_2009-1


2015B: Pod parent 2011A2 (left), pollen parent Gervase (right)

2015-03-14_0611xGervase2 2015-03-10_0009gervase


2015C: Pod parent 2011A2 (left), pollen parent not sure but probably 2011A1 (right)

2015-03-14_0611xGervase2 2015-03-04_0302hippeastrum_xGervase1


2015D: Pod parent 2011A5(left), pollen parent Gervase (right)

2015-04-02_0031hippeastrum2011A5 2015-03-10_0009gervase


2015E: Pod parent 2011A5 (left), pollen parent 2011A4 (right)

2015-04-02_0031hippeastrum2011A5 2015-03-22_0040hippeastrum_xgervase4


2015F: Pod parent 2011A4 (left), pollen parent Gervase (right)

2015-03-22_0040hippeastrum_xgervase4 2015-03-18_0008gervase


2015G: Pod parent 2011A4 (left), pollen parent 2011A5 (right)

2015-03-22_0040hippeastrum_xgervase4 2015-04-02_0031hippeastrum2011A5


2015H: Pod parent 2006A2 (left), pollen parent 2011A4 (right)

2015-04-01_0024hippeastrum2006-2 2015-03-22_0040hippeastrum_xgervase4


2015I: Pod parent 2006A2 (left), pollen parent Gervase (right)

2015-04-01_0024hippeastrum2006-2 2015-03-18_0001gervase


2015J: Pod parent 2011A5; pollen parent Gervase (small pod, few seeds, may be duds)

2015-04-02_0031hippeastrum2011A5 2015-03-18_0008gervase


2015K: Pod parent 2006A3 (left), pollen parent 2011A5 (right)

2015-03-30_0048hippeastrum2006-3 2015-04-02_0031hippeastrum2011A5


2015L, 2015M, and 2015N: Pod parent 2006A3 (left), pollen parent Gervase (right)

2015-03-30_0048hippeastrum2006-3 2015-03-18_0008gervase


2015O: Pod parent 2006A3 (left), pollen parent 2011A4 (right)

2015-03-30_0048hippeastrum2006-3 2015-03-22_0040hippeastrum_xgervase4


2015P: Pod parent 2006A2 (left), pollen parent 2013A1 (right)

2015-03-27_0013hippeastrum2006-2 2015-04-12_0138hippeastrum_sonofsupermarket



I think I may have a fertile pod with that early bloomer from the Class of 2013 as pollen parent, but it's awfully small.
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
Today: on xGervase 2:

One flower pollinated with 'gervase'
One flower pollinated with 2009.1

There may be other crosses, later.
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
Did I say a thousand images? Pffft. I shot 3,000 frames on Friday and Saturday alone. I'll be editing these suckers till the cows come home.

Not to mention the metadata. Descriptions and tags. Fortunately there's a metadata dingus in Photoshop and I'm mulling over my vocabulary for tagging photos this year. It will be fun, even though it will take me the rest of the month.

Meanwhile, I gots flowers! on my own window sill! H. 'gervase' is outdoing itself this year. No courtesy cut....I'm narcissistic that way!

DSC_0012

DSC_0008

DSC_0005

DSC_0001

I love the mutability of this one -- four entirely different coloration patterns on one scape.
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
All but one of my H. papilio x emerald have put up leaves after their fungus and mite treatment -- even the one that I inadvertently sliced almost in half.

The H. papilio x chico that I drenched because of whitefly are also putting out new leaves.

Both H. mandonii are showing good growth.

The H. papilio I fretted over last spring are looking really good. The Telos bulbs each have nine leaves, so I'm hoping they'll store up enough energy to bloom soon. I understand it takes 18 months for a flower scape to begin deep in the bulb and then emerge, and some kinds of insult (such as heat treatments) cause the buds to abort. But hope springs.

The H. 'son of supermarket' Class of 2013 have been looking mighty peaky. I've had a fair amount of leaf yellowing. I'll water sparingly over the winter and if they don't show signs of dying I may re-pot them come spring.

H. classes of 2006 and 2009 and H. 'gervase' are all still in the back house and will need to be treated and re-potted some time in December. Or possibly January. Depends on how crazy the holidays get. Perhaps this year I'll be able to steel myself to select one or two from each class and give the rest away.

I am awash in Hippeastrum. I really should cull some.

All Schlumbergera look disgustingly healthy. The ones on the third-floor windowsill are crowding each other something fierce despite having been pruned last summer. After they've bloomed this year I intend to cut them way back and to root a few cuttings just in case.

Nothing seems to be doing very well under the grow lights this year. I hope I don't lose all my coleus. The begonia I scavenged on our summer vacation looks like it's giving up, bleah. I took extra cuttings of my coleus a week or so ago just in case the ones in the basement continue to pine away.
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
The plant is bouncing back nicely. All these leaves were shriveled and limp when I pulled it down from its perch and watered it. By the next morning, the soil was bone dry and the leaves were starting to fill out. A second watering yesterday has resulted in this great improvement. There are still leaves that are pitted and nasty, but I'll prune them out later.

(The nopalxochia is the one on the left. On the right is a collection of my hippeastrums, all grown from seed.)


2014-07-21_0010nopalxochia

Oh, and here are the Hippeastrum papilio, recovering nicely from the cure. The one on the left hasn't put out a new leaf yet, but I accidentally uncovered some surface roots in yesterday's drenching, so I'm pretty sure it has a root system of truly epic proportions. The one plant on the table that isn't H. papilio is the backup nopalxochia.

2014-07-21_0002papilio_and_friends
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
The third of the conjoined triplets of H. papilio has a new leaf. It was an almost invisible dot early this morning, but now it has substance. (Edited to add: it also has fungus gnats, but I have pyrethrin spray. I am considering absolute chemical death -- hey, it's an indoor plant so it's not going to hurt any bees, and if I age any runoff I collect it's going to degrade and won't hurt any fish.)

I biked to my bone density scan this morning. It was a little challenging, probably because my legs are still tired from yesterday. Tomorrow I'll do miles and miles of flatlands to recover.

It is stinking hot and humid -- a good day to clean files. Or perhaps to go back and tag all my 2014 LJ entries. And back up my LJ on dreamwidth.
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
The last of the three Hippeastrum papilio offsets is sprouting. They're tough bulbs, surviving all the brutal cures I inflicted on them. No sign of growth on the big guys from Telos Rare Bulbs yet, but the bulbs seem firm and healthy and there's some green at the stumps of the old leaves.
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
Two of the three wee offsets from the Great Papilio Caper have sent out leaves, and both are chugging right along. This is good.

And, to make my happiness complete, one of the conjoined triplets from the bulb Valerie gave me has two little leaf nubbins -- they just sprouted yesterday. Given that all three of the triplets share a basal plate, I am hoping this is a harbinger of more sprouting.

In other news, it didn't quite make it to 100F today. It made it to body temperature -- 98.6F -- and then started to fall. So far it's down to 95, which is cool only in relation to the earlier number.

Oh, and the Martin Invaders put on quite a show yesterday, their first bloom of 2014.

2014-07-01_0029martian_invader
lblanchard: (swannfountain)
It's done.

All six-to-eight Hippeastrum papilio have now been: 1) removed from their pots and soil removed from their roots; 2) soaked in a serious fungicide whose name I believe is Thiomyl at c. 90F for an hour; 3) soaked in hotter-than-lukewarm water (c. 115F) for two hours; 4)  trimmed as to the roots and dried; 5) sprayed with another fungicide (plain old sulfur). Now they've been carefully planted in Organic Mechanics potting soil with a little added bone meal, watered in, and drained. They don't actually need sunlight at this point, but I plan to move them downstairs to a spot I just wiped down with straight Clorox, a pot at a time as I'm going down.

Here they are, in all their re-potted splendor:


As of this moment, I have nothing blooming on any windowsill in the house. I have a couple begonia cuttings that appear to be thinking about it, but they hardly count.

The focus now shifts to outside, where I have one lonely peony bud getting ready to bloom, one that may think about it, and two that are likely to abort. A wretched beginning. Two or three wisteria scapes are showing a faint veil of lavender. The verbena that I inadvertently overwintered is about to burst into vigorous bloom. Corydalis are blooming, too, but that's a bit like saying the dandelions are blooming, except that I don't have any.

I don't think I noted anywhere in this journal that I sent my perennial sunflower to Julian Abele Park over the weekend. Its regular spot in the back yard is now full shade instead of partial sun.

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