Friday, June 29, 2012


My brother got me this really awesome gift. I'm mentioning it for two reasons.

1.) My brother found this botanical print of carnivorous plants. It's one of the most thoughtful gifts anyone's given me in a while. I don't do so much decorating. The thought of having to pack everything and move (again) keeps me from seeing much value in in acquiring "stuff." Having lots of things feels burdensome. Maybe it's because I've moved 3 or 4 times already and I don't spend that much time at home anyway. It reminds me of a quote from Chuck Palahniuk in the book Fight Club, "...and the things you used to own, now they own you." Therefore decorating investments have been limited to a few Salvador Dali prints (The Temptation of St. Anthony) and framed photographs. So I'm pleased with this small improvement to my living space as it's the kind of thing I'd probably be decorating with if I went out of my way to try.


2.) The second reason is because although my brother didn't draw this particular print, he is an extremely talented artist. He also grows plants well (despite one of his current projects) as if the first fact wasn't good enough.

He has a website, if you don't believe me, or want to see what I mean: Allen West
There's a particularly nice looking Rhyncholaelia digbyana on his home page.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


It's been rainy and cloudy almost all summer so far. It's like we're being punished for having had such a mild winter. I'm aware weather doesn't work that way, but it's making my favorite season less fun so I'm complaining about it. Where I live it starts to get  cold in September, frigid by January, and only starts to get tolerable to be outside again by late April. That's about 6 months of cool to soul-crushingly cold weather. Compounded by the angle of the sun, it's also dark and gray a lot of the time.

Credit: Queenieacoustic from Wikipedia

So far, the majority of cactus blooms haven't opened up all the way because, of course, they opened on a cloudy day. Then it was cloudy for the next two days too. This is Parodia mammulosa with four buds. I was really excited about this one for no other reason than they are huge compared to the plant.

P. mammulosa

This is as far as the buds would open. We didn't get a sunny day before the flowers died, so that was the end of it. It's not putting out any more buds (yet?) so that might be it for the year.

Then there was Gymnocalycium baldianum.

G. baldianum buds
The flowers of G. baldianum are a dark red. Not only were they not, they weren't able to open all the way either. It's working on some more, so we'll see what the rest of the summer brings.

Close enough
Maybe July and August will be better for the rest of the cacti flowers and better for being outside, in the sun, like summer is supposed to be about.

Monday, June 25, 2012

I'm an idiot...Ping update

I went to take some pictures of the newly opened flower on the Pinguicula moranesis I mentioned last week. I chose to move it to get a better shot early in the morning. I have mild hand tremors (that are only noticable when I'm tired) so this was a poor choice. I promptly broke the flower stalk the first day it opened.

In a medicine cup
Ooops, I broke it

Now I feel like an idiot. Ping's flower stalks are fragile. Their leaves are a stiff and fragile too. I know this because I broke one a few months ago. I should just really never touch this plant again.

But there's good news! It's making another one. Thanks little guy, and sorry about the first one.

I'm going to leave it be this time, I promise

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hoya kerrii

Hoyas are neat plants. I haven't gotten one to bloom yet, but to be fair most of mine are too small to. Last year I started collecting a few small starts of variegated ones because I really like vines, and especially like variegation.

Hoya kerrii, accidental feet for size reference

I saw this one in the local garden center I frequent, but it was really too big. I don't have space for one that size! It sat there for at least two years. No one ever bought it. Meanwhile, I decided I wanted one really bad. I looked around on the web for a small start. By the time it ever gets large, I'll be in a bigger space for sure so no worries. Apparently a variegated  H. kerrii is really expensive. Most places were charging $20-40 for a 3-4 leaf vine. So out of curiosity I checked the price tag on the one at the garden center. $17.99. So here is this (rare?) Hoya, that no one likes or wants at insanely cheap price for it's exceptional size. I watched it get shuffled around, constantly being pushed out of the way for new stuff or to the back of the racks. It was almost like a game. Every time I went there, even if it was just for a pot, I would check to see if it was still there too. It always was. I wanted it, but always rationally talked myself out of buying due to my space constraints. One night I was there really late for something stupid I had run out of. There was a small Portulacaria afra variegata stuck into the soil. An employee must've been trying to reroot it and figured no one would even notice it in there. They probably expected that plant would sit there forever at this point.

So if you haven't already guessed we were coming to this, I bought it.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with a plant this large come winter when everything needs to come back inside. The only good thing is it doesn't like high light. I've already burned it a bit trying to figure out just how much light it needs. There's too much conflicting information about how to grow these. But more than anything else, I wish I could've been there to see the look on whatever employees face when they discovered that someone actually bought this thing, after years of having to take care of it. Years ago, I worked in retail sales, selling nutritional supplements in a store similar to a GNC. There's always a product no one wants. It sits there and you move it around until maybe it finally expires and you send it back to the warehouse to get disposed of. You see it every day and it just becomes part of the scenery of the job. You definitely notice the day it's gone. I always think, "Wow, someone actually wanted this!" Hell yes I wanted this.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Few Cacti Updates

Rebutia muscula might be the winner this year so far, just for looking good. There are awards for such things. These pictures were taken only a couple weeks apart from each other, with new flowers in each picture. Every time the flowers start to fade, new buds start forming. The flowers last about 3-5 days, but that's totally fine, especially seeing as how it's just going to keep making more. I have to try taking pictures of this guy with a different camera, the color just isn't doing it the justice it deserves. In reality, they're a neon tangerine color. Really stunning.

R. muscula, Round #1
R. muscula, Round #2
R. muscula, Round #3. Needed a repot by now.

Gymnocalycium anisitsii was my first cactus ever. I remember buying it, really liking it's geometric shape. This was it's first bloom for me, earlier in the spring. G. anisitsii and Parodia fusca, (other cactus pictured,) were the only ones that had started forming flower buds as soon as the light started to get much stronger by about the beginning of April.

G. anisitsii in late April

G. anisitsii 1st bloom of the season!

Yesterday this one opened up, I think it's #3 for this year. It's much smaller and I'm not sure why. Maybe I haven't been watering it enough? It's possible that it's actually getting too much sun. I may move it, Gymnocalyciums don't naturally grow in full, all day sun. I figured this far above the equator I'd be safe with the almost all day sun it's been getting, but I might be wrong.

G. anisitsii 6/21/12

Last but not least, in Echinopsis subdenudata news, 4 more flowers at once. I also love how it almost looks ridiculous with it's buds so far away from the plant. It's not like it has any significant spines it has to clear before it can open, must be not so easy to attract it's pollinators if it's flowers are too close to the ground.

Ready to go, around 7pm last night.
Didn't even notice the Aloinopsis blooming in the background when I took the photo
5 am, I was a bit late
Already starting to close with the sunlight
As you can see from the pictures, there's also a few more cacti with buds that should bloom within the next month too.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Delosperma and why plant trademark names are bad for everyone

Warning: I like scientific names. This post contains a lot of them and for good reason. Many of my future posts will be the same way.
Delosperma 'P001S'
I was at a local garden center a few months ago when they got in their spring shipment of plants. Surprisingly they had a lot of Delosperma species, a cold hardy South African succulent. Delosperma is a member of the Mesembryanthemaceae family, which if you know succulents, is also the same family as lithops or "living stones." Neat, huh? There's a lot of interesting facts about this genus, but I'm saving it for a later post.

Anyway, I decided I had to have what was labeled as Delosperma Firespinner (TM).

Written smaller on the bottom of the tag was also Delosperma 'P001S', which is somewhat of a working title until the plant is properly named. When I buy something I like to know everything I can about it. After some research I found out this is possibly a new species introduced through an organization called Plant Select. Panayoti Kaleidis of the Denver Botanic Gardens seems to be the one that discovered this plant from what I can tell so far, but there is no official write up for the fact that it's a species yet. That's about the most accurate information I could find.

Delosperma 'P001S' the day I bought it.
That's about a 1 gallon container as these are sold in large chunks as groundcover plants.
Delosperma flowers from spring through summer and is hardy down to zone 5
The Firespinner (TM) was throwing me off. How can you trademark a name for a plant? Plants aren't named that way. Everyone who took basic Biology class knows plants are named scientifically. Plant growers know at least the genus and species and that's what we refer to the plant's name as. Cultivar names are in between '' marks, etc. I though this is just the way it's done, and I was right, kind of....

Here's where it gets annoying. Yes, you can trademark a name for a plant (that already has a genus, species, and cultivar name too.) Yet by doing so you violate part of the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants, US Trademark Law, and possibly also the rules of the US Federal Trade Commission. Also, if your trademarked name becomes the common term to people use to refer to the plant, your trademark becomes invalid. If anyone took you to court over your trademark, you would probably lose. So why trademark a plant? It seems to be for the initial sales and marketing dollars and trying to get the public to think that your name for the plant is the plants name. No one is standing up to the companies that do this, so they get away with it.

So now you're asking me why should I care, who does this hurt at the end of the day? Unfortunately this hurts everyone from growers to the consumers. Confusing names, multiple names, invalid names, all hurt communication about the plant in question and is an unethical business practice. An international naming code exists for a reason. When everyone is on the same page we can talk or write about a particular plant and everyone will understand. This is the only way we can share knowledge effectively. Isn't that in everyone's best interest? Here's a well written article that explains further, and with more detail, why trademarking plants is a terrible thing. The author has much more knowledge than I on the subject so I'll let him explain, if you are at all interested in further reading, The Misuse of Trademarks in Horticulture

So thanks pretty little Delopserma, I learned a lot and got kind of pissed off about something I had never even though about before. About a week ago someone gave me a piece of Delosperma floribundum Starburst(TM). For any future posts I might make about that one, I'll just leave off the "Starburst(TM)" and go with the genus/species combo, and not go on a plant naming rant again. Out of protest, I won't be referring to Delosperma 'P001S' with it's trademark name either, seeing as how it would be illegal for me to use Firespinner (TM) for anything I propagate from it anyway.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Successful dormancies

It's pretty easy to tell when carnivores have gone dormant, but it's not quite as obvious how good the dormancy was until the growing season begins again. We had a very mild winter. I'm positive that helped my Sarracenia purpurea and Venus Fly Trap. Here they both are blooming away.

Sarracenia purpurea, a few different angles
S. purpurea forming it's buds
A fully opened S. purpurea flower
Dionaea muscipula, aka Venus Fly Trap flower.
The stalk was over a foot away from the plant. It wasn't possible to get them both in focus.

Pinguicula moranensis

This is my first try at growing Pings. I always liked them, but heard they were hard to grow. So I was excited when I was offered P. moranensis as part of a trade last year. I wasn't sure I was giving it enough light. When I got it the leaves had a rosy hue to them. So I upped the lighting and it still looks green, but now it's flowering. I don't know if that is an accurate indicator or I should still try for higher light. Either way, this is how it looked when I first noticed the bud, and what it looks like today. Another bloom to wait for, and possibly it's first one.

P. moranensis
P. moranensis 3 days later
I am growing this one in a terrarium, somehow it got it's dormancy anyway? I guess there's enough temperature fluctuation. I don't really monitor that in this tank as it's open at the top. It's only slightly warmer than the apartment due to the artificial lighting. Any suggestions for this one are welcome. I'm still not sure I'm giving it the right care. I may move it to a windowsill, but only if I have to. I'm kind of running out of those.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Don't look at orchids

"A watched orchid never blooms." I had heard this before, it's true. I look at my plants a lot.

In the winter I watch for proper dormancies, being careful who I water and when. I inspect everything for pests as some are prone to mealy bugs.

The rest of the year is also inspecting for pests, watering every so often in spring and fall. Summer almost everything is outdoors and needs to be watered every other day, at least.

I haven't been having a good year for orchids so far. I't might be the constant rain and clouds we had. I had a few get cold damage. I had given up on spring blooms entirely. I water everything, but mindlessly. So it was a surprise to see a spike on Doritaenopsis Kenneth Schubert.

So, orchids. Whenever I don't pay attention to them, they reward me. I literally just noticed this. I watered it 2 days ago and didn't notice a thing.

Nepenthes talangensis and sibuyanensis

I had moved all of my highland Nepenthes species outside for the spring, and so far so good. They're all on a crazy looking bright blue shelving unit with a little overhead sunlight protection and west facing light. You can kind of see the blue shelf. You can laugh at it, it's pretty ridiculous, but it was free. I didn't really take the time they needed to acclimate them to that much sun, so I have a few burnt leaves. I was too busy, but didn't want them to miss the perfect weather we've been having for highland species lately. Nepenthes are much hardier than they look and much hardier than the internet tells people they are.

N. talangensis is a cute little highland species, endemic to Mount Talang, in Sumatra. It stays fairly small and grows pretty well for me. It does slow down growth by late summer when the nighttime temps are warmer than it likes. This is the largest pitcher it's made for me yet. Still a juvenile pitcher, but looks well on it's way to maturity.
N. talangensis
N. sibuyanensis

Nepenthes sibuyanensis is endemic to Sibuyan Island in the Philippines. It pretty much always does well here. It's a bit of a slow grower, but my conditions aren't perfect, so I won't complain. One interesting thing about this one is it will grow it's tendrils out and usually bury the tip in a neighbors potting mix. It's pitchers never hang, they always end up sitting or growing out of another Nepenthes pot. This guy gets a much darker red color in the sun, but this pitcher was under the leaves of N. spectabilis and got almost no light.

Echinopsis subdenudata

This is currently my favorite cactus. It's adorable. Little fuzzy white areoles that cover sharp, nearly invisible spines. This was it's first flowering for me. It's one downside is it blooms at night and starts to close as the sun comes up, lasting only one night. I set my alarm for 4 am for this one and brought the flashlight.

Echinopsis subdenudata in bloom
E. subdenudata, better view of the plant

It's working on some more blooms now, as you can see from the grey fuzzy parts growing out from the areoles. I'll be up early to catch those too. It's tough to get good shots as the flower had already started to close by 5:30 am. Lighting isn't great that time of day, plus taking photos of something stark white in the dark is even more challenging.


I've been growing plants and following others blogs about plants for years now. I figured it was time to start my own now that I have a little free time. I grow mostly carnivorous plants, orchids, cacti, and other succulents in an apartment in New York State. This makes for some challenges, but I've been successful overall so far. I always like a new challenge though, so we'll see where this hobby (obsession?) goes.

I should've really started this blog in the spring. There is and was a lot going on plant related around here, but there was also a lot life related things going on too. I'll probably update this more than usual for a bit to catch up. It's been a good spring for plants!