Sunday, December 28, 2014

Better-Gro Bagged Orchids No Longer Sold At Lowes :(

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Florida? Seriously, it is the best for finding cool things in at regular, seemingly run of the mill garden centers. Many of this year's hauls came from Lowe's or The Home Depot. Unfortunately, I just read on Better-Gro's Facebook page, that Lowe's went with a different supplier for orchids and they won't be carrying Better-Gro bagged orchids anymore.

Although Better-Gro says they are working on "expanding their relationship" with Home Depot instead, I have only seen them show up in one store here that I haven't seen these orchids carried in the past. I'm kind of more upset than I thought I'd be about this. We went from an abundant supply of cool orchids all the time, to 2 Home Depots in the area carrying them. Sucks big time, and that's the nicest way I'll put that.

Cat inspection of a Lowe's haul at the old apartment

The following are Better-Gro orchids purchased this year only, well below average of my typical year's purchases of these orchids as I think the hiatus I took was the entire summer through fall, about 6 months? I'll apologize in advance, as the photos on this post have no theme, and some of them just aren't any good. I didn't take pictures specifically with this post in mind at the time so some are also iPhone photos. I just wanted to show you why I'm disappointed these won't be available at Lowe's anymore.

This "Bag Baby" orchid is C. Caribbean x lawrenceana. I couldn't find a single picture of the bloom on the internet, but it sounds like it might be a cool flower. It is an H&R cross, so maybe I'll email them for a picture to see if this is something I'm willing to grow out. I'm hoping the flower has that lawrenceana shape to it, but if nothing else we'll be surprised.

C. Caribbean x lawrenceana bagged Better-Gro orchid
This year I also picked up Myrmecophila tibicinis. Please excuse the Monster can. The photo was taken with something a friend would recognize for scale (LOL.) An entirely different purpose than showing it off here.

Myrmecophila (Schomburgkia) tibicinis

I'm also trying to rescue this Oncidium ampliatum. It looks like it had been sitting around a while, it's dehydrated. New roots are starting and it should recover nicely. I'll have a better picture of it in 2015.

Oncidium ampliatum
Encyclia steinbachii below (mislabeled steinbachiana, because it probably originally came from H&R and that's what they mislabel it as?) was in bad shape too, but it's turning around quick. Look at all them roots!

Encyclia steinbachii
Encyclia guadalupeae, in new-shipment-great-shape. Got this one 2 days ago at The Home Depot that just started carrying Better-Gro bagged orchids. HOORAY for this Home Depot!

Encyclia guadalupeae

I especially couldn't resist these species orchids for so cheap. These are all really great species, purchased for about $12.98 depending on the tax in the area I bought them.

Lately we've been making many, many, trips to Lowe's. There's one fairly close to to our new home, and we're re-painting, re-landscaping, and re-whatever-else needs-work here. People tell me that never stops when you own a home, so I guess Lowe's will be losing out on my money this coming year. I tend to agree to run errands to pick stuff up for the house under the guise of being helpful, but in reality I don't pass up an excuse to go see if they have any new bagged orchids. Oh well.

And yes, I realize with the internet and all of Florida's orchid shows, there is almost any orchid I want ever, shipped to my door, pretty much whenever. It just isn't the same as digging through the bags in the display at a local store. It's like a treasure hunt for adults, sorting through for cool species or hybrids to take home that day, in hand, for super cheap so there isn't even any guilt that I've spent too much of our money on plants again.

Edit: Update 2016. Occasionally I see these at Lowe's. With far less stock and far less frequency, so maybe it turned out to be a cut back, who knows. Still disappointed it's mostly unlabeled generic Phals, and the occasional unlabeled Vanda 90% of the time anymore :(

Friday, December 19, 2014

Some Fall Blooming Orchids & An Update

Sorry for the lack of new content guys. Thanks to everyone who emailed to check in, you all are some of my favorite people. Still alive, still have the majority of my plants. We've been busy, like buying a house and moving again busy. That stuff I'll get to, after some flowers for those that just like the pretty pictures here.

It was a bit too warm for my Cattleya walkeriana fma. flamea 'Tokutsu-S' to bloom correctly. The flares on the petals should be much more pronounced, but apparently those that say it should be cool out for this one to bloom true, are correct. I'm sharing it anyway because I'm still happy it bloomed, maybe next year it'll wait for cooler temps. The scent it puts off stinks like that one lady who put on too much perfume then got into an elevator with you in the morning.

Cattleya walkeriana fma. flamea 'Tokutsu-S', close up of one flower

Cattleya walkeriana fma. flamea 'Tokutsu-S'

Another bloomer is Dendrobium moniliforme 'Himeginsetsu', a cute little variegated Dendrobium.

Dendrobium moniliforme 'Himeginsetsu'

Dendrobium moniliforme 'Himeginsetsu' flower close up

Well, the good news is we now own a house, with a nice sized backyard. I got my 150 gal. terrarium back out of storage, have the grow tent, and our house has a "Florida Room" with removable windows, so it turns into a screen room when we want it to. This gives me more options to grow things than most people have, so I'm pretty excited about the possibilities and extra space for more plants! The bad news is I had left many plants in my grow tent for a week while we were moving. It was during this week that my husband upped the temp in the apartment, not wanting to pay extra for AC we weren't using, and the exhaust fan in the tent stopped working. This turned out to be the perfect combination to bake the plants in the tent. As a result I lost a lot of Nepenthes and a few Orchids. I was down about that for months maybe, didn't feel like updating this blog or frequenting any forums you'll typically find me on. I'm somewhat over it now, and in the rebuilding process. At some point here, I'll update the grow list for those that like to trade with me. More updates to come as new and old plants settle into their new home.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Oncidium Space Race 'Coco' Blooming

Onc. Space Race 'Coco'
I have to give this Oncidium credit. It blooms like clockwork every year since my husband picked it out for me. I barely do anything for it, I let it get sunburned last summer, it sat outside all winter, and yet here we are again with a whole bunch of flowers.

At some point I'll divide it, as it's getting to be a large plant. If anyone is interested in a division of a not so pretty, but super easy going orchid, let me know.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sarracenia Minor Habitat, Nassau County, FL.

Today we took a quick hike to see if we could find some Sarracenia minor in situ. I found a promising spot somewhat inland, in Nassau County, FL so we drove out there to see if we could find some. It was midday by the time we found where to go and a spot to park, so pardon the bright pictures.

The absolute second we got to a spot that the ground started to get flooded and I was looking down so as not to sink into the flooded trail, we spotted a ton of Drosera capillaris. They had started putting up flower stalks, but no flowers yet.

With the low, flooded areas also came the start of the Sarracenia minor. Success!

The  rest of the area looking around at this spot, green and brown Bromeliads and Cypress knees as far as the eye can see. Good thing there was a built up part of the trail, or this is where I would've been turning around. There are gators in Florida, nevermind whatever else lives down there. This was also mosquito central.

Then, I spotted something else... can you see it in the water in the next picture?

Utricularia! If anyone would be so kind as to identify these for me, I'd appreciate it! I am no Utricularia expert, nor will I attempt to hazard a guess.

They were everywhere in larger bodies of water with full sun.

More Sarracenia minor

Looking around again, a bit further in, it looked like some of this spot had been burned not that long ago.

Good for S. minor, as these in the sun had a lot more color, and were growing stronger than the ones in the shaded spots we came across earlier.

These below were my favorite of the whole day's discoveries. I'd like to think they are about to duel. They used to be bros, but now they are totally having a fight.

These spots were easier than I thought they'd be to find in the swamp and scrub because you couldn't miss those big yellow flowers. So now that I have some idea of where to hike, we're going back later in the season, (next time with 1000x more spray on Deet.) More pictures to come!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Help Support the NASC, Limited Edition T-Shirts!

The Sarracenia Forum has decided to create a t-shirt for two reasons. 1. To build awareness of our community and 2. To raise a small profit to donate to the North American Sarracenia Conservancy. This shirt was chosen as the best design, and will never be available again.

Profits go to support the North American Sarracenia Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, dedicated to preserving the natural habitats and genetic diversity of the genus Sarracenia. The t-shirt is American made by American Apparel. A quality, well made brand, not the cheap stuff! The goal is to sell 40 shirts. Teespring, the company producing them works like a crowd funding site. If we meet the goal everybody gets their shirts and the NASC gets our donation. If we don't meet the goal then the shirts don't get made, you won't be charged, but you also won't get an awesome shirt.

So help us help preserve the ever shrinking natural habitats that Sarracenia grow in. Even as far back as 1993, estimates that 97.5% of Sarracenia habitats have been destroyed in the Southeast US. Three Sarracenia species are already listed as Federally Endangered under the USA Endangered Species Act, (S. rubra subsp. alabamensis  in Alabama, S. rubra subsp. jonesii in North and South Carolina, and S. oreophila in Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina. To read more about why Sarracenia need special protection click for the Wikipedia Entry and The Carnivorous Plant FAQ.

Designed by rmeyer
Women's T-shirts too!

Please share on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc.! We're already halfway to our goal and it's only day one!
Prices for different style shirts are between $19 and $20.50 USD.
Domestic (United States) shipping $3.85 + $.25 for each additional t-shirt. Your shirt will arrive within 7-14 days from the end of the campaign.
Domestic (Canada) $7.50 + $1 for each additional t-shirt. Your shirt will arrive within 14-21 days from the end of the campaign.
International shipping is $10.50 + $1 for each additional t-shirt. Your shirt will arrive within 14-21 days from the end of the campaign.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Parodia werneri ssp. werneri: 1st Cactus Bloom This Year

 Love this cactus, total of 8 flowers this round of blooming. Lots of other cacti budding up now...

Doesn't it look nice even when the flowers are starting to wilt? Like it's wearing a purple crown.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

By Request: "How's Your Robcantleyi Doing?"

I do take requests for this blog and the most common one I get is for how my Nepenthes robcantleyi 'Queen of Hearts' x 'King of Spades' is doing for me and how I'm growing it. This being among the "newer" Nepenthes on the market, most hobbyists have not grown it to maturity yet and many are still figuring out how to best grow it at all.

N. robcantleyi 'Queen of Hearts' x 'King of Spades'

Here's what I've found out about mine. 

1.) It likes it's media wet.
Like really wet, wet. I've partially by accident, because it's been on a rack with another plant overhead, been watering it (from what I consider, having grown Nepenthes for many years now) too much. It seemed happy when I looked at it so I let the plant above continue to drip extra water onto robcantleyi. It's now growing better than it ever has.

2.) It has always grown better for me under artificial lighting in a semi-closed environment.
Back when I first got my robcantleyi it was expensive, still maybe the most I've ever spent on one Nepenthes. So I chose to grow it in with my Drosera and mini orchids in a 10 gallon terrarium. It grew well, and pitchered on every leaf in there. Then it outgrew my tiny terrarium and I grew it on a rack in a window or outdoors after that. It rarely pitchered and seemed to be susceptible to every mite attack possible. It looked and grew like crap, even when I wasn't stalling it out with pesticide. This winter when I brought everything inside for the colder weather I had the luxury of a grow tent. It's now growing better than it ever has.

This leads me to believe one of two things. Either it's the amount of light or it's the consistent temperarures. Or maybe a combination of both. The tent is consistent like the tank was back in the day. Warm, 85 F/29 C during the day, and room temperature, about 70 F/ 21 C at night. I would call that intermediate temperatures. Robcantleyi seems to be ok with this. 

Robcantleyi was not ok with the heat when I attempted to grow it outside here over the last year. It tends to be 90's F/ 30's C during the day and 80's F/ 20's C at night for months. Robcantleyi grew very slow with funky shaped leaves and small pitchers. Not happy, so back indoors it went.

On the other hand, robcantleyi does seem to be ok with inconsistent, wild swings in humidity. I am not the most diligent water-er and I tend to underwater by choice rather than over-water and rot something. Thus the tent has high humidity when I water and for a day or two afterward, then the humidity drops into the 40-50% range for a few days before I water again. The same went for the old tank.

So for all of you that have asked me how my robcantleyi is doing. The answer now is great. I hope what I have discovered about growing this Nepenthes is somewhat helpful to others. Now I don't advocate for any of the above methods for successfully growing yours, this is just what I've found mine to consistently like over it's lifespan and travels since 2010 with me. This being a seed grown plant it may be a stronger or worse grower than yours, or maybe it's pickier or more tolerant than yours.

Oldest picture I could find of robcantleyi in the 10 gallon terrarium, 3.5" pot, late 2010/early 2011. Drosera for scale.

Summer 2012, 6" pot, outdoors in NY

N. robcantleyi 'Queen of Hearts' x 'King of Spades' today. Had to wash it out a bit with the light, otherwise it was hard to capture the detail against the black pot.

N. robcantleyi, 4/6/14
iPhone photo, captures the color better than my digital camera

I'm excited to see what it looks like next year!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Sarracenia 2014

The Sarracenia and Flytraps are all budded up, it's officially spring!

Sarracenia leucophylla 'Tarnok'. This is it's first flower for me, so I'm super excited to see it in all it's mutant glory!
Sarracenia leucophylla 'Tarnok' bud
Next up, but much further behind, is Sarracenia flava var. rubricorpora Red Tube.

Sarracenia flava. var rubricorpora

This year we also have some new additions to the family. You know those "Bug Biting Plants terrarium set," sold in Lowes this time of year? More on this in another post. Well, I decided to buy one because I didn't have the Sarracenia in the kit already in my collection. The kit comes with a dormant rhizome of a flytrap (and despite what the package leads you to believe picture wise,) a Sarracenia rubra rhizome. According to the internet identifiers, it's S. rubra ssp. rubra, however AG3 just lists this as S. rubra, so I'll wait for a flower + mature plant to ID. There's also reports of a green flower, which means it may be a rubra hybrid or even a mutation.

I made this first pot with the original box I bought. The flytrap isn't much to see at the moment but the Sarracenia rubra has the tiniest little flower bud I have ever seen on a Sarracenia!

S. rubra

Isn't it cute, next to such a tiny pitcher?

Then, one of the Lowe's here had started putting the kits on sale already so I picked up a few more. Mostly because I'm a total nut, I decided to go back and buy all the kits on sale. I gave the flytraps away and made a big community pot of all the Sarracenia. They are all a bit light deprived and squiggly from trying to grow in a small sealed package.

S. rubra compot

There's a few buds in there.

My Sarracenia purpurea ssp. venosa may not flower this year. It had started to dehydrate for no apparent good reason, so I unpotted it to find some mold and some evidence of insects munching on it. I treated it for both and it's now growing again, but I don't expect flowers unfortunately. I decided to forgo flowers for the flytraps and cut them all off. A healthy flytrap can flower and make decent sized traps throughout the year, but I decided to try and do some stem propagation with the flower stems instead. I have never had much luck trying this in the past, so I'm trying it differently every year until something works and I can claim some skill in this area.

Happy Spring! Wishing you all a productive growing year!