Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Philodendron bipinnatifidum

Now this is an Aroid I've been dying to grow myself since I moved to Florida. Cold hardy to zone 9 and commonly sold in every store with a garden center down here as Philodendron selloum for $10, I needed one.

Philodendron bipinnatifidum and Philodendron selloum were once considered two separate species, but more recent studies on the sexual characteristics of these Philodendron suggest that both are different forms of the same species. The name Philodendron bipinnatifidum was the first name to be published, so it is considered the correct scientific name, because that's the rules on how naming plants works. First is the winner. Seems fair enough.

As the older leaves die back with age along the growing stems, they leave large scars that looks like eyes.

They can get large, like up to 15 feet large on their own. The stems, with the assistance of those fat aerial roots, can hold them up for a time until they get too heavy, but they can and will climb nearby trees and fences if they can, growing much taller.

The inflorescence is pretty cool too, even if you'd need a magnifying glass to see the actual flowers. It's the only flower known to control it's own temperature. The inflorescence stays at 114 °F (45.5 °C) for the few days it's open. The male flowers metabolize fat to maintain the constant heat regardless of air temperatures. The heat helps to vaporize the chemicals that make up the flower's scent in order to make sure the odor reaches it's beetle pollinators. Now I regret not trying to touch it the last time I saw on one of these flowering.

This little guy below is now mine. It'll go in the ground the next sunny day I have time to dig and clear out the weeds that have grown in the sand over the winter. Grow tall little Philodendron, can't wait until you're a total monster!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Gardening, How does that Work?

I now have a yard, two really, a front and a back yard. The previous owners of my house landscaped the front a bit. Not really my taste, but it at least looks relatively nice and normal.

The back yard though, is a few trees, and some sandy, sandy, soil. The Sarracenia get the most of the full sun spot. So let's go with my yard is sandy and mostly partial shade spots to plant. What can you do with that. I don't know.

My husband mentioned he'd like to plant some things in the back yard and make it look nice for when we hang out back there. I guess I can start to make an actual garden right? Grow stuff outdoors and dig in the dirt (sand) like a normal person instead of having a billion plants in separate pots around. The more I started to consider what I wanted, the more overwhelmed I got. Help, I need an adult.

So the other night I went to Walmart at about one in the morning. You know, like normal people do. Ok, for me it's the only time it's reasonable to shop there without wanting to punch someone or run screaming from the building. While I was there, I went to the garden section having decided that this was it. I was going to browse the garden section like a gardener. Yeah.

What was the only thing I was confident I maybe, could have made a good decision about, and wasn't outrageously boring?

Toad Lily, awwww yeaaaaa.

$1.98! The back says it will be Tricyrtis hirta, I hope we'll find out.

According to the internet, Tricyrtis species do well in partial to full shade, and tolerate sandy soil. So on this one decision maybe I did ok, right? They were sold in this package as roots, so I started them in a few pots just because I feel more comfortable with that. This Tricyrtis species can grow in as far north as zone 4, and I'm at it's max heat tolerance in zone 9.

I then got over excited and stopped at Lowe's and Home Depot on my way home from work today. Small haul of Ismene festalis ("Perivian Daffodil/"Spider Lily"), Tricyrtis 'Blue Wonder' (a compact "Toad Lily" cultivar), and Canna indica 'Pretoria', (variegated, orange flowered Canna cultivar.) All are perennials that should do well in zone 9 if I pick out the right spots in the yard for them.

Ok friends, here we go. You know you're in trouble when you google something as lame as "how to make a garden bed," for ideas. Want to see my gardening disasters and point and laugh at the crazy decisions I make? You know I won't be planting my backyard with sunflowers and geraniums right? Not unless there exists to buy mutant 5 headed ginormous ones with thorns, in which case maybe that's exactly what I'll do.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Some New-ish Nepenthes

As you may have read, I've made a lot of orders for Nepenthes the last few months and as they are all settling in, some are doing much better than others. My experiences lately in having to order from places I'm unfamiliar with have mostly gone well.

This was a small order I placed with Drosera Gemmae. I found them through a web search, and as you can see, the owner sells much more than just Drosera gemmae. I decided to place a small order to see how it went.

This Nepenthes longifolia was a TC import from Wistuba and has started to do very well. Look at that pitcher to leaf size ratio! So far this little seedling likes the terrarium.

Nepenthes longifolia (Kelog Sembilan)

Nepenthes longifolia (Kelog Sembilan), close up of the pitcher

In the picture below, to the left is the pitcher it came to me with and on the right is it's latest. I think this one will do well here.

I also ordered a Nepenthes danseri as I have not seen this one for sale anywhere else. This is also a TC plant from Wistuba originally, and it seems as they are the only one producing it. This one has also settled in quickly.

Nepenthes danseri

Nepenthes danseri with a tiny little pitcher and another on the way
I also made a small order from Predatory Plants for a Nepenthes petata. This was one of the plants I lost and am now able to replace, fortunately. Real tolerant for a highlander, does fine alongside the lowlanders, I'd call this particular clone from Borneo Exotics more of an intermediate. It'll be a while before it gets to the size of my last one, but it has settled in quickly, each leaf larger than the last.

Nepenthes peltata

Nepenthes peltata, tiny pitcher close up.

It's unfortunate that it seems we have lost my old favorite retailers, like the CP Jungle and Exotic Plants Plus. However, I'm glad to have found some other good retailers....now if only they would carry more lowland species!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

DuneCraft Dusty Desert Cacti Microterrarium: A Review!

Years ago, on a request from a friend who was looking at buying a few of this product for her kids, we figured I'd try it out first, the DuneCraft Dusty Desert Cacti. I've successfully grown cacti and succulents from seed before, so may have of cheated with some knowledge that the typical consumer would not have, (explained later below.)

First, I spent a lot of time online looking for reviews, mostly to see if it was even worth trying. I couldn't find one single review with pictures of successfully grown cacti from this product. So here I am, apparently it's gonna be me. There were a mix of satisfied and unsatisfied customers reviews, but only about germination, nothing long term. What about if the novelty doesn't wear off? So I bought one. For $2.99 I figured no big loss if it didn't work. These can be purchased online or most hobby stores like Hobby Lobby or Michael's.

When I opened up the product it's basically a plastic egg, (actual egg sized) with a clear top, a tiny disk of peat wrapped in some netting, and a package of seeds. I'm sorry I didn't take a picture, but Click here for one. The one I bought had 6 seeds. From reading the reviews it's variable how many you'll actually get, but the package said it's supposed to have 5 types of cacti. I decided to follow the instructions as close as possible. If I'm going to be the one to review the thing, I have to do it right.

Ok, so what are the seeds it comes with?
1.) Giant Saguaro (Carnegia gigantea)
2.) Organ Pipe (Lemaireocereus Thurberii) nope, it's Stenocereus thurberi. The packaging was off here, along with typos, I'll let the taxonomy slide.
3.) Golden Barrel (Echinocactus grusonii)
4.) Fishhook Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus Wislenzeni) nope, it's wislizeni, but close.

I know, I shouldn't be a pain over typos and taxonomy errors, but come on, that's 3 errors in 4 sentences. Seriously, it seems like no one over there even bothered to google the names or look them up in a book. I will give them a huge round of applause for attempting to give the consumer the scientific names though, and not just the common ones. Then there's the fact that the label says "5 types of cacti seeds included." I don't know if anyone else has been counting thus far, but I only count 4.

Back on 5/5/12....It begins....

I guess the species they picked germinate fast or I got a fresh batch, as these were up in about 1.5 weeks. Not much to photograph, but a little green was a good sign.

7/5/12.... 3 months later....

I moved the terrarium out of the windowsill and under artificial light, as I got some eliotated (stretched) seelings. The instructions say windowsill and I tried to follow them as close as possible to keep this as close to what the average consumer has to go on, but my windowsills were too shady.

I lost one seed. It didn't germinate and started to mold so I had to get it out of there. I only took the top off to add a tiny bit of water once in 3 months.

But there's good news! They are finally starting to look like cacti. These seedlings start off looking like little green nubs with a forked top. Now they're starting to get some spines.

Dunecraft Dusty Desert Cacti
Without flash. You can see one falling over from getting eliotated.
Dunecraft Dusty Desert Cacti
With flash to see the spines better

I originally wrote this up years ago, and then decided against publishing it for various reasons. Then, I got an email from my friend and her daughter with pictures of  many beautiful baby cacti that her daughter is absolutely in love with. We may have created a cacti fan for life due in part to this experiment with this product. So although this product review is a little critical, it is a positive one because we all do have cacti growing.

A little under a year old, 4/5/13:

A little taller than my now dirty finger
The egg terrarium was knocked over by a cat and I was forced to repot. One was knocked off it's roots entirely, hence the rebagging. It'll be just fine. Still dealing with the results of the eliotation, but they will grow out of it as they're in an appropriate amount of sun now, ( the slightly pink tint.) However, they could have totally stayed in that egg for the year.


Same pot as 2013 picture above, needs repotting badly!

For anyone interested in this product review, I'll continue to update on this page as growth continues. If anyone reading this finds something unclear or has any questions about this product, feel free to leave a comment here (anonymously or otherwise) or email me. I will do my best to help, even if you're coming across this years later. I figure at least now there is an actual product review out there at all. Despite my initial criticisms I think this, and the other DuneCraft products, are a wonderful way to teach kids about growing things. I think it's a valuable experience for people of all ages really no matter how you chose to do it. Hey, I'm an adult and I am still having fun growing them! Also I love trying these products, so if there's something you want me to try and grow, let me know and I'll review it for everyone.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Terrarium Back in Action with Some New Nepenthes!

I finally was able to get my terrarium out of storage and set up again. As much of a pain it is to move (excruciatingly heavy,) I'm so happy to have it back. It's been in storage for 2 years now, so I did unfortunately have to purchase a new glass top, and new set of lights for it. I ended up taking a chance on the AquaticLife T5 HO 48" 4 Lamp Fixture w/ Lunar Lights and an Aquatic Life 48" T5 HO Dual Lamp Fixture. I split the lamps up into 2 separate fixtures for easy access into the tank. I did NOT want to get a 6 or 8 lamp and have to take the whole thing off every time I needed to get in there. I already have to use a step stool to get up in there in the first place just to water as the only opening is down through the top. Big thanks to MarineandReef.com for swapping out the actinic bulbs these fixtures would normally come with for some 10,000 and 6,500 K bulbs that I could use.

The Lunar Lights are pretty neat!

Terrarium with AquaticLife Lunar Lights on

I'm clearly still working on setting it up, so I'll make an update about it in the future when it's "fisnished." So onto the some of the new plants inside...

This was my order from Native Exotics. Left to right, N. ampullaria "Bau Green", N. bicalcarata "Orange Blush", and N. sumatrana (variegated), just unboxed.

Nepenthes bicalcarata Orange Blush. Forgot to take some photos before I put it in the tank. It did come with that little basal growth point, thrilled about that. I wonder how the pitchers will end up looking as it came in a little on the green side, and there are no pictures on the internet of mature pitchers of this particular clone. The color temp of  the lights I bought should bring out the best in it, so we'll see. Either way, it's a bical I didn't have before.

N. bicalcarata Orange Blush
Nepenthes sumatrana was variegated. It's reverted back to normal, and I had fair warning about that, but I figured I'd give it a shot anyway. Sometimes lighting can have something to do with level of variegation, sometimes it's a mutation plants grow out of. More than likely it will be normal the rest of it's life. Don't care, love sumatrana, and if there's variegation somewhere it in genes it's not a bad plant to have.

Nepenthes smatrana variegated (not variegated)

Nepenthes ampullaria Bau Green. A nice all green ampullaria. I hope it likes to make basals. As much as I miss the amps I lost, neither of the other clones I grew seemed to be particularly fond of making them.

N. ampullaria Bau Green

I've got a whole bunch of new Nepenthes, and a terrarium to finish setting up, so I'll take some more photos here shortly.