Saturday, February 15, 2014

Saturday morning Sheba picture

Sheba's still here. So's the snow. I'm pretty happy about both.

I feel badly for those readers who are tired of snow and wish it would stop already. Also envious. I have yet to reach snow satiety, and I think 2008 was a record snow year for Iowa, so it may well be that the concept of too much snow just doesn't exist for me. Or that if it does exist, I would have to move somewhere else in order to experience it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Pretty picture: Angraecum sesquipedale

Another photo taken from a distance. Hence the blurriness. Though my camera doesn't handle whites and reds well anyway, so it would likely have been blurry if I'd gotten close too.

I do kind of like the flower. Maybe I'm just reacting to the shape? (It's different from the rounded petals and sepals of Phalaenopsis, therefore it's good?)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Unfinished business: Hippeastrum, fungus, itching, Cyperus

Just picking up from the previous update: the Hippeastrum has bloomed. I got two flowers, both of them solid red, though they looked very orange-red right up until opening (and still look a little orange in some lighting). I don't know that this is going to turn me into a Hippeastrum devotee or anything, but they're self-fertile, and you know how I get with seeds,1 so this will probably not be my last amaryllis.2 This one was started in March 2010, so that means basically four years from seed to bloom. I have no idea if that's typical for Hippeastrums.

I don't know whether the white streaking on the back of some of the sepals here is normal for Hippeastrum, or an indication that there's some 'Apple Blossom' ancestry in there after all, or something else, but it seemed worth mentioning.

Less happily, about ten hours after "An Uncharacteristically Upbeat Post" published, I found the Euphorbia fungus on a plant that I thought had been cured, and then discovered it on at least three more plants that week. You'd think I would have learned by now never to think (much less to say) that any of my problems has ever been resolved.

Though shutting up about my problems doesn't seem to work that well either: the itching is still happening, albeit not as often. I've been using petroleum jelly after showering for about six weeks now, and although I'm not itching as often, I'm still itching. It's just that now I have maybe two bad days per week, instead of three. The itching is a little less life-consuming when it does happen, as well: shorter duration, responds better to benadryl. So there's been improvement on that, but less than I'd like. The next step in the process would be a referral to a dermatologist; so far I've declined to do that because 1) it's gotten somewhat better, and 2) my expectation is that seeing a dermatologist is a lot less likely to result in a cure for the problem than it is to result in more visits to a dermatologist. Nothing against dermatologists: I'm sure many of them are very nice people who are highly competent doctors. I just don't think this problem is a dermatologist kind of problem.3 If it gets worse, I'll reconsider.

Finally, just an update on the Cyperus alternifolius (original post from last July here), so I don't have to end the post on such a down note:

The third cutting did eventually sprout; it just took a really long time. It caught up to the size of the other two pretty quickly after I potted it up, which was surprising. I've since put all three together in a single pot (mostly for space-conservation reasons; I'm pretty certain the plants would have been fine where they were), and the resulting plant looks like this now:

So far, I'm pleased to make its acquaintance. It's been a while since I met a new plant that I got along with this well, actually.


1 There will be at least one more seedling-related post coming relatively soon, though in a surprise twist, it won't be about Anthuriums. And I'm pleasantly surprised and happy about it anyway.
2 "Amaryllis" is the common name for Hippeastrum even though there's a genus called Amaryllis. Much like the way "pothos" is Epipremnum and not Pothos, "nephthytis" is Syngonium and not Nephthytis, or "coleus" is Solenostemon Plectranthus and not Coleus. Even when common names are scientific names, you still can't trust 'em.
3 So what kind of problem is it, then, if not a dermatologist problem? I don't know. Maybe it's a ghosts-of-dead-spider-mites problem.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A couple more Anthurium seedling updates

I know. I know! I wouldn't be doing another of these posts so soon if I didn't have a really good reason. Actually, two reasons, but they're two reasons that are also sort of the same reason.

This is the first reason:

#35, "Alyssa Edwards"

Anthurium flowers are always kind of frustrating to photograph. The spathes are shiny, so it's nearly impossible to prevent reflections with or without the flash, and the spathe and spadix are never at the same distance, so in macro shots you can usually only have one or the other in focus, not both at the same time. Alyssa was even more difficult than usual, though, since the thing of interest about her is the color, the color difference from the other Anthurium seedlings is subtle, and my camera sucks at accurate color reproduction. The plan for this post is basically to throw a bunch of pictures at you and hope that they average out in your brain to something accurate.1

It may help reveal the difference in color if I show Alyssa next to some of the other Anthuriums. Here she is (L) with #126, Erin Dirtylondry (R):

And with #58, Betty Larsony (R):

Betty's a lot more typical of the flowers I've been getting, that pinkish-red 'Gemini' spathe. Betty makes Alyssa look more purple; Alyssa makes Betty look more orange.

This is in fact the real Alyssa Edwards, talking to Coco Montrese on RuPaul's Drag Race. The seedling named for Coco, #37, hasn't really thrived here and is still in its original 3-inch pot. Which is just as well, 'cause Coco came across as being sort of a terrible person and doesn't deserve to have an Anthurium seedling pretend-named for her.

Alyssa Edwards' seed parent was Gemini; I don't know who the pollen parent was, but my guess would be 'Krypton' (roughly the same color as Alyssa) or the NOID purple.

I don't know why Alyssa's got those brown/orange spots on the spathe; I haven't seen any thrips lately, but that's a possibility. It could also be drought stress, bruises, or damage from the heat of the fluorescent lights. I have limited placement options for a lot of these, and although I don't have any proof yet that the lights are causing problems, things like this make me wonder.

The other notable seedling:

#85, "Carson Trucks"

Carson is also a little bit purple, though the color is more pink-purple than red-purple. Carson's spathe is also smaller than Alyssa's. According to my notes, this was what Carson looked like when the flower first opened:

Which is a perfectly nice, clean-looking light pink. But s/he's definitely not that color anymore. (I even went downstairs and checked to make sure. This next picture is pretty accurate. It might even understate the amount of purpleness.)

The slightly darker spathe margin is a real thing, too, not just a photographic artifact. A few of the seedlings have had margins that contrasted with their spathe as buds, most dramatically Zach, but the difference faded before the spathe opened. So I'm pretty excited about Carson.

Since the last post, five more seedlings (for a total of 26) have developed buds, though those are all too small and underdeveloped for the color to be completely predictable. My guesses at the moment:

Patty Cake (#223) -- pretty definitely a 'Gemini' type
Barbara Seville (#66) -- light / medium pink?
Eileen Dover (#116) -- orange/coral? (seed parent is 'Orange Hot')
Eliza Boutisecksis (#120) -- orange/coral? (seed parent is 'Orange Hot')
Yvette Horizon (#275) -- pretty definitely a light / medium pink

So at this point, we have basically six different groups of seedlings:

1. Those with a little purple in them like 'Krypton' (Alyssa, Carson, probably Ross)
2. Those that are basically just 'Gemini' retreads (Betty, Bijoux, Sawyer, maybe Bob)
3. Those that are slightly orange/coral like 'Orange Hot' (Elijah, possibly Eileen and Eliza)2
4. Those that are straight-up red (Sal, maybe Bob)
5. Those that are light or medium pink (Rowan, Erin, Zach)
6. Whatever Deena Sequins is3

Notable for its absence: there are no white seedlings yet, even though about 40% of the seedlings have a white-bloomer as seed parent ('White Gemini'). It seems like there ought to be at least one, at some point, though I suppose the white could be recessive, in which case I won't see one until generation 2.4, 5 A decent orange would be really nice too, but the only orange I've got is 'Florida,' and as far as I can tell, it doesn't shed or accept pollen ever, so I can't do anything with it.

Also absent is anything particularly new. Most of these are basically the same as one of the eleven or so varieties I started with. Carson and Deena are probably the closest I've gotten to creating anything, and I'm not sure I even like Deena that well -- but this is just the first 26 seedlings. I have almost 300 yet to bloom, and however many future seeds to start. All kinds of things could still happen.


1 Like you even care. As with the previous Anthurium seedling update post, I will remind you that it's still Northern Hemisphere winter, and if somebody's got flower pictures to show you, you can't afford to be too picky about quality or species.
2 I am not happy that all the 'Orange Hot' offspring that have bloomed so far have "E" names, and even less happy that two of those names (Elijah, Eliza) sound almost exactly the same. It defeats the purpose of giving them all names if the names wind up being easily confusable. Goodness knows I had a hard enough time, while sorting pictures for this post, remembering that Alyssa was #35 and Carson was #85. It seems that my brain wants them to be the reverse.
3 Deena varies more with age and lighting than any of the others, and I have pretty much given up on trying to pin down her color. Definitely too purple to be a 'Gemini' type or a red, but too dark and not purple enough to categorize with Alyssa and Carson. Presently, Deena looks to me like Alyssa with a dark, spathe-matching spadix, but that'll change when I see her again tomorrow. So Deena's her own category.
4 Anthuriums are not supposed to be self-fertile, because the pollen is shed at one time and the female flowers are receptive to pollen at another. I'm not sure I believe this, though, because selfing is one of very few explanations I can come up with for why 'Gemini' and 'White Gemini' have produced so many seeds.
5 Speaking of generation 2: Zach is in fact pregnant. So . . . that's going to be happening at some point in a few months. I've fiddled around a little at random with the others, when they looked like they were shedding or receptive to pollen, but Zach's the only one where anything's happened.