Archive for February 2011

Happy Hoya

A few weeks ago while at Al's Orchid Greenhouse, I received cuttings of Hoya pubicalyx (shown), Hoya curtisii, and another Hoya, as well as a potted fourth Hoya that I chopped up just a little to root a few cuttings for fun. I also tried to root "fern" cuttings that I should really take photos of at some point because they're crazy-looking to me.

Some of the cuttings went into moist vermiculite that ended up in a large sandwich catering tray with a clear plastic lid to retain a high humidity level--this container has been wonderful for such things! Some other cuttings went into a mixture of moist sphagnum moss and perlite.

Both groups rooted about the same--the H. pubicalyx went crazy in both (some even already producing new shoots), and the H. curtisii mostly rotted in both. Shown above is a single-node cutting of H. pubicalyx that was rooted in vermiculite.

After a little accident with the sphagnum/perlite cuttings (they ended up all over the floor), I decided to pot these up on Saturday night. I'm still trying to get the H. curtisii to root somehow, because they're wicked-pretty. It was suggested to me that I try nicking an internode lightly, which apparently somehow encourages nodes to send out new growth, and placing a cutting in a terrarium.

I have never grown any Hoya before, so receiving cuttings that I have successfully rooted is extremely gratifying to me! Maybe I will be able to get them to flower and enjoy their delightfully scented blooms!

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Goings On

Although I had a seemingly similar plant-update post earlier this week (eine Pflanzenfortschreibung, in my made-up German), those were all somewhat seasonally related. These updates are really timeless--they only happen to coincide with other plants that are trying to trick me into believing that the weather will be getting nice soon.

Either way, both types of plant updates make me excited, because they mean that something's happening other than plant deaths and bug infestations!

For example, the Syngonium cutting I took from my sister's plant after Thanksgiving dinner is rooted, potted, and sending up new leaves! Also in this pot? A mystery seed that germinated. One never knows what one will find in repurposed soil from The Indoor Garden(er)...!

The Synadenium grantii I received in a trade has gone through cycles of pretty good growth followed by periods of intense leaf drop and refoliating. I can't figure it out--the plant has received pretty much the same care since I got it, except that one time I snipped off the growing tip because of the mealy bugs and kept it in the bathroom for a few weeks with the other plants in quarantine... But really, besides that, it's had the same amount of light, temperature, watering... Well... At least an unvarying variation in these conditions! It would probably behoove me to stick it in a slightly larger pot.

I had a sweet potato in a bag in my kitchen for a few months, apparently. I kept buying new ones to cook and forgot this one underneath the bag of red potatoes. So when I found it, the tip had sprouted a few "eyes." I chopped the tip off and cooked the rest of the sweet potato. I stuck the tip in some water in a little sauce dish, but it didn't do anything except get a little mouldy. Because I don't know how to take a hint, I removed it from the water and just stuck it in a container with some potting soil. A few days later, the first stem shot up out of the soil, followed shortly by another, and another, and more and more!

The small plant is bushy and healthy-looking, for now. In a few weeks, I could easily pot it up and maybe encourage it to grow up the shelving unit. Maybe if I buy a cubic-foot bag of potting soil to plant this in, I could just have that as my "container" and grow the sweet potatoes indoors? I wonder how the spider mites would like them...?

Did I ever feature my Aechmea fasciata when it decided to make an offshoot months and months ago? Did I ever mention having it other than in the almost-a-year-out-of-date plant list? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding "No!" I initially bought this plant as a celebration for reaching some sort of weight goal, but I don't really remember what or when, unfortunately. It must have been a busy time of year...and now that I think that it must have been a busy time of year, I remember buying it at Garden District before a meeting with a bar manager for a Pride Green fundraiser event, so it must have been March or early April 2010. It could have been to celebrate my 75-lb-lost-since-joining-Weight-Watchers milestone at the end of March last year, but that was an erratic period of ups and downs, so maybe it was that week that I lost seven pounds. Who knows why I bought it?

Anyway, months ago, this plant starting sending out a pup (on the right). Now, that pup is more like a pitbull--the pointed ends of the leaves always poke me when I'm bending near it or sidling by it (it's behind the couch in my new apartment layout, which you'll get to see [partially] later this week!).

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Coitus Confounded

Although I selfed my Cryptanthus cf. bromelioides (hopefully successfully), I don't think I'll get the opportunity to cross it with the pink Cryptanthus. The pink one is opening male flowers right now, but C. cf. bromeliodes seems to be done flowering. I might get lucky--under the debris of spent flowers, I think I see a few unopened ones that could offer pollen to the pink Cryptanthus or receive pollen from it. I will hope, but I won't hold my breath.

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They Think It's Spring

Residents of The Indoor Garden(er) are doing things that indicate longer days and warmer temperatures. Outside shows similar signs, but I never trust them--growing up in the DC area really trains one not to trust things that seem like a trend toward nicer weather, and especially not to trust whatever comes out of the mouth of any area meteorologist. It has been nice, bright, and warm here for a week or so, but I still didn't take out my hoe and seed yet. DC weather is too mercurial to trust--I often feel a bit paranoid about planting or sowing seed even at the end of April, assuming that the weather is just being a tease and we'll get a hard frost that will kill all of my plants in June. I'm only proven right in that mistrust by yesterday's frigidity and the wintry mix we got overnight. But, what keeps me going is the thought that it'll all be over soon, and I'll have something new to complain about: the unending heat and humidity!

This columbine at Mr. Yogato thinks it's time to start growing again. Really? Is it safe? I'd be scared to put my tender growth on display like that.

The Crocuses are also shooting out leaves at Mr. Yogato. Alright, fine, so this is about time for them to do so, but I they're like people who wake up really early in the morning (y'know, before noon)--I know they exist, I just never understand why they'd want to put themselves through such a horrible experience on a regular basis.

Also at Mr. Yogato, mere inches from the Crocus is this tulip. I'm almost certain I didn't see the bloom last year--people kept picking them before I saw most of them, and the others got crazy aphid infestations.

Indoors, my Ledebouria socialis, which I just featured on DigTheDirt, is sending out inflorescences. Maybe this time I'll actually get around to pollinating them!

I also have an Arisaema triphyllum sending up a leaf--I had almost given up on this fellow, because it had been months since I potted him, but I guess the changing temperatures made a difference!

It seems I'm fated to receive another leaf from my Amorphophallus konjac. One of these years, I'll get a flower, and it'll smell horrible, and I'll be satisfied.


Starting Gesneriad Seeds

I started some gesneriad seed a week ago--most of them came from Kyoko, who seems to have supplied me with a large fraction of the plants I now own, although the space they take up is minimal because they're small plants. It might be interesting to take an inventory of plant source and figure that out--I know am a loyal "customer," so I expect that the majority have come from five or so sources.

After putting together the last issue of Petal Tones, which contains a piece on starting gesneriad seeds, I got a bit better of an idea how to do this whole thing. I knew humidity was important with many gesneriads in particular, but it has taken me a while to realize that humidity can be encouraged with a covering! It makes sense, but it just really didn't sink in, and rooting Hoya cuttings and starting terraria were big factors in hammering that into my skull.

So, I decided to use a Chinese-food container, which I have previously been using as water trays for odd-sized containers or groupings of smaller pots. I mixed up some premoistened fluffy, perlite-amended seed-starting mix with some sphagnum moss. The mix was wet, but not soaked through, because I planned on keeping the container covered--I didn't want it to be a swamp, just humid! (When condensation appears more like lakes than mist, I sometimes adjust humidity in my terraria by leaving lids open or slightly ajar to allow water vapor to escape--I have done the same with these containers, because I really don't want to encourage the growth of fungi.) I then tamp down the medium until it's relatively smooth on the surface, because when sowing ubertiny gesneriad seed (which often need light to germinate, the Internet says), it's easy for them to get in a dark crevasse under the soil and they may not germinate--they want to be surface-sown, so it's easier to ensure that by having a flat surface to sow them on. I sprinkled the seed in rows, labeled the lid, and shoved it on my shelving unit on top of a fluorescent light fixture for a bit of bottom heat.

Here's my Chinese-food take-out tray with the seed placement labeled on the lids. I started Aeschynanthus longicaulis; Titanotrichum oldhamii; a mini Sinningia; S. tubiflora; and Streptocarpus 'Vampire's Kiss.'

And the first seed to germinate was Sinningia tubiflora after five days! (Sowed 13 February, sprouted 18 February.) I'm still waiting for the others to pop up--the Streptocarpus 'Vampire's Kiss' was two-year-old seed, but I've heard-tell that they'll germinate anyway, after two to four weeks; the Aeschynanthus longicaulis was also old seed, so we'll see whether that'll come up. Kyoko says it took 12 days for her mini Sinningia and 16 for her Titanotrichum oldhamii, so I have at least a few more days to wait to see whether those will come up or not.

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New Terraria

I'm starting to really enjoy terraria. I now have four, mostly featuring gesneriads with the occasional Cryptanthus or other plant. As a child, I constantly tried to set up terraria--but my view of plant love was pretty similar then as it is now: water = affection. I have learned that that isn't the case, but at least now I have plenty of other plants to show my "affection" to while I leave these terraria in peace. The ones I've had have been doing very well so far. There wasn't much consideration about how the plants would look as they grew when I set the terraria up, I just shoved in plants I thought might do better in a glass jar than out in the open. Therefore, some plants are in terraria that are too short for them or are being crowded out by more vigorous plants (Pellionia pulchra, anyone? Such a pushy guy!).

All I want now is a water feature like the one I saw at Al's Orchid Greenhouse for my orchids, gesneriads, some Cryptanthus, and other fun plants.

You know what? I just need to move to South America and live in a rainforest or something.

Anyway, these are the two latest terraria I put together. (I never shared the third--it has some Cryptanthus, Episcia, Nematanthus 'Black Gold,' and a Nautilocalyx pemphidius leaf section for propagation. Just in case you were interested.)

I bought this container at Target for a few dollars (They called it a "penny jar." It looks like a cookie jar, to me. But, then, everything is a cookie jar to me! I like cookies.). I like the lid for some reason.

Most of the plants I put in this container were the ones I picked up at the Gesneriad Society chapter meeting last weekend. Within this cookie jar thing, I place a cutting of my Fittonia that I have growing quite well in my pumpkin-shaped terrarium, one rooted cutting of the Columnea microphylla, the full-plant version of Petrocosmea rosettifolia, a mystery plant, another mystery plant, the Sinningia muscicola seedlings (they're totally tiny right now, but you can find them if you look hard enough!), and some moss that I had collected from the base of a tree around the sidewalk and tried to break apart and grow in my other terrarium somewhat successfully. I think it needs more time to get established, however. I also stuck in some leaves from the Saintpaulia 'Tiny Wood Trail' and a random Petrocosmea that I have had for a few months.

This doesn't look full, yet, but the plants mostly look like plants already. I anticipate needing to trim the Fittonia every couple of months (which is why I planted it in the "back" near the lid), but everything else should remain fairly low (I think) and attractive where it is.

This jar has a glass lid and was a few dollars more expensive than the cookie jar. I'm not sure the price, but it wasn't more than $10. I think I need to start scouring garage/yard sales for glass containers--I'm really enjoying the terrarium thing!

A lot of less-well-established plants went into this one, however. I'm trying to avoid the issue I have with the first terrarium I put together with the Nautilocalyx pemphidius, Fittonia, and Pellionia pulchra--all three are going so crazy they're choking each other out already. I cut the P. pulchra back and shared the cuttings with Gesneriad Society folks (and I totally warned them about the spreading growth of the plant!), but I'm letting the Fittonia and N. pemphidius grow a bit more in that container. In this one, I have the Saintpaulia 'Tiny Wood Trail,' along with a few of its leaves; some Streptocarpus thompsonii seedlings; leaves of the random Petrocosmea and P. rosettifolia; a random green, furry growth I found at the bottom of the plastic cup that housed the P. rosettifolia; the other rooted Columnea microphylla cutting; and just a few mini Sinningia seed sprinkled in the centre, on the off-chance that they'll germinate in an appropriate place and grow well in the container.

This terrarium is definitely of the "needs to grow into its shoes" type. With really only a single thing that is already considered a plant, it'll be a while before this will look full and pretty. In the meantime, I have other plants behind glass to stare at!

Although I set these up on Sunday, Mr. Subjunctive totally scooped me by posting a list of plants to grow in a terrarium yesterday. (I realize it's not really scooping--the content is only related in the sense that both posts are about terraria. I don't begrudge him his excellent resource for gardeners interested in trying out terraria and wondering what plants may be best for such an environment. I do, however, begrudge him for puffing up my newfound addiction focus with encouragement to purchase new plants.)

I also sowed the seed I got at the Gesneriad Society chapter meeting in an old Chinese-food container. I am looking forward to raising the seedlings and maybe selling some at the chapter's show and sale this fall!

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I should have learned by now that plants are almost as tenacious as I am when it's almost noon and I'm still in search of my first cup of coffee.

It doesn't happen often, but over the weekend, it did, and that was all I could think about until I got my first, then second, and finally third cup. In fact, not having coffee until so late in the day happens so infrequently that I'm still remembering that inhumane hardship I had to endure, marveling at my ability to survive through such a debilitating circumstance.

The plants in my apartment face similar struggles in their lives, caused by my overattention or neglect, depending upon the plants' placement, the composition of the soil they're planted in, and the time I have to care for my garden. Often, these factors combine to take down otherwise healthy plants that should have had a long, bright road ahead. Occasionally, however, a plant's tenacity allows it to overcome the intermittent care it receives until I notice it doing something and attend to it better.

For example, I had pretty much written off my Amorphophallus konjac months ago. In August or so, the leaf on each of my two corms withered, I let the corms dry out for a few weeks, and I stuck them in pots and watered them infrequently. The frequency decreased even further over the months that the corms remained dormant, but I kept up the watering on the off-chance that they might pop up. Yesterday, I noticed this! Maybe it's a flower this time instead of just a leaf?

I also noticed this--my Ornithogalum caudatum seed I collected in November and sowed a few weeks ago had germinated in vermiculite, so I transplanted them yesterday into some potting mix, along with an underground offset of Agave victoriae-reginae that fell off when I was repotting the parent plant after the severe mealy bug/scale/etc. issues I've had with it. The soil had been wet for a great deal of time because of that treatment, but I wanted (for some reason) to keep the plant alive, despite the fact that it looks horribly ugly right now. But if this underdeveloped offset doesn't die, I might have an alternative to saving the mother plant. I could also just get a new one--it's not like they're terribly expensive at the local cactus and succulent society show and sale, but I prefer to keep every plant I get alive instead of giving up and getting a prettier one.

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Unrecoitaled Love No Longer!

I finally got perfect flowers on my Cryptanthus cf. bromelioides. So, I took a Q-Tip and spread pollen all over the stigmas. And took a video. I get a little excited at the end--it's hard to control oneself when one has waited so long for such an opportunity. In a few weeks/months, I hope to have seedpods to sow and see what I can grow!

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Gesneriad Gallimaufry

I guess if I pronounced "gesneriad" with a soft G, having an alliterative post title would have been easier and I could have used a word I already knew ("Gesneriad Jumble"). But because I pronounce it with a hard G, it's harder to find a word that means "potpourri" but is alliterative. But I almost prefer that, because I learned an awesome word today that I hope to be able to use sometime in the future!

So I have random gesneriad-related updates today.

I didn't realize that I haven't mentioned that I'm a new coeditor of the National Capital Area Chapter of the Gesneriad Society's newsletter Petal Tones. The first issue I was heavily involved in just came out last weekend, and if you want, you can check it out. Some of the photos in this issue were used on the cover of Gleanings, a publication by the Gesneriad Society (the national society, not a chapter)--and I'm in one of the photos! That was pretty awesome!

Outside of new editorial and layout duties, I have new plants, too, mostly from the raffle table at the chapter meeting today! I bought two dozen tickets, and I swear, more than half of my numbers were called. I only claimed half of my tickets that were selected from the bag and let others claim the rest of my winning numbers, because I'm trying this thing called "self-restraint" that I've heard so much about. And when I already have five plants, a leaf to propagate, a container with sown seed, and five packets of more seeds to start, I really don't need to double that. At least, not until the raffle at next month's meeting.

So, what do I have here? On the top right, I have a Petrocosmea rosettifolia leaf that I'll stick in some soil to root, just as Saintpaulia. The seed packets below that baggie and to the left are Aeschynanthus longicaulis (which is old seed, so they may not germinate); Titanotrichum oldhamii; a mini Sinningia x self (Purple Crest F? x Little Venus); Sinningia tubiflora; and Streptocarpus 'Vampire's Kiss,' one of the first gesneriads I ever tried to grow. It struggled along for a year before my overwatering tendencies overcame its desire to live.

In the container, in the back, I have a miniature trailing Saintpaulia 'Tiny Wood Trail.' To its left is Petrocosmea rosettifolia. Huh. I guess I didn't realize I had picked this up when I grabbed the last leaf on the table (there were a lot of P. rosettifolia leaves on the raffle table, and the one I picked up wasn't a ticket-winning selection--it was just there after the raffle during the free-for-all, so I nabbed it). In the centre is Columnea microphylla, and it looks cute! I'm going to grow it in a terrarium. To its right are transplants of Sinningia muscicola seedlings. At the bottom right are transplants of Streptocarpus thompsonii seedlings, and at the bottom left is a cup with Streptocarpus 'Freja' seeds fresh-sown this afternoon.

I don't have hopes that any of these will be show plants at the chapter's September show and sale, but maybe in the future, I'll learn to grow plants well enough to enter! In the meantime, I'm hoping to learn how to photograph well enough to enter the photography competition. We'll see how all of that turns out.

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More Exciting Than...

...I can't think of a great comparison, because I think winning the lottery would be a bit more thrilling, and having dinner with Joel Gibb or Tracy Chapman would be, well, off the chart. But when I came home from work on Monday and discovered that my Cryptanthus cf. bromelioides had finally burst some of its male blossoms open, I was ecstatic!

Now all I need are some female bits to rub those male bits up against so I can have some babies to take care of!

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Getting A Jump On Spring

I am a true addict. I bought a seed-starting kit with a heat mat and sowed a 72 flat of seeds last Friday night. Not that I have anywhere to put the resultant seedlings when spring trundles around, but they are ready for that possibility. I really can't get my old plot back--one too many broken collarbones to take care of it means I forfeited it. I may have a plot available at another garden, but, unfortunately, community gardens aren't able to let in new gardeners so early in the season--they have to wait to see how many of last year's gardeners are returning first.

Anyway, even though it has only been three days (it's last night as I write this), I already have some seeds germinating. Just like last year, the hollyhock and Star of the Veld were the first to pop, but close behind them are the tarragon and--wait for it--Sea Island cotton, seed that Michael Twitty shared with me last year and I didn't have a chance to sow.

Sea Island cotton poking up out of the soil! If I had moved the camera just a smidge to the right, you would also be able to see the Star of the Veld that germinated, but you can't. I'm sorry.

A little baby black hollyhock. I tried growing some in front of Mr. Yogato last year, but the corn took over and they either died or were just completely overshadowed by the vigorous vegetables growing in the same window planter. This year, I'll put these babies in before the vegetables will ever have time to get established.

And, finally, the tarragon. I'm not certain I've ever had tarragon germinate for me. Most herbs, other than, say, basil, chives, cilantro, and sage, refuse to germinate for me. It may have to do with the seed I try to grow or the way in which I try to grow them. Maybe the steady humidity and bottom heat helped--or maybe it's because this is fresh seed from Hudson Valley Seed Library instead of who-knows-how-old seed from my bag o' seeds? I oversowed a lot of cells because so many of my seed packets are a year, or two, or more old, so I am hoping with enough seed in one cell, I'll get at least one healthy seedling!

I sowed the seeds mostly in duplicate cells--so although there are 72 cells, there are only 39 different varieties in the tray (33 duplicates and six individuals).

Want a list? Okay!

  • Olive (c'mon, really? Yeah, I'm trying it from seed. We'll see...)

  • Rosa Bianca eggplant (Hudson Valley Seed Library)

  • Aunt Molly's ground cherry (HVSL)

  • Tarragon (HVSL)

  • King of the North pepper (HVSL)

  • Strawberry spinach (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds)

  • French Perfume lavender (Renee's Garden)

  • Little Prince eggplant (RG)

  • Lilium NOID (seed I collected from a tree box lily last year)

  • Forget-me-not

  • Fennel (Botanical Interests)

  • Baby's Breath

  • Queenette Thai basil (RG)

  • Thyme (BI)

  • Mrs. Burn's lemon basil (Seed Savers Exchange)

  • Lemon grass (BCHS)

  • Oregano (BI)

  • Shiso

  • Seasoning celery (RG)

  • Dill (from Washington Gardener seed exchange 2010)

  • Sage (Old Sturbridge Village)

  • Nigra hollyhock (SSE)

  • Salvia splendens (from Washington Gardener seed exchange 2010)

  • Asclepias tuberosa (SSE)

  • Nigella papillosa (SSE)

  • Star of the Veld (SSE)

  • Passion flower (Prairie Moon Nursery)

  • Dr. Carolyn tomato (from Washington Gardener seed exchange 2010)

  • Sea Island cotton (Michael Twitty at Washington Gardener seed exchange 2010)

  • Cowhorn okra (Michael Twitty)

  • Carolina Black peanut (Southern Exposure Seed Exchange)

  • Huckleberry (shared with me via Twitter)

  • Sungold Cherry Tomato (BCHS)

  • "WTF?" (this was seed I had collected on a walk around Rock Creek Park. It looked odd, and it may have come from a tree. We'll see what germinates!) - Only one cell

  • Fennel (from the Washington Youth Garden) - Only one cell

  • White eggplant - only one cell (also shared via Twitter)

  • Zavory habanero - only one cell (from Washington Gardener seed exchange 2010)

  • Thai Dragon pepper - only one cell (from Washington Gardener seed exchange 2010)

  • Bhut Jolokia pepper - only one cell


Winter Goings-On

My Tricyrtis 'Samurai' is budding! Since I took the photo, I think the buds withered. But I can always hope there will be more.

Because it is also sending up new shoots! This one and another. 'Samurai' seems to be doing well indoors.

The Calathea I got at a gesneriad society raffle is also sending up new shoots. Excitement!

My foxtail fern, Asparagus meyeri, is developing water-storage systems in its roots that are popping up out of the soil. There are two or three visible now.

My Sinningia is coming back from dormancy. It's the third time in the two years I've had it. I forced it to stay in dormancy for longer than the barely a week it did the last two times by not watering it for a month or so. Then I dug it up and repotted it a few weeks later, because I thought it needed new soil. Hopefully, it will flower as well as it has for me in the past!

My fall-blooming Crocus' leaves are not perturbed in the least by the snow outside of Mr. Yogato.

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More From Tropiflora

I went Neoregalia- and Vriesea-crazy. I had previously ordered a bunch of Cryptanthus from Tropiflora before, and I was pleased with the plants. They aren't quite expensive on their own (at least, not the ones I allow myself to purchase), but when you get, like, eight of them at once, it very much adds up. But, the company has its "VIPP" program (the extra P is for "Plant"), and there are weekly discounts. I'm pretty sure most of these were special discount prices. Or, at least, not more than $5, mostly. Before shipping, of course.

The haul. I must stop using my bed as the photo studio. Sometimes, I end up with potting soil on it and I wonder if it's because I was walking in the "garden" before going to bed or if I had placed a pot on the sheets for some reason.

Neoregelia 'Perfecta'

Neoregelia 'Red Planet' #7

Neoregelia pauciflora x wilsoniana

Neoregelia sp. 'Fireball' green form

Schomburgkia splendida x self (yeah, I bought an orchid. I need to control myself...!)

Tillandsia abdita Mexican form

Vriesea correia-araujoi

Vriesea 'Grafton Sunset'


Hudson Valley Seed Library

I first ran across Hudson Valley Seed Library via a tweet last winter by MrBrownThumb. It seemed nice, so I signed up for their newsletter, and I got them regularly, but I'm not sure I ever ended up reading a single one.

I don't think I ordered any seed from them last year--I was all about the Renee's Garden, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and Seed Savers Exchange. While I was in New York City in December, however, I ended up checking out the Horticultural Society of New York, which was displaying Hudson Valley's seed packet art. I had taken a few pictures of the enlarged art, but none came out well. I did buy a few packets of seeds (Ultimate Salad Bowl [how to resist the walking salad bowls?!], Borage, Tatsoi, and Provider Green Bean).

After seeing their art and checking out their website a bit more thoroughly this year, I'm starting to become a big fan. Hudson Valley also happens to be run by a gay couple (which totally gives them extra points in my book, if only because the two are living what I think could be something of a dream for me). The gardeners I follow on Twitter and on blogs seem to belong mostly to one of two very general categories: women with kids and gay men. It's nice to see seed company management reflecting that community through, say, the woman-owned D. Landreth Seed Company and Renee's Garden, as well as the openly-gay-owned Hudson Valley. MrBrownThumb was probably tweeting something like that last year, which led me to find Hudson Valley the first time, but just recently, he wrote a great post about seed-company diversity.

So, I bought a seed library membership (which comes with ten "free" seed packets that I got to choose from the entire selection, as well as discounts on anything more than that, which I have not yet chosen to avail myself of). Maybe I'll even be able to return seeds I collect to Hudson Valley and help support them more than just financially.

...and don't think I haven't started spinning the idea of a Washington, DC-based seed library around in my head already. Because I have. I'm really just not there, yet. I'll stick to seed exchanges for the moment!


The Jungle Within

Within my office, that is.

The last time I showed a full-on shot of all of my office plants together with the lamp with grow-light bulbs was in November 2009. That's quite a long time, eh? The Epiprenmum aureum, also known as Brendan in my office, had just started its trek up the wall; the Gardenia hadn't died yet (I know, right? Sometimes, one needs to learn one's lesson the hard way.); and the cute pumpkin was uneaten. The only thing that hasn't changed, really, is that the pumpkin is still uneaten, by me, at least. I tossed it in January 2010 or so when it started getting icky. I kept forgetting to take it home to cook it.

When I look at this new photo, I'm amazed at how large my Sansevieria got in the past year or so. Because I see it almost every day, I keep thinking "That little Sansi, she isn't doing anything. What's wrong, honey dear?" But looking at an old photo, she clearly has more and taller leaves than she did when I first got her as cuttings rooted in a vase of water.

I also have some Ledebouria socialis doing alright, and one of them is thriving. It must be a difference in the soil--for some reason, some pots are pretty much straight-up leaf-mold compost, and others actually have some potting soil in them. It has been an issue for almost two years, but I haven't brought in a bucket and some potting soil to correct the issue for various reasons. One of them is that I don't have fungus gnats (anymore) nor any other insect pest in my office, and I'd like to keep it that way, so I'm avoiding bringing new plants in from home without an extensive quarantine period. And, well, my assumption with the potting soil thing is that fungus gnats are already in there before you buy the bag. So I'd just rather avoid the whole deal and make my plants suffer. Nothing I really care about will be affected by not being treated nicely, so it's all good for me.

In the foreground, you may notice an E. aureum in a purple pot with a bow--it has been in that pot for almost five years. It's the plant that I took the one-leaf cutting (Brendan) from three years ago, my coworker's (who left the office a few months ago, so I inherited her plant). Clearly, this needs new soil or something--Brendan is doing much better, with awesome variegation, huge leaves, and a sexy-long vine that's probably six or more feet long. Yeah. I attach him to the board with push-pins and tape. What of it?

I just added a new plant to the group--a cutting from another coworker's plant. For the longest time, I thought it was a standard nonvariegated Chlorophytum comosum and didn't really give it much of a glance. But the other day, I was staring at it while talking to my coworker and noticed that the leaves were more pointy, thick, and rigid than I'd expect from C. comosum. Maybe it's a different species of Chlorophytum, or maybe it's a species of Sansevieria? Or a related plant? I'll take any likely identifications if you have 'em!

Here's the plant in question in my coworker's office. It produces pups by running an underground stem about an inch or two away from the mother plant and sending up leaves. My coworker has a window. I'm insanely jealous, but then, she's been there for decades, so I can't complain much.

This is the cutting I took, replacing my Sempervivum that couldn't withstand my love (read: overwatering). I cut it off the underground stem, and the offset had a few roots, so I figured it could go directly into the soil. The leaves have a slight variation in colouring horizontally--almost as if it could be fully striped if it wanted to be.

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More From Al's Orchid Greenhouse

Al's Orchid Greenhouse, from which I acquired several new plants and cuttings recently, is like a cavern of wonders, with beautiful, sparkly, enticing tidbits everywhere you turn. I took photos, but most of them turned out horribly. Here are some of the not-so-horrible ones.

Encyclia cochleata, one of the only plants whose tag I photographed also.

This flower looks much more interesting if you click on it and view it full size (well, cropped-sized, which is only 30% of the original photo).

These are some cute carnivorous plants in the corner, near the frog. (Yeah, Al's has a lively population of various local frogs who live in his greenhouse.)

This terrarium gave me a chuckle. It's the same exact one I saw back in March at the local gesneriad society show. Kyoko put it together and then stashed it at Al's. It looks incredibly happy, if a little overgrown.

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