Friday, February 29, 2008

Doomsday Seed Vaults.......a somewhat scary reality

When I was doing the daily blog read thing, I came across this post.

Since this intrigued me, I had to read more about I had no idea this type of thing was going on. A seed vault, protected from global disasters, in the event that a country's vegetation is threatened and destroyed. It is really scary to think that such a disaster could even occur. We're talking a global disaster that could wipe out vegetation in parts of the world. WOW! Have a look for yourself, it is really quite interesting, which is why I had to share it.

A Murder of sorts

What a graceful life it had. I never knew it's name up until a few weeks ago. It decided to put on an inquisitive show, which made me question it's character.....I didn't know it well.....What iwas it? Luckily, GardenWeb has a "Name that plant" forum, and they identified it as a Pepperomia (possibly glabella). What ever, it was one of those plants that I didn't really like, but my daughter decided to keep in her room. Everything seems to flower in her room, I just don't get it. I wasn't really impressed with the flower. C'mon, seriously,I like Hoya's, Schlums & African violets, and this was some weird little green thing, that kind of freaked me out a bit. It doesn't even compare to the flowers of hoya's, schlums, and would be like comparing a squirrel to a pancake......exactly my just can't be done, it makes no

I have been telling my daughter that she can't let her plants go bone dry, but at the same time said don't over water them either. So one day after school, she asked me if it was okay that her plants had been watered last night but she bottom watered them in a tray.....and they were still in the tray, full of water ( I admit to doing it too once in blue moon, and have never had consequences like this. When I saw her plant, I was in total shock. I had never seen a plant that went black like this. I have seen them rot, I have seen the effects of frost damage and I have seen them lose the will to live after being under and over watered. It was the oddest had to of been poisoning, it had to be murder. **LOL** I salvaged a few cuttings for her, but I didn't even check the roots out, it was way too far gone. And this is why we are told to never let plants sit in water for very long. An hour or two shouldn't hurt too much, but over 20 hours.....that tends to be a little too long. I guess it depends on the plant, and what you are using for mix, but generally this is frowned upon. Proof is in the photo below. A picture speaks louder than a thousand words.

I had mentioned in my post yesterday that the Dragon fruit seeds (Hylocereus) had started to sprout. When I went back and looked at my blog entry, I relized the seedlings were barely visible, so I took a few more shots today, with better close ups of the seedlings.

If you look really closely (clicking on the pic enlarges it for more detail), you can see that a few still have the seeds attached to them. Planting these particular seeds is a great thing to do with kids. My kids actually tried something They were amazed at this weird fruit I had brought home. The seeds are so viable that kids can plant them, and watch them grow, without testing their patience. Mine didn't even have the chance to ask "when are the seeds going to grow?" & "how much longer?"

So my hubby planted a few of these seeds in some rock wool, and they have sprouted already as well. We mentioned the thought of continuing these seeds in rock wool by buying a bigger cube of it (the ones in the pic are 1 inch by 1 inch), and letting them live in rock wool alone. We are going to try and get a hold of some bigger rock wool cubes. I think it will be fun to see what happens, and which ones grow better.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Baby Dragons!!

I don't think I have ever planted seeds that came up as fast as these "Dragon Fruit" seeds (hylocereus). It has only been a few days, and all three cups of seeds have signs of life. In each cup I used, there are at least 6 seedlings. I am going to let them grow a couple more weeks before I transplant them into separate pots.

Another one of my Lipstick plants (Aeschynanthus) is starting to bloom. It has been in direct sun for a while, turning the top layer of leaves a nice hue of purple. I have to admit that close up, the plant looks somewhat burnt, but at least it is throwing out some flowers. My Longicaulis lipstick plant is almost finished blooming. This one has been flowering non-stop for a couple months now.

I have made a new "blogging" rule for myself. I read so many blogs in the run of a day, but never really comment on them, unless I have something to say. I am going to start leaving comments on every blog I read, so that the blog author knows there is an audience. I am quite honored when people leave comments for me, so I figure I should return the favor and leave comments on other blogs.

Thank you everyone that stops in once in a while, it is nice to know that someone, somewhere is reading my blog with interest.

Monday, February 25, 2008

My New "Twig in a Pot" (Orchid)

It was bound to happen, I have no self control at all when it comes to plants. I am pretty cheap though, so that helps a bit. I have been eying Orchids for a couple months now, but the fact that they cost at least $25 turns me off a bit. They are quite stunning flowers, but because of the price, I had never even considered buying one.

Over the past week or so, I have noticed that the Orchids that have already bloomed (and now look like a "twig in a pot") are on clearance. At $12, I figured I should go ahead and get one, because it is very unlikely that I would ever pay full price for them. I don't care that it looks like a "twig in a pot" right now. It will eventually bloom (unless I kill it) and the color of the flowers will be a total surprise.

I tried to pick the best looking "twig in a pot" from the rack, and I found the one pictured below. Now I don't know too much about Orchids but it looks like this one might bloom in the near future. It was the only one that looked like this, and had that type of growth. The rest looked like "twigs in pot" with no visible growth.

Many people say that growing an Orchid can be a bit tricky. It needs a lot of humidity(50%-75%) and it needs bright, indirect light. They don't like to dry out, but they also don't like to be given too much water (roots will rot). Many keep their Orchids on a pebble tray, to encourage humidity around them (I run a humidifier, so I might not need the pebble tray). Orchids need cool night temps to induce flowering. This could be one of the tricky things when it comes to Orchids.

Tricky/challenging it might be, but that is part of the fun, and I want in on it. For 12$ I couldn't go wrong.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dragon Fruit.....Hylocereus Undatus

I remember a movie where all these rich folk would come together to watch this "rare" plant open it's flower. They had to do it at night because the flower opened at dusk and closed up again before morning. I was always intrigued by the idea of this......but honestly I didn't even know if it really existed.

I had never tried a Dragon fruit before..I always look in the "weird fruit & veggie" area, but had not convinced myself to buy one. So today when I went to the grocery store I gave in and bought one. They are a bit on the pricey side at $4.oo a pop, which means that I won't be buying these in bulk, and I won't buy them to often. BUT, I had to try one, and to my surprise it was actually quite good. It is a mild tasting fruit (I compare it to a bit of melon and a bit of coconut) with almost the same texture of Kiwi.

It was after reading Mr Subjunctives blog about those grafted moon cacti, that I realized there really was a flower that opened for one night, and it comes from the same plant as the dragon fruit. Well I had to have one, so the easiest way was to plant some seeds. From what I have read they are quite easy to sow. But I don't want to wait years for seedlings to grow up. Then I remembered that Mr.S said the base of those colorful moon cacti were indeed Hylocereus (most of the time). Wouldn't you know, WM has them on sale right now.

I bought a couple of those moon cacti, and within minutes of entering the house, Off With Their Heads!!. DH wants to try and root the colorful moon cacti, even though I have told him they can not survive on there own. But, when I cut off their tops, I guess I did leave a 1/4" of the base. So he thinks, maybe it will work.

So it finally all came together for me. The Dragon fruit, the moon cactus base, the night blooming flower......I had no idea they were all from the same plant. Maybe one day, when the Hylocereus is ready to open a flower, I will invite everyone for miles around to come and sit around my plant, and watch it open. Just like the

Does anyone know of any movies that had the night blooming flower in it?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why I love Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus)

I can feel Spring coming on. The air smells fresher, the snow is melting and plants around the house are starting to take off. I am more of an indoor plant enthusiast, rather than an outdoor one, therefore I don't plant things that require a lot of extra care. Here is where Nasturtiums come in.

I bought a package of seeds last year and spread them into a couple containers, and in my pitiful front garden. They all bloomed beautifully and once they were done, I collected all the seeds. This year I think I am going to start them early to give them more of time to mature. Mine was still flowering up until the first frost.

(photo courtesy of Flickr)
(I hope I "borrowed" the pic properly,
this should link back to the original site I borrowed the pic from,
I take no credit for this pic)

What is great about these you ask? It would be shorter to list what I don't like about it. Nasturtiums thrive in poor soil and they are very drought tolerant. My kids love them, because they can pick the flowers and make someone a little bouquet (there is so many flowers that picking a few is not even noticeable). Wait, it gets better, Nasturtiums are edible, both leaf and flower. I tasted the leaf, and it tasted somewhat like peppered lettuce. I can't even think if I tasted the flowers. I can't say it was gross, but I can't say it tasted great either I would be iclined to use it in salads, more as a garnish. The flowers can be used as garnish or decoration as well.

I will continue growing Nasturtiums as they are easy and almost free (buy one package then collect the seeds from it, and you never have to buy more). They are so easy to care for. If you want guaranteed flowers in your garden or container plants, think Nasturtium.


dAmN mEaLy bUgS! & Yellow Datura's

Damn I hate these things. They make my skin crawl, and it grosses me out to no end when I see them. Really, what is their purpose? Do they really need to be part of the food chain? Would the world collapse without them? Can they at least stay off MY plants? Especially the Hoya's?!?

I took it as a photo opportunity, and grabbed a couple pics. If you really want to see them up close and personal.....then click on the pics, either way they are still gross. Then I promptly did the q-tip dipped in alcohol thing. The alcohol just kind of melted the mealy away until it was a wee blob of brown. And of course every other mealy bug ran and hid away, because I can't find another. Now I will be on Mealy watch for a week. GROSS!!

On a better note.....Double Yellow Datura's. Found some seeds today. I am going to have the best flowers for miles

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Do you see what I see?

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

One sees a small boy standing in the Orchid(the yellow being his face)
I see an Eskimo standing in the Orchid.

One sees Jerry Garcia,
while the other sees a Mexican wearing a Sombrero.

Fingers lined with blood, holding up the flower
(Ya I know it's creepy, but that's what I see)

Blooming African Violets!!

Such wonderful, reliable bloomers. Even in the dead of Winter they bring a smile to my face.

This pink AV has been camera shy for the past few weeks. (Can't get a decent pic.....dammit)

I have a couple clones of this one. It was one of my firsts, and has proven to be a steady reliable bloomer.

This is the first time I have seen this flower. Grown from a leaf 10 months ago. Something Victorian about this one.

I love these fantasy markings.

I am a total sucker for the geneva edging too (white edges),

Same flower taken with different settings on my cam. The true color is just like the top one. Now if only I could remember which settings I

Passion Flower Seeds

This evening when I went to WM, I noticed they had their seeds in already. As I was checking them out, I noticed Passiflora seeds. I already have one and would love to have a second, so I had to grab them. I mean look at the flower, who can resist that.

Now that I had the seeds, I figured I better read up a little. Some seeds need a cold period (stratification), some need bottom heat and some need to be roughed up a bit (scarification). These seeds need to soak over night before they are planted. I read that after soaking the seeds in water, the viable ones will sink to the bottom, leaving the dead ones floating.

There is a catch though, Passiflora seeds can take up to a year to germinate, so one must wait at least a year before the seed can be considered a dud. Well of course I have to see this for myself because I have never heard of this before. I have no problem planting both sets of seeds in separate containers and leaving it for a year. I think it would be really interesting too see what happens.

Now on the back of the seed packet it states that germination can take anywhere from 20-45 days. Every site I visited tonight said it can take up to a year. Are these "special" seeds that are guaranteed to grow? Probably not. Either way, someone is misleading someone .

So from seed to flower it can take upwards of 2 years (the seeds can take a year, and I have read that it can take a year to produce it's first flowers). Again I am getting conflicting information. Some say a few months: the seed pack says to plant them 10-12 weeks before the last frost and that it should bloom from July until the first frost. Others say a few years. Shouldn't they have to mention this on the package? I was expecting flowers this year. Most people expect that after planting seeds in the spring, they will see a plant in a few weeks and flowers by the end of the season. If I saw nothing for the entire season, I would assume the seeds were crap. Just a tad misleading I think.

I am still excited to grow them, a little disappointed, but still eager to do it. I didn't realize it could take so long until I read up on them. AND, I wonder if my flower is going to look like the one pictured on the package, the white flower, with the white and pink corolla's. I can't even find another pic that looks somewhat the same. I can find pics that resemble the purplish ones on the package, but I bought them for the pink and white flower. I guess I will a few months, years, who knows??

**EDIT** 24 hours later, all the seeds have sunk to the bottom, so there is no need to do anything other than plant them.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hoya Pubicalyx & a Hoya pet peeve

The pic below is a picture of my Hoya pubicalyx. Again I am not sure about which pubicalyx it is, but I will be able to identify it one day when it flowers. I would love for it to be the "Red Buttons" cultivar, but "Pink Silver" is more popular, and this one does not have foliage that reddens. I can't wait to see this hoya take over and cover the bamboo hoop.

Onto my Hoya pet peeves. Hoya's develop aerial roots, and these aerial roots look like mealy bugs or scale. This is turn makes me even more paranoid when it comes to pests.

In the pic below the spots look more scale, rather the mealy bug.

I took this pic and I never altered the picture below and by complete fluke, there was an image of a deer . Of course I only saw the deer once I was positive the two white bumps were not mealy bugs.

My daughter wanted to know what "those things" were on my Passion Vin

Last night as I was checking my Passion for mites (I am positive now that we do have mites), my daughter asked me what is this on your Passion vine? She pointed at the little slinky-ish, coiled up spirals.

(photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

I knew what they were, I remember learning this stuff in school, but I could not for the life of me remember what they were called. Because it was late I never bothered googling for some answers. Below is picture a of some relatively new tendrils that have not coiled up yet.

This morning I remembered the name......tendrils. A tendril is a leaf, stem or petiole that has a threadlike shape. They use the tendrils for support and for climbing. When I run my finger down the length of the newer tendrils, I can actually feel the small hook at the end of the tendril.

They cling to anything it can reach, which is driving me crazy, because they cling to other plants, and trying to loosen their grip can cause damage (to the other plants) as well. In the pic below you can see one of tendrils has even wrapped around it's own leaf.

Hoya Tsangii (ds-70) Hoya Australis & Hoya Heuschkeliana

Spring is just around the corner......the plants seem like they might be starting to wake up.

Some of my Hoya's are starting to grow again after doing nothing for the past few months. Tsangii (ds-70), pictured above has not grown in months, just kind of stayed dormant. This one has cute little flowers as well. Pic can be seen here

My Hoya australis, pictured above, is starting to grow too. This one has leaves that start off red then gradually fade to green. I only noticed this one growing because the vine starting searching for something to cling on. There are quite a few cultivars for this, and I am not 100% sure which one it is. The flowers are similar. Go here to see a pic of these flowers.

My Hoya heuschkeliana hasn't done much over the winter either. It lost a few leaves, but not it too is starting to throw out new growth. The flowers on this one are so beautiful. They are little pink almost urn shaped flowers. The flowers are pictured here

I just love that the days are getting longer, and all my plants are soon going to take off and finally put on some decent growth.

Caught a spider mite with my CAM!


Well, I always wanted to see what these look like, other than their tell tale webs.......I finally got my To the naked eye, any of what you see in this pic is a mere spec, other than the leaf veins.. I couldn't even say how much zoom was used, as it a combination of zoom & Photoshop (no editing was done to the pic, only resizing to blow up the pic).

Clicking on the image will bring up a bigger pic that you can see even more detail on.

Friday, February 15, 2008


So thinking I was buying Brugmansia seeds, I ended up with Datura seeds. Same Family, same idea, but not quite the same. Both have the trumpet shaped flowers I want, only a Brugs faces down and a Dutura's faces up. A Brug is more of a large shrub or tree, whereas a Datura is grown more as an annual. Thanks to the wonderful people in the Brug forum over at GardenWeb for correcting me on this. Here are a couple links that explain it a lot better.

So of course now I need to find a Brug, but for now, the Datura is going to flower. The Datura doesn't need to "Y" before it flowers like the brug does, but mine has formed the "Y", and along with it, some buds.

So I am still very excited. It has only been about six months since I planted them, but now realizing they are an annual, I am thinking I should plant a few more seeds, and treat them as annuals outside this summer. I have a couple neighbors and friends that would appreciate them, so I think I will go ahead and sow some more.

Being Datura's, these can breed true from seed, unlike Brugmansia. So I will see my "double purple" flowers that I wanted.

(Photo courtesy of Mountain Meadow Seeds
not necessarily the same one I have)