Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everybody!! 

I have just looked at my resolutions for 2017 and, weeeell, I could say I pulled some things through (it's a stretch). I went down 7 kilos last year (5 of which I've put on again by Christmas time). I've been cooking my own lunches and making bead bracelets and some small blackwork things, so that's points for creativity. I've been watching lots and lots of TV shows (no improvement there). And I'm still terrible at replying to emails (self-bashing everyday because of that). My greatest achievement this year is the ability to hula-hoop with my butt and I've only unlocked it like 2 days ago.

So what would be the resolutions for 2018?
1. Lose those 5 kilos (or better more)
2. Be more productive (kinda mandatory resolution that never leads to anything)
3. Be more active in the succulent growing community (on it!)
4. Make or think of making some setup of artificial lights for my plants. It has been raining for months around here and even though the plants are not getting any water they stretch and die anyway. There is just no light at all to work with...
5. Make an effort to make friends (that's a hard one)

And so, even though I haven't achieved anything this year I got myself a present - that new Wild Lithops book. I know, I know, I was not going to because it is about plants in habitat which has no useful information on how to deal with them in captivity but the photos are just too pretty! I ordered it over at Namibiana and it arrived 1 day later with some extras.
I have not yet read any of the text, just looked through the photos. They are all beautiful and I really liked how many of them had a finger for scale and sometimes pictured damaged or not so perfect plants struggling to grow. Normally, those habitat photos feature perfect plants with no problems at all. Seeing that even in their ideal environment they might not grow perfectly is encouraging. Another positive things is that there are almost no photos of flowers. How great is that! It's all about colors and patterns of the leaves, the soils they grow in and their plant neighbors. I particularly loved the pic of some lithops growing together with an Anacampseros. It really makes me want to plants them together in a pot at home, too. If you are thinking of buying this book and have questions please feel free to ask and I'll look it up.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Other developments (12 pics)

There are other things I noticed on the windowsill recently.

For example, I was very surprised to find a seed pod on my Argyroderma crateriforme. The plant flowered out of two heads this year: one flower wilted into nothing, the other however has developed a fruit. Not sure what happened there as I haven't pollinated it. I only have this one Argyroderma plant. If there are some viable seeds inside it would be interesting to see what kind of plants will germinate.

Then, there are the Adromischus marianae v. herrei I'm totally fascinated by. That's no news to you. I post about them frequently. But they are so worth a closer look all around the year.

I was under the impression that they grow very slowly. And so it was surprising to see that, actually, some plants have had a huge leap in development. The leaf cuttings that have started growing own leaves in April (left pic) now look almost like adult plants!

The red-ish specimen has grown a lot of new leaves over the year, too. It was barely growing last year but this year there is a big progress. The photo to the left was taken in June.

By the way, notice how red it was last winter? We had good light and I was keeping it dry. This teaches us not to trust all we see on Ebay. Red cultivars are being in high demand and very expensive. Not all would be proper cultivars though. Sometimes it's just sun tan. Once they transfer from a sunny greenhouse to an environment with less sufficient light they very well might turn green on you. 

The mother plant of the leaf cuttings above and its previous cuttings however haven't grown much. I blame the flowering. They spend all their energy on those huge inflorescences they grow all summer. They look impressive and I was happy to watch them grow and the flowers open. Unfortunately while the inflorescence is there the plant does not grow any new leaves at all. I'd like them to rather grow leaves and so, I think, next year I won't let them grow flowers. There is no chance of seeds anyway as all of my plants are clones of one and the same plant and are genetically identical.

And as for the seedlings, they are still alive. But not more than that. Just tiny green blobs sitting on the pumice. No sign of a second leaf yet. It's been 6 months.

Oh, and this is what I was talking about when I said Anacampseros look dead right now. Not all are this dramatic but you can see how depressing it looks.

No news from lithops and conos. Lithops are growing new leaves on the inside. Conophytums are preparing to sleep already.

At least this Titanopsis calcarea seems to be growing flowers. That's something to look forward to (unless it aborts them).

And here's one bonus picture to end on a high note :)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Random winterly observations (7 pics)

My windowsill is so depressing in winter.

I mean it. Forget the conophytums - even winter-growers look weak and sad, as if they had given up and decided to go back to sleep right after waking up. And it is so dark outside I can not even give them a boost of fertilizer. Knowing my conditions they will simply go straight from weak and thirsty to weak and stretched. Lithops are looking scruffy due to leaf change. That's normal. But not exactly pleasing to the eye. Anacampseros are all in their winter mood of "goodbye cruel world". It doesn't help to remind myself that they'll recover in the spring, because... what if they won't? And all the green color and stretching that seems to be everywhere I look. Annoying.

Do I whine like this every winter? Quite possibly. Do I get exited and enthusiastic when spring comes? Absolutely!

So let me report on Avonias today. They seem to be the only plants in good shape these days and make me smile whenever I check in on them.

First, just look at this magnificent beast!
I still have this year's seeds of this plant. Email me if you're interested. They are only viable when fresh.

I haven't had much luck growing Avonia from seed. They germinate fine but then dry up before they can gain any weight to support themselves. So far I've managed to grow only two specimens of Avonia albissima multiramosa (kids of the plant above) from seed to relative adulthood.

You can actually see the line when I stopped pushing them to grow and started withholding water. The upper parts are dense and white and pretty as they should be.

Another bunch of Avonia seedlings are these Avonia papyracea ssp. papyracea. They are now one year old and not quite yet out of the woods. I'm still pushing them to grow with frequent waterings. The larger the species, the easier it is to grow it from seed. Av. papyracea are rather large.

I have several Avonia ustulata plants. They seem to like my conditions. As for the plant below, I'm going to cut off the longest branch (it bothers me aesthetically) and root it. Wish me luck.

While taking these pictures, I was thinking "Why am I doing this? They look the same as last year." And so out of curiosity I went into my old picture folders and it turns out I was wrong. They really do grow! Check this out.

Here are the same Avonia quinaria ssp. quinaria kids, growing in the same pot. Okay, there is a difference of almost 2 years between those photos, but still.

The progress of the below Avonia albisima v. grisea is more impressive as it shows how the plants have grown since May. On the second thought maybe I shouldn't have let them do that seeing that they are more green now. Or maybe with my light conditions they would have gotten green no matter what.

And the branch of this Avonia recurvata has really grown since the beginning of the year. And there's a second one growing above it.

Things are happening after all.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Focusing on the positive (8 pics)

It's been a while. I'm still here, just trying to sort some things out in my life and get a clearer view on it. It's not easy.

What else is not easy? Growing plants bug-free and healthy in an environment that just bets against me every time. I have disposed of several plants that were either too tasty to bugs or couldn't grow well on a windowsill. Some species just need a better climate (greenhouse) to grow well in the long run and I am not able to give them that at the moment. I admit defeat. Better not to dwell on it though but focus on the positive results instead and try to make them even better. 

Adromischus, for example have been doing fine this year. This red-ish specimen has expanded a lot thanks to the fact that it was not flowering. It is always a compromise here: If the plant is flowering all summer it is not growing new leaves and if it is growing leaves there is no strength left to grow that huge flower stalk. At least that's what I noticed on the windowsill. And I think I prefer new leaves over flowers in this case. This Adromischus marianae v. herrei had a nice red color after last year's winter. The new leaves should turn from green to red in a couple of months too, I suppose.

There is also finally some progress on the leaf cuttings.

Aloinopsis schooneesii, like any Aloinopsis in my experience, is constantly fighting bugs. Nevertheless, it has been growing new leaves and branches. This plant started as a three-leaf-set seedling, growing sets of 3 leaves for a while even after having developed a regular looking side branch. This year it suddenly grew a set of five leaves and then 2 sets of 3 leaves from out of it. This plant is full of surprises.

No surprises with lithops. Most of my plants are already showing new leaves but it will take months for them to fully digest the old leaves. I think I need to support them more with fertilizer next year. Normally I do not use any but if the weather allows it might be beneficial. They seemed kinda weak to me this past year. 

Also, just wanted to show you this little Sedum multiceps. I got it several months back. Normally I don't grow Sedums but this one was too cute. Apparently you can trim it into a bonsai tree.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Other news (8 pics)

So what else was going on on my windowsill in August?

Well, the most amazing and surprising thing was the awakening of Monilaria scutata seedlings! I couldn't believe they are alive after all this time. None of my other attempts to grow Monilaria went on this far. These must be some tough seedlings. First the "beads", then the "bunny ears". All by the book. Very exciting!

Then, I have transplanted Anacampseros karasmontana, the fluffy greenie. It has developed really fat roots and I wanted to give it more space.

It has flowered and developed seeds, too. Out of last year's seeds I already got a bunch of seedlings.

The older Anacampseros seedlings are looking more like adults every day. This Anacampseros arachnoides is very attractive when kept dry.

The white fluffy Anacampseros baeseckei are growing into towers. I do believe somewhere between fuzzball and the below is their best look. I have older and longer An. baeseckei and they started to look kinda strange. I might need to re-root them.

Anacampseros namaquensis are really hairy and really flat. Love them!

Avonia papyracea ssp papyracea, hatched in November last year, are still so small. Strong though. I have a good feeling about them.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Flowers in August (12 pics)

It's been too long! I've been mostly ignoring my plants this past month and consequently the blog. But I was still taking photos of the flowers whenever I could catch them. They are a rarity on the windowsill and always deserve attention. Luckily lithops flowers are still fully open when I come home from work (resulting in some dark and eerie photos as usual). And conophytum flowers last for several days making it possible to catch them on weekends. 

Conophytum flowers are a welcome change to the usual white and yellow of the lithops.

Here is some orange I've never seen before. Conophytum x marnierianum (MG1430.35)

Conophytum fulleri was flowering beautifully. 

Conophytum pellucidum v. pellucidum 'pardicolor' ex. de Boer. I've had other C. pellucidum flowering but didn't catch them.

Conophytum bilobum ''deodum'' (MG1419.3)

As for lithops, I've had some flowers on L. bromfieldii lately.

Lithops bromfieldii v. insularis 'Sulphurea' (C362)

Lithops bromfieldii sp.

Lithops gesinae v. annae (C078) was growing 2 buds but aborted them for some reason (a rainy week might have changed its plans).

Two Adromischus marianae v. herrei (green form) had grown impressive inflorescences that are hard to capture on a photo. 

Anacampseros are still flowering from time to time. These An. retusa seedlings, for example, growing more flowers now. Unfortunately they don't seem to want to open them. But they do produce seeds. 

And Crassula ausensis ssp. titanopsis is going crazy. The flowers are normally underappreciated so here are some close-ups :)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday flowers to lighten the mood (7 pics)

I wanted to post something on Crassula cuttings but in the end decided in favor of a flower post. Just some light Sunday afternoon entertainment :)

Lithops gracilidelineata I grew from seed has opened its first flower today and it's small and neat like the plant. It took it 8 years from seed to flower. I'm not complaining. Flowers are an exception, not the rule here. I never expect them but they are very welcome. 

Avonia quinaria ssp. quinaria has opened the only flower it produced this year. It had too many petals and I ripped one to allow it to open fully. Beautiful flower as always. I'm glad it opened at all... unlike other Avonias.

Avonia ustulata are producing many seed pods but the flowers never open. Any idea why? I assume not enough sunlight or maybe the fact that there is no direct sunlight in the afternoon. Unfortunately the same thing happens to the An. retusa flowers I was looking forward to. They open just a couple of millimeters wide and then close. The seed pods are nice and full though.

Anacampseros karasmontana, the greenie, has been flowering. Very very cute flowers. The round edges and the spread petals look similar to Av. quinaria's, a simplified version. And I really need to show you pictures of the roots underneath. They are quite remarkable! 

And of course the Frithia pulchra! Such intense colors.

In other news, Conophytums are starting to wake up. Every year it's a relief.