Sunday, October 23, 2016

Transplanting in general (7 pics)

I've been doing some transplanting. And there is more to be done because I really want to sow again very soon, all the seed rests that are probably not viable anymore, some of my own seeds (Avonia!), and some conophytum seeds I bought this year.

So this is how it goes. 

Step 1. Squeeze the container from all sides. This is why we use plastic and not clay ;)

Step 2. Pull out the plants. If they don't come out easily, stop pulling and squeeze the pot again.

Step 3. Now fill a pot with fresh dry pumice, up to the top.

Step 3.1. Examine your plants for bugs and remove all old soil from the roots. It's ok to pull off some roots as long as the main root is intact. Don't be squeamish. I usually rip off some of the main root as well if it's too long. If you are transplanting from dry soil into dry soil the plants won't mind (roots inactive).

Step 4. Use a stick to plant the seedlings into the container by dragging them down by the root (in case of adult plants you will need to wiggle the stick to let the pumice stones collapse around the plant and drag it down on their own). You can arrange them to your liking and put really a lot of plants all in one pot this way, saving precious space.

All done.

PS: I actually thought I could put a couple more trays on the windowsill but it looks like it's occupied now :D

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Flowering season of sorts (7 pics)

Winter is coming. It's dark when I go to work, it's dark when I come back home. Oh and the sun is rarely shining on weekends. That's a bit annoying after the rainy summer we've had here. Still, some lithops and conos have been flowering and there are currently 4 more lithops buds growing. That's not bad considering the conditions they had to endure this year. Strangely (or not?) the lithops that grew flowers this year are all the usual suspects, the plants they are flowering for me every year, L. bromfieldii 'Sulphurea', L. fulviceps 'Aurea' and L. dorotheae. If not for them I would not have any flowers at all. I'd recommend north-earopean growers to have those in their collection if they want to see flowers.

L. bromfieldii v. insularis 'Sulphurea' C362

L. fulviceps v. fulviceps 'Aurea' C363 

L. dorotheae C300
I kept last year's seed capsule to see if the plant will grow flowers out of the same head every year. This is what it's been doing for several years now. This year however the usual flowering head is resting while the other two are growing flowers.

Conophytums were more eager to flower. I could even catch flowers on the plants that have not flowered before.

Conophytum meyeri 'Leopardium' - that's one very yellow flower!

Conophytum verrucosum 

And of course Avonia quinaria ssp. alstonii was so kind to show some flowers as well. Good timing too - I was able to catch them on camera. I really want to grow these plants from seed. So far I was not successful.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Avonias lifting branches: a theory (3 pics)

In the latest post I casually mentioned my observations regarding the behavior of Avonia albissima branches with ripe seed pots. I find it quite interesting. Apparently, the branches that otherwise lie flat on the ground at all times suddenly lift when the seed pod has ripe seeds in it. I've been watching the flowering Avonias closely since then and it happens regardless of whether they've been watered or not. Recently a couple of my Avonia quinaria plants have been flowering, too. They are normally not self fertile but it still happens from time to time that a seed pod develops. This time it happened again and look at that! The branch with a ripe seed capsule goes way up while the other one lies on the ground. 

I've developed a theory as for why Avonias are doing that. Completely unscientific of course!! :D You know, ripe Avonia seed pods workings are the opposite of Mesembs. The seed pods close up when they are wet and open when they are dry. Not only lifting the pod up to the sun makes it dry quicker and throw off the rests of the old flower it also surely helps distribute the seeds better with the wind. Moreover, if it happens to rain and the seed pod is on the ground it will be much wetter and therefore sealed for longer time. If it's in the upright position when it rains the pod can dry quickly in the sun and the seeds fall out before the ground dries ensuring better germination chances. What do you think?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Some flowers (10 pics)

My lithops are usually quick to show flower buds but there's still nothing, not even a hint. I doubt I'll see any flowers this year, there has been very little sunlight and warmth for that. But at least some of the other plants don't mind. There have been several conophytum flowers and there are new buds visible.

Conophytum fulleri 

Conophytum pellucidum ssp. cupreatum v. terrestre

Conophytum angelicae ssp. tetragonum

Conophytum uviforme ssp. decoratum

Avonia albissima multiramosa has been flowering, or rather producing seed pods as I'm pretty sure the flowers do not open. I might have missed them but, really, I've never ever seen them open in my life. It always goes from bud to seed pod.

Funny thing is that the branches are normally lying flat on the ground, but when the seed pods are almost ripe they get pushed up and the branches suddenly lift into upright position, just for a day or so. I wonder what is happening there chemically that makes them do that.

The seeds are all viable and I've been sowing them a lot over the last couple of years. They germinate perfectly but then grow so slowly they die before they can gain any weight. I currently have several seedlings but it looks like only one of them is going to survive. It took it 2 years to get to this size. FML.

Anacampseros namaquensis (An17) has grown one flower only with much effort this year. As most Anacampseros flowers are pale rose-white I was really looking forward to this bright pink flower. But it never opened. Hope it has at least produced some seeds. I really like this plant.

Ah, and this young Avonia quinaria ssp. quinaria has opened both its flowers this weekend! Here is one of them.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

More observations on Anacampseros (6 pics)

This is the first year I am growing several adult Anacampseros of all different kinds and can watch and compare how they grow throughout the year. For a plant nerd this is really fascinating. In my last "observations" I was talking about new growth coming from underneath and this one will continue this thought.

It looks to me that these plants tend to abandon the branches that have extensively flowered. As if producing the flower stalk is sucking all the juices out of it. Well, considering the size of those flower stalks, no wonder! What I have seen in the multi-branched plants that flowered this year is that the flowering branches drop leaves one by one until they look like bald twigs with only a couple of leaves at the top and no signs of new growth. If I think back to last winter when I got the majority of my adult plants, some of them have arrived with such "towers", meaning the towers have not grown any new leaves or branches of their own to cover the baldness during fall and winter. This year it seems the same thing is happening and my guess is that this is quite natural. Not very pretty though. 

I don't need my Anacampseros plants to be big and so trimming those twig-towers looks like an option to keep the plants round-ish and compact. This year I have trimmed two plants with good results. 

Remember this plant I was showing back in February?

Anacampseros arachnoides, An35

Well, I thought the towers quite ugly and cut them off shortly after. Since then the plant grew new leaves and branches with fresh strength and then flowered. And you have to admit the general look is much better.

Moreover, as I felt sad to throw away the towers, I tried to root them, and it worked! They looked so dead and then, when they were cut off and not dependent on the roots and resources of the big plant, they really flourished. (This sentence sounds like some kind of lesson for humans I'm not going to elaborate on.)

Here they are when they just barely rooted and started to show some green.

Here they are now.

The other plant in a similar situation is my beautiful Anacampseros vanthielii. Here is the photo from May this year, when I was pondering on whether it's going to abandon the "tops".

Well, it did. And I should have cut the yellow branches then and there. I kept them in the hope that all the growth from below will eventually consume them or some new leaves will come out from the top. I think the plant was just wasting energy on them and that's why didn't flower. Meanwhile the tops grew scruffy-looking. A month ago I took my scissors and cut off all the yellow stuff and look at that! The "undergrowth" spread its leaves and got a healthy color under the sun. And the plant is now a cute ball of leaves and hairs. I should have cut off all the yellow parts back in the spring.

This year, as the flowering nears its end, I see some plants abandoning the flowering branches and I will be cutting them off and rooting them this time without a second thought. It benefits the plants and creates "back-up copies" I can give away. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Transplanting some older seedlings (14 pics)

I've been transplanting some plants that probably didn't need any transplanting. What started as "these seedlings are kinda small for their age, better check the roots" ended up as "let's check them all!" I have ordered pumice from ebay lately and it was a bad idea. Now I'm back to my usual supplier. How great his stuff is in comparison! Transplanting is so much more fun when you are using good quality pumice. 

I'm generally proud of my seedlings, all of them. No matter how well-grown the plants are we buy from someone, plants grown from seeds always seem to be the prettiest of all to me. Not partial at all! ;D But, to be honest, the plants that have germinated and grown under the same conditions all their lives, really do appreciate it. You also have good control over their shape if you watch them closely and treat them accordingly. You know how big a fan I am of plants that are small and really flat to the ground. It is not easy to get such plants as adults. But with seedlings hatched and grown in pumice without any extra food, that is how they will eventually turn up looking. Not much effort involved. They grow very slowly though. And show their true patterns quite late. I'm not growing them for sale so that's okay.

The seedlings that appeared small-ish to me are the L. lesliei ssp. burchellii (C308), sown back in 2011. It's been 5 years! You might remember them from herehere or here. Cute kids they were. Well, I'm not sure if that's it with their size and they won't grow any larger but they seem to be fit and strong with nice root systems. So maybe fresh substrate will give them a bit more energy. They show a variety of patterns and I tried to regroup them according to their looks. You would probably not notice the difference but I did have a system.

They also like to dig themselves in. Here is a "before" picture.

Squeeze and pull! That is why clay pots are not recommended, btw ;)

Also, it's absolutely okay to remove half of the fine roots, or even more, along with the rests of old substrate during transplantation. The fine roots grow back in no time. I think the trimming actually stimulates them.

The others I spontaneously decided to re-pot are the L. aucampiae ssp. aucampiae v. aucampiae 'White Flower' (C002A) seedlings I got from seeds of the plants I got from Mr. Shimada when I was living in Japan. Well, the parent plants were way too huge to survive long under my conditions. But at least I got seeds and this is what I have to show for it now. Back in 2012 they looked so week and ugly and strange. Then they got better and better and now they are such beauties! The uniform color, the perfect shape, the manageable size. I do mean to brag!

The size of Mr. Ingenwepelt's plants is what I'm going for so if we compare the L. aucampiae head size, mine should not get any bigger.

I've refreshed the substrate for some other seedlings too.

Some nameless L. lesliei seedlings.

The Ventergreens (C001A), from own seeds. They look all grown up but never flower. That's my curse :) At least the leaves look very pretty.

This L. lesliei ssp. lesliei v. lesliei 'Storms’s Albinigold' (C036B) is two-headed but tiny, sown sometime 2008. One of my first.

This L. bromfieldii v. glaudinae 'Rubroroseus' (C393A) went a bit too far in its flatness. I have a bunch of "kinda small" Rubroroseus seedings while their siblings are already adult looking. New substrate it is.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Older lithops seedlings (2 pics)

Not only older lithops seedlings but actually 6 years old lithops seedlings. Can you believe that? These are the guys from the so-called "pumice experiment" back in 2010 which is now my standard procedure (oh my, they are so tiny there). I was disappointed for a very long time that they didn't look like "mariae" I wanted them to be - all dotty. Instead they looked like regular lesliei. However, now, 6 years later, the proper looks are apparent. The fine dotty lines and the sandy color. I remember reading that "mariae" are the largest among lesliei but mine are rather compact.

L. lesliei ssp. lesliei v. mariae (C141)