Monday, June 26, 2017

Anacampseros flowers (10 pics)

And again - Anacampseros flowers! Sorry guys, it's their season :)

Unexpectedly, several of my 2 years old An. vanthielii seedlings have recently flowered. Well synchronized, too! The flowers are flashy and large and I most likely will have seeds to offer this year.



Others were flowering, too. Here is a flower of an An. arachnoides...



... and this one is of a nameless specimen I suspect to be An. filamentosa.



And there are more flowers coming. Another An. sp.



One of my 3 year old An. filamentosa ssp namaquensis seedlings is growing its first inflorescence.



And even this tiny one year old An. retusa fa. rubra is trying to keep up.



Avonia quinaria ssp. alstonii is growing a couple of flowers, too. A lot to look forward to!


Sunday, June 25, 2017

The luxury of sunlight (6 pics)

What a difference it makes when there is lots and lots of sunlight for weeks! 

This must be what growers with greenhouses are getting all the time. Sure on the windowsill there are still fewer sunlight hours but it has been intense. After a long winter and gloomy weather until May we have had weeks of heatwave with no end to it. The plants enjoy it immensely. Forgotten are the mites and stretching and strict water rationing. Lithops are growing wider, not higher. The flowering season of Anacampseros is great. And Frithias are going crazy this year. I've never seen Frithias this happy. It's very exciting! Especially since something I've been waiting for for 5 year has finally happened. One of the Frithia humilis seedlings has flowered. Click on the "frithia" tag and go to the older posts to read up on their story.

Here is a photo of a one week old flower.



It is not visible on the fully open flower like the photo above but the color is actually pale peach which was surprising to me because I expected it to be exactly like its mother's. Here is a comparison: left is the same flower as above but at the time it first opened; right is a photo of its mother plant's flower. I didn't know it was so variable. Maybe more of them will flower next year so that I can pollinate.



While F. humilis is smaller than F. pulchra in general, proportionally the size of the flower is actually the same, I believe.



Can't help posting another photo of the beautiful F. pulchra (completely living up to its name).



And to finish me off, more F. pulchra flowers are coming. I have counted 6 (six!) buds on the below plant.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

More current flowers (4 pics)

More flowers have opened this weekend. After a long working week what can be better? :) Plants are great! And here's another chance for this grower to take some sorta-artistic photos of Anacampseros flowers.

Another flower opened on the An. lancifolia. I don't think the pollination took with the previous one though. I tried to fit the whole plant into one picture somehow.



An. arachnoides has also opened a flower. It's small but cute and of a pale variety.



This Anacampseros sp. is probably An. filamentosa. It flowers in messy flower bunches of bright pink color.



A very special extra is this Parodia aureispina (so I'm told). It is the only cactus I own and I've had it since I was in elementary school. I'm 32 so it is in my care for around 25 years. And since it has not changed in size since then who knows how old it might be? It just piles up layers and sometimes, not every year, it flowers to remind me of our long history together.




Saturday, June 10, 2017

Lithops experiment part 7

Hi guys! I heard you are wondering about what happened to the L. pseudotruncatella from the "Lithops experiment". Let me show you in this last installment of the series.

It has been exactly 2 years and 2 leaf changes and yet it is no use. From the three severely overfed and stretched plants I started with only one survived and it looks terrible. Despite all my efforts like keeping it dry for many months, cutting off old leaves, giving it as much light as possible, I ended up with an ugly plant that doesn't look like it'll make it much longer. I believe there is no chance it will ever be flat and short. I will keep it until it dies of course but I don't expect any improvement.

And so, to draw a conclusion, if you ever come across a lithops bunch like this, just leave it in the store. They will die within their first year at your place and if they survive longer they will never return to any kind of healthy look. It might feel like you are rescuing the plants but actually they are already gone. A better investment of your time and effort is to grow them from seed and keep them in good shape from the very start. In the same 2 years you will have cute little plants of nice shape, color and pattern.

PS: The white marks are from mites... This plant really has no luck.
PPS: You can read up on the lithops experiment here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Current flowers (7 pics)

I could catch the first Anacampseros flowers of the season recently. Good thing these two seem to be opening their flowers around 6 pm. Perfect timing to witness them after work. Of course the light is not ideal for taking pictures but it's possible to take some eerie atmospheric ones. After all, as you know, Anacampseros flowers open only once and only for a couple of hours at most. You make the best of it.

Both An. lancifolia and An. lanceolata grow very big flowers on long flower stalks. It must be hard to hold them up and so they are a bit droopy. I tried to pollinate both. I think it worked for the white one. The pink one, I don't know. It looked to me like there were no pollen to use. Just look at the picture.

An. lancifolia 





An. lanceolata




For some reason it seems like a good year for Frithias. Not only my old plants have grown flowers (one of them is still at it) but also my own 4 year old seedlings have flowered this year. This is amazing! The two seedlings are grown from seeds under a name of Frithia pulchra f. rubra (from Kakteen-Haage). I know there are red flowering Frithias out there, I saw comparison pics. Looks like what I've got was the regular kind after all. Seeing them bloom for the first time is fascinating nevertheless.




Completely the same color, right? :D I tried to cross-pollinate but don't know if it took. There's one more flower coming up on the second seedling and others growing on another older plant. But the timing is slightly off. We'll see.




Also, you remember these little guys? One of them is growing a flower now, too! It took 5 years!

UPDATE

This just in. The Adenium obesum I grew from seed has opened its first flower ever! Lots of firsts this year! Maybe the long dark winter was not as bad for the plants as I thought :)


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Lithops plant size: Part 3 (18 pics)

This is Part 3 of the Lithops size analysis. Please also see Part 1 and Part 2 for a review of bigger plants.

I have realized a long time ago that white-flowering lithops are difficult on the windowsill. They just need more light than I can provide. Such species as L. julii, L. hallii, L. karasmontana or L. salicola seem to stretch no matter how little water they get or they have troubles regenerating or both. Because of that I completely gave up on L. salicola. Just can't keep them from stretching. I still have some L. hallii but I'm slowly giving up. No, they do not stretch. But they just can't get out of old leaves. In the case of L. julii and L. karasmontana, I think, it is still possible to figure them out. And the key is plant size.

The below L. julii sp. has survived 5 years under my care and came down to this shape. It's round and short and, being an older plant, it even reaches 1.7 cm per head.



This L. julii ssp. fulleri v. brunnea (C179) has been in my care for 9 years now and is also 1.7 cm. It looks normal and healthy but unfortunately it has not regenerated this year at all. Sometimes lithops skip a year but it worries me nonetheless. Maybe it did skip a year. Or maybe it's dead inside. I believe smaller size should be better.


These are L. julii ssp. fulleri v. brunnea (C179) as well. I got them 2 years ago from my favorite grower and they measure only 1 cm, despite being adult plants.


Even a little bit of untimely watering can mess them up. If you have a plant that looks like the below that's already stage one of stretching. Strict diet right away should still be able to correct it but no guarantees. I've seen this often enough to not get my hopes up. 



You might think "But this plant is kinda small if you consider head size from the top. You just said small is fine." Well, that's the thing. L. julii just don't get big without stretching. You water them more and they stretch into a cucumber right away. To keep them short and flat to the ground you're sort of forced to keep the head size small. It's a balance and that's what makes it so difficult for me. How those two plants further above got to 1.7 cm without stretching and dying is truly a mystery.

L. karasmontana are the same. If I buy a bigger plant from a greenhouse nursery (full day of sunlight), then under my conditions (half day of sunlight) they will stretch after the first time I give water to them and so I end up not watering at all until the plant either dies or reduces its size. The below L. karasmontana ssp. karasmontana v. aiaisensis (C224) is such a case and I still have troubles keeping it short (the bigger head is 1.5 cm). I had two of them initially and one didn't make it. These days, if there is a possibility to see the plant before ordering it, I never go for anything large.



Here's a good size. L. karasmontana v. lericheana (C330), 1.2 cm.


This beautiful orange one with no name is 1.3 cm. It still had big chunks of old leaves attached a couple of weeks ago when I took this photo but worked its way through them by now. That's very late.



I understand L. hookeri can get rather large under greenhouse conditions. I have a bunch of them and I can keep them flat and well-textured only at a size of 1.3 cm. The goal is to have them look like brains :D



Now we come to the smallest plants on my windowsill, L. localis (former L. terricolor) and L. dinteri. L. dinteri are indeed considered the smallest among lithops in general so there's nothing much to tell. Mine are 1.1 cm.



L. localis however I have killed in bunches over the years. Now I grow several and they all uniformly measure 1.1 cm per head. This is the only size that keeps them from stretching. And even at such a tiny size they are having a really hard time regenerating! I'm still not giving water to the late ones.




To all you windowsill growers, keep your plants small and short. That's your main goal. It will not guarantee flowering, probably the opposite, but you will have good-looking and healthy plants for many years. Luckily, with lithops, leaves can be much more interesting than flowers.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Lithops plant size: Part 2 (30 pics)

Let's continue the plant size review! Don't forget to check out Part 1.

As mentioned in the previous installment, I wanted to put the size of my plants on record that "works" under my conditions (sunlight for half a day if any). In my experience, larger plants either die or return to this size after a regeneration or two. Trying to push them to get larger only results in elongated shapes and distorted patterns (and eventually death). I guess, keeping them at a particular (small) size does not give them enough resources to flower every year but that's the price I pay for healthy overall condition, long life and good looks of a plant. The size is being measured across the long side of one head.

I grow a variety of Lithops lesliei and from what I see the older two-headed plants (at least 7 years old) can get pretty large, measuring 1.7 cm per head. Here are some examples.

This one got a bit bloated after the recent watering and expanded to 2.1 cm. But you can see that that's not normal because the surface is rounded and smooth instead of being flat and furrowed like the ones above.




According to the books, L. lesliei ssp. lesliei v. mariae are the largest of the L. lesliei and my 7 year old seedlings are all at 1.7 cm if one-headed. The two-headed plants are slightly smaller (1.5 cm) but they'll get there. I believe that none of my mariae seedlings have reached their full potential yet. They grow very slowly.




However, the size of the above plants is not the rule and most of my L. lesliei, regardless of the head count, are at 1.4 cm in average. Some of the below are actually the same variety and age as the above.



This one is also C008 but the size of the heads is 1.1 cm, year after year. Petite.



The biggest of my 6 year old L. lesliei ssp. burchellii (C308) seedlings measure 1.4 cm. Most of them however are still uniformly 1 cm across the long side.






Moving on to L. bromfieldii. The adult L. bromfieldii v. mennellii plants I bought from a specialized local grower a couple of years ago measure 1.4 cm per head. I very much admire that grower so that's my orientation.


My own adult plants are the same size in general.


Some of the 7 year old L. bromfieldii v. glaudinae (C382) reach 1.7 cm while others of the same bunch are as small as 1.2 cm.


Here are some of the bigger plants...


... and here are two of the smaller.




L. schwantesii are also growing up to the size of 1.7 cm without regeneration problems or changing of overall shape on my windowsill. Although half of the plants I own (I have about 20) measures 1.4 cm. I guess anything in between is a good size.





Seeing how many photos I've already posted I will end here and continue the review of the smaller plants in Part 3!