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)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Recent lithops seedlings (6 pics)

I've been trying to germinate some old lithops seeds quite unsuccessfully over the last year. I barely have something to show for it. I even thought I lost some key skill until I tried sowing fresh seeds from my own plants that germinated perfectly. 

The only real success among the 2015 lithops seedlings are the L. lesliei ssp. lesliei var. rubrobrunnea that hatched last October. They are developing nicely in size and in color. The new leaves are actually quite red and very attractive. In my experience L. lesliei and L. bromfieldii rarely disappoint when grown from seed. 

The next seedlings, from around the same time, are nameless at the moment. I do have records of what was sown but these guys were transplanted due to bugs and I didn't care enough for them to label them properly. I was pretty sure they won't survive. Told you before, I was neglecting my seedlings badly. Well, now I can't connect their looks to any of the species I was sowing back then. The good news is they are strong and very uniform (I don't mean that couple in the front of the photo) and when they are bigger a name can hopefully be attached to them. 

A big surprise was to find some rarities among last year's survivors. These are L. lesliei "Fred's Redhead, L. salicola "Bacchus" and L. localis "Pinky" (one of them already two-headed).

Last year I could get some seeds from my L. verruculosa plants. Up until now I could never manage to grow them from seed. Maybe because they're touchy or maybe because they are normally sold in small quantities. I really like how these guys are developing though. Plump happy seedlings.

The youngest are these L. dorothea, also grown from my own seeds. They started germinating poorly (see those bigger ones) and then one month later everything sprouted! Looking forward to the natural variation in these plants. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Neglected mesemb seedlings 2016 (15 pics)

I had lots and lots of old and barely viable lithops and other mesemb seeds that I've been trying to "use up" since last fall so that I could buy more. Stone-hard logic here. So I've been sowing and when it was clear nothing would germinate or the seedlings were too weak I've been sowing on top of them, barely keeping records. At the end some of them made it and have developed up to a certain stage when they could be caught on camera. So here are some mesemb seedlings I am currently growing. I'll make a separate post on lithops seedlings of which I have much less.

These guys have been neglected, starved, then overwatered, insect-ridden and simply forgotten but they are going strong nevertheless! Sometimes I think the less you care for them the better they feel. Occasional splash of water is all it takes.

Meyerophytum meyeri MG1778.65 (April 2016)
Wanna know how I know it's not a Monilaria? Because they're still alive (ba-dumm-tssching).

Cheiridopsis verrucosa MG1404.32 (February 2016)
Holding on to each other for comfort.

Cheiridopsis pillansii MG1401.5 (February 2016)
I already have several two-year-olds of this kind. But I had some seeds left and Cheiridopsis love it here.

Mitrophyllum grande MG1779.56 SB1960 (February 2016)
Not very grande yet but getting there.

Antegibbaeum fissoides MG1319.3 SB609 (February 2016)
According to the label. Doesn't look like it very much. Cute though.

Juttadinteria deserticola MG1530.2 H4537 (October 2015)
Bloated but happy.

Rhinephyllum muirii MG1843.1 DT4938 (October 2015)
Tried these before but unsuccessfully.

Monilaria obconica MG1780.573 (February 2016)
Still alive! Probably not for too long...

Monilaria scutata MG1780.73 (April 2016)
Green mess, could die any moment.

Stomatium alboroseum 'rubrum' MG1869.3 SB1216 (February 2016)
Aaah the lovely see-through dots

Astridia longifolia MG1349 SB758 (March 2016)
Nice, almost adult-looking seedlings.

Astridia hallii MG1347.6 (March 2016)
Only one left and it has longer leaves than the "longifolia" above. Hallii should have white flowers, while longifolia red.

Titanopsis calcarea MG1870.152 (February 2016)
Virtually indestructible when young.

Titanopsis calcarea MG1870.2 SB1111 (February 2016)
Love the texture

And last but not least
Conophytum pillansii (April 2016)
They look like fish eggs! This is the first time I'm growing Conos from seed. Gonna try sowing more soon. Exciting!