Sunday, January 31, 2010

Southern Ontario Orchid Society Meeting

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

Today I went to the Southern Ontario Orchid Society's meeting which was also at the Toronto Botanical Gardens (where I will be again next Sunday (probably) for another Gesneriad meeting and again in two weeks for the SOOS Show).

I've never been to one of their meetings before so I didn't know quite what to expect (well, other than the fact that it followed the basic format for every other meeting by any other society I've ever been to). First thing was that it was held in the Floral Room. The big one.

Some random Catt. - Picture taken at SOOS Show last year.

There were probably 80-100 people there including a significant number of volunteers and commercial vendors. My mom suggested that the sales tables might not be so exciting because the show is in only two weeks. Well, I can't compare to a normal month but there were 12 tables full of orchids (for the most part) in bloom or blooming size right. Common plants like Phals and Paphs were well represented. Catts were pretty well represented by a grower who seemed to specialize though their plants where not in bloom. I scored an awesome seat beside a vendor with Cymbidiums and Oncidiums. Including an Onc. Sharry Baby in bloom with a spike at least 2 feet long in full bloom. Wow. I still couldn't say what it smells like but being able to sit beside one for two and a half hours is a very nice experience. There was also a vendor with Dendrochilums and another with Masdevallia and another with stunning Vandas. Really good selection of a huge range of plants.

I think this is Phal. Jiaho Pink Girl 'Lucky Girl' BM/JGP - Picture taken at least year's SOOS Show. I've seen this for sale as a NOID a few times since - nice fairly small flowers on multiple branched spikes. I will buy this one someday.

There was another vendor with a few more unusual plants... and needless to say I will not be having a problem with a Neofinetia collection if they all run at $65. Sure it was a healthy looking plant with 3-4 fans of short leaves but they were green leaves. And white flowers. And really not the most exciting thing (out of bloom). Hopefully a younger specimen of the larger form will cost less, otherwise it may not be an issue at all because I really don't think I'll be spending $65 on an orchid any time soon.

Their show table had 10-12 entries which they held up for the crowd and talked about the plant, growing conditions, medium and so on for each plant which was really useful.

Pretty good meeting and if I go again I'll need to get there sooner to have more time to look at the vendor tables.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cryptocoryne spp.

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

Cryptocoryne is a genus of some 50-60-ish species of semi-aquatic aroid from south east Asia, ranging from India to Papua New Guinea north to south west China.

Wild growing conditions range from hard water (C. crispatula var. balansae) to black-water (C. yujii) to brackish (C. ciliata). Generally they grow in water or on the banks of well shaded streams (many are seasonally flooded then I presume flowering during the start(?) of the dry season). The range of each species is small, and the different forms of many species may only have a single collection point making some species and some forms very rare, on top of which many are very tricky to keep alive or growing well.

I personally keep mainly Cryptocorynes which are common, easy, tolerant of hard water and apparently mostly from Sri Lanka (which are less likely to absolutely require a dry or dormant period the way some of the more northern species).

Cryptocoryne wendtii - Native to Sri Lanka, C. wendtii is able to tolerate a range of water pH and low light. It is a very common aquarium plant, and for good reason. As an aquarium plant it can grow well in fairly low light with no supplemental CO2 and will be happy given a nutritious substrate where it will grow, and spread, and grow some more. Highly variable it also comes in green, brown, red, broad or narrow leafed forms with or without markings or an undulated margin. In brighter light they may be more more compact and colourful than those grown in low light, which will be larger but may still retain some colour.

Cryptocoryne wendtii 'green 01' inflorescence Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Green 01'
C. wendtii inflorescence and full plant shot.

I keep 4 or 5 different forms of C. wendtii - two of which have flowered for me in emersed culture (flowers are extremely rare submerged though other species such as C. crispatula have developed elongated spathes so they can flower underwater, they are an exception). A third I have just planted in emersed culture and a fourth I only have in submerged. Then there are a few small plants I need to grow out so I can compare them and see if they are the same as what I already have or if I still have a fifth variety, 'Tropica,' which was really nice but I couldn't ID one in my collection right now (it's possible the one I've just planted emersed is 'Tropica' - that would be a nice surprise).

Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Green 02'
Another C. wendtii, this one flowered too but it's my favourite for foliage right now. It responded amazingly well to the addition of fertilizer a few weeks back.

C. x willisii
is another Crypt you'll find in aquarium stores regularly. I haven't found it too easy in my low tech aquarium but it grows great for me emersed. I grow the regular one and C. x willisii 'Lucens' (probably, might also be C. walkeri 'lutea' but I doubt it, will technically have to get an inflorescence to be 100% sure though - it fails to grow submerged for me just like my other willisii...).

Cryptocoryne x willisii
C. x willisii

C. x willisii used to be sold as C. nevillii though that is technically a different species which had been lost to cultivation (but has been found again). C. x willisii 'Lucens' used to be C. lucens but was reclassified. You'll still find C. nevillii and C. lucens for sale though.

C. undulata is another from Sri Lanka I grow. It did alright submerged for me but took off when I moved it into emersed culture by actually putting out runners. It basically looks like a large wendtii but the the petiole of any mature leaf being about the size of a full plant of wendtii that I have. Petioles are also a nice reddish colour. This one used to be called C. willisii but isn't anymore (isn't this a fun genus to try and sort out an ID? Flowers are basically a sure thing but they're not the easiest to flower).

Cryptocoryne undulata
C. undulata. The plant grew but not fast for months submerged for me but only after moving it into emersed culture did it start sending off runners. It's starting to look like a pretty full pot now.

C. crispatula
(var. balansae most likely) is nice. My plants are young and small but it's growing fairly well. Leaves are long and narrow and heavily bullated. I'm only growing this submerged right now and haven't had it long enough to really comment on. Grows native in Thailand in calcareous environments, which makes it a good one to try if you have hard water.

C. pontederiifolia (from Sumatra) rounds out my collection. This is a fantastic plant that I wish grew better for me. It is pretty much the opposite in looks to C. crispatula with smooth leaves that are about half as wide as they are long. It is growing much better for me emersed now that I'm fertilizing it more (though still only keeps a few leaves at a time, though these are increasing in size so something must be right) and is starting to grow well submerged but still has some problems and is definitely smaller than it could be. Some specimens can get a pink colour to the underside of the leaves but this seems to be as much environmental as anything else. Mine showed this trait when I got it but have since lost the colour.

Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia
C. pontederiifolia - you can see one leaf is just about toast, one is starting to go, one just opened a few days ago and a new one is starting to come up. By the time it's up the oldest will be gone and the second oldest will almost be gone, but a new one should be starting again. Basically, the plant always looks like this.

I grow mine two ways that I touched on briefly above - submerged and emersed.

Submerged refers to either in my 5' 65 gallon aquarium or my 15 gallon plant only tank. In the 65 the substrate is playsand/florite mix (mostly sand) with a less than plant friendly fish (Heros sp. "Rotkeil") who will either eat plants or if they aren't tasty he'll try to uproot them. Light is low with only a standard 4' two bulb shoplight, minimal fertilizers other than from fishfood and no CO2 injection (I'm happy with this mix because I have next to no algae growth). The 15 gallon does not have any fish or lights really (over spill from my 20 gallon terrarium), plants are potted in clay pots in Red Sea FloraBase but don't get much fertilizer at the moment. (I may have to shut down this tank when I get my seeds, maybe I'll go with a single 5 gallon tank, another 5 gallon tank for my seeds and a 4' shoplight over my 20gal and the two 5s...)

Submersed culture is fairly simple for the species I grow - put them in water and be patient, put them in better water and wait less time for results. Be prepared for your crytps to melt when added or if anything is changes in terms of water chemistry - just leave the rhizome & roots where they are and they'll resprout. Crytps are excellent at figuring out what size, colour and thickness of leaves they need and will produce exactly what they need for any given situation.

C. x timahensis with spathes in situ. This is thought to be a natural hybrid of C. nurii and C. cordata is found in only one pond in Singapore. These plants are growing in water 25cm deep in soft mud in soft, slightly acidic water.
(photo by Jan D. Bastmeijer used under CC license from here & here)

Emersed plants are in my 20 gallon terrarium where plants are in Red Sea Florabase in plastic pots sitting in the same strength nutrient solution as I use for my S/H orchids under medium-low light. (I also have a shelf built out of "eggcrate" fluorescent light diffuser where I grow my Miltonia NOID backbulb, and on the background I have my Tillandsia collection, and on the back wall is my Aerangis biloba - My terrarium is asking me to be upgraded in terms of size, lighting, more eggcrate, better baskets for Tillandsias and possibly a section where I can grow submersed crypts as well) The terrarium is covered by something that isn't very tight, meaning that humidity is less than 80% basically at all times (which I need for my orchids). Sometimes very first thing in the morning I'll see some condensation on the glass but not much and it goes away fast. Cryptocorynes grown emersed are often grown in close to 100% humidity but I prefer the effect of the lower humidity.

As mentioned above crypts melt, fairly often the way some people tell it. They then grow leaves suitable for their growing conditions. In my low humidity they develop thick glossy leaves that look fantastic and hold up well when taken out of the terrarium for picture day. Under high humidity they may not even lose their old leaves (or they will last a much longer amount of time) and will continue to grow thin leaves. These take less energy for the plant and they may grow better and faster that way but they'll wilt and dry out with a drop in humidity much faster than my plants. That said, my results are also not as good as what many people with higher humidity are seeing... so take from that what you will! Some of the nicest plants I've seen were growing in open air in a humid greenhouse, and of course I've lost the link... Here's a shot (the the one I was looking for) at the US Botanical Garden conservatory palm house in Washington, DC that shows some really nice looking growth.

I also don't get many flowers from my crypts. That may be related to my low humidity, former low nutrient levels &/or the age of my plants. The two of mine which have flowered had been growing two years emersed before flowering. Not many people do get flowers, the flowers are not terribly exciting, don't last long and smell pretty bad, so I don't feel so bad but it is a nice accomplishment.

C. x timahensis in situ. This pond is the only known locality for the plant, where they grow on both sides of the dam. As a hybrid C. x timahensis is sterile and does not produce fruit. Oddly enough, though this species has such a small natural habitat neither of the suspected parents are found in Singapore, both are native to a nearby area in Malaysia.
(photo by name used under CC license from here)

Problem with where I am now with my collection is that the plants I have are all common, and I have almost all the common plants (I'm missing a C. spiralis & C. cordata or two) and that the uncommon plants are... uncommon. Especially in Canada. The leap in difficulty in growing the plants I have now to the ones I want eventually is at first not too bad with plants such as C. cordata, C. nurii, etc. which need slightly acidic water. Not terribly difficult but it does mean a new terrarium. As I start to get into black-water plants we're looking at trying to get water with a pH less than 5.5 ideally, and that's not easy. Definitely impossible with my tap water and I don't know I'm hooked enough on crypts to justify buying them water. I will likely end up with one tank for hard water crypts and one for softer water, slightly acidic species and basically ignore the black-water species than can't tolerate the slightly acidic conditions of the one tank.

The other problem I suppose is that I don't have much space. Where a lot of plants can sort of be stuck anywhere these absolutely need either a terrarium or an aquarium. No other options for me other than more or larger tanks. I'd ideally like to go with a larger tank (maybe with different sections for hard/soft water but lots of space up top for Tillandsias and Orchids) but not right now.

In short:
Crypts - they're awesome.
Species from Sri Lanka are generally easy, especially C. wendtii.
Grow them submerged or emersed.
Either way they want good soil.
Flowers are rare, rarer submerged.
Low light is ok. For the most part they grow in shaded streams with trees overhead.
Some Crypts tolerate hard water. Most will take slightly soft water. Some need black-water.
If you can grow them in fairly soft water around a pH of 6.5 you can keep probably 80-90% of species.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Seed order

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

It's my first time since Kindergarten that I'll be trying to grow something from seed.

My current list (so far) is so much more awesome than whatever type of bean we grew back then.

Amorphophallus bulbifer - this is the reason I'm placing the order. Love the colour on the inside of the spathe, love the patterning on the outside and on the peduncle (the same as on the petiole when it produces its leaf).
(photo by scott.zona used under CC license from here)

10 Amorphophallus bulbifer seeds
10 Tillandsia polita seeds
12-15 Echeveria seeds (mix)
10 Lapidaria margaretae seeds
10 Ficus elastica seeds

And I'm only half way to the minimum order.

I had more in my list but Tillandsia rotundata sold out within the last few hours and I've been reading up on Cycas revoluta seeds... and I don't think so. The female plants will apparently produce seeds which are not fertilized and will never sprout. The grower should be making sure that these don't ship but you never know. Germinating them takes a long time and is overall a fairly complicated process. They are also by far the most expensive seeds from this list and on top of all that they are toxic to cats, dogs and potentially the niece/nephew. I just don't think it's worth it right now.

Lithops are out of stock right now and I don't want to get into things like "mixed aloe" or "mixed agave" seeds (or even worse, "mixed cactus"). Plumaria mix is sold out as well.

I figure if all I can get out of this is 2-3 A. bulbifer (they apparently produce enough offsets/"bulbils" that even just one will be a few in very little time), 2-3 Tillandsias and a few Echeverias that I maybe will have gotten my money's worth.

I don't know if I should start adding things I don't really want or just double up on everything I already have there to double my chances of success... I Think I'll double the Echeverias since they're a mix and that'll increase my chances of getting something really nice out of them. For everything else though I'll either have success or not... and if not then do I really want to lose 20 seeds? if so do I really need 20 plants?

Currently considering adding the following to the above:
a further 12-15 Echeveria mix
10 Tillandsia polystachia
10 Heliconia wagneriana (Medium size for a Heliconia, can reach 6-8' but not so likely in a pot. Can flower in a pot.)
10 Musella Lasiocarpa (Banana relative, stays small, 4' or less)

This would bring me up to the minimum order, plus shipping and I'm still under $20.


Alright well my order is placed and here we go.

Final list:
10 A. bulbifer
10 Tillandsia polita
24-30 Echeveria seeds (mix)
10 Lapidaria margaretae
10 Ficus elastica
10 Tillandsia polystachia
10 Heliconia wagneriana
10 Musella Lasiocarpa

Hmm. That's a lot of plants. The Tillandsias require light to germinate, the Echiverias and Lapidaria benefit from it ("do not exclude light"), the Musella needs cold stratification, the Heliconia needs to be kept at a soil temperature of at least 75F to germinate and may take a long time (shorter with scarification, also required/suggested for Musella) before I see anything. This will be interesting, and certainly a learning experience. And sure to fill every last surface in my house for the next few weeks.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Succulents, followup

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

So I have my list narrowed down to a few selections that might work out well for me.

Sansevieria trifasciata 'Hahnii'

Sansevieria trifasciata 'Hahnii'

Tolerates less than perfect lighting, stays relatively small (to 12" I believe? Varieties with less green should grow slower and stay smaller I imagine) and has a nice compact shape.

Haworthia sp.

Haworthia glauca

There are a lot of these that I like, and most stay small. There's usually a decent selection of these readily available so I'll have to see what's around and choose from those.

Sedum morganianum

Sedum morganianum
(photo by Morningdew51 used under CC license from here)

Nice plant, have seen these in person many times and have been tempted before. Completely different look from anything else I have and available without much searching.

I may be able to get my hands on Sedum adolphii 'Sunset' &/or Sedum nussbaumerianum though I imagine these will be a little pricey for their size but we'll see. Sedum morganianum won't be cheap either for that matter.

Echeveria sp.

Echeveria 'Hummel #1'
(photo by hortulus used under CC license from here)

I've been warned, but these are so nice! I'll get one, but only one, and not spend a lot on it just in case it doesn't work out. I can probably get E. 'Peter von Nurenburg' easily but probably around $10-13 in a 4-4.5" pot. NOIDS should run me a little less but if they aren't exciting enough, or are more expensive that what I'm willing to pay for a NOID... we'll just have to see. The orchid budget comes first, and hardy succulents just may come before tropical succulents.

Other cultivars of note (which I found here) include 'Fire and Ice,' 'Apricot Glow,' 'Debbie,' 'Empress,' and 'Violet Queen.' These cultivars include a large and several smaller plants, as well as anywhere from a tight to a very open rosette, blue/orange/green and purple colours, thick or thin leaves which are round, pointed and ruffled.

Generally speaking the plants on this list are fairly tough, some tolerating less than perfect lighting, the rest interesting enough to justify a front and center place in the big south window right up there with the sun loving orchids, ferns and other orchids can move back and to the sides a little. I'm not likely to try and grab all of these at once but I do want to get most of these, at some point. Maybe the smaller and/or easier ones first, then maybe a more demanding plant later on. We'll see.

I'm also looking at some seeds, mostly to fill a minimum order so I can get something I really want (which is only $2.40, minimum order is $15). They have Echeveria mix, Lithiops mix (sold out) and Lapidaria margaretae (which I wasn't going to get because it sounds fairly tricky to keep happy... but I do need to fill that order!). So... maybe I'll try a few from seed and see what I end up with that way.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wish list addition: Succulents. All of them.

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

I'll be perfectly honest with you: I don't have any succulents (pause while I think about that for a minute... no I think that's about right. Nothing in houseplants anyway).

But the internet is an enabler (people on the internet anyway).

Sedum rubrotinctum
(photo by Noodle snacks used under CC license from here)

Since I started reading garden and plant blogs I've noticed posts about various Aloes and Agaves and have seen Echeveria and Haworthias in stores and in people's posts and generally everything has been positive. Everyone who grows them likes them, I see them I like them, but I haven't ended up with any.

Aloe mitriformis - love the colours and the yellow thorns really pop.
(Photo by Stan Shebs used under CC license from here)

Then I find Far Out Flora shortly before their Senecio rowleyanus post. I've seen these at work all the time in tiny 4" hanging baskets and they were always interesting but I was never overly tempted by them. That's changed. Not to mention this post, this post (that frog planter is perfect I love that orange/pink/blue... plant) and oh my God I need an Aloe polyphylla.

Agave angustifolia var. marginata - been a fan of it for a while. Not sure on houseplant suitability and it looks a little big but I like it.
(Photo used under CC license from here)

Then at Plant Zone there's a link to Amazing Succulent & Cacti Photos and I'm done for. Again plants with that fantastic orange/blue/pink blend in muted tones like Lapidaria margeritae (Go here and do a search for "Lapidaria margeritae" - the first picture you'll find is the one I mean, the colours just don't pop as much in later pictures ) just get to me for some reason and i need one, or at least something with those colours.

Echeveria laui - there's that same pink/blue I mentioned above, minus the orange. Doesn't matter apparently, still love it.
(Photo by Fritz Geller-Grimm used under CC license from here)

Then as I was reading Life Among the Leaves I found a post on Aloes (mmm... Aloe brevifolia...) and another Haworthias...

Aloe polyphylla - anything with that a spiral pattern that strongly pronounced scores huge points with me. Have I mentioned my love of the Gesneriad genus Petrocosmia?
(Photo by Stan Shebs used under CC license from here)

I have two problems with starting a succulent collection - first, no bright windows are free (especially during the winter) and second, what places I might be able to squeeze one are small.

Echeveria 'Black Prince'
(Photo by Noodle snacks used under CC license from here)

But I'm going to get a few, just need a few suggestions of what is attractive &/or interesting ("&" is better, space is limited), fairly easy, and most importantly small (able to be kept in a 4 (to 6)" pot for a fairly significant amount of time. You should be able to get a good sense of what I like by the pictures & links above.

Thoughts? What are your top 3-5 favourite succulents that I should definitely look at?

Saturday, January 23, 2010


All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

Well, I'm all out of pre-written posts and while there are things happening they are all the same things that have happened before/haven't stopped.

I'm pretty sure most of the African Violets and Streptocarpus that were flowering before either still are or have stopped, neither of which is exciting enough for a post.

There is root growth from the backbulb division of my Miltonia NOID and my Aerangis biloba (and a new leaf!). My Epicat continues to grow roots in passive hydroponic culture, though slowly - at least I know there are roots, and those roots are healthy. We're not out of the woods yet but I think the rest of the way should be easy going.

My Syngonium cuttings have all rooted well (except the one I didn't expect to live at all but we'll see).

My Ludisia discolor spike is now... about 2cm tall. Nothing exciting going to happen there for at least a month. My Phalaaenopsis in passive hydroponic culture should be open within a week or so, if not slightly sooner. My Paph NOID should be open very soon but still probably a few days away.

ID Plant
I don't know what this is. Anyone?
Update - Clerodendrum speciosissimum

Don't think anything else is going on with any other plants. Still should be working on my plant spreadsheet. I'm done orchids and have made good progress on Aroids.

There's a Southern Ontario Orchid Society meeting coming up. Didn't make it to the last one because of terrible weather but next week looks alright (temps in the -8 to -3 range). Looking at the weather apparently Monday is supposed to be 7 and rainy? Almost makes me wish it were March! This January thaw, welcome as it is, is only making the idea that spring is so very far away is killing me.

I may not post for a few days or the posts may be brief and mostly filled with pictures.

I'm going to start on a few profiles for some "houseplants" you'll never see at a houseplant store.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Neofinetia falcata

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

Neofinetia falcata, public domain image from here.

This very attractive little Vandacious orchid seems to be a potential problem for me. It is small, attractive, fragrant, white flowers and is basically my kind of orchid. So it would make sense that I might get one... But wait! I think I forgot to mention that this orchid is also incredibly varied. So lets back up a few sentences... I get one, which is green and has white flowers. Then I get one with variegated leaves. Then I get one with white flowers with maybe a red or purple spur. Then... I'd already be out over (potentially well over!) a hundred dollars with little end in sight. There's a list of a few of the forms you can find here. There are fantastic pictures around the net as well.

I would likely try to end up with at least one each of an example of Pine Needle Growth (more smaller leaves), Princess Leaf (narrower leaves), Samurai Growth (More strongly downwards pointing), &/or Fukurin Variegation (variegation down margin or center of leaf). Some of the pink flowered forms are very nice (Neofinetia falcata var. Shu Ten Nou `Little Gracie' JC/AOS is just amazing). Not mentioned at the page I linked earlier but there are also varieties with differently coloured root tips (purple I've seen pictures of or green being more common) and some extra colour to the leaves (as in Neofinetia falcata var. 'Kaioumaru'). This blog has some amazing Neofinetia falcata pictures showing a diversity in this species I had never seen before I started writing this post. Traditionally they are grown in fancy pots which themselves may be pricey. I would likely have to hold off on this instead growing them in less fancy green plastic pots with larger drainage holes cut in the bottom.

Neofinetia falcata, Creative Commons licensed image by KENPEI from here.

The care of this orchid is interesting as well, and a perfect example of a confusing list of guidelines for plant care that make perfect sense when you look at the natural growing environment for the plant. The plant grows on deciduous trees. Ok, so what does that mean? Well, the fact that the trees are deciduous at all mean it must get fairly cool during the winter - these orchids can tolerate temperatures approaching freezing though strongly not encouraged. The plants should be getting more light during the winter as well - I presume an unheated but above freezing garage with a south window might work? My garage not only freezes but faces north and has no windows so it doesn't really make much difference for me! Depending on how much growth slows (some people have mentioned that their plants grows throughout the year and flower through the year in which case watering should continue) fertilizer should be cut out and water cut way back - if you still see growing tips on the roots then keep watering, if there's no growth then don't water as much. When growth starts again in the spring increase water and fertilizer.

Assuming you can manage the winter months growth of these plants doesn't seem too tricky... Not something I want to start playing around with before I've got the orchids I already have figured out. Though the potential is certainly there I doubt I will ever be willing to cough up the cash for a collection of these plants, or in some cases even the price of a single plant.

There could be a big problem here but I think it will be fairly easy to keep myself down to only 2-3 of these plants total. From here: 'Amami Island' has green leaves, large white flowers born in numbers up to ten on a spike. Vigorous and large (to 12"), somewhat more forgiving than the smaller forms, excellent starter plant. 'Gojyo Fukurin' Has green leaves with white margins, large white flowers and nice smell - again on the larger size (8") and more vigorous than many. 'Shutenno' (Red Emperor) has green leaves with many red/pink fragrant flowers on a large (8") vigorous plant. These forms should all be fairly common and relatively inexpensive while covering many of my favourite aspects of the species.

That said I will not be getting any until probably the Feb 2011 SOOS Show - I need to figure out the species I already have before jumping into more challenging ones. I will look at them

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dtps. Sogo Tris 'MP0980' update

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

I'd mentioned that the newer flowers on my Doritaenopsis had opened the correct way with the lip at the bottom but apparently never posted an updated picture. The first flowers have dropped now but I managed a picture when it was at its peak.

Dtps. Sogo Tris 'Mp0890'
Dtps. Sogo Tris 'MP0980' - click through for huge version.

One bud blasted at the end and the bud you see in that shot still opened under the spike and backwards so it really never got any better looking than this.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Random Picture: Elkhorn Fern

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

I would be lying if I told you this wasn't my favourite plant at the Toronto Zoo.

Elkhorn Fern
Platycerium bifurcatum (Elkhorn Fern), picture taken Sept. 7, 2009

Won't be able to grow one of these basically ever unless I get a greenhouse someday (which is unlikely). So I'll just have to keep visiting this one at the Toronto Zoo.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wish list addition: Miltonia spectablis

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

Miltonia spectablis (&/or var. moreliana)

var. moreliana picture
var. moreliana on Flickr
AOS Page

Miltonia spectablis var. moreliana is by far my preferred of the forms of this species. Love the colour on this and the subtle veining on the lip adds even more interest. Heard the fragrance described as being like black licorice at Orchid Web - which normally wouldn't get me too excited but it fits with the colour.

Have had good success recently with our Miltonia/Miltoniopsis intergenic so it's another good one where I have a good grasp of the required care and am fairly certain I can keep it happy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Syngonium podophyllum

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

This plant (Syngonium... podophyllum? doesn't look quite like it to me) has been, for the longest time, the ugliest, sparsest trailing plant that was really doing nothing. It would sometimes make green leaves at about the same speed as it would lose them. Sometimes it would (apparently) be restarted (though not recently enough that I really remember it), though based on the salt buildup on the soil and on the pot I'd say not recently, and then it would grow until it got fairly ugly again.

We kept it around because it's been in the family since around the 1940s when a friend of my late grandmother (who I never met) gave her this plant as a present before dying of breast cancer (or similar). I assume my grandmother grew it for a while until it became my dad's plant so it's been in the family a while now anyway.

Syngonium sp.
Syngonium podophyllum - Not that bad anymore actually

Well, earlier in the summer we decided that if this plant was going to stick around it should look nice doing it. Now for some reason we have hooks in the ceiling all over the place (Ok, 4. Still sort of strange - we didn't put them there and haven't bothered removing them.) and this plant had been hanging on one maybe 10' from a large south window and glass door. There was another hook though right in front of that window, so we moved it right where it would get pretty good sun and very soon it rewarded us with a white stripe down the center of the leaf. This was nice of it so we said "hey, this thing likes where it is."

It probably started getting watered more often than it had been so with that, combined with the new location by the window it started to grow. The white spread across the leaf and recently it began to grow leaves with five nodes where it had been growing only green leaves with three nodes before. It had never looked more full until, that is, a branch broke off during the photo shoot that resulted in the shot above. We were definitely getting ready to restart the plant but sort of got a push in that direction once we had a broken branch in hand.

Into water went the end after being trimmed, cleaned and had a few older leaves taken off so there were only three leaves left. I was starting to play around with passive hydroponic culture at the time and so it was rooted in water in hydroton. Once roots appeared the water level was reduced until we got where we are now - a rooted cutting growing in passive hydroponic culture. That cutting has done well and the leaves that had gone slightly limp have perked up again and the new leaf emerging has started to grow again. That cutting has done so well that I've started two more which I will ultimately plant together in a single larger container in passive hydroponic culture.

I had been thinking of allowing it to grow up a pole I got (free) from work but don't know how that would work with the pole and passive hydroponics. Not well I imagine though I'm sure there are ways to work around it (like wrapping the part of the pole in the hydroton in a waterproof liner). Would be much more attractive that way that continuing to grow it as a hanging plant I imagine. Easier to keep restarting it as a hanging plant... though perhaps not in hydroton.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Orchids I didn't buy

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

And with theft out of the way here's tomorrow's post, today.

We had both of these at work a while back (I think they both sold on Boxing Day actually) that I was tempted to get but at the end of the day couldn't justify.

Cattleya alliance intergenic NOID - Resembles Bc. Maikai

This one was really tempting but it didn't have a name (which I'd recently decided was a problem for me) and was a member of the Cattleya alliance, which I hadn't had a ton of luck with. Very attractive and uncommon were there under the plus column but not so much that I'd go for it.

Oncidium alliance intergenic NOID

This was only sort of interesting - I've seen many Oncidium intergenics that are both more attractive and interesting. Floriferous and fairly attractive but at the end of the day wasn't too hard to walk away from.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Feed Scraping & Post Theft

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

Kenneth Moore just gave me the heads up that my blog posts, and his, and I think I saw a tiny part of one from Aerelonian have been stolen for use at a Feed Scraper/Content Scraper, a term I hadn't heard more than a few hours ago but speaks for itself.

First thing to protect yourself from all sites of this nature whether you've seen that particular site or not - Blogger defaults your Site Feed to "Full" - Change this to "Short" or "None" (Settings, Site Feed and it's the first option).

Here's this post, as scraped with Site Feed limited to "Short"

Second, and I haven't tried this yet, read this, and this and some of the links in each. Should work against sites you know of but until you've found them you'll have to resort to limiting your Feed to just a part of your post.

Here's a site with information specific to Blogger (a lot of the sites above refer to other blogging sites like WordPress).


Thanks for the advice Dave. I asked them firmly but nicely to remove all my posts and they were gone within 15 minutes. I don't approve of what they do, but at least they co-operated and took down the posts when asked.

Toronto Gesneriad Society Meeting Pictures

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

Went to the Toronto Gesneriad Society's meeting this afternoon at the Toronto Botanical Gardens. On the whole not the most exciting meeting - nothing for sale and only three plants shown. Talk was interesting enough though. Also shown were some flowers which had been shown somewhere on Friday that were brought in to the meeting to be shown as well. That will pretty much be this post - here were the highlights of those flowers.

Strep. 'Remembering John'

Strep. 'Victorian Valentine'

S. 'Fisher's Leone'

Left: S. 'Live Wire', Right: S. 'Kings Ransom'

S. 'Sara's Addison Rose'

Left: S. 'Buckeye Leprechaun Charm', Right: S. 'News'

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Aglaonema 'Crete' update

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

I posted about this plant back in October when I brought it home from work. It looked pretty sad at the time but after a little trim of the damaged leaves, a place in the sun and some time it's become quite a nice little houseplant.

Aglaonema 'Crete'
Aglaenema 'Crete'

Hoping it can keep up its improved appearance and get even more full over the next year because it's really grown on me.

(... and aren't you glad it isn't another orchid post.)

Give it a few years and I expect you'll start to see this one in those Christmas baskets with poinsettias and mixed greens.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wish list addition: Macodes sanderiana + more

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

Macodes sanderiana, Goodyera pusilla or pretty well any other Jewel Orchid, though I already have a Ludisia discolor (growing well with at least one flower spike developing, possibly two) and those two are on the top of my list.

Macodes sanderiana should be available with only a little bit of looking as it's one of the most attractive Jewel Orchids around. Large leaves with a brilliant network of brightly coloured veins on a darker leaf make this plant very showy even when not in bloom.

On Flickr
AOS Page

Jewel Orchid
NOID Jewel Orchid

Goodyera pusilla is one I know a little less about but it looks like an adorable dwarf with some fantastic colour and markings. I'm not likely to randomly come across this one but I'll be on the lookout, just in case.

Japanese Site, nice pictures

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Streptocarpus

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

So last Month my mom surprised me with yet another awesome Streptocarpus. Anytime she says "Oh, and I got a _______" and it's a cultivar I recognize it's pretty well awesome all around. Last time was 'Ink Blot,' which I have never actually seen in person but the internet makes me think it's awesome, this time 'Purple Pepper'. I have seen 'Purple Pepper' in person and have pretty well needed to have one since, and am now so happy I do.

Streptocarpus 'Purple Pepper'
Streptocarpus 'Purple Pepper' - Toronto Gesneriad Society Show, March 28 2009

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Passive hydroponic growing

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

Passive hydroponics, semi-hydroponic growing, and a number of other names refer to a method of growing in which an inert porous medium such as hydroton, PrimeAgra or even perlite and vermiculite (apparently). Water in a reservoir is then wicked through this medium to the plant roots which are supplied a constant amount of water and fertilizer and are then able to grow without the challenges of soaking and drying and similarly questionable feeding practices.

I briefly mentioned that I would be moving my NOID Phal. into Semi-Hydroponic culture. Growth so far since the move back at the end of December has been... fairly slow actually. It's winter though, not really the best time to be transplanting orchids by any stretch but circumstances made re-potting necessary and being free, though I'd hate to lose it, this orchid was a perfect candidate. I also did not cut off the developing spike which has grown well (though most recommend for the health of the plant to remove things like flower spikes). At least there's been minimal root loss which makes it a win (so far) in my books, though a few roots are mushy and need cleaning.

NOID Phal. - So far so good. You can see the holes near the bottom of the pot - the reservoir is below these, good airflow above.

I went to my nearest hydroponics store and picked up a small bag of hydroton, a type of expanded clay pellet, and re-potted the plant in it in a home-made pot. My (strong) preference is a clear pot so you can easily see what's going on (see picture above). Basically I took the bottom of a juice container (started stocking up on large deli containers though for future re-potting), poked two small holes at the bottom about an inch up for drainage. After soaking the hydroton for 24 hours I filled the pot to those holes with the hydroton, then re-potted the orchid (all moss etc cleaned off the roots) in the usual manner, tapping the pot regularly to get the hydroton in and around all the roots - because you're relying on capillary action to wick water from the reservoir up it's important that it's touching enough to be able to manage that. Once potted fill your pot with water and let it drain - the reservoir will stay filled and, if done properly, none of the roots will be in the reservoir (yet). The hydroton will then wick water to the roots, the plant will grow and all will be well. The pot can be flushed in much the same way just by running water through it at a slow trickle where the pot fills as fast as it drains and letting the water run for a while.

Syngonium sp. - cutting was placed in a full cup of water and hydroton on the night of Dec. 27, 2009 - this much root growth has happened since. Now that there are good roots I've dropped the water level to just a shallow reservoir at the bottom of the cup. Since I rooted it in water in hydroton I don't really need to re-pot at any point between a rootless cutting and it filling the cup with roots.

Old roots may die off but will be replaced by more moisture tolerant roots - this is the main reason it is risky to try to adapt a plant to passive hydroponics during the winter - you need fast root growth to replace any roots that will die off. I was lucky for a number of reasons - first, the orchid had been potted in fairly wet moss so its roots were already fairly moisture tolerant and to be honest was probably getting more air around the roots than in the moss - second, the orchid had a good number of healthy air roots, even if all roots in the pot had died off I could have kept the plant alive - and third, there were some fairly new roots growing, a touch older than is recommended (i.e., just nubs) but still probably more adaptable than the oldest roots, especially since the part already grown will still be fairly dry being at the surface and the roots would then grow into the wetter conditions. I have seen some amazing pictures of orchids that are successfully growing roots in the reservoir which goes against approximately everything I've ever heard about orchids and water.

Gcy. Kyoguchi
Epc. Kyogucgi (Now Guaricyclia, Gcy. Kyogucgi)
Photo taken at the SOOS Show, February 14, 2009 - I'm trying to save mine in SH culture and it looks like it'll work well.

Once new roots are growing they'll be able to handle a lot of water, the open structure and large size of the expanded clay pellets lets a lot of air around the roots and the constant supply of water makes growth steady and fairly quick. Depending on the size of your reservoir plants can apparently be watered as infrequently as every two weeks or so, or can be watered daily with no ill effects.

This new shoot and those three little roots are what will save this plant.

Fertilizing is only slightly more complicated. I've always tended to under-fertilize, though that will need to stop since hydroton has no nutrients at all. I read quite a bit on fertilizing orchids in semi-hydroponic culture and found that plugging numbers in here is the easiest answer. Otherwise read this, then go back to the calculator.

I use Schultz Expert Gardener Water Soluble Plant Food for Orchids (19-31-17 NPK) so according to the calculator if I shoot for a target nitrogen level of 125ppm (on the low side though more appropriate given the light I'm giving my plants) I'll need to use half a tsp of fertilizer / gallon of water (slightly less during winter, more in summer). This page talks about targeted feeding (based around nitrogen & a balanced fertilizer) at different times of the year and for different plants (such as those which normally need a rest period) and is a good read.

The theory (and practice, from the pictures I've seen) are sound and results are undeniable. My own results are after only a few weeks but there are many images out there of plants after X amount of time with before and after pictures showing root growth and flowering that are just amazing. Amazing as it may prove to be I'm going to take it slow and only move a few plants over this spring and see what results I end up with before I jump in with both feet (and many plants).

Here's another look at those new roots. Aww...

So far I have three orchids in passive hydroponic culture (the Phal above and two rescues, one Epicat. and one Paph.) and a cutting of a Syngonium sp. and I'm only out $5 for a large Ziploc bag of hydroton. I have spent $0 on fancy pots and gauges, or anything else needed for the pot-in-pot style of passive hydroponic growing and won't be spending a dollar for any more orchid bark.

In short: Proper container (my preferred is a clear plastic container with a hole or two at the top of the reservoir), appropriate medium (hydroton or similar) soaked overnight, clean roots on a actively growing plant (spring, warm conditions, maybe lower light to discourage or slow vegetative growth during this period). Pot up the plant in the prepared medium and water with a nutrient solution at an appropriate strength occasionally flushing the pot with fresh water to avoid calcium/salt buildup.

Lots more to read at First Rays & Water Roots.

You'll definitely be kept up to date on how these plants are doing as really there's not much else going on right now plant-wise. I'm just starting my spring hiatus from work which will last until March (though to be honest I'm always but especially now looking for something else) and other than an orchid show in February there's not much going on. I'm also going to try to make it out to a few Gesneriad meetings and Orchid meetings to help me pass the time/keep me busy and hopefully give me some good stuff to write about.

(For those who saw this post this morning - oops! It's up again with pictures this time - it got auto posted before I'd taken the pictures for the post.)

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years Resolutions

All Andrew's Plants has moved to

You can find this post here on my new site for the full post and to leave comments.

First off, Happy New Year!

Secondly, in 2010 I will aim to do the following with regard to plants:

  • Water better. This includes keeping a closer eye on all plants and learning more about the cultural needs, using proper soil (I'm pretty ok at that), and fertilizer for each plant in my collection.

  • Keep better records. I have begun a spreadsheet where I will list the plants I have and include pictures, flowering time, last re-potting and so on.

    Cymbidium 2
    NOID Cymbidium, which I also apparently don't know what it needs in terms of water and resting etc or it would be in spike right now.

  • Limit or cut out the purchase of NOID plants (that sort of beige Phal with the orange is a much less useful name than Dtps. Sogo Tris 'MP0890'), orchids especially. Preferably (with regards to orchids at least) I will try to limit my purchases to awarded varieties (Onc. Sharry Baby 'Sweet Fragrance' AM/AOS) and species (Ludisia discolor) though in the event that there's a super awesome variety that hasn't been awarded I won't really say no.

  • Improve pest control. I will not bring home a plant known to have any scale &/or mealybugs. Period. I have too much to lose if I do bring home any bad pests. Also, quarantine all new plants for a reasonable period.