Sunday, January 29, 2017

Winter update (10 pics)

January is almost over and I feel like I'm doing really well with my new year's resolutions. Let's see.

I wanted to eat less and move more (that's one very typical new year's resolution, haha) but I'm glad to report that I lost 4 kilos just by walking and hula-hooping everyday and by reducing chocolate input. I wanted to watch less TV shows and spend time more productively. Well, I found a loop hole in this plan so now I'm watching TV shows while simultaneously hula-hooping (I can go for an hour or more). Also, my apartment has never been cleaner (productivity plus calorie loss). 

Unfortunately I'm still awfully slow with replying to emails. I'm trying though! Also, my plans for being more creative are still just plans. I cook my own lunches 2 or 3 times a week, if that counts...

In terms of weather the new year so far has been cold but mostly sunny. Lithops are regenerating, conophytums seem to be already getting ready to sleep. I'm not watering the adult Anacampseros but some of them are showing new green leaves. Maybe they feel the spring coming closer? Haworthias look the happiest. Look at those fat leaves the H. limifolia has grown!

All in all, it is a sleepy season. Nothing is happening. Everything is waiting for the spring.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Anacampseros seedlings winter update (20 pics)

Now to a more positive topic. Brace yourselves, this is a huge picture dump :)

Even though I've been posting photo updates on this year's Anacampseros seedlings over on Twitter I have realized that there has not been a proper update on them here in the blog since July! It's time to show you how they've grown.

They started as little blobs that all looked the same but now they look like little versions of adult plants and are pretty diverse. It has been such fun watching them grow. Looking after Anacampseros seedlings is straightforward. It's the adult plants I'm still figuring out (what exactly is their yearly growth cycle again?). There's not much you can do wrong with seedlings. They germinate right away almost at 100% rate and if they made it to first real leaves they'll make it all the way. I was told that I've been too kind to mine, watering them a bit too much, and I agree, some got out of hand. But most of them are perfect little fuzzballs. Thanks for this sense of achievement, cuties, I needed it. They are not immune to mites and darkness and overwatering can be an issue in general but they seem to be more forgiving than mesembs under my growing conditions.

As with many other succulent plants there is always a discussion among the growers on how "hard" they should be grown. The common understanding is that the ideal look is as close to the look in natural habitat as possible. While I share this view it's hard to achieve this in culture. We can try giving the plants the sunniest spot and starve them but in my experience it's harder on the grower than the plants. We tend to take pity and water a bit more than we should. Now that the seedlings are grown into small rosettes it's time to make sure they grow into good natural shapes. I'm not a person to starve plants but short plump leaves with a tan are my goal. And as usual, as I can not give them more light than what comes through the window, water is my only shaping instrument.

Even though they are still young and small I have stopped watering a while ago to give them some winter rest. What it means is - if it's dark outside it's always best to discourage any growth. We don't need them to grow into pale green weeds, do we?

So, here come the fluffiest seedlings. I'm very happy with those. You can barely see the leaves.

Some are less fluffy but it allows you to see what is going on underneath: tiny leaves in a nice round shape.

So cute, hiding in the stones!

These might be a bit too green and the leaves might be a bit long but there's plenty of time for correction.

These are a bit green as well but it might be how they are supposed to look? We'll see.

These however should not look like this! You miss the point when you should stop supporting growth and you end up with weeds that are not pretty. They are on a strict diet now.

These guys are slow growing and I had to push them a bit. The shape is fine for their age but the color needs more tan. We'll get there. (Love the heart-shaped leaves!)

Looking at the older seedlings, the color of this Anacampseros sp. is great! But the leaves could be shorter. I'll try to work on that.

Here is another example. Some of the older An. vanthielii seedlings got away from me.
Those in a better shape are nice round hairballs. But even they could do with a diet.

Others were unfortunately watered a bit too much at a wrong time. If the leaves are long and of a pale green color and you can actually see the stem - that's no good. Some tough love should bring them back on track.

My very first seedlings on the other hand look like I want them to look.

If you ask me what my ideal Anacampseros shape is, it's a compact round plant with short fat rusty-red leaves covered in fluff that at the same time shows some green at the top, just to reassure me it's alive. The cuttings below look perfect to me :)

Mites and darkness (9 pics)

It has not been the best year for succulent growers in my area. It has not been cold in winter, it has not been hot in summer. It has been just dark and gloomy all year. When sunny days are rare it means there is not much watering. If waterings are rare there's not much growing. Except for spider mites. Those grow nicely when it's dry. At some point I moved Delospermas outside (those are the most tasty) which improved the situation. But I still find mites on my plants occasionally (and kill them on site with my bare hands) and the damage is visible: nibbled leaves, weakened plants. I hope next year is sunnier and better all in all and the plants can recover.

My favorite and oh so perfect Frithias I was so proud of look like this now. It takes them so long to grow those leaves. Much time will pass until they've outgrown the bite marks. Assumed the attack is over. And yes, I've been spraying a lot which has contributed to the damage on some plants I think.

But Aloinopsis got the most of it. The below two are goners.

This one might recover (very big might) but judging by the size of the newest leaves it is extremely weakened by the overall conditions last year. Maybe I should stop growing Aloinopsis all together or just keep a couple of plants as mite-distraction.

The Antimima pumila started very well and then got bitten. I think it will recover though, after the next resting period. It's a bit elongated, too...

Same as these Titanopsis seedlings. Bugs plus spray plus sudden sunlight equals burn marks in addition to everything else. They should be fine with the new leaves coming. But it pains me to see them so ugly.

I know I might be exaggerating. After all it's just a couple of plants that are beyond saving, out of hundreds. But the lack of sunlight is visible to me in all the green-ness everywhere.

Sure, this cute Titanopsis calcarea is growing flowers (thank you planty!) and I did my best to keep it compact through this dark dark year but the green color says it all. 

PS: Sorry for the dusty pics.
PPS: This got too depressing. I'll be posting about my feel-good plants Anacampseros next :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Avonia quinaria (4 pics)

I feel like I need to read up on Avonia's (as well as Anacampseros) yearly growing cycle again. It seems they are in an active growth phase now, having flowered for the last time in October. I thought they are supposed to be resting in winter. Maybe they will. It's not winter yet.

Avonia quinaria plants are not very difficult to grow on the windowsill (in pure pumice) and they will flower for you, too. The main cause of death is overwatering. I made a mistake once - I thought the thick root will increase in size if I buried it. The only thing that came out of it was a dead plant, rotten from the inside, and a resolve not to do this ever again. You see, the only clear way of telling whether an Avonia quinaria needs water, at least for me, is to squeeze the raised root a bit. Sure if the plant needs water the branches might drop a little. But depending on the time of the year those branches might be too short to drop visibly. So from now on they all will grow raised and looking like palm trees. Much safer this way.

This Avonia quinaria ssp. quinaria (that's the one with pink flowers) is particularly pretty this year. It has grown many new branches and looks very happy. 

My four younger Avonia quinaria ssp. quinaria plants are actively growing right now, too.

I also have two Avonia quinaria ssp. alstonii plants (that's the white flowering kind). This one has really long branches.

This one has not been doing too well this year but is hanging in there. For a while it didn't seem to accept water and was shriveling. I think it's slowly getting better now though. The root is much firmer and new branches have started growing, too. It probably lost roots at some point which are now growing back.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Argyroderma crateriforme flower (6 pics)

I'm so happy and excited that this plant has decided to flower! :)

It is gorgeous and a bit crazy. Does the name crateriforme come from the inside of the flower?

I have never watched an Argyroderma flower bud develop and I found it very curious how different it is from the usual mesemb flowers I've had so far. Okay, maybe it's not that different but it definitely looks different to me. 

The mesemb flower buds I've seen on my windowsill so far were elongated with tips of the petals showing at some point before the flower opens. The Argyroderma bud started as something round and flat, almost looking more like a seed pod than flower bud. 

It grew larger and when the sepals parted a bit you could see that the petals are actually curved inwards, folded with their tips toward the "crater". 

It stayed like this for a while and then yesterday suddenly it "erupted" and the petals darted out. It stayed like this until today.

It was sunny today and the flower finally opened. I'm so glad I could witness it!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Adromuschus clons (5 pics)

For a while now I have been wondering about price development for succulent plants these days. Prices are skyrocketing for no apparent reason. It's not like the plants have gotten more rare or have grown indestructible. Plants are not an investment. They die. Quite suddenly, too. No regular size plant that's not even old, even if it is extremely rare, should cost more that 20€ and seeds more than 5€. Why would you pay more? Some prices are ridiculous! Out of curiosity I've recently checked Ebay for Adromischus and saw a small plant that was visually nothing special going for 4500€. Why? And especially for Adromischus. It multiplies easily from a leaf, no effort required from the grower.

Fellow growers, let's share our passion, not kill it by making plants and seeds unaffordable.

So, apparently, I am not buying new plants anytime soon. More time to enjoy those I have, am I right? ;) In September 2013 I got one Adromischus marianae v. herrei (green form) and now I have three thanks to the convenient propagation method - leaf cuttings. Sure it takes time and sometimes it can take months for the new leaves to appear even if the root system is fully developed. But the result is a new perfect plant. The below plant looked like this in February 2014, like this in April 2014 and like this in August 2014. Now it has a size of an adult Adromischus and might bloom next year.

The smaller cutting still keeps it's mother-leaf and is a bit slower. In its defense, looks like it is growing two branches simultaneously.

After a time I acquired others but they were not growing too well. I have decided to get rid of them and try anew from their leaves. The one to the right on the above photo is a young cutting of something called Adromischus marianae v. herrei CR1263 and below are my newest cuttings of Adromischus marianae 'Little Sphaeroid'. Hopefully they will develop well in time.

Oh, and here is the initial plant I got the little greenies from. It looked like this back in 2013.