Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lithops plant size: Part 1 (17 pics)

One of the most common questions I am asked is about the size of my lithops plants and pots. While the part about pots is easily answered - 5 x 5 cm and 8,5 cm deep - it doesn't exactly clarify how big the plants are. I'm always writing about "the smaller the better" under windowsill conditions but how small is "small" exactly?

After having grown lithops for 10 years it is very clear that in order to grow them successfully under my conditions they absolutely need to be small. If watered (or fed) slightly too much they will stretch into unhealthy shapes and choke on their leaves during regeneration. If a plant is grown from seed by me it will increase in size extremely slowly. If I buy a large adult plant it will reduce its size at least by half during the next 1 or 2 leaf changes and stay like this (unless it dies). To get to the exact size of the plants I grow, imagine a 5x5cm pot and then imagine 8 adult plants growing in it. Or let's say rather 4 two-headed plants which would be more accurate. That's the limit that works for me without them squeezing each other out of the pot. It doesn't mean I follow through with it though. Sometimes I don't want to mix different species in one pot. Sometimes a plant looks great when it's presented individually. They do grow better I believe when potted in clusters but that's a story for another time.

According to various sources, L. aucampiae, L. pseudotruncatella, L. gracilidelineata and maybe L. hookeri belong to the larger species. And I'm talking about size of an individual head, not the ability to branch out. Let's see how this holds up on the windowsill.

I will measure the heads across the longest side. It will represent the plant size as of today, during active growth and regular water intake, not directly after regeneration when they are the smallest. I believe this is the average value even though they might increase in size a little bit until Fall (1-2 mm max).

The largest plants I have are Lithops gesinae v. annae (C078). They reach 2.2 cm constantly every year without any trouble regenerating and without any fertilizer or excessive watering. I've grown them for several years and it's always the same. I'd actually recommend them for beginners. My first plant came in 2008 when lithops were fairly new to me.

This below plant is two-headed and each head measures 2.2 cm.

As a contrast to that, L. gesinae v. gesinae (C207) are really small. The larger plant's head size is 1.3 cm while the smaller is 0.9 cm. It also seems to be a constant value every year. They don't get bigger at all and are slow to regenerate.

L. aucampiae are considered large but on my windowsill they are no bigger than the regular L. lesliei (in fact some of my L. lesliei are larger than L. aucampiae). The largest plant I have is this L. aucampiae sp. at 1.9 cm. I got it from a gardening store rather bloated but it came back to this size after a couple of leaf changes and it works for it.

L. aucampiae 'Storm's Snowcap' (C392) plants I got from a specialized grower a couple of years ago measure 1.4 cm per head, which is the same size as my own 5 year old seedlings of L. aucampiae ssp. aucampiae v. aucampiae 'White Flower' (C002A). 1.4 cm is also the size of my L. aucampiae ssp. euniceae v. fluminalis (C054)

Let's check L. gracilidelineata. My mixed seedlings are from 2009 so you can say they are of adult size. I have 3 larger plants and 3 smaller. The larger plants measure 1.8 cm.

The smaller specimen are 1.4 cm.

Moving on to L. dorotheae, as they seem to be quite large. All the below are 1.7 cm

L. dorotheae de Boer

L. dorotheae (C300)

This L. dorotheae (C300) however is slightly smaller, measuring 1.5 cm across. It compensates with its 3 heads I guess.

I only have one L. olivacea v. olivacea (C055) so it's not exactly representative. The head size per se is not very large but this two-headed plant is massive all in all and occupies one pot by itself. Same as L. gesinae v. annae, it regenerates into the same size every year and maintains it without any help. The head size is 1.7 cm.

To sum things up, it seems that the average head size of larger specimen of lithops on the windowsill is around 1.7 cm. I will continue this topic and review the smaller plants next time. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Frithia pulchra enjoying the sun (4 pics)

And here's another small update!

The sun is shining and my old Frithia pulchra finally opened its flowers. They only open completely around 11 AM and close again by 1 PM. My second F. pulchra is growing flowers too, but it'll be too late for pollination.

I think the camera overreacts when faced with so much lilac. On the photo it looks like most of the flower is colored in lilac and pink while in reality there is much more white inside and lilac is mostly at the tips. I couldn't catch that. It's beautiful nevertheless. Wonderful plant!

Here is a photo of part of my garden for scale ;)

Delosperma bonsai (2 pics)

Do you remember the two Delosperma plants I was training to be bonsais? 
I gathered the seeds on the side of the road in 2010 and grew these plants from those seeds back in 2012. There are a bunch of posts on that: little bunnies, new leaves, new branches, getting in shape, first time being beautiful, messy forest, a total mess after spending a year at my parents and the first haircut, bonsai phase 1 and phase 1.2. Last fall bugs were biting them badly and so I banished them on the balcony where they spent the whole winter. It killed the bugs and the shape on one of them has improved a lot. It looks now exactly like I imagined it to look like. Thick trunk and a full crown. Love it!

The other one however, which I considered more promising, does not look well. Branches all over the place. I need to cut some parts off for sure. Just need to figure out which... Something's not right there.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Last year's Anacampseros seedlings still kicking (35 pics)

It feels like we haven't had a real Spring this year. It started just recently, if at all, and will probably just jump into Summer directly. Maybe because of that or maybe because of reasons of their own my Anacampseros plants just recently woke up. While somewhere else there are already buds and flowers, mine are still pushing new leaves to compensate for Winter losses. Anacampseros are inactive in Winter. They don't grow at all and look very scruffy, dead even, drying off leaves and leaving dead twigs. Same goes for seedlings, I had to find out. I was starting to worry because they were so brown and lifeless, and then I saw bugs on them and thought I'll lose them all. I'm still quite new to this.

But then the sun was shining and they were getting watered regularly and then fresh green appeared on the old leaves, new leaves started growing. And with them even some flower buds.

Anacampseros lanceolata 

Anacampseros lancifolia

Anacampseros sp.

I called the kids of that first plant above "weeds" last year. This year, after a dry winter, the new leaves look much better. Instead of being floppy like those grown last year they are short and meaty. Hope to keep them that way.

The rest of the seedlings have grown into little round rosettes with neat fluffy fur. It is quite exciting to see them slowly develop the features of adult plants. I can even attempt some individual portraits.

Anacampseros baeseckei will grow into long fluffy towers with short leaves. At the moment they are just round. They all are from different localities. If you want to know the catalog number and other info click on the pics. The details will be in the file name.

Anacampseros namaquensis should be larger and bushier. Lots of fluff there! Can't even see the leaves on those MG7042.

Unlike these Anacampseros retusa fa. rubra. The kids have very little hairs but the flat heart-shaped leaves are the more interesting.

Anacampseros arachnoides should later have short pointy leaves with cobwebs kinda stuck to them.

Anacampseros telephiastrum should have large round meaty leaves. Mine are still small.

These Anacampseros sp. (albidiflora) look very promising with the pointy leaves.

Not sure how Anacampseros filamentosa are supposed to look like later. We'll see. They are cure little kids.

These are some of the older seedlings. I had hoped they would flower this year but no sign of it yet. I'm very fond of their overall shape.

Anacampseros rufescens can get sloppy easily, from what I see. I should keep them on a strict diet.

Anacampseros rufescens 'Sunrise'

I don't know what these are (An. rufescens?) but the color is great! The new leaves have not managed to get the tan yet.

In my excitement of seeing Anacampseros seedlings revived like this after watering I kinda overdid it with An. vanthielii. Diet!

I also have some younger seedlings (6 months old). I've been watering them though the Winter.

As a conclusion, growing Anacampseros is very rewarding and fun and I can recommend it to everyone.

PS: Hope the cat hair is not too noticeable on the photos. Mila regularly walks on them. It does not seem to damage them though. She also walks on lithops. Which is yet another reason to keep them nice and flat.