Six on Saturday #39, February 23, 2019

It’s hard to believe that it has been three months since I last managed to get a Six on Saturday post together. The past week has been gloomy and wet outside, so here are six plants that are currently flowering in my greenhouse.

1. Paphiopedilum Fanaticum

fanaticum1

Paphiopedilum x fanaticum is the natural hybrid of Paphiopedilum malipoense and P. micranthum.  When the same cross is produced in cultivation, the plants are designated Paphiopedilum Fanaticum.  This isn’t the greatest photo–light levels were low, and the flower is still opening–but I think you can see that the plant is aptly named.  Anyone who is subject to orchidelirium will likely be a fanatic for Paph. Fanaticum.

2. Epidendrum cf. schlechterianum

Epi_schlechterianum

E. schlechterianum is miniature orchid found from Costa Rica to northern South America (Peru, Colombia, Brazil).  Alternatively, E. schlechterianum grows only in Panama, and a group of closely related species–E. congestum, E. congestioides, E. oxynanodes, E. schizoclinandrium, E. serruliferum, and E. uleinanodes–are found elsewhere.  It all depends on which botanist you believe.  In any case, this is a bizarre little plant with flowers that are almost the same color and texture as the semi-succulent leaves that cover its creeping stems.  It grows well mounted on a chunk of treefern fiber and watered once or twice a week.

3. Dendrobium speciosum var. pedunculatum

Dendrobium1Dendrobium2

Some forms of the Australian Dendrobium speciosum grow so large that a forklift is required to move them, but D. speciosum var. pedunculatum is a dwarf variety.  My plant has been growing happily in a 4-inch (10 cm) diameter terracotta pot for the past five years, and its pseudobulbs are only slightly larger than my thumb.  In summer, it lives outside in almost full sun.  In winter, I keep it in the brightest end of the greenhouse and reduce watering to once every two or three weeks.

4. Utricularia sandersonii (Sanderson’s bladderwort)

Utricularia_sandersonii

Although its flowers look vaguely orchid-like, Utricularia sandersonii is a terrestrial bladderwort, a carnivorous member of the family Lentibulariaceae native to South Africa.  It grows in saturated soils, where its underground bladder traps can capture and digest protists or rotifers that are small enough to swim between the soil grains.  The leaves of U. sandersonii are a couple of millimeters long, and the flower, which looks a bit like a long-tailed rabbit (or maybe a bilby), is about 1 cm from top to bottom.

I grow U. sandersonii in a small pot sitting in water almost up to the surface of the soil (a mix of peat and silica sand).  After a few years, it forms a thick tangle of stolons and starts to deteriorate, perhaps because the supply of protists or trace elements in the soil has been exhausted.  At that point, propagation is simply a matter of tearing off a chunk of soil/stolons and using it to inoculate a new pot of soil.

5.  Hippeastrum striatum

Hippeastrum_striatum

H. striatum is a smallish species from southern Brazil.  Its bulbs, leaves, and flowers are all much smaller than the big hybrid hippeastrums that are sold as “Amaryllis” at Christmas time, and I think it is better suited to cultivation in pots.

6. Cyrtanthus (species?  hybrid?)

Cyrtanthus

This plant grew from seed that I purchased as Cyrtanthus stenanthus, but it appears to have been mislabeled.  It seems to want grow in winter/spring and goes dormant in hot weather.

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator.  Head over there to see his Six for this week and to find links to the blogs of other participants.

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Mushroom log garden (Six on Saturday #38, November 24, 2018)

After the remnants of Hurricane Michael knocked down a couple of our neighbors’ trees (see picture #6), they generously offered us some of the wood.  It’s not every day that I have access to such big, beautiful oak logs, so I decided to use them for something more fun than firewood.

1. The wood

log_garden1

2. The mushrooms

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Wooden plugs colonized by lion’s mane or shiitake mycelium.  The ‘Wide Range” shiitake fruits at 55-75 F (13-24 C) , while “N.C. Wild” fruits at 85-105 F (30-41 C).  The combination should offer the possibility of mushrooms during much of spring, summer, and autumn.

3.  The guide book

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This book is focused mainly on indoor growing, but it has a useful section on log cultivation.

4. The location

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The kids don’t use their old sandbox any more.  It is well shaded, and I thought the walls and sandy bottom would help to create a sheltered, humid microclimate.  I covered the ground with corrugated cardboard, so that heavy rain wouldn’t kick up sand and make the mushrooms gritty.

5. The procedure

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Drill holes.
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Insert plugs and pound them in with a rubber mallet.
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Seal the holes with melted cheese wax.

6. The log garden

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The finished log garden under a good soaking rain.  Now I wait.

For more Six on Saturday, head on over to The Propagator.  After viewing his Six, check out the comments for links from other participants.

San Diego (Six on Saturday #37, November 10, 2018)

Botanical1
The Botanical Building in Balboa Park

This week, I traveled to San Diego, California for a scientific conference.  It was my first trip to San Diego–my first trip to anywhere in California, actually–so it was exciting to see a new part of the country.  Even the flower beds around my hotel and the convention center were full of new and interesting things.

The meeting didn’t leave much time for sightseeing, but I managed to slip away one morning and take a bus up to Balboa Park, which houses the San Diego Zoo and a variety of gardens.  I considered just wandering around the free areas of the park but eventually decided that I couldn’t miss the world famous zoo.  That turned out to be the correct choice.  In addition to being an amazing collection of endangered species (the zoo is famous for its captive breeding successes), the grounds are also a very fine botanical garden.  The weather was cool, so the animals were active, and there were hardly any visitors.  I had a good long visit with the pandas (red and giant), koalas, Tasmanian devils, komodo dragon, giant tortoises, okapis, elephants, jaguars, and many other animals, but I took more pictures of the plants.

Today being Saturday, here are six things that caught my eye in San Diego–garden related, of course.

1.  Flowering trees.

November is clearly not the best time of year for blooming trees, but nevertheless, I saw some beautiful tropical and subtropical flowers.

Ceiba1
Ceiba speciosa (silk floss tree) in Balboa Park
Ceiba2
Ceiba speciosa flower
Spathodea
Spathodea campanulata (African tulip tree) in Balboa Park
Bauhinia
Bauhinia x blakeana (Hong Kong orchid tree) at the San Diego Zoo

2. Bird of Paradise flowers

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Roadside Strelitzia reginae

Strelitzia reginae (bird of paradise) and Strelitzia nicolai (white bird of paradise) were growing (and blooming) all over town.  S. reginae is my wife’s favorite flower, so when we were first married I tried growing some from seed.  After fifteen years, I managed to get a only single flower from an enormous clump that took up a lot of real estate in the greenhouse, so I gave up.  Clearly, flowering is not a problem when they are grown outside in San Diego.

Strelitzia2
Strelitzia nicolae on the patio of the convention center

3.  The Botanical Building

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The Botanical Building is a Balboa Park landmark that was originally built for the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition.  Before seeing it, I had assumed it was some sort of greenhouse or conservatory, but there is no glass involved.  Instead, the Botanical Building is a giant lathe house, built of wooden strips that provide the perfect amount of shade and wind protection for palms, tree ferns, and other tropical/subtropical understory plants.

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Inside the Botanical Building
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Deppea splendens flowering in the Botanical Building.  Oh, how I wish this species would survive a North Carolina summer
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An enormous Ficus sycomorus growing behind the Botanical House.  A photo can’t do justice to the scale of its massive buttress roots.  According to the Gospel of Luke, Zacchaeus the tax collector climbed one of these trees so that he could see Jesus.

4.  Australian plants

Callistemon ‘Woodlanders Hardy’ and one or two eucalyptus are the only Australian plants I know of that can be grown in North Carolina, and even those are marginal outside of the coastal plain.  The climate of southern California is more similar to parts of Australia, so I wasn’t surprised to see a wider variety of plants from Down Under.

Anigozanthos
Anigozanthos (Kangaroo paw) in a flower bed at the convention center.  I wonder if one of these could be grown in a pot in North Carolina, if protected from rain?
Brachychiton
A little grove of Brachychiton rupestris (Queensland bottle trees) at the zoo

Australian_plant
I assume this is Australian, because it was growing in the koala habitat at the zoo.  Australian readers, help me out. Is this some sort of Grevillea?  It was growing as a tall shrub, or small tree. [Update:  This appears to be Alloxylon flammeum.  Thanks to Jim Stephens for the suggested identification.]
5. African and Malagasy plants

The zoo has a really impressive collection of succulents from Madagascar and southern Africa.

Alluadia
Alluadia procera (Madagascar) outside the Elephant Care Center
Cyphostemma
Cyphostemma juttae (southern Africa)
Pachy_and_Moringa
Pachypodium lamerei and Moringa drouhardii (bottle tree, smooth trunk on left), both from Madagascar
Euphorbia spectabilis
Euphorbia spectabilis (Tanzania)
Uncarina
Uncarina sp. (Madagascar)

6. Hawaiian plants

I suppose the climate of Hawaii, particularly on the drier leeward side of the islands, must be not entirely unlike that of coastal San Diego County.

Brighamia
Brighamia insignis (Ōlulu, Cabbage-on-a-stick) growing among other Hawaiian plants at the zoo.  Despite the whimsical common name, this is a member of the Campanulaceae, not a cabbage relative.
Prichardia
Pritchardia hillebrandii (loulu lelo palm) in the Botanical Building

For more Six on Saturday, click over to The Propagator, where you will find his Six and links to other participants.

More Pachypodium (Six on Saturday #36, October 20, 2018)

Here are some more plants on their way to my greenhouse for the winter.  I previously photographed some of my Pachypodium plants and gave cultural suggestions in Six on Saturday #3.  Those photos, taken in July of last year, showed leafy plants.  Here in October, most of my pachypodiums have already shed their leaves and are dormant.  Flower buds will start to emerge in late winter to early spring, and fresh new leaves will follow.

All of the species shown here are from Madagascar

1. Pachypodium eburneum

eburneum1

eburneum2

Pachypodium eburneum is a very compact species with strongly compressed branches and relatively short inflorescences.  In that sense, it is somewhat like a less extreme version of P. brevicaule.  While P. brevicaule has soft spines, however, the thick spines of P. eburneum are hard and sharp.  Very old P. eburneum have a lumpy, irregular form, but this plant (eleven years old, grown from seed) is still nicely symmetrical.  The flowers of P. eburneum are white or pale yellow.

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an old picture showing variation in the color of P. eburneum flowers

2. Pachypodium rosulatum var. gracilius

rosulatum_gracilius

Pachypodium rosulatum is a very variable species that some botanists (and many horticulturalists) split into a complex of several closely related species.  Here, I’ll follow Dylan Burge [1] in considering this and the following plants to be variants of one species.

P. rosulatum gracilus is distinguished by its dense, very fine spines.  It generally has a bottle-shaped or globular trunk.  Flowers are small and bright yellow.  This is a seventeen-year old plant, grown from seed.

3. Pachypodium rosulatum (near Tôlanaro)

rosulatum_Ft-Dauphin

This P. rosulatum variant, which appears to be undescribed, supposedly comes from the vicinity of Tôlanaro (Ft. Dauphin) in southern Madagascar.  It has large yellow flowers and very sharp spines that are stronger than those of var. gracilius.  This plant was purchased as a small artificially propagated seedling in 2008.

4. Pachypodium rosulatum var. makayense

makayense

Like Pachypodum rosulatum var. bicolor, P. rosulatum var. makayense has bicolored yellow and white flowers.   At least under greenhouse conditions, var. makayense seems to be more compact than var. bicolor.  It is also more difficult to grow, and I have lost a number of seedlings to root rot.  This plant is eleven years old, grown from seed.

5. Pachypodium rosulatum var. cactipes

cactipes1

Pachypodium rosulatum var cactipes has fine, acicular spines, rather like those of var. gracilus, but in var. cactipes they are more widely spaced on long branches.  The plant shown above was purchased as a small seedling from Arid Lands in 1999.  It has the longest flowering season of any of my pachypodiums, producing yellow flowers successively over more than a month in mid to late spring.

cactipes 1a
Greenish lichens have started to grow on this P. rosulatum var. cactipes and some of my other pachypodiums.

The plant shown below also seems to be var. cactipes.  It is the “super branching form” sold for many year by Highland Succulents in Ohio.  I bought this plant in 2000.

cactipes2

6. Pachypodium windsorii

windsorii1

Pachypodum windsorii has bright red flowers in the spring.  The plant above, a 1997 purchase from Glasshouse Works nursery, is the parent of the seedling below.  Shortly after germination, I deliberately damaged the apical meristem of this seedling, and it responded by branching.  Usually pachypodiums branch after flowering for the first time, and the trunk is expanded only below the first branch.  In this seedling, each of the four basal branches is developing a swollen base, giving it the appearance of four plants fused together.  I think it will make a really nice specimen in ten or fifteen years.

windsorii2

Pachy_windsori2
An old picture of a P. windsorii flower

For more Six on Saturday, visit The Propagator.

Reference

  1. Burge, D.O., (2013) Diversification of Pachypodium. Cactus and Succulent Journal 85: 250-258.

Montrose Garden again (Six on Saturday #35, October 13, 2018)

Most of the pictures this week are really Six on (last) Saturday, because they were taken a week ago at the autumn open-house of Montrose, Nancy Goodwin’s garden in Hillsborough, North Carolina.  See here for my pictures from last autumn.

The final picture was taken yesterday, in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Michael.

1. Costus species

Costus

Costus are related to ginger but have been separated out of the Zingiberaceae into their own family, Costaceae.  I made a beeline for this plant the past couple of times I visited Montrose, because I have never seen one growing in the NC piedmont before.  This time, Nancy let me in on the secret:  She digs it up every autumn and stores the rhizome in her house, so it isn’t as hardy as I hoped.  Still, our summers are clearly long enough and the soil warm enough for it to get established and flower.  Might be worth trying one of these days.

2.  Double-flowered Colchicum

Colchicum

This might be Colchicum ‘Waterlily’, but without a tag I can’t be sure.  Montrose is famous for its bulb plantings, and two of the three plants that I picked up at the sales table were also bulbs (in the broad sense):  a huge Hymenocallis that might be H. ‘Tropical Giant’ and a seedling Cyclamen mirabile.  The third plant I bought was Primula sieboldii.

3.  Abelmoschus species

Abelmoschus1

Abelmoschus2

A beautiful Hibiscus relative with fuzzy buds.  I wish the plants in Montrose Garden were labeled.  I suspect this is Abelmoschus manihot, but don’t quote me on that.

4. Brugmansia (angel’s trumpet)

Brugmansia

South American Brugmansia are surprisingly hardy in the piedmont.  My plant of Brugmansia ‘Betty Marshall’ has survived three or four years outdoors and is currently about seven feet tall.  This yellow flowered clone, perhaps ‘Charles Grimaldi’, has been growing below a couple of large eastern red cedars at Montrose for longer than that.

5.  Salvia oxyphora (fuzzy Bolivian sage)

Salvia Oxyphora

I hesitated to post this photo, because it is another bright pink/red flower that blows out the sensor of my iPhone camera and is almost always overexposed.  But S. oxyphora is so fantastic and furry that I couldn’t resist.  My sole attempt to grow this species failed, but perhaps I haven’t found the correct spot for a plant that must surely be right at the edge of its hardiness zone in the piedmont.

6.  Fallen oak (Quercus species).

oak_down

Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle like a bomb.  By the time it crossed our area, it was downgraded to a weak tropical storm, but it still did plenty of damage to trees sitting in soil saturated by the remnants of Hurricane Florence just a few weeks ago.  This beautiful oak on our neighbors’ property was uprooted and dropped across our lane, blocking access.  By the time I got home from work, the neighborhood chain saw gang was hard at work clearing the road.

For more Six on Saturday, head on over to the Propagator’s blog.  Take a look at his Six and then see the comments section for links to other blogs.