Thursday, 8 December 2011

Winter blues and bugs

Wow, I really didn't think it had been so long since I last posted. It seems like my urge to post dried up when I brought most of my plants in for the season and they are mostly crowded around windows or tucked away under the grow lights. 

Plus I've switched computers (again) and I'm always slow about getting my camera software setup on a new comp and all the settings arranged for maximum posting ease.

Working on it though, in between family illnesses, thesis, Christmas shopping, making Christmas gifts etc. etc.

Should have something to post soon - did my first detailed plant inspection in awhile and some of my Huernias seem to have contracted a bad case of the mealies. They are crowded in with other succulents in one of the few west-facing windows in the house, so I forsee a vast bug-murder spree in my future. I also suspect red spider mites are kicking about too. Argh!

Sigh I hate dealing with pests, particularly in wintertime when it's hard to spread things out.

Luckily my beloved lithops and other mesembs are kept in a completely different part of the house from the rest of my plants so they seem fine for now. 

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Mystery lithops

I got this guy back in the spring, from a nursery, sadly unlabeled. I know that nursery lithops aren't supposed to be that great and often die unexpectedly. Much to my surprise this one was happy enough to flower! And a pretty white flower at that.

Still stumped about the species though I'm hoping the flower colour will narrow things down. Maybe a L. karasmontana?

Anyone have a suggestion?

Sunday, 30 October 2011

A little bit of luck

Some background:

I have all of my mesembs under one 2 bulb, 24" fluorescent light fixture. You can fit a lot of 'thops in a small space, but things are really tight under there right now. I was barely able to fit everything back inside under the lights once the weather started cooling down. If some plants hadn't died over the summer I would have been in a real pickle.

Needless to say I've been coveting this:

image from:,44716&p=10549

The three-tiered one of course.

Actually I've been wanting one since high school.

The price has always stood in the way though: at $525 that is far outside what I can ever justify spending to light my plants.

So my plan was to make a do-it-yourself one when I move out, a la Gayla

And then I got lucky: the lovely lady mentioned in this post also had a three-tiered Floralight she was looking to sell.

For $100.

I might have squealed.

The bottom light fixture wasn't working, but my wonderful, talented dad had it fixed in 15 minutes.

And now it sits in pieces, in the garage with the rest of my life. Waiting for the day when THV and I move into our own house. I get giddy thinking about all the seedlings I can start in this thing. And all the lithops that will fit on it!

One day.....

Friday, 28 October 2011

White lithops flowers! finally!

Sorry for the disappearance - am in the middle of finishing up my M.Sc. thesis and headed to the cottage for a few weeks of quality writing/editing time - with no distracting internet. Or central heating. Or running water.

I actually took these photos before I left, just haven't had a chance to post them. My L. juliis have white flowers! So beautiful. Today the flowers are all shriveled and dried, but I'm hoping my attempts at paintbrush pollination worked and I'll have seed pods.

Another one of my 'thops flowered while I was gone, also white. I'm not sure what species it is, but white flowers seem to be rarer so maybe it will help me narrow things down. I'll try to get a picture of it this weekend.

Another pic, cause they are so pretty:

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

More lithops flowers to come!

L. juliis starting to show flower buds

More lithops flowers to come. I am particularly excited about these juliis. Both are developing flowers, which means I can try and pollinate them and get a seed pod. Mind you this plant came to me with a seed pod, which I saved, so I'm not sure I need more seeds...but what the heck.

Also if I peer deeply into the maw of my L. marmorata v. elisae it looks to be developing a bud too.

Crevasse of L. marmorata v. elisae.

I hope one of these plants have white blooms!

Lithops flowers!

L. terricolor "localis" in flower


Came home from a thesis hideaway to find that my three lithops have flowered! Took the pictures right at sunset; I really like the quality of the light at this time of day, will have to try sunset picture taking again.

I swirled a paintbrush (aka surrogate insect) around the flowers for the heck of it. I know hydrid lithops aren't supposed to be very vigorous or interesting, but I figured what the heck, why not try to get some sort of a seed pod.

L. dorotheae flowering, but stubbornly closed

My L. fulviceps has already finished flowering - I didn't take a picture of him since the flower was shriveled.

Friday, 30 September 2011

The plant that should be underwater, but isn't.

Thats right! An adult Bowiea volubilis! I've only been wanting one of these guys since high school, only recently started seeds to grow my own.

And lo and behold, there were several awesome looking bowieas at the plant sale I've been posting about for the past few days.

I was good.

I restrained myself to one.

A small one at that.

But what an awesome looking plant! And thanks to my awesome high school plant buddy for reminding me of what we called these guys as we poured over houseplant books, dreaming and plotting and yearning for unusual plants. The plant that should be underwater but isn't.

Check out the bulb (caudex?):

Sigh, I can die a happy plant collector now.

What am I going to do if all 8 of my bowiea seedlings survive? Giveaway?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

New succulents and caudiciforms - Part 3

Part 1 & Part 2

Aloe ssp.

This guy was brought as a giveaway that no one else was interested in (seems like pups of this plant have made their rounds of the club before). So I took pity and gave him a home, even though aloes really aren't a strong interest of mine. Someone mentioned the species name, and of course I forgot to write it down :(

Oxalis ssp.

Not a succulent. Not a cacti. Not a caudiciform. Not sure what possessed me to pick this guy up. Love the red leaves, not sure he will survive long since I have a tendency to under-water cacti and succulents. Normal plants don't usually stand a chance with me.

Yet another euphorbia...

...neat plant! neat pot!

Crassula ssp?

I think this is some type of crassula (same genus as Jade plants) tiny and adorable!

Trichodiadema bulbosum - I think

This guy needs a haircut, but ignoring that - check out the roots on him! Gorgeous!

That concludes my tour of all the new plants I picked up....with one exception, one I am so excited about it deserves its' very own post!

Monday, 26 September 2011

New succulents and caudiciforms - Part 2

See Part 1

Fockea crispa?

The tag says Fockea crispa, and google seems to support that it's a fockea, not convinced its a crispa though, the leaves seem more like other species of fockea. An adorable little caudiciform! Pictures of more mature plants are spectacular. Gives me something to aim for with this guy!

Dorstenia ssp., flowering!

I have a weakness for caudiciforms if you haven't noticed already :P Love the flowers on this guy! Technically it's an inflorescence, I think. 

Jatropha podagrica seedling

After my trials and tribulations growing these from seed (undocumented on this blog apparently), a club member kindly started on for me!

A euphorbia!
Seems similar to my beloved Euphorbia obesas. Man I love strange plants!

Lapidaria margaretae

And finally for this post: a very mature Lapidaria margaretae, I tend to prefer to look of these guys when they are young and only have one or two leaves (aka they look like rocks), but couldn't pass up this old gentleman.

Continued in Post 3

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Happy and heartbreaking - new succulents and caudiciforms

Above is a photo of only half the new cacti and succulents I brought home last weekend. Yes, only much for my plan to not get anymore plants until I move out and actually have the room for them.

The local cactus and succulent club's monthly meeting was at the house of a wonderful lady with a massive (like she has a greenhouse!) collection. The sadness stemmed from the fact that she is elderly and moving soon - so is selling most of her plants. It was a bittersweet shopping experience - so wonderful as a new collector to have a chance to acquire some rare and unusual species (or just plain neat ones), but so heartbreaking because these are well loved plants and this sweet lady needs to give them up.

Now I feel so much pressure to keep them alive and healthy in honor of her.


I'll introduce you to a few in this post, and cover the rest in a follow up post or two. Lots of plant pics make great blog fodder!

Some type of euphorbia?
Not sure what species this guy is, but I'm 99% sure its a type of euphorbia. Love the leaf-shape on these...they remind me of diagrams of mitochondria. My euphorbia experience up until now has been limited to Euphorbia obesa. Hopefully other species are as easy to care for.

Huernia ssp. with a tag-along aloe

Got my first huernia this spring from a previous C&S club meeting - saw pictures of their flowers and had to bring one home. Couldn't resist a second one. No idea which species, if its rare or common, just thought it looked happy and healthy. Maybe one day one of them will flower for me. Sigh.

Haworthia ssp.
My second haworthia. Far more sterotypical than my first haworthia (H. truncata X maughanii). Again, not sure what these guys need...keeping my fingers crossed.

Continued in Part 2

Friday, 23 September 2011

Friendship and flowers

Lithops fulviceps about to fower!

Old friends are wonderful and special creatures.

Spent today catching up with my best buddy from high school - chatting about plants and art and life's ups and downs. Can't ask for a better Friday than that! Since this seems to have become a blog about green things, not personal things I wont elaborate further except to say that hopefully we will both be better at staying in contact.....although even if we don't, that's ok. There is something really to be treasured about friends you can call up after years apart and be welcomed with open arms and an open heart.

And oh joy! happydance! squee! As I was showing her my lithops collection* we found something extra awesome - L. fulviceps and L. terricolor localis are going to flower! Super happy! I had given up on expecting flowers since this is the first year I've had all of these guys. It's nice confirmation that they must be (mostly) happy.

Lithops terricolor localis also going to flower!

* my friend was there when I bought my very first lithops waaaay back in high school - she understands the addiction!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

repotting Dioscorea elephantipes seedlings

There are actually two seedlings there.

(sorry about the cruddy photos - was in a rush and was a bad time of day for taking plant pics)

A plant buddy lost his Dioscorea elephantipes seedlings while away on vacation - luckily I had a spare. It's nice to be able to give back to people who've helped me so much with free seeds and advice these past few months.

Snapped these quick repotting pics before dashing out the door to deliver the seedling. 

Surprisingly long roots! And already little caudexes! (what is the plural of caudex anyway?)

All done! One for me, one to a new home. Have 3 more seedlings in another pot though, so I'm not down to a single Dioscorea.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Sadctus: random, sad-looking cactus.

So I had intended on taking pictures documenting the repotting process for this poor guy, and totally forgot in the haze of warm sunshine and plant-caring-frenzy.

This cactus has been kicking about my parent's house for as long as I can remember - minimum 15 years, possibly as much as 20. Almost all of that time has been spent dusty in a poorly lit corner, getting watered twice a year if it was a good year.

My parents? Kind houseplant guardians they are not.

I've basically forgotten about this guy all summer, even as I've been blogging about other plant rescue projects and fancy new additions. Finally realized today that in spite of the layers of dust and strange brown bits, the thing has defied all odds and is mostly still green.

Cactus = green = alive.....right?

So he is now repotted, in a bright window and will be getting some water.

I wonder how he will do?

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Faucaria paucidens flower!

So the other day I was making supper, when I heard THV yelling at me to come outside asap. I rushed out thinking that 1. something had died or 2. something extra adorable had shown up in our backyard, like maybe a megalodon or something*.

Instead it turns out my Faucaria paucidens has flowered! Got this one as part of a group of mesembs and lithops earlier this summer and really wasn't expecting anything out of them. What a lovely surprise. The flower looks a lot like a dandelion though - not particularly worth of poetry or song.

* Sadly, a megalodon in our backyard is almost an impossibility given that we live in the middle of the freaking continent....and a million years too late. Sigh, why do all the cool creatures have to be extinct?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Bowiea volubilis seedlings!


The much-anticipated Sea Onions have germinated! So exciting! These guys were so much easier to germinate than I expected. Sowed 12 seeds, 6 in cactus soil and 6 in mesemb soil and barely covered the seeds*. After a week 6 of 6 came up in the mesemb soil, 4 of 6 came up in the cactus soil (one later died). They even survived a short bout of damping off, during which they suffered through cinnamon dusting, chamomile tea spraying and the constant blowing of a fan, which finally seemed to do the trick.These pictures were taken at ~20 days old.

I have no idea how these things are supposed to progress or what their growth will look like. hopefully they are working on adorable little caudexes underneath the soil.

 New tendril growth maybe?

*my mesemb soil is really just cactus soil with a baked clay soil added for extra coarseness and draining capability. I still feel like I have no idea what the fuck I'm doing when it comes to soils.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A lithops called Storm's Albinigold

Full name: see photo, I don't want to type it out....again :P

I have no idea who Storm was or what he ever had to do with lithops, and I have even less idea what an Albinigold is, but man what a badass name for a plant!

Sounds like the name of the weapon of some baller Norse god...or a racehorse :P

And look at that, already you can just barely see that a new pair of leaves is forming. These should hopefully turn out to be some really neat, greeny-yellow lithops.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Stunted lithops?

I haz a puzzle.

Take a good look at the above picture. Four pots of lithops seedlings, two pots with much larger and healthier-looking seedlings than the others. The pots on the left contain 4 types of 'thops, all sown on May 27th, 2011. Top to bottom they are: L. aucampiae ssp. euniceae v. fluminalis (C54), L. lesliei 'Storm's Albinigold' (C36B), L. salicola 'Malachite' (C351A) and L. dorotheae (C124). The pots on the right contain two types of 'thops, all sown on April 3rd, 2011. Top is L. optica 'maculate' and bottom is: L. schwantesii.

Yup, that's right, the seedlings on the left are almost two months younger than the ones on the right. My mesemb mentor planted some opticas and schwantesiis at the same time I did, and his are much bigger and happier looking.

So what did I do wrong with the first batch? (my first lithop seedlings ever I might add). I've tried feeding them some dilute fertilizer to no avail. My soil makeup hasn't changed much - mostly I just added some Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil to later batches to keep the soil nice and loose and well-drained.

Should I try and pull the stunted ones out and repot them? Some are only 3mm across, I'm afraid I'll kill them; but then they obviously aren't happy where they are. Should I use more fertilizer?

Only one, this little L. schwantesii has even tried to change it's leaves:

Poor thing, it's only 6mm across.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Pleiospilos nelii, or holy mackerel these things grow fast!

Sown on August 7th, and already over 2cm across* and getting their first set of true leaves. Seems super fast for mesembs, even compared to my other mesembs on crack.

* although I may have killed one when I went to measure it for you guys. Metal ruler + small plant + measuring in haste = bad for the plant

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


What is this bit of greenery amongst a pot of dead pansies*?

A little jade plant - not a commen sight in random flower pots here in Canada. Earlier this spring I went and rooted a pile of cuttings from our big jade plant (since deceased), and then threw most of them out in a fit of de-cluttering my seedling collection. And when I say "threw" I mean literally: I pulled the seedlings from their pots and kinda pitched them randomly in the backyard. Fast forward several months and it appears that this guy has managed survive my cold-hearted attempts at succulenticide, avoid getting eaten by Henry and get comfortable amongst the pansy-corpses.

My cold heart is cracking just a little: the to-do list for the weekend now includes digging this little guy up and bringing him inside to a warm and happy home....hopefully he forgives me for casting him out. I promise it wont happen again.

*Pansies are dead due to persistent mowing by my most beloved Henry:

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Finally! Lithops aucampiae var. aucampiae

This was one of my very first lithops, one that I got from my Mesemb Mentor back in March. Right away I noticed he was starting to shrivel and hopefully change his leaves. Ever since I have been patiently waiting, patiently withholding water, and worrying no small amount. My mentor encouraged patience and calmed my panic that he was shriveling due to impending death.

Finally a few days ago he was properly dry and looked like this:

A good soaking, and two days later we have this:

I couldn't wait any longer, so I removed the last of the dried, old leaves.

Behold! A bright, shiny new Lithops aucampiae var. aucampiae

Ok, so he came out a little squashed and wonky. I wonder if he will straighten himself out or if he will always look like that. His body is awfully long too, not sure if I should pot him deeper or just see if a few weeks of good sun with flatten him out.