Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pygmy sundews should be propagated every year

I wanted to do a quick little post about my pygmies. Then I took too many pictures, so I'm going to keep it pretty heavy on pictures and light on commentary. I've been wanting to make a pygmy post for a while, since they're one of my favorite groups of plants, and I want people to understand them better.

Pygmies are short-lived perennials – it's a rare pygmy that makes it to 5 years old. In general I've noticed around 30% attrition annually in my pots. What that means, of course, is that the conscientious collector will propagate from gemmae every year. Now, not all pygmies make gemmae every year in all conditions, but last year I didn't do any personal propagation. As a result, my collection is looking a bit iffy heading into gemmae season.

Some pots are total (or near total) losses:

Dead Drosera patens.
Dead Drosera patens.
Dead Drosera pygmaea.
Drosera pygmaea never liked me anyway.
Dead Drosera pulchella.
I think Drosera pulchella also got aphids.
Mostly dead Drosera roseana.
Drosera roseana burned too bright.
Sad Drosera spilos.
Drosera spilos actually just always looks bad for me.
Other pots are looking almost perfect. There don't seem to be any broad trends in terms of what has done well and what hasn't – pygmy sundews are all quite specialized, and you may see totally different results in your culture.

Drosera callistos.
Drosera callistos Brookton is a hero.
Drosera oreopodion.
I love Drosera oreopodion.
Drosera helodes.
Drosera helodes has performed quite well over all as well.
Drosera scorpioides.
These Drosera scorpioides are a year older than everything else and they're still pretty decent.
Drosera sargentii.
Looks like Drosera sargentii either split their growth tips or I failed to harvest all the gemmae.
Drosera barbigera.
Drosera barbigera are absolutely wonderful.
One of the things that's hard to tell with a top-down photo is that several of these species have developed significant stems. Consider the above D. barbigera from another angle.

Drosera barbigera stem.
Fat little stems.
It's even more dramatic in a couple other species.

Drosera dichrosepala.
Drosera dichrosepala growing in a tiny pot.
Drosera nitidula.
One of the few surviving Drosera nitidula.
Drosera ×Dork's Pink.
Looking great, Drosera ×Dork's Pink!
The stems are quite interesting, and I'm curious to see how long the plants will keep going. However, this next year I'm going to do a full reset on my pygmy pots so I don't lose any more species. Luckily, I've shared gemmae with friends, and I also sold quite a lot last year, so hopefully I should be able to restock on what I've lost. Always share your propagules!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Plants I've looked at in the last six weeks: an incomplete catalogue

Hahahah okay let's just admit that I'm probably not going to make 17 posts in a month again (like I did back in April '14) any time soon. Okay well, that established let's see what photos have been languishing on my phone not being posted anywhere.

Drosera binata 'Marston Dragon' looked pretty nuts back on July 31st.

Drosera binata 'Marston Dragon'.
I wonder what the total volume of that dew is. Probably an ounce or two.
I still have no idea what I'm supposed to do with this plant. At least it looks rad as heck.

Fair warning, since I'm gonna be using pictures I've taken at work a fair amount, there are gonna be more neps than there have been on the blog in the past. Considering this Nepenthes eymae × jacquelineae though, can you blame me?

Nepenthes eyemae × jacquelineae.
I really like the glaucous character of the pitcher body.
This is a freshly-opened pitcher on what is probably my 4th favorite nep in the greenhouse (please don't ask me what the top 3 are, I have no idea). Wowzer!

Don't worry though, there are also utrics at the greenhouse, such at this Utricularia blanchetii.

Utricularia blanchetii flower.
So small and fancy.
This is probably the most floriferous of the new little terrestrials I've been messing with lately. It's also completely adorable!

And at home, I still have sundews, even if I'm barely able to rouse myself to water them properly. Here's my Drosera kaieteurensis starting a new flower stalk.

Drosera kaieteurensis with flower stalk.
Note that I didn't refer to it as Drosera felix. That because when I showed photos of it to Fernando Rivadavia he was unequivocal that the fuzzy flower stalk indicated D. kaieteurensis. He had no strong opinions about the purported synonymy of the two taxa, but insisted that if the flower stalk was fuzzy it couldn't be D. felix. So there.

Another South American sundew with a difficult-to-spell toponym for its specific epithet is Drosera graomogolensis. It's also a total beast in spite of all my neglect.

Drosera graomogolensis.
This is an extravagant plant.
Root cuttings are an awesome way to get big plants fast, especially if it's one of the species with big fat roots. Great stuff!

Another utric that I'm super stoked about is Utricularia biloba, which opened its first flowers for me a week or so ago.

Utricularia biloba flower.
These also have a neat chubby spur that's bright green.
As others have said of this species, photos don't do justice to the color, which is a deep violet with a hazy blue depth to it. Weirdly, the blue comes out more for me if I blink rapidly while looking at the flowers. Super interesting plant! Thanks Howard!

Finally, I've been selling select plants on Facebook – one-off neps, as well as new items like utrics and sundews that aren't in huge production yet. This Nepenthes fusca sold almost immediately this morning. I can't imagine why.

Nepenthes fusca.
I wish we had way more of this species than we currently do. It's wonderful!
Anyway, those are some plants. They're pretty cool.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Big news at Sundews Etc. HQ

Hi everybody, this post is mostly about me, rather than the plants, which is not what I usually like to post about. Don't worry though, I've got some pictures of some of my plants to spruce things up!

First of all, I'm about to head to the ICPS Conference in London! I'm very excited to go meet other weird obsessives from around the globe.

Drosera graomogolensis.
The Drosera graomogolensis look rad as heck right now.
I'll be in London next weekend for the conference, and then my girlfriend and I are going to spend a week in Germany futzing about for the hell of it. I'm quite excited, and will make sure to take pictures/video of the event. My great dream is a selfie with Sir David Attenborough, but we'll have to see.

The second bit of news is a bit bigger, and is part of the reason that I've been posting somewhat less frequently in the last several months. I'm now a carnivorous plant professional working at Predatory Plants!

Drosera burmannii Gunung Keledang.
Drosera burmannii Gunung Keledang look very alien and cool.
Specifically, I'm the Director of Retail Operations, which means I do online order fulfillment, work the plant show circuit, and do propagation and greenhouse work whenever I can find a spare second. Basically I now think about plants all day long, almost to the exclusion of other concerns. It's very exciting – and very, very unexpected – to have begun something of a career in carnivorous plants, especially considering I bought my first Drosera capensis less than 3 years ago.

Utricularia praelong flowers.
Utricularia praelonga still blooming up a storm.
In point of fact, I've been working at Predatory Plants since November. At first it was part time (after I left my last job), and then it became full time, but it wasn't clear that it would be a permanent position. Luckily, things have been going quite well in expanding the business, and well here we are. My family is deeply confused about what my life has become.

Drosera adelae giant.
This is Drosera adelae Giant form, and it's actually genuinely giant. Wow!
What does this mean for the blog and Instagram? Well, I might not post quite as often, if only because after a long day in a hot greenhouse I can barely manage to keep my personal plants watered, much less documented and blogged about. However, now that everything's all official I'll be able to post about work stuff as well, some of which is quite cool. I'm still trading and selling my own seeds and gemmae, but I may occasionally post links to fun stuff that we're selling on our website.

Pinguicula gypsicola × moctezumae in flower.
The unspeakably adorable Pinguicula gypsicola × moctezumae at work.
Thanks to all of you who read the blog, and who have commented and emailed about how much you enjoy it. I had been in a bit of a post-college slump/depression for a bit when I started collecting sundews, and then started blogging about it. It really got me out of my funk, and now it's gotten me a very strange and fun job. Life is very weird and cool! So are carnivorous plants, I guess.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Misidentified plants are basically inevitable

This weekend my friend Amir came over to see my collection. He was quite taken with the plant I've been referring to as Byblis liniflora, in part because it's a lovely plant, but also because he grows B. liniflora and mine looked nothing like his.

Byblis rorida.
What a lovely plant. So delicate!
Later that evening he sent me some texts suggesting – very convincingly – that I was actually growing Byblis rorida. From growth habit to color to flower shape, it seems pretty clear that I had gotten my seeds with an incorrect ID. Luckily B. rorida isn't really self-fertile (like B. liniflora), or I might have distributed seed incorrectly as well.

I also recently flowered a plant that I've known for a couple years as Pinguicula rotundiflora × hemiepiphytica. There have been some stirrings lately that this is probably an incorrect ID, and this flower pretty much confirms it for me.

Pinguicula laueana × emarginata flower.
This flower is very clear in my mind.
The argument is that this plant is actually Pinguicula laueana × emarginata, and this flower seals the deal. There's no hint of Pinguicula rotundiflora anywhere in this plant, and this flower both looks intermediate to Pinguicula laueana and Pinguicula emarginata, and a great deal like the ping I have that came identified as a hybrid of such. It's good to know I guess!

In that same pot I placed a leaf I received as the same hybrid. It is clearly not.

Unknown Pinguicula.
Call it Pinguicula unknownii.
I don't know what it is, so I assume it's a Pinguicula moranensis (hah). I basically need to flower this plant to have any idea what it is, and even then a diagnosis is going to be tough. I'll probably give this one away to someone who doesn't know about carnivorous plants and won't care about the ID.

How does stuff like this happen? Partly because plant IDs are mostly a loooooong game of telephone, especially for plants that primarily circulate in the hobby through trading, rather than by being produced in nurseries. Very few hobbyists actually have the training to go read a species description, analyze some herbarium specimens, and make an independent ID. Changing labels can be very risky, since sometimes plants can look very different in different conditions. Generally I think people should keep the tags they received unless they're very very confident in changing them. That can just introduce more problems into people's labels.

Some of you who have read the blog may remember when I "rediscovered" a cultivar called Drosera capillaris 'Emerald's Envy'. It's one of my favorite plants!

Drosera 'Emerald's Envy'.
It's so pretty and jewel-like. What a nice plant!
I did a lot of work before I felt comfortable changing the labels. I tracked down a couple different rumors I'd heard, and even reached out to the person who wrote the cultivar and tried to trace my plants to him (I couldn't quite draw the line all the way, but he felt that my plants matched the ones he wrote up years ago). I'm glad I did the work, because it's nice having a cultivar designation to go along with a nice plant.

I know I'm getting a bit crazy when I'm considering buying monographs to see if I can independently key out difficult species in my cultivation. I guess that's the way these things end up.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mostly about flowering

This is what comes of letting your Drosera burmannii flower without concomitant feeding.

Drosera burmannii "Hann River".
This is the "Hann River" form, incidentally.
They're quite fallen off from where they were even in March. I think this phenomenon is why people insist that D. burmannii is an annual even though it demonstrably is not – the effort required to not let it bloom itself to death is tiresome, so it ends up dying. I've got to admire its drive to reproduce I guess.

What it needs to do is what this Drosera scorpioides has done and catch some serious prey.

Drosera scorpioides.
Look at this big shiny fly!
Incidentally, this species has never flowered for me. I love seeing small plants catch large prey though, it's always delightful.

This Pinguicula gypsicola × moctezumae has a really nice color to it.

Pinguicula gypsicola × moctezumae.
So pink and pretty!
This pot is really a mess. You can't really tell in the picture, but there are like 6 species and 3 genera in here. Oof.

I love the look of this flower stalk on Pinguicula rotundiflora × hemiepiphytica.

Pinguicula rotundiflora × hemiepiphytica.
This is much too cute.
New ping flowers always look so bashful. Never flowered this one before, so I'm excited!

Nearby my Drosera aliciae is not doing well.

Drosera aliciae.
Just chill out man.
This is one of my first carnivores, and it's been trying in vain to get off a flower stalk for months and months. They all end up aborting, and the plant looks pretty bad now. I can't figure out why it doesn't just chill out about the whole thing. Oh well.

My first Utricularia praelonga flower petal has dropped and it looks pretty cool.

Utricularia praelonga petal.
It's a pretty good-sized flower for a utric.
This probably happened an hour or two before I took this picture, since it's still very fresh and well-shaped. I like how utric flowers just drop as a mass, it's very funny. I'm really getting into Utricularia lately, which is like the most niche part of an already niche hobby. But check out this flower stalk!

Utricularia praelonga flower stalk.
Growing plants is so much fun.
It's almost 18 inches high, and has these bright yellow flowers. That's pretty cool man! I think so at least.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Stuff keeps growing

So, when I'm trying to talk people into growing carnivorous plants, I usually tell them something like this:
Carnivorous plants aren't very hard to grow. The things that kill them kill them right away. But if you spend just a little time setting up a system for them to grow in, they need almost no maintenance at all.
It's really fortunate for me lately that that is true, since I've not been giving my plants much maintenance/attention in the last couple weeks, and by god, they keep growing. Take Utricularia praelonga. Since I all-too-recently threatened it, it's opened not one, but three flowers.

Utricularia praelonga flowers in bloom.
Look at this flower stalk! It's getting quite tall.
Wowee! This is really quite cool. They're like larger, somewhat more interesting Utricularia subulata flowers. Here's a closeup:

Utricularia praelonga flower blooming.
A lovely flower after all.
The ruffles on the "labium" (it's not a labium, but I don't know how else to refer to the bottom petal on a non-orchid zygomorphic flower) are really cool, and the whole flower faces upward in a neat way. Quite large too, over a centimeter in diameter. I'm very proud of this plant!

I've also got a nice little bloom spray on my Utricularia babui.

Utricularia babui flowers.
I like the shape a lot, it's bulbous in the middle.
I'd thought that this plant was supposed to be bluish, but my Utricularia gramnifolia is much more blue, and these are distinctly purple. Therefore, either my idea was wrong (possible), one or both of the aforementioned plants are mislabeled (sadly common), or the taxonomy and description of these taxa are a mess and need to be sorted out (very likely). In any case, I quite like this plant – I rarely see this many flower stalks on fresh utric plug. Usually they wait until the pot has been more widely colonized to bloom in force.

My Pinguicula rotundiflora × hemiephiphytica has a flower bud.

Pinguicula rotundiflora × hemiepiphytica bud.
I love new ping flowers.
I've heard a bit of back-and-forth about whether this hybrid actually exists, or is just a labeling mistake. I think this flower will help me make a determination for myself at least. Both of the parent species have pretty distinctive flowers, and I feel like I should be able to tell if this plant is of their ilk or not. I guess we'll see in time!

Oh yeah, I started some Drosera esmereldae seeds.

Drosera esmereldae seeds.
Just some moss you know.
There's not actually anything to look at, but it's nice to have the blog here as a record of propagation attempts. I hope these take – this is a species I've wanted for a while.

Here's a problem: I've got three species in this pot, which I knew at the time was a bad idea.

Pinguicula moranensis, Drosera occidentalis, and Drosera zigzagia.
This is what I get for not preparing enough soil.
The "dead" plant is Drosera zigzagia, which I should take out of the tray for its dormancy. The ping up front is a nice Pinguicula moranensis start that I can just move to another pot. The problem is those two nubs on the left. Those are Drosera occidentalis plants that I accidentally broke from their roots while harvesting gemmae. They're 100% alive (just dormant), which gives the lie to the idea that pygmies can't handle root damage. The problem is that I don't want to make this pot go dry and risk killing them now. I might just dig out that section of pot and replant it. We'll see.

Speaking of pygmies, my Drosera grievei seems to not have reverted from its crestate state.

Crested Drosera grievei pygmy sundew.
Cresting forms are always fun.
That's pretty cool really. None of the gemmae from this plant made crestate plants, but that's okay, I like this one. My pygmies are looking pretty so-so this year though (I should make a post about that). I'll have to make fresh pots this year.

Finally, to end on a pretty note, my Drosera capensis wide-leaf form is really looking nice.

Drosera capensis wide leaf form.
This is just a really good plant.
So far I'm really pleased with this acquisition. The real question will be if the seed offspring maintain the wide leaves. If not, I'm still happy with this one at least. So dewy!

Monday, May 30, 2016

A brief post in which I threaten Utricularia praelonga

You've got to be kidding me Utricularia praelonga. I first noticed your flower stalk in mid-April. Over 3 weeks ago I boldly declared that you would be open in a day or two. And this is what I've got so far.

Utricularia praelonga flower.
This has been absolutely glacial.
At least your spur is visible. This is progress. Maybe you'll be open tomorrow. Maybe Wednesday. I mean, look at this, your flower stalk is almost 15 inches (~38 cm) tall and I've had to stake it. My Utricularia longifolia is just over 16 inches (~41 cm) tall, and it's been in bloom for 4 months.

Utricularia praelonga flower stalk.
U. longifolia photobomb in this picture.
Now listen. I don't care when you open, except it had better be before Saturday. Because Saturday is the BACPS show, and I swear to all that is holy if you aren't open on Saturday I might forget how proud I am to get a flower from a plant that rarely blooms in cultivation and set you to soak in a bucket of saltwater. Just open. Please. I've been checking that bud every morning when I wake up and every evening when I get home from work for the last 3 weeks. You can just open. Please. Please open. Soon.