Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Plant Profile: Drosera intermedia 'Cuba'

This is part of a series of posts describing my experiences with different species, their culture requirements, and photos of their growth in my collection. The full series can be read here, or by species at the Series page

Earlier this week I mentioned that my Drosera intermedia 'Cuba' have formed hibernacula for winter, and are going dormant. They look pretty quiet right now.

Drosera intermedia 'Cuba' hibernaculum.
Dormant D. intermedia 'Cuba', 12-11-14.
Dormant Drosera intermedia 'Cuba'
Dormant D. intermedia 'Cuba', 12-13-14.
 However, during full active growth, it can be a really lovely, if somewhat diminutive, sundew. It can acquire a deep maroon color, and gets quite dewy under high light conditions.

Drosera intermedia 'Cuba'
D. intermedia 'Cuba' in flower, 4-22-14.
This was one of the first species I started from seed, and they had really high germination rates. It's a tropical cultivar of D. intermedia that stays on the small side. They also grow really quickly when fed regularly – it was about 4 months from germination to flowering with these guys. I fed them my regular beta fish food, and they responded really well.

When it came to repotting, however, results we a lot more mixed. When the seedlings were very small I transferred about half of them to a new pot, and overall they did okay. A few months later I tried repotting mature plants, and lost about 25% of them. They had very small, thin roots which I think were easily damaged. However, I didn't use a humidity tent in the process, so I don't know if that would have improved survival rates.

Drosera intermedia 'Cuba' after repotting.
Repotting losses, 8-10-14.
In all I think this is a pretty good beginner sundew. Easy to start from seed, quick-growing (with food), and very pretty under high light. The small size makes them very easy to fit into a collection, though a bit fiddly to work with.

The Breakdown
  • media: Standard 1:1 peat and sand, although they also did fine in long-fiber Sphagnum moss.
  • light: As much as you can provide. Plants can turn deep, striking red in high light.
  • water: Tray method is appropriate, doesn't mine the tray occasionally drying out.
  • temperature: Staying above freezing is important. I also noticed some heat stress in the middle of summer when temperatures were around 90 F (32 C).
  • feeding: Regular feeding is important when plants are seedlings. If they are allowed to set a lot of seed without being fed some plants may die back a bit. Less food does mean more red color though.
  • propagation: Easy to start from seed, high seed set when mature. In a colder climate this plant could act as an annual. No experience with leaf cuttings; root cuttings would probably not work.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Drosera brevifolia germination trial

Back in November I sold some Drosera burmannii and Drosera brevifolia seeds to a fellow named Adam. We had a bit of a back-and-forth on Facebook about whether the D. brevifolia required cold stratification. I told him that as far as I could find people said it didn't require stratification, but it might benefit from it. He decided to run a (very small) trial with the 12 seeds in his packet, with half getting a 2-week cold stratification and the other half not. The first non-stratified seed germinated after 8 days.

Drosera brevifolia seedling.
First germination, 11-30-2014
After 9 days the plant put out its first carnivorous leaf.

Drosera brevifolia seedling.
First carnivorous leaf, 12-9-2014.
Drosera brevifolia seedling.
First carnivorous leaf, 12-9-2014.
And after 13 days, we see a second carnivorous leaf.

Drosera brevifolia seedling.
Second carnivorous leaf, 12-13-2014.
Drosera brevifolia seedling.
Second carnivorous leaf, 12-13-2014.
So far only one of the 6 non-stratified seeds has germinated.

The first of the stratified seeds germinated today, 6 days after sowing. Now we get to wait and see if any patterns start to emerge. Adam says he's interested in doing progressively larger trials once he brings these plants to flower. I'm excited to see his results!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Random updates

Once again, there are a few things I wanna talk about that don't all form a cohesive theme.

First up, I've got some strikes on my Dionaea 'B-52' leaf pulling.

Dionaea muscipula 'B-52', Venus fly-trap, leaf pulling with strikes.
Seeing a leaf pulling strike hasn't gotten any less exciting.
I received my D. 'B-52' from Brie back at the end of September, and in the course of shipping and repotting a couple of leaves fell off. I decided to give them a shot as pullings, and while one shriveled right away the other stayed strong and has finally struck, about 2.5 months later. Really looking forward to getting some plantlets from this little guy.

We've been having a lot of gemmae chat around here lately, and I noticed today that my Drosera helodes seem to be taking the plunge.

Drosera helodes starting to form gemmae.
It's the most wonderful time of the year!
I think I also noticed gemmae on my Drosera callistos, Drosera enodes, and possibly on my (still struggling) Drosera pygmaea. I'll either need to buy more lights and pot these new ones up, or sell and trade my gemmae away.

In other propagation news, my Drosera aliciae seedlings have put on a bit of size.

Drosera aliciae seedlings.
A nice number of seedlings in this pot.
This is good cause my main D. aliciae plant is looking really weird. I'll have to make a post on it. It looks like it's got aphids, but I can't find any on the plant. Anyway, I guess you should always try to have at least a couple backup plants in propagation.

Finally, my Drosera intermedia 'Cuba' are forming hibernacula (dormant buds), probably in response to the reduced photoperiod.

Drosera intermedia 'Cuba' forming hibernaculum.
Look at that cute little dormant bud.
It's good to see, since they've definitely died back a bit. I think the combination of less light, somewhat lower temperatures, and no food (I haven't really fed them at all lately) is was sent them into dormancy. Unlike with my Drosera filiformis, I'm positive these aren't dead.

It's cool how there are still seasons, even under my lights.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pygmy Invasion: the Winter Batch

As I mentioned last week, I finally got around to preparing a few pots of media. A couple days ago a package arrived in the mail from Drosera Gemmae.

Package from Drosera Gemmae.
Getting packages from vendors and other growers is always exciting.
It's my big order for the season – I bought 12 new species/hybrids, and the friendly vendors tossed in 2 extra species.

Gemmae from Drosera Gemmae.
This is really quite a lot of gemmae.
It's the perfect time to start growing pygmies if you don't have any in your collection (in the northern hemisphere at least). There are loads for sale at Drosera Gemmae, growers everywhere are looking to trade them away, and there was just a writeup on pygmy sundew cultivation in the latest Carnivorous Plant Newsletter. One great thing about pygmies is that besides being easy to grow they don't take up too much space. That said, I am (once again) running out of room under my lights. I need to start trading away/selling some of my extras plants.

I didn't have much time to pot up these gemmae – we've got a real doozy of a storm rolling into the Bay Area and I wouldn't be able to work in the backyard again until Saturday. I started off by scraping off the top layer of media from my pots.

Pots being prepped for gemmae.
I have extra media to use for a couple pings now.
And replacing it with a layer of washed large-grain sand, as is my wont.

Pots topped with sand for pygmy Drosera.
The sand is just so tidy.
I once again considered sowing some gemmae straight onto the peat, but the neatness of a sand-dressed pot of pygmies was too much to resist.

Working with this many gemmae was frankly exhausting. I used the tip of a plant label to gently place them on the media in an attractive way. I also had to set up different patches for my pygmy garden, and record the location on a reference sheet.

Pygmy garden map.
This is uh, a rough sketch.
This way I'll be able to know positively what is where. The whole process, from preparing the pots to placing all the gemmae, took about 2 hours. Some of the gemmae had already sprouted, and a few had rooted into the damp paper towel they were shipped in. I also harvested some from one of my Drosera allantostigma, so the garden will contain 13 species and 2 hybrids.

After I sowed all the gemmae I wetted the pots down using the mister on my hose to stick everything in place. I had to move things around in my collection (again) to accommodate all the new pots, but in the end I managed to squeeze it all in there.

Gemmae sown and in the tray.
Once they're all hardened off there will be room for like 4 more pots in there at least.
And then put on a bit of plastic to keep up the humidity and Robert's your mother's brother.

Gemmae under the humidity tent.
Alright guys lets get growing.
The great thing about gemmae is they do their thing pretty quickly. I'm hoping to see some real growth within a month. I'll be misting the top of the pots with a spray bottle a couple times a day to keep them hydrated until their roots work their way into the peat through the sand. I'm so excited – pygmies are some of my favorite

For the record, these are the species/hybrid I acquired this time around:

  • Drosera barbigera, type form
  • Drosera x Carbarup
  • Drosera x Dork's Pink
  • Drosera grievei
  • Drosera leucoblasta (Brookton)
  • Drosera occidentalis var. microscapa
  • Drosera omissa, pink flower
  • Drosera paleacea, giant form
  • Drosera patens
  • Drosera pulchella, orange flower
  • Drosera pygmaea (New Zealand)
  • Drosera roseana
  • Drosera sargentii
  • Drosera silvicola

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A few new blooms

A couple days ago I noticed a little patch of yellow over in my Drosera capensis red form pot.

Utricularia subulata flower and Drosera capensis red form.
It's like a whole ecosystem in this tray.
It's Utricularia subulata! And this time with a proper flower, rather than the cleistogamous ones I've seen around my collection in the past.

Utricularia subulata flower with Drosera capensis red form leaf.
I love looking at my plants up close.
These are nice, colorful flowers, and they'd be very pleasing in a dedicated pot, I think. I feel conflicted about the weedy Utrics – I do like to see them, but I don't really want them in every pot in my collection.

I also noticed a little something forming in my Drosera adelae bush.

Drosera adelae flower stalk.
Looking forward to seeing the unique red flowers of D. adelae soon.
Aww yeah, it's a flower stalk. This is exciting, since it's my first on D. adelae. I think I've heard before that this species likes to wait until the pot is sufficiently large and sufficiently full of plants to bloom. I guess I know what that looks like now. More photos as events warrant!

The coolest thing I noticed today was that the Utricularia calycifida flower that has been developing for a while has finally popped, and it's a looker.

Utricularia calycifida flower.
U. calycifida is an awesome plant. What lovely flowers.
This is great! And there are several more flowers on the way. This pot is going to look fabulous by the winter BACPS meeting.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Field Trip: Nepenthes at the Conservatory of Flowers

I've posted several times about how much I love the UC Botanical Garden. Another of my favorite plant destinations in the Bay Area is the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. It's a big 19th century glass greenhouse that contains a stunning collection of tropical plants, including the largest Philodendron in cultivation, a 100+ year old specimen that is the centerpiece of the Tropical Lowland room. I always forget to take a picture of the conservatory itself when I visit, but here's a decent example from Wikimedia.

The Conservatory also hosts a delightful collection of Nepenthes. I decided to document some of my favorites on my most recent visit, since I don't feature that genus much on the blog here. One note: plants at the Conservatory aren't always labeled super well. A few of these I knew offhand, a couple I made educated guesses about, and a few are NOID. Please comment with a correction if you know more than me!

This NOID (I suspect perhaps Nepenthes ventricosa x alata, i.e. N. ventrata) is what made me realize I should start taking pictures.

Nepenthes ventrata at the Conservatory of Flowers.
Lovely coloration and pitcher shape on this plant.
The vine was also really impressive. The average hobbyist greenhouse owner probably couldn't afford to devote this much space to one plant, but it makes for a wonderful display.

Nepenthes ventrata at the Conservatory of Flowers.
Probably 100 pitchers on this plant? Fantastic.
These pictures are from the Aquatic Plants room, which has a large pond and hosts a lot of epiphytic species. It has lowland to intermediate conditions.

Nepenthes at the Conservatory of Flowers.
I think I had a guess about this species but I can't remember anymore.
Some of these Neps are huge, such as the following Nepenthes truncata and Nepenthes rafflesiana.

Nepenthes truncata  at the Conservatory of Flowers.
These pitchers are like, 18 inches (45 cm) long.
Nepenthes rafflesiana at the Conservatory of Flowers.
I love these fat pitchers. Great coloration too.
Other are just perfectly formed, like this Nepenthes ventricosa that's almost popped its top.

Nepenthes ventricosa at the Conservatory of Flowers.
It looks like it's smiling.
Or this Nepenthes bicalcarata, which has one of the most perfect pitchers I've ever seen.

Nepenthes bicalcarata at the Conservatory of Flowers.
Those fangs are so distinctive. Love the orange and green too.
Bicals are the largest Nep by total mass, which is clear from this vine.

Nepenthes bicalcarata at the Conservatory of Flowers.
This plant is like an old friend of mine I like to visit.
The nearby Tropical Highland room hosts a couple of more delicate species, including this lovely Nepenthes mikei and its vine.

Nepenthes mikei at the Conservatory of Flowers.
These upper pitchers are so fine and delicate.
Nepenthes mikei at the Conservatory of Flowers.
Another great vine, although somewhat more modest than the one in the Aquatic Plants room.
And this beautiful Nepenthes lowii, sporting a big fat patch of crystallized nectar.

Nepenthes lowii at the Conservatory of Flowers.
That nectar patch looks so inviting. If only I were a shrew.
Nepenthes lowii at the Conservatory of Flowers.
N. lowii has such a distinctive shape. If I ever start growing highlanders this one is high on my list.
A few other (non-carnivorous) plants caught my attention that day, and I couldn't not share them with the blog. Such as this insane hibiscus flower.

Hibiscus flower at the Conservatory of Flowers.
This is in the Potted Plants room.
I had to include my hand for scale. The flower was enormous.

And this lovely Paphiopedilum.

Paphiopedilum at the Conservatory of Flowers.
I love that lantern-jawed look.
Paphs are so funny looking.

In conclusion, the Conservatory of Flowers is super awesome. It's a fantastic place to visit if you're ever in the Bay Area, and are keen on weird plants.

The Potted Plant room at the Conservatory of Flowers.
The Potted Plant room is really magical.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Getting my pots all set up

I've mentioned before that I really don't like mixing up media. However, you can't grow plants without pots of media, so this week I decided to get it done. Especially because I just got this new bowl to use for a pygmy garden.

New pot for pygmy garden.
This is another Carey Cherney pot from the Cactus Jungle.
I'd been meaning to mix up media for a while, but I had been much too busy at work. This week I'm getting a helping hand from mother nature.

Threatening clouds overhead.
Rain is nice, but feels very unfamiliar after all this drought.
We'll be getting a lot of rain in the next 3 days, so I was able to skip the most annoying part of media preparation, which is the rinsing and squeezing to get rid of excess minerals, nutrients, and spores. Now I can just let the storm do that work for me.

Freshly-packed pots.
15 new pots ready for plants!
I took care to make this mix lighter and airier than prior mixes. It's got the regular peat and sand, as well as a decent helping of perlite and a small but not insignificant amount of long-fiber Sphagnum moss. I'm hoping the additional perlite and LFS will keep things from getting too compacted.

I went ahead and topped my future pygmy garden with sand, since that's how it will be when I actually sow the gemmae.

Pygmy garden ready for some gemmae.
I went back and forth on whether or not to use sand, but I think it will highlight the pygmies better.
I'm excited! A lack of media has prevented me from expanding my collection and doing more propagation, so I'm looking forward to doing more of that. I've got a big order from Drosera Gemmae queued up.

In order that this post not be totally boring, check out these Drosera callistos, they are looking awesome.

Drosera callistos.
I've been admiring these for weeks now.
That color is outrageous! Pygmy sundews are the best.