Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Long overdue potting

Several weeks ago I was very kindly gifted 2 Pinguicula by a BACPS member who invited me over for coffee. I was pretty amazingly busy at the time, and had yet to pot them up. Luckily, they seemed pretty happy to chill out there in the bags.

Pinguicula agnata and Pinguicula 'Pirouette'
I especially love the leaf color on the P. agnata. Pings are adorable.
Pinguicula agnata and Pinguicula 'Pirouette' are apparently pretty vigorous and didn't mind the treatment.

I've also got a leaf cutting of Drosera capensis Bainskloof that has developed quite nicely floating in some water.

Drosera capensis Bainskloof leaf cutting with roots.
Those are impressive roots for a leaf cutting.
It's even got some pretty respectable roots. It was time to transfer to the media.

I don't have any pictures of the potting process, but it was pretty straightforward. Even mature pings don't have much of a root system, so I just sort of stuck them on the pot and piled a bit of soil around their base. For the D. capensis Bainskloof roots I made a little hole and then worked them in.

And here we are!

Pinguicula agnata and Pinguicula 'Pirouette' in humidity tents.
I bought these sandwich bags specifically to use for my plants.
Drosera capensis Bainskloof in humidity tent.
Soon I can start feeding, and then it'll really grow.
The pings look pretty nice, but the leaf cutting will need a couple weeks to settle in at least. I also stuck a couple of leaves that fell off of the P. 'Pirouette' during potting into the soil. Maybe they'll strike!

Happy New Year everyone.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pygmy progress and random updates

My pygmy garden is really starting to come along.

Pygmy sundew garden.
The Pygmy Garden is still, uh, progressing.
Impressive right? Hah. I'm really just putting this picture on the blog as a growth rate reference for later. It's easier to see the development on the individual pots though.

Drosera silvicola, pygmy sundew.
Drosera silvicola plantlets developing from gemmae.
Drosera omissa, pygmy sundew.
Drosera omissa plantlets from gemmae.
Drosera barbigera, pygmy sundew.
Drosera barbigera, still more gemmae than plantlet.
They're still blending in pretty well with the sand, but I see nice growth over all. It'll get easier once they're a little bigger. Then I can feed them and they'll put on good size. If I can manage to feed them regularly, at least.

The strikes on my Dionaea muscipula 'B-52' are developing nicely.

Dionaea muscipula 'B-52' venus flytrap leaf pull.
It's cool how the strikes are different colors.
It'd be great if I got 2 plantlets out of this.

Nearby I've got that Drosera anglica CA x HI that had been ignored when I'd thought the leaf cutting had failed. It was far from the lights, but now I've moved it in to color up some more.

Drosera anglica CA x HI coloring up.
Starting to show some red.
There are two plants right up next to each other in this pot too. Nice!

And finally, my Drosera prolifera just keeps looking great. It's about time this plant started doing well.

Drosera prolifera.
The dew is finally coming in for these guys.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Gemmae explosion

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! It's wintertime and my pygmies going nuts on their gemmae. Pretty much every mature species in my collection is producing gemmae, and some are really going overboard with it. It's like they've caught the Christmas spirit.

My original Drosera allantostigma is crammed full.

Drosera allantostigma with gemmae.
This is definitely too many gemmae to count.
The pot I got from Brie is looking a bit messy since I've been using it to demonstrate what gemmae are to people.

Drosera allantostigma with gemmae.
Getting gemmae everywhere.
The Drosera scorpioides I started from gemmae myself are just getting started.

Drosera scorpioides with gemmae.
These D. scorpioides are so lovely and dewy.
While the ones I got at the spring BACPS meeting are going bananas.

Drosera scorpioides with gemmae.
Packed in like grapeshot.
I believe I see gemmae even on my long-suffering Drosera pygmaea. I need to bring it forward in the tray so I can look at it more easily.

Drosera pygmaea with gemmae, hopefully.
Maybe after this my D. pygmaea will finally settle in.
The Drosera helodes look almost ready to harvest.

Drosera helodes with gemmae.
These D. helodes look like they're about to explode.
There are a couple forming on the stem-forming Drosera dichrosepala.

Drosera dichrosepala with gemmae.
That one in the back is just getting started.
While the closely-related Drosera enodes appears to just barely be getting started. Beautiful plants though!

Drosera enodes with gemmae.
The colors on these plants have been fantastic lately.
And finally, the most festive of them all, Drosera callistos.

Drosera callistos with gemmae.
Little Christmas wreaths!
Happy growing everyone. I hope your pygmies are doing just as well. And if you don't have any pygmies yet, keep an eye out on the blog – I'm going to have lots of gemmae to get rid of soon.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Update: the Summer Batch

 Back at the beginning of July I started a round of propagation I referred to as the Summer Batch. I started 4 species from seed and 4 from leaf cuttings. It's been 5 months, so let's see how things stand.

First up, the seeds. Drosera capillaris was the most successful in this respect, and I've got a couple decent-looking seedlings.

Drosera capillaris seedlings.
D. capillaris is a very pretty little sundew.
As well as a couple Drosera tokaiensis.

Drosera tokaiensis seedlings.
D. tokaiensis is a pretty vigorous grower usually. Hope these take off soon.
And, hilariously, one lonely little Drosera burmannii (Humpty Doo) that germinated after like 4 months.

Drosera burmannii Humpty Doo seedling.
This one took a while.
I still haven't seen any Drosera intermedia 'Cuba' sprout. I know it's not the seeds, since I've seen seed that I sent to other people germinate.

In all I'm disappointed with the seedling success rate (although pleased that D. capillaris germinated without cold stratification). I'm not sure what exactly went wrong. I think that fancy bag of peat I used may have something to do with it – the Drosera sessilifolia and D. burmannii (Hann River) that I started on my standard peat a couple months later have been doing great.

I'm more pleased with how my leaf cuttings performed, although not necessarily elated. First up, only one of my 6 Drosera adelae plants struck, although considering the current state of my main pot, this is more a blessing than anything else.

Drosera adelae plantlets.
The red color is very nice on these plantlets.
On the other hand I have several nice looking plantlets of Drosera venusta that have come up. Only one of the three cuttings struck, but dang they're pretty.

Drosera venusta plantlets.
This is really a lovely sundew. I wish my mature plant was growing better.
I also had pretty good luck with Drosera madagascariensis. Two of the three cuttings struck, and one even has a little stem going already.

Drosera madagascariensis plantlets.
It's already got that lean oh no.
The cutting I'm happiest about is this Drosera anglica CA x HI. If you follow the blog you'll know I recently lost the mother plant to aphids (essentially – it's still got some green but the prospects are grim). This plant is pretty much the size the mother plant was when I received it in March. Not too bad!

Drosera anglica CA x HI.
Really a stunning plant. I need to keep this one alive.
I'll have to start propagating off of this plant now, since I really want to be able to share this guy with the BACPS and others.

What have I learned from the Summer Batch? The first thing I learned is that I played with too many variables. Changing up the peat I use, using seed starter trays for the first time, messing with a bunch of different species – it's hard to draw a coherent picture. I definitely think that the peat is part of the problem, and I don't plant on using it again (especially since it's so expensive).

The main thing I learned is that I need to be propagating more, if only to keep generating backup plants. Now I just need to make some more room under my lights.

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.