Saturday, May 31, 2014

Seedlings, plantlets, and failures

You can't win 'em all. One of the things I've learned as I've begun collecting plants is that sometimes they die and that's just that. I've got a Drosera sp. Lantau Island right now that is almost certainly not going to make it. Alas. I took some leaf cuttings from Drosera 'Marston Dragon' some time ago and almost none of them have survived the transfer from water to media. That sucks! And check out these flower stalk cuttings from the same plant:

Withered Drosera binata 'Marston Dragon' flower stalk cuttings.
Withered flower stalks – a grim sight.
I'd heard that flower stalks were the best cuttings you could take. These are brown and shriveled with no sign of life, despite being in soggy wet media with a humidity cover. Well actually there's a bit of life – the pollen from the flower buds has spawned a bit of algae. Hooray! Maybe I should have nicked the cuttings with a razor? Luckily the bits that I started in water are starting to bud. I'm going to get them quite large before transferring them to media. Hopefully something will take.

But you don't lose 'em all either! And unless you're a huge doofus, you'll probably win more than you lose, substantially. For example, remember those laggy Drosera capensis 'Albino' seedlings? The infinitesimal ones?

Drosera capensis 'Albino' seedlings.
The first plant to take off often ends up leaps and bounds the biggest.
I've got one very respectable plantlet, and several more trying to catch up. Feeding really does make all the difference in the world when you're sizing up seedlings – I don't worry about over-feeding the tiny plantlets, since the new growth they produce is almost always more robust than the mold that may result from over-feeding.

I've also got a good crop of Drosera natalensis seedlings that I started a few weeks ago with seed I traded with Natch.

Drosera natalensis seedlings.
Drosera natalensis should be a fairly charming rosetted South African sundew.
I've started hardening these little dudes off (i.e. slowly cutting holes in the humidity tent to acclimate them to lower humidity conditions) so that soon I'll be able to start feeding. Once you start feeding things really take off.

Remember that Drosera prolifera flower stalk that started a plantlet in the tray water? I dealt with it in sort of a funny way.

Drosera prolifera plantlet from flower stalk.
Some people say lazy fix, I say elegant, resource-conscious solution.
I just bent the stalk back and planted the plantlet in the mother plant's pot. If they start to crowd each other it'll be easy to separate, and now at least it can start developing a root system.

Finally, remember how I observed in my last post that it was lucky that all those Drosera capensis seeds fell in the D. capensis pot rather than any others? Yeah, about that...

Drosera capillaris with Drosera capensis weedlings.
That mis-colored patch of media is from where I removed the last D. capensis hitchhiker that lived in this pot.
Look closely – my Drosera capillaris has some company. Well, I'd been planning on separating/repotting it anyway, so I guess this gives me additional incentive.

Glad I have more things living than dying at least.

No comments:

Post a Comment