Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Seedlings and more

Back in July or so (I'd have to check the tags to be sure, but that seems right) I started some seed of a few different species. Currently two have germinated – Drosera burmannii (no surprise there) and Drosera tomentosa (that one's a bit surprising). The seedlings are putting on some size.

Drosera burmannii Gunung Keledang seedlings.
It's been a while since I've had D. burmannii seedlings. I like them this size!
Drosera tomentosa seedlings.
New South American species! I want some more SA 'dews.
The D. burmannii is a form from Gunung Keledang in Malaysia. We'll see if it varies at all from the Australian forms I currently grow. At this point I'm most interested in finding a persistently green form of D. burmannii. The D. tomentosa seed I received in a trade forever ago and finally sowed, and I'm pleased I've gotten plants out of it. I've fed both of these sets of seedings, so I'm hoping things start popping off soon. The other two pots I sowed (Drosera filiformis Florida Red and Drosera brevifolia) have, alas, not germinated.

A somewhat older seed-grown plant is this Drosera indica. This is one species that did not appreciate the period of neglect during the summer.

Drosera indica.
Keep strong, lonely little leaves.
A number of plantlets conked out after not having been fed. Just look at what the pot looked like initially. I think that D. indica is one species that absolutely must be fed. These two only made it because I got them a bit of fish food a week or so before this picture was taken. I've fed them again since, and am looking forward to healthy plants going forward.

I've started trying to wake up the tuberous sundews I picked up back in January and which went dormant in April.

Drosera ramellosa and Drosera rupicola.
I still need to remove the moss cap.
I have no clue with tuberous dews. They're really really cool, and I'd love to be able to grow them. There's definitely a finesse to it though, and we'll see if I've got the touch. I really hope they start to re-emerge soon!

One plant that is 100% not coming back out of dormancy is Drosera intermedia 'Cuba'.

Dead Drosera intermedia 'Cuba'.
It was a good run, D. 'Cuba'.
They went dormant last December, and just never came back. They stayed alive for a long time though – as recently as mid-April I was convinced they'd wake up any day. However, that black color is pretty definitive. Oh well, it makes a bit more room in my collection. Maybe I can harvest those last few flower stalks and start a new pot.

I've actually been quite good about feeding my plants lately, and my Drosera capensis red form has decided to reward me with a flower stalk!

Drosera capensis red form flower stalk.
This looks like it could be a really good flower stalk. I'm excited.
When I noticed this I gave it a really heavy feeding, because I'm hoping to get lots more seed from this. Josh has observed that the red form of D. capensis is the least fertile form he grows, and is the only one that will regularly yield no seed at all. I want seed though, so this sucker is getting fed.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A post-aphid update

Back about 6 or 7 weeks ago I sprayed my collection with Bayer 3-in-1, a systemic pesticide that I heard was pretty gentle on sundews. It killed off all the aphids I could see, and they didn't come back for a while. Then a couple weeks ago a clutch of eggs must have hatched, because my Drosera aliciae had a swarm of them up the flower stalk. Here's that flower stalk now.

Drosera aliciae flower stalk with dead aphids.
It's a graveyard on there.
It looks bad, but actually I'm super stoked. I didn't reapply any pesticide, but the stalk is covered with aphid skeletons, and very few living aphids. It seems that the systemic application has persisted long enough to take care of a new generation. I think I'll respray today though, just to make sure we don't see another spike once this round eventually wears out.

As I said, my plants didn't seem to mind the spraying. The only possible exception was this Drosera schizandra, but it's definitely doing better now.

Drosera schizandra.
I love sticky spinach.
That leaf at 5 o'clock there got burned on the tip around the time I sprayed. Can't say if that was due to the spray though, cause the nearby Utricularia praelonga had a pretty bad case of aphids, which may have also afflicted the D. schizandra. The new growth looks promising though.

I have another D. schizandra in with my Drosera 'Marston Dragon'. It's a bit hard to see beneath all the foliage, but it's doing pretty well down there.

Drosera schizandra and Drosera 'Marston Dragon'.
This one seems to be doing well. I can barely see it though.
I really need to figure out what I'm doing with that dragon.

One of the plants that has been looking best lately, and that didn't mind the spraying even a little bit, is Byblis liniflora.

Byblis liniflora.
Love the shape of the flower stalk.
I'm really glad I started growing this plant. It's got an ethereal quality all its own, and it's been really popular with visitors to my collection. Plus the flowers are really cute.

Byblis liniflora flower.
The flowers persist for a couple days, it's cool.
I haven't yet gotten any seed from it though. This is supposed to be a super self-fertile species. Maybe I should try helping the pollination along. I definitely need to get some seed from it, cause I don't think it lives too long. Annuals are weird.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pygmy sundew check-in

Another programming note before we get into the post: The Bay Area Carnivorous Plant Society is having its Fall Meeting on Saturday the 24th at the Lake Merritt Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave. in Oakland from 12:00 to 4:00. The topic will be...pygmy sundews! We're heading into gemmae season, so we've all gotta be prepared. There will be lots of photos, a guide to building an aspirator for harvesting gemmae, and more. California Carnivores will be there selling plants, and everyone's gonna have a good time. If you're in the area it would be awesome if you could make it through. Okay, on to the post.

I've been checking in on my pygmies more lately so I can see when gemmae start forming. There are several pots I need to re-sow this year to keep the collection looking tidy. Consider Drosera pygmaea and Drosera roseana here.

Drosera pygmaea and Drosera roseana.
Looking a bit tired there guys!
The D. roseana on the right were fed recently. I think they just burned a bit too brightly – these were the plants that produced gemmae only 12 weeks after being gemmae. No wonder they look a bit exhausted. As for D. pygmaea, I've always had trouble with this species. A number of people describe it as being one of the easiest pygmies, but I've just never been able to keep them happy. Who knows.

Drosera patens is showing a bit of a stem/skirt of dead leaves.

Drosera patens.
They're burning out.
The life cycle of pygmies is so short. This picture from my Instagram is was taken back in mid-May (follow me on Instagram for more plant pictures!). They looked so happy then. D. patens is part of a group of closely-related pygmies including Drosera nitidula and Drosera allantostigma, so I really like them when they're growing well.

My supposedly orange-flowered Drosera pulchella has also shrunk back a bit.

Drosera pulchella.
It would be cool to see the orange flowers.
I say "supposedly" because I've never had any flowers from these guys. I don't seem to flower pygmies very readily. Not sure why! Plants are weird. Maybe my conditions are too consistent from them. After all, they're native to a much more extreme climate than my garage (southwest Australia).

My good old Drosera scorpioides are glad to have been recently fed.

Drosera scorpioides.
Ah, memories. My first pygmies.
I definitely need to re-sow this species this year. Not sure how much longer they'll hold out. Also I've heard from multiple people that their D. scorpioides tend to conk out suddenly sometime during year three. Also I think there's a slug or snail in that tray somewhere. I hate slugs.

Moving on to plants that are doing quite well, check out this Drosera occidentalis ssp. microscapa. It...exists!

Drosera occidentalis.
These are so hilariously tiny.
Back in February they were nowhere to be found. I'd figured that sowing on the sand had been a bit too extreme for the tiny gemmae – being so small they have less stored energy and moisture, so they wouldn't have time to grow roots into the soil. Guess I was wrong! It still took like 6 months before I could tell they were there though. What a silly plant.

I'm very pleased with how Drosera silvicola and Drosera barbigera are doing.

Drosera silvicola.
These have really filled out nicely.
Drosera barbigera.
Four plants per pot seems perfect.
These both seem to have some affinity with D. scorpioides in terms of growth habit, but I like how the stem is less pronounced, leading to this nice dome-like set of traps. Quite handsome plants!

I've gotta post about Drosera ×Dork's Pink. Just look at it.

Drosera ×Dork's Pink.
I hope I get a lot of gemmae from these.
D. ×Dork's Pink is D. lasiantha × callistos, an absolutely fabulous man-made hybrid that was formally described in the March 2015 issue of the Carnivorous Plant Newsletter (join the ICPS to download it). I just love the density of the traps and the truly wonderful glowing pink color. It's also quite a large pygmy, so it's very striking.

Finally, Drosera sargentii. Drosera Gemmae is actually calling it Drosera parvula ssp. sargentii now. Whatever you call it, I think it's my new favorite pygmy (sorry D. allantostigma).

Drosera sargentii.
I could stare at these all day.
Just LOOK at those pygmies. Like perfect little bullseyes. Wonderfully distinct bands of color, almost perfectly circular. I can't even handle how cool this plant is.

If you like sundews you've gotta be growing pygmies. I'm pretty sure they're the coolest.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Field Trip: California Carnivores (again)

Before this post, a programming note: The Bay Area Carnivorous Plant Society is having their monthly beer social at the Westbrae Biergarten in Berkeley on Wednesday, 10-14 (tomorrow). The address is 1280 Gilman St., and is about a 10 minute walk from the North Berkeley BART station. We'll be there from 6-9, so come on by, drink some beers, and hang out. I'll probably bring some ping pulls to share. Okay, back to your regularly-scheduled blogpost.

I've been hanging out with a lot of carnivore folks lately. On Sunday Josh and I took a drive up to California Carnivores to see some folks and stare at some plants. Y'know, as you do. There was lots of great stuff in there (as usual), but a couple things caught my eye.

First up is this Nepenthes Viking × ampullaria Red Stripe. I'm only permitting myself one Nepenthes in this post, but I think this is worth it.

Nepenthes Viking × ampullaria Red Stripe.
It looks like a candy apple.
Nepenthes Viking × ampullaria Red Stripe
Fly away little plant.
Look at that bright red little fatty with the big ole wings. This is a real show-stopper of a plant. I had actually never been in this part of California Carnivores. I'm not sure why. It's a big hothouse area. Guess I hadn't realized that door was there!

I spent a bit of time admiring their collection of weird VFT clones and cultivars. One of my favorite mutants is Dionaea 'Angel Wings'.

Dionaea 'Angel Wings'.
These are definitely non-functional traps.
Now that is a yonic plant.

I also quite liked the much more understated Dionaea 'Harmony'.

Dionaea 'Harmony'.
Such neat tidy little traps. Cute!
There's so much fun stuff back there. Just wait until this all gets in production, it's gonna be awesome for VFT collectors.

This Pinguicula sp. Tonala ANPA A had the best flower in the ping collection when I was there.

Pinguicula sp. Tonala ANPA A.
I love how different this flower is.
I wonder if this is the plant I lost the auction to Mike Wilder for. Hmm...might have to beg a pulling off of them.

The tuberous dews are starting to wake up over there. This is Drosera rosulata.

Drosera rosulata.
Tuberous dews are so much work. I should get more.
I should probably start to coax my two tuberous species out of dormancy. That'll be a major finger-crossing moment.

Near the tuberous are a couple of Drosera regia, including this insanely dewy tangle.

Drosera regia.
This is what doom looks like to order Diptera.
This species produces insane amounts of mucilage when happy. Just look at that!

Finally, the loveliest plant there was this Drosera intermedia × capillaris.

Drosera intermedia × capillaris.
Even my non-plant friends think this plant looks awesome.
I really ought to have bought one, but I've definitely capped out my plant budget for this paycheck. Oh well, there's always next time.

P.S. If you're in the Bay, come to the social. It'll be a Hoot.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A few new plants

I've gotten a good number of new plants recently, the first new plants in some time. At the risk of turning this into Nepenthes Etc., most of them are new neps. It's just that my kitchen windowsill is so great for them! First up though, I got a couple of plants for my girlfriend to put in her new office at work.

She really likes the Nepenthes ventricosa I got from Josh a while back, so I got her one of her own when I was visiting him last week.

Nepenthes ventricosa.
It's small now, but not for long.
This species is just too adorable to pass up.

I've also been up to California Carnivores a couple times in the last month, and since I had some gift cards I decided to get some of their neps. This Nepenthes sibuyanensis × talangensis is another for her window at work.

Nepenthes sibuyanensis × talangensis
I just feel like these pitchers are much too cute.
Nepenthes sibuyanensis × talangensis.
Just look at them!
I love how round the peristome is on this guy. Great pitcher shape for being so small.

Just like everyone, Catherine loves pings. I picked up a Pinguicula sp. Tehuacán for her on that trip too.

Pinguicula sp. Tehuacán.
I think pings are the perfect starter carnivores.
So pink.

For myself, I've become quite enamored of hybrids of Nepenthes aristolochioides. This N. sibuyanensis × aristolochioides is a particularly awesome-looking one.

Nepenthes sibuyanensis × aristolochioides.
It's so easy to anthropomorphize neps sometimes. You can imagine what this little guy's voice would sound like.
This one is from California Carnivores as well. Check out that amazing pitcher shape.

I mentioned my burgeoning interest to Josh, and he found a basal of Nepenthes spectabilis "Giant" × aristolochioides on one of his large plants for me.

Nepenthes spectabilis "Giant" × aristolochioides.
Wonderful color!
Nepenthes spectabilis "Giant" × aristolochioides.
It won't stay this size for long.
Hanging out with Josh – who is a dedicated Nepenthes fan with a very nice collection – is almost certainly the reason that I'm now interested in the neps. I think he's probably pretty smug about that.

Another fun hybrid from Predatory Plants is this Nepenthes hamata × platychila.

Nepenthes hamata × platychila.
Such a great mix of characteristics.
Nepenthes hamata × platychila.
Love them N. hamata lid hairs.
Nepenthes hamata × platychila.
I'm excited for that new leaf.
In addition to the pitchers – which are clearly rad as heck – I really like the foliage. That spotty red is pretty neat.

Moving back to flypaper traps, I'm taking another go at Pinguicula lusitanica.

Pinguicula lusitanica.
These are so small and silly.
I hope once this one flowers I'll actually get some seed from it, and I can start a proper colony.

Finally, I'm really excited about this Pinguicula encantada from California Carnivores.

Pinguicula encantada.
I just need more pings, is all.
The leaf shape is very similar to Pinguicula 'Aphrodite' (one of my absolute favorite pings), and Damon said that it has the pinkest flowers he's ever seen in a ping. Sounds great to me!

Doing dishes is so much nicer now.

Nepenthes in the windowsill.
I don't know what I'm going to do when they all get bigger.
Looks like I need to clean my windows though.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Field Trip: Funny stuff at Predatory Plants

Yesterday I decided to go hang out in San Francisco with my friend Josh, owner of Predatory Plants. I thought I'd head home early to beat the commute traffic, but unfortunately the commute traffic got started around 1 pm, so I ended up sitting around his greenhouse checking out all the weird stuff he's got around (and also catching up on all the carnivorous plant gossip).

This Nepenthes glandulifera flower stalk looks like a certain other prized inflorescence.

Nepenthes glandulifera inflorescence.
Like a teddy bear.
This plant is so fuzzy it's ridiculous.

The clump of Drosera omissa × pulchella is just about to attain sentience.

Drosera omissa × pulchella.
Be careful of pygmy hybrids.
Meanwhile the Drosera scorpioides are looking quite Dr. Seuss-like.

Drosera scorpioides.
They look so fragile.
I correctly guessed that these plants are three years old. It's fun having extremely niche expertise.

Josh discovered something funny about his pots of Pinguicula planifolia.

Pinguicula planifolia.
They're attractive plants, just baffling.
See that hole in the pot? It's hollow underneath. I guess in the two-plus years these have been growing here the bottom layer of soil has gradually been washed away, while the top is held together by the moss. Josh says he's afraid to mess with it now, since the plants seem to be fine.

I had to stop to admire this fine patch of Drosera filiformis Florida red.

Drosera filiformis Florida red.
I love this plant. Great color.
These are around two years old. Really lovely plants! I wish mine would get a move on and start filling out.

Also, Josh recently got into growing Cephalotus, and the results are looking pretty good!

Cephalotus follicularis.
So squat and hairy!
Everybody loves Cephs. If there was more of a consensus on how to grow them (and an easier way to produce them) I'm sure they'd become one of the most popular plants in cultivation.

Towards the end of the day Josh was planting up some Drosera hamiltonii to a larger tray. For every plant he repotted he got a root cutting to start a new one. It's a very efficient system.

Drosera hamiltonii root cuttings.
Those are some good-looking roots.
Seeing all those D. hamiltonii made me want to check in on my own when I got home. They're looking great!

Drosera hamiltonii.
Dew like crazy.
Drosera hamiltonii.
I love seeing the new leaves unfurling.
This is definitely one of those species where the less you mess with them the better they look. I think I spotted a root or two creeping into the tray though. I should get some propagation going. Look at those plants!