Dioscorea elephantipes

Was going through old pictures in Adobe Lightroom and found this shot of my Dioscorea elephantipes when I first bought it almost six years ago. The great thing about digital photographs is they can help create a record of your plants. When you got them. How much they have grown.

Dioscorea elephantipes

Here are pictures of it now with a nice new flush of leaves.

Dioscorea elephantipes

Not the fastest grower perhaps but you can see there is a marked difference in the size and shape of the caudex.

Dioscorea elephantipes

A caudex is the base or stem of a plant and caudiciforms are plants with ornamental fleshy stems, trunks, or roots. The caudex of these plants is often the most interesting feature and they are usually potted to display them to advantage.  In the case of my Dioscorea it is dormant for at least half the year with no foliage at all. I would love to start a collection of caudiciforms but they are not easy to come by. Often rare and pricy in the trade. Your best bet to find them is often to grow the plants from seed or to visit cactus and succulent society shows or hunt online. So for now my Dioscorea will remain my only caudiciform.


Thanksgiving Macros

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving. I took a few macros of some new Pelargonium and succulent blooms.

Pelargonium cotyledonis

Pelargonium cotyledonis doesn’t really have exceptional blooms but I like the light brush of pink that I didn’t even notice until I downloaded the photos.

Pelargonium cotyledonis

It is grown more for its green leathery foliage and its thick caudex forming stems.

Pelargonium laxum

Pelargonium laxum went dormant for a few months in late summer and early fall but recently leafed out again and started blooming.

Pelargonium acetosum

Most of the species Pelargoniums I bought are pretty simple to care for but Pelargonium acetosum seems a bit trickier. I wasn’t really sure it was going to make it but it seems to have stabilized and even started blooming. Nice big light salmon flowers.

Crassula barklyi blooming

My weird little Crassula barklyi have even weirder flowers. They are sort of sinister the way they burst through the stems almost like parasites bursting out of skin. The plants look like cute little buttons so I wasn’t really expecting this.

Crassula barklyi blooming

They come in pink and white. Creepy.

Lithops optica ssp. rubra

I have mentioned before that of all the mesembs I grow I am awful at growing Lithops. I just can’t seem to keep them alive for very long. So I am somewhat surprised that I have kept these Lithops optica ssp. rubra that I grew from seed alive for several years. I am not doing anything special. I just sort of ignore it. In fact I ignore it so much that I didn’t even realize it had bloomed until the bloom had long since passed and was just a shriveled little lump. Shortly afterward the plant split which is pretty exciting. There is still a pretty good chance I’ll kill it but in the future I will try to pay closer attention so I don’t miss out on any future blooms.

High Tech Planted Fish Tank

I have kept fresh water fish with aquatic plants for years but never tried the high tech route. This involves strong lighting and forced CO2 injection so you can grow some of the more interesting and challenging plants. I’ve decided to give it a try and see how I fare so I got a 17 gallon frameless tank and a CO2 tank and the necessary equipment to get it into the water.

The results are pretty good so far. Pretty good growth in just over a week. Aquatic plants are definitely trickier than terrestrial plants and I am not sure I have the knack for aquascaping yet but it is a start.

17 Gallon High Tech Tank

And here is the regulator for my CO2 tank in action.

I’ll post updates as it progresses and I add some fish. For anyone interested in the art of aquascaping if you are in the Bay Area be sure to check out the Conservatory of Flowers. They have a show opening on November 13th featuring planted aquariums. I believe it is running through the spring.

Conservatory of Flowers – The Art of Underwater Gardening




I missed the monarch on my Echeveria that I posted a few weeks ago when it emerged. I kept meaning to check but I got busy and forgot and I found his empty chrysalis one day. But there was another monarch a few days behind suspended from the eaves of my house so I set my iPhone alarm to remind me to check on it every morning.

Monarch emerging

I didn’t get to see it emerge but I did witness it shortly after the fact. When I butterfly first emerges from its chrysalis its wings are all rumpled up. It hangs from its chrysalis and pumps blood into its wings. It is very vulnerable during this period. If something goes wrong and its wings harden before they have a chance to straighten it won’t be able to fly.

Once the wings have fully expanded they wait around a bit for them to harden and then take off. It is definitely worth growing some butterfly weed to attract monarch butterflies to your garden. Prairie Moon Nursery is a great source for Asclepias seed. Just do a search for Asclepias on their site and find out which species is native to your area.