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.

Succulent Macros

I haven’t really posted any little succulent pics in a while because many of them are dormant during the spring and summer and don’t look like much. After our recent rain storm they are springing back to life so it is time for an update.

All of them are plants that I started from seed except for the Fenestraria. Most of them are in two or three inch pots so that should give you an idea of their size.

Frithia pulchra

Frithia pulchra

Titanopsis primosii

Titanopsis primosii

Fenestraria rhopalophylla subsp. rhopalophylla

Fenestraria rhopalophylla subsp. aurantiaca

Stomatium alboroseum

Crassula barklyi

Crassula macowaniana

Cheiridopsis cigarettifera

Lithops optica ssp. rubra

Mitrophyllum dissitum

 Mitrophyllum dissitum

 Mitrophyllum grande

 Monilaria pisiformis (I am not convinced that any of my Monilaria are going to survive dormancy. There is a bit of green in some of them but they are not doing much)

Cheiridopsis glomerata

Gibbaeum comptonii

Oophytum oviforme

Muiria hortenseae

Muiria hortenseae

The last four – Cheiridopsis glomerata, Gibbaeum comptonii, Oophytum oviforme, and Muiria hortenseae were left in their original seedling containers way too long. For little mesembs (especially tricky ones like Muiria and Oophytum) it is a balancing act on potting the plants up into individual pots. Too soon and you may kill them. If you wait too long, however, they become overgrown and their roots are so entwined it is difficult to extricate them from each other without doing damage or even killing some. I had planned on potting them up in September, after returning from a trip back east, but while I was gone the drip irrigation on my nearby container plants had sprung a leak and water was shooting up like a geyser a few times a week.  It filled the tray they were in with water so they were soaking for a few days. Not ideal for any succulent!  I let them dry out for a bit and then proceeded with potting them up and happily most of them are looking pretty good. The Oophytum are still a bit dodgy but those are tricky plants to begin with. If they fail I’ll try again and be more careful next time.

January 1st Mesembs

I had this plan to take photos of my Mesemb seedlings the first of every month so I would have a record of their growth. I was doing well with my project but fell short these past few months.  I’ll try to start it up again (but no promises!).

Cheiridopsis glomerata sown 3/11/2012 and badly in need of being pricked out and given their own pots.  The problem is I have nowhere to put all those little pots! I am going to remedy that soon though.

Gibbaeum comptonii sown exactly a year ago today!

Muiria hortenseae also sown a year ago today. To tell the truth I am a little nervous to pot these guys up. They are supposed to be tricky and they are doing so well. I’m afraid if I mess with them they will all drop dead.

Oophytum oviforme are also said to be tricky.  They are very tiny and slow-growing too so that makes me even more nervous to pot them up.

Lithops optica var. rubra 

Honestly it is a miracle I have kept any Lithops alive a year and a half.  I have killed more Lithops than any other mesemb.

Mitrophyllum grande (left) and Monilaria pisiformis

These are also a year old today and have been potted up and growing outside since spring.  They went dormant over the summer and I am shocked that they Monilaria survived.  They were all just a few millimeters tall when they went dormant and nothing was left but a few wisps of papery dried up husks. But they sprang to life with the fall rains and the one pictured and a few others are already about an inch high. This one even branched already.

The story for Dactylopsis digitata is not as happy.   Another tricky one to grow they are not thriving since coming out of dormancy. Their old dead leaves are still clinging to them and they have put on little growth. This is supposedly pretty common. I expect they will just wither away.

Mitrophyllum dissitum however are doing really well. Sown 1/16/11 so almost two years old. This past summer was their first dormancy and I was surprised how huge they had become once the rains started in fall and they started growing again. For a while I was nervous about them because like the Dactylopsis their old dried skins were also clinging to them.  But the wet and humidity of a few rainy days in November seemed to do the trick and the old skins washed away.

I think I need to start up some new mesembs and other succulents from seed.  They are far more forgiving than regular herbaceous and woody plants so I can go out of town and not worry about them too much.  People are always raving about Mesa Garden so maybe I will place an order with them when their 2013 seed list comes out.

May Mesembs and Other Succulent Seedlings

Lithops optica var. rubraLithops sp.Lithops sp.Cheiridopsis glomerataGibbaeum comptoniiOophytum oviforme
Muiria hortenseaeHaworthia truncataCrassula barklyiCrassula macowanianaCheiridopsis cigarettiferaCheiridopsis cigarettifera
Mitrophyllum dissitumMitrophyllum dissitumP1170101.jpgFrithia pulchraMixed MesembsDactylopsis digitata
Mystery CheiridopsisCheiridopsis purpureaTitanopsis primrosiiMonilaria moniliformisNewly pricked out Mesemb seedlings.Monilaria pisiformis

It’s the first of the month again and time for a succulent seedling update. Click on the thumbnails to be brought to Flickr where you will find the name of each species and the date the seed was sown and other notes.  Each of these plants is pretty tiny.  Most are under an inch tall or wide.  The largest are the Mitrophyllum dissitum at about two and a half inches tall.

April Mesembs

If you remember from last month from now on I am just going to post updates on my mesemb seedlings at the start of each month.

My newest babies.  Cheiridopsis glomerata started 3/11/12.

Gibbaeum comptonii are a little creepy looking at this stage.  They remind me of Surinam toads which are probably my number one phobia in the world.  /shudder

Stomatium alboroseum

At just three months old I think these Monilaria pisiformis are ready to be transplanted into their own pots.

Mitrophyllum grande also need to be repotted.  They are overcrowded and starting to show signs of stress.

Oophytum oviforme

Muiria hortenseae are growing very slowly compared to the others.

Lithops optica var. rubra were sown last June.

Dactylopsis digitata are supposed to be a bit difficult to grow. Only three seedlings (sown last June) survived and this is the biggest.  It seems to be doing OK.  They have grown inside on my windowsill all this time but I think this week they are ready to go outside.

This is the mystery Cheiridopsis (I think) that was mixed in with the Dactylopsis that I didn’t have the heart to thin out.  It has grown huge and looks quite different from all the other Cheiridopsis I am growing.

Cheiridopsis cigarettifera is over a year old.

While I was photographing my mesembs I noticed these little mystery insect eggs neatly lined up on some bird netting.  Anyone have any idea what they are?  Hopefully something friendly.

Mitrophyllum dissitum is over a year old.  This is my nicest specimen.  Some of the others are a bit damaged as they try to shed their old growth and one looks like it might have slug or snail damage.

Frithia pulchra

This Cheiridopsis caroli-schmidtii is not one I grew from seed. I bought it a few years ago at a Cactus and Succulent show.  I noticed yesterday that it had started flowering though which is good news.  It is the first time it has bloomed in two years.  Conditions for all my succulents are much better than they have been while I was apartment living so I can expect to see lots of new growth and blooms.

Cheiridopsis purpurea was started last June.  Yellow is probably the most common flower color in mesembs so I try to find species with purple flowers if I can.

Titanopsis primrosii was also started last June. I had really high germination with these and they were so cute I didn’t have the heart to thin them out too much.  So I probably have about twenty of them. They have been growing very nicely.

Finally I just wanted to give a little update on my post last month on pinching seedlings. A few days after the post I went back and pinched again and now about ten days later they look like this:

Helipterum roseum ‘Pierott’ started 1/13/12

I’ll probably plant them out next week.

 

 

Building My Garden Part 3 – Mediterranean Bed

I got tired of being sick and lounging about so yesterday I jumped into action and started planting one of my new gardens beds.  It is a large island bed that is home to a purple leaf plum.  I was going to get rid of the plum but it was one of the few plants that my landlady has an emotional attachment to. I considered moving it but she was too worried it wouldn’t survive so I had to modify my plans.  Not a huge set back in the scheme of things.  I’ve wanted a mediterranean garden (lowercase m for describing the garden style. upperclass M for describing the region of the world) for a while now.  It didn’t really matter where on the property it was.

OK I know it doesn’t look like much.  You have to remember that even though I live in California it is still February!

Just try and imagine what the plants will look like three months from now at the start of spring after months of cool weather and winter rains.

Come on!  I know you can do it!  Stop laughing.  Picture the plants all big and in bloom and imagine that I have put down some nice mulch.

Gardens always look a bit sad in photos when they are first installed and for a few moments I always despair a bit.  But I have a mind that imagines gardens and I just walk around the bed picturing what each plant will look like once it is full sized and bursting with flowers.

This isn’t just a garden for fun. Mediterranean style gardens are perfect for California so are a big share of the type of gardens I design.  It was important to me to be able to grow and experiment with some of the plants that I use in designs.  You can be an OK designer reading about a plants growing habits and dimensions and looking at pictures but I to be really good I think you need to grow the plants you work with.  Most of the plants in this bed are from Native Sons, a wholesaler that specializes in plants for our mediterranean climate here in California.  By growing their plants at home I can get a better idea of how these plants will look in future designs and play around with some nice combinations.

Eryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’ is a plant I have coveted since it first came on the scene about ten years ago.

Eryngium planum ‘Jade Frost’ has beautiful variegated foliage that will really set off the metallic blue flowers once they color up.

Dorycnium hirsutum is a small fuzzy leaved shrub with pale pinkish white pea flowers.  At the bottom of the plant you can see a bit of the chicken wire sticking out that I used to cage the root balls of my plants.  It was kind of a pain but worth the extra planting time protecting my plants from gophers rather than crying months from now when an established plant is devoured from under ground.  The only plants I won’t cage and am confident won’t be eaten are Euphorbias.  I also didn’t cage a rosemary, Salvia, and Nepeta as an experiment to see if the things that make them unpalatable to rabbits and deer will work against gophers.

Plecostachys serpyfolia forms beautiful silver mounds about a foot tall and four feet across.

Have you ever seen a plant in a book or magazine and coveted it for years before you could grow it? Maybe it isn’t something that will grow where you live.  Maybe it is something that is so rare in the trade it took you forever to track one down. I still remember the first time I saw Helianthemum ‘Fire Dragon’. It was back when I was in school almost ten years ago and I was on a bus from NYC headed to my dads house for the weekend. I was reading an article about a Colorado rock garden in a magazine that had just arrived and this plant caught my eye.  I memorized the name and lamented the fact that I lived on the east coast where Helianthemums don’t do particularly well.  Well when going over the list of plants available at Native Sons last week this name jumped out at me and I knew I had to have it for my garden!  Just imagine in a few months it will be covered in tons of little reddish-orange flowers.

I am really looking forward to seeing how this garden turns out.  Aside from the plants pictured above the garden will feature Rosmarinus ‘Tuscan Blue’, Salvia ‘Aromas’, Nepeta X faassenii, Eschscholzia ‘Moonglow’ and ‘Buttermilk’, Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’, Epilobium ‘Marin Pink’, Stipa gigantea ‘Pixie’, and Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’.  There are still a few spots left for Lavenders (I’m still trying to decide which species and cultivars I want to grow) and some other choice plants.

Remember I complained about birds attacking my mesembs and seedlings the other day?  This is what a Conophytum that has been attacked by a birds beak looks like.

And a Lithops.  I might have thought they had burst from too much water if it wasn’t for the fact that other small plants were completely torn out of their pots and my nearby seedlings were also nibbled on and torn up.

Now my precious little year old Mitrophyllum dissitum seedlings are protected with bird netting.  I’m so relieved the bird didn’t find these plants.

In fact all my seedlings are protected with bird netting now.  Hopefully by next year I’ll have a greenhouse.

More Mesembs!

Titanopsis primrosiiCheiridopsis purpureaDactylopsis digitataLithops optica var. rubraMitrophyllum dissitumFrithia pulchra
Frithia pulchraFrithia pulchraFrithia pulchraCheiridopsis cigarettiferaConophytum piriforme in mixed Conophytum potConophytum marginatum
Conophytum minium 'Witteburgense'

Mesemb Seedlings 11/4/11, a set on Flickr.

Just wanted to post a Mesemb seedling update and a few more pictures of the ones coming out of dormancy.

I planted them in two batches. Four last January and the other four in June. They really all should be potted up into their own pots by now but I just don’t have the space in my apartment. Hopefully when I move I will have more room for starting all sorts of different plants from seed.

My favorite are the Frithia and Mitrophyllum. Overall most of these have been fairly easy so I am definitely going to try more in the future. And hopefully some day I will have a little greenhouse to keep them in.

You can click each photo to bring you to Flickr and see larger versions. The macro shots of the Frithia are worth looking at larger.

A few more dormant plants are starting to wake up and one is even about to bloom already!