Sunday, October 21, 2012

Houseplants Update

My tiny tolumnia is blooming beautifully... many pretty flowers....
...on such a teeny orchid.
I relocated the lithops so they're all as close to the window as possible...
...and finally got all three of my new Christmas cacti planted up.
They say stolen plants grow best, so I hope this nice vine that I "acquired" will follow the logic.
I'd acquired a couple more recently, and they are rooting well in this cup of water... all the "contraban" can keep each other company.
Back on September first, I was at my wit's end trying to keep my Orchid Cactus (Epiphyte) 'Raspberry Ribbons' alive, so I put a piece in this yogurt container and set it in with my carnivorous plants to see if bog-like conditions would help.
Turns out it did!
The mother plant was placed into this moisture-wicking african violet pot. While not thriving, it's still alive so for now I'll go with it. May as well try two different methods and see what happens. The reasoning behind trying some altenative growing conditions is to try and keep plants alive that I've routinely murdered in the past. Regardless of conventional cultivation wisdom, I have to find out what works for me-in my "got busy-musta forgot-oh crap I spaced watering and now it's dead" lifestyle. Needless to say, these methods may not work for you. And if I lived in an area with higher ambient humidity they may not work for me, either. But I gotta deal with here and now, such as it is.
So happens that my african violet is quite pleased with here-now, and is blooming again.
The funnel orchid project has flamed out already, it began the other day when I suddenly smelled mold in my plant room...
 ....there it is. I kinda suspected this may happen when I made my orchid media "parfait" layers. Not enough air gap for sure, I should have used larger chunks of media with no moss.
 This poor orchid will hang out here until I come up with plan B....
...I hope it survives long enough!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Minnesota Bugs

You can take the bug-loving gardener out of Wisconsin, but she'll still check out the local insects no matter what. So far the most populous insect in the Twin Cities seems to be this Eastern Boxelder Bug, Leptocoris trivittatus...
...they gather in large numbers every fall and make their way indoors, the same way asian lady beetles do at my place in Wisconsin.
This exquisite creature is a Daring Jumping Spider, Phidippus audax, found in the garden gazebo at work.
She didn't think much of the attention I was paying to her, and preferred to hide. My what big eyes you have!
This beautiful moth was resting on the building at my workplace, in broad daylight.
After much research I've concluded this is an Ash Tip Borer Moth, Papaipema furcata (the name doesn't do this pretty thing justice, IMO).
And this poor battered butterfly is likely a Red Admiral , though it's hard to tell with those tattered wings.
The variety of nice insect life in this area has helped me feel more at home for sure, but I still miss my home and gardens. But as my "about me" says-Wherever you grow, there you are. So here is it, for awhile, until whenever. Me and my new bug friends will be just fine regardless :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Porch Annual Baskets

This year my botanical obsessions have been largely satisfied with houseplants, but not entirely. I had two hanging baskets outdoors to test the sunlight intensity on my porch (as well as the security of my apartment complex). Starting mid-May, I planted one basket with flowering tobacco, coleus, and petunias...
...and the other with two coleus and this Parrot's Beak 'Amazon Sunset', which had a picture of the red, tubular, hummingbird magnet-looking blooms that I hoped it would be covered with very soon.
Thay didn't look like much at first, but that's my favorite part of annuals-watching them grow and fill out the planters. If I go for the "instantly lush" look, it feels like cheating (or at least spoiling the surprise.)
Besides, there's still enough instant color for my tastes.
By September the baskets are certainly filled out...
...with plenty of color. Well aside from the parrot's beak, that only managed a couple meager orange flowers all summer. Meh.
There are even several volunteers/escapees on the ground below, too.

Although combining the spotty coleus with the stripey petunias kinda reduces the impact of both. But hey, more color is all good as far as I'm concerned.
 Peak color and fullness was in August...
...especially for the tobacco.
 By October 9th the coleus are done in by an evening cold snap, but the other plants are hanging tough...
 ...even the tobacco which usually dies back fairly easily for me. Coleus are doomed by all the water in their stems, so it doesn't take much cold for them to give up.
Now to see how long the rest can last...