Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year!

To all my wonderful readers, have a fantastic New Year's Eve celebration, and a Happy 2013!

Polar New Year, MR, 2012
 May your gardening in the New Year be both joyous and weird! There's always something new to learn when it comes to our chlorophyllian friends....

The Ever-Joyous Babytoes

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Tilly For the New Year: Tillandsia butzii

Ah, Tillandsia butzii, one of my favorites, and one of the "creepier" Tillies. They grow mostly in Southern Mexico and Panama, and they like their humidity and water. The outer leaves form pouches that usually house ants in the wild. The ants will leave detritus which gives food to the tilly, and the leaves protect the ants, so the relationship is symbiotic. Of course, when you grow them indoors, the tropical ants aren't so welcome! When you water indoor butziis, you have to be sure to drain those outer leaf pouches, or the plant can suffocate or rot. You can see a tiny pup on the lower left of the left-hand butzii.

You can see the lovely mottling of the leaves in this closeup as well. Beautiful!

Monday, December 24, 2012

We Three Lithops...

Wish You a Very Happy Holiday!!

The Three Lithops
See you all after the holidays! Have a wonderful time! And don't forget to show your weirdest plants off to your family and friends.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lithops' Progress

Lots going on with the Lithops Gang this winter! Summers are so blistering hot down here, that most are fully active in midwinter, when it cools down to about 80F or so...sheesh!

Here are a few highlights.

Lithops karasmontana "Top Red"
Top Red is blooming, that white flower contrasted with the brick and pink is going to be lovely.

Many of the Lithops are "re-leaving" now. Sadly, humidity here is always about 50%, and usually around 80%, so even without watering, it takes my Lithops a long time to absorb their old leaves. I think this one will be OK. Audrey the francisci didn't make it, I would have had to put her in a dehydration chamber....

Lithops seedlings, 10 months
 The seedlings are doing well, about half now have their first adult leaf pairs. Each one looks quite different from the others, and I've even got a Conophytum calculus growing at the lower left. Party crasher!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pensive Tuesday: Who Doesn't Fit In??

Sometimes, I have to take a look at my growing collection and think, who's not fitting in here??

Not that any of my plants are in any way disagreeable to me, not at all! It's just that some seem to need to be...somewhere else. That's what my outdoor cacti/succulent garden is for. That's what friends are for. For some plants, like the Mother of Millions, that's what other planets are for!

Happy Somewhere Else....
How do I define if a plant isn't doing well with the others? Well, of course, if it's ailing, I try to figure out where it would be happier. Often, that's outside. Sansevierias, for example, do better outdoors. They even bloom out there, which they pretty much never do inside a house.

For some, I just have too many. Kalanchoes grow so quickly, and every leaf can be the start of a whole new colony. That's what friends are for, right? That's what holiday gifts are for! I think everyone I know has at least one baby Panda Plant from my garden....

How do you manage your collection so that your house doesn't become a full-time greenhouse? Or are you busy knocking holes in your walls so you'll have more windows and windowsills for your plants??

Monday, December 17, 2012

Another Bloomin' Monday!

Not just another pretty face, my Mammillaria hahniana is now in full, crowning bloom. Wonderful!

Many Mammillaria cacti have a distinct "crown" of flowers, usually in the pink-to-purple range. Here's a closer look at the crown:

And never one to say "No" to a flower party, my Fenestraria is...doing what it always does. I love that delicate shade of peachy pink with the bright yellow center. The other Babytoes is getting ready to bloom as well; they usually bloom in tandem.

More Lithops are starting to bloom also, as are some of the Tillies. So more flowers to come, stay tuned.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Smelly Plant of the Month: Senecio kleiniiformis

Senecio kleiniiformis
Senecio is a huge genus, but there aren't too many succulents to be found there. I have an S. serpens, whose white blossoms smell exactly like stinky gym feet. Yuck.

But this Senecio is different. S. kleiniiformis, also from Southern Africa, has bright yellow blossoms the same shape and size as S. serpens. But they smell...good! A beautiful perfume of honey-lemon wafts from these all day. It reminds me of the honey-lemon drops people suck on during the winter to keep the flu away. Since we're having an awful influenza season, and an early one, S. kleiniiformis seems like a good plant to be growing on the windowsill. It's a tough and hardy plant that likes full to filtered sun, waterings when its soil dries out, and lots of admiring humans to smell its flowers.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pensive Tuesday: You Think You've Got a Plan....

And then something unexpected happens. I had a serious, comprehensive Pensive Tuesday post all worked out, but then I noticed something strange on the windowsill....

Fluffpuff is blooming! Is this the face that launched a thousand ships??

Fluffpuff, blooming.
Fluffpuff is a Mammillaria hahniana (I am quite certain now because it blooms in a magenta ring). No, I didn't name this cactus Fluffpuff, a child did, and frankly, he looks a little grumpy. But that's OK, it's been a tough month for everyone I know. His funny "face" made me laugh, and so he pre-empted the post I'd planned. Sometimes, life hands you a nice little surprise when you need it....

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tilly of the Month: Tillandsia ixioides

Tillandsia ixioides hails from Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. It's massively coated in silver trichomes, so its usual color is silver except after being watered, when it turns green.

It's a difficult one to find, because it is extremely hard to ship anywhere. This is because its spiky leaves are as brittle as glass. The leaves could probably be used as weapons by smaller creatures, they resemble jousting weapons.  But if you find one, do give it a try, as it's quite beautiful and unique. The flowers are yellow, which is unusual for a Tilly (most have magenta to purple blooms).

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pensive Tuesday: The Living Household

Today I'm introducing a few new additions to the household. Meet Sourdough Starter "Mick"!

Sourdough Starter Mick
He got the name Mick because he's so...hyper! Sourdough starters used to be much more common around the world, particularly in the USA. Most kitchens kept one, and made bread from part of it at least twice a week. Now, keeping a starter means you are part of the "artisan bread group"- mostly gourmet cooks, locavores, and off-the-gridders. But starters are easy to keep and make the most fragrant, soft breads! The only problem with my new sourdough bread is that it's eaten within a few minutes after coming out of the oven. So there's a problem with a lack of leftovers.

The second addition is a Kombucha SCOBY (a starter, like a vinegar mother). I'm working on the first batch of delicious Kombucha, I do hope the fermentation goes well. So far the SCOBY looks good....

Kombucha SCOBY at work.
A kitchen full of useful critters, and rooms full of plants, mean the home is truly a living household (and don't forget pets!). What's growing in your house? And are you glad it's there? I've got to go now...the house keeps trying to walk to the beach....

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bloomin' Sundays!

Here's what's blooming, or pupping, around my garden this weekend....

Bloomin' Lithops!

Bloomin' Mammillaria!
 Fenestraria (Babytoes)--Yes, AGAIN!

And some extremely small Tillandsia pups:

What's blooming around your garden?? Have a great weekend!