Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tillandsia of the Month: T. bulbosa

Tillandsia bulbosa, large clone
Tillandsia bulbosa was the very first Tilly I went nutty over and brought home. I bought it during a rainstorm at the nursery, then had to quickly run to a concert I was attending down the street. No time to stop at the car, so the bulbosa sat through the concert with me! Got a few stares, but hey, that's love.

Bulbosas are amazing. They look so alien, and, well, I'll say it, creepy. I mean that in a good way. Now I have seven or eight, what with additional purchases and grown pups.

Easy to identify because of their bulbous bouffant bases, bulbosas can grow up to 18" (large clones), or remain petite at around 4-5" (small clones). Their leaf tips turn scarlet at blooming time, which makes them even creepier, in a beautiful way.  Pups grow at the base, often hidden at first by the bulb. Ants love to live in the base pouches, just as they do with T. butzii.

Bulbosas grow all over the West Indies, Central America, Colombia, and eastern Brazil. They like it humid, with lots of rain, at least seasonally. They particularly like to live in mangroves, on shorelines. So when grown indoors, they'll need more misting and more frequent waterings than some other Tillies. As with the butziis, it's important to drain the pouches of water after a long soak, so that rot doesn't set in. Most leaf growth is in the summer, and mine bloom in mid-winter.

T. bulbosa, small clone
Those long tendrils make it easier to water them bucket-style, rather than just dunks or heavy mistings:

A soak of about 20 minutes twice or thrice a week seems to do the trick. Pups can be separated from parent plants when they're about 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the parent.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pensive Tuesday: Time Goes FAST

I remember when the mother of a good friend of mine, then in her 40s, explained to my naive teenaged self--
"Time is perceived as much faster when you are 50 than when you are 5 because when you are 5, one year is 1/5 of your life. When you are 50, one year is 1/50 of your life. It's such a tiny fraction!" She was my Yoda in those days....

So now that I'm no longer in the 1/5 category, I'm realizing that time indeed goes faster for me than for children, or bunnies, or cats, or any sentient being that has been around for less than a half century or so. No wonder I feel the pressure of a world that seems increasingly designed by and for 20-somethings! No offense to the 20-somethings, it's just mathematics.  My lists are longer, my time "seems" shorter than it does to you....

All the better to ground myself (sorry, another pun) in the natural cycles of the plant world....

 Blooming Tillies, for example. They have their own calendar, they don't care about mine....

And blooming Babytoes, they're just happy to be here. They sure love the sunshine and the beach!

So I say to myself, take a look in the mirror, take a slow breath, let my thoughts float away like clouds. I think that may be the secret of the Everblooming Babytoes! I'll let you know....
Happy Tuesday.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lithops Go Wild, Part II

Here are the more precocious, seriously confused Lithops that I'm a bit concerned about. One decided to bloom and regenerate at the same time. Normally, there's at least a month between the bloom and the releafing sequence:

This looks serious, but the new leaves are strong and growing steadily. Its companion is dormant, however. It looks like it doesn't want to be disturbed by its overexcited neighbor.

These are tiny, young Lithops. Three have started to regenerate, two are dormant. We'll see how it far, no rot or collapse.

And after all this frantic Lithopsian activity, I thought I'd post a soothing image of some shells from the Banana River.

The ceramic dish isn't mine, it's a lovely antique from Bavaria. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lithops Go Wild!

These are just a couple of my avidly re-leafing Lithops. The nutty weather has spurred more than half of my collection to bloom quickly and releaf even faster. I do not know if this is a healthy thing for them in the long run, but obviously, there's not much I can do about it....

 Here's one of my L. juliis in full releaf mode. These are some of the "French Blues" I got this summer.

Lithops julii

Here are a few more. The old leaves have only taken a few days to shrink up like that. These are the same Lithops that got "bleached" (sunburned) this summer when I kept them outside for too long. They recovered, and as you can see, the new leaves are full of rich color. I am as relieved as they are (pun intended).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pensive Tuesday: Under Pressure

I don't know about you all, but my calendar for the next two months is just stuffed! And most of it with "Things I Have To Do", not "Things I Want To Do".  My "Must Do ASAP" list for 2013, at least for these first few months, is so long it's giving me nightmares. I'm following a new health plan to be more fit and, well, healthy. One of the main rules is "Stop Stressing".  Yeah, right.... A lobotomy might help with that!

In the midst of all this frenetic activity and stress, how do my 100+ plants fit in? Well, it's actually very nice to have living things waiting for my attention. It means I have to stop what I'm doing, curb the stressing, and spend some time with the chlorophyllian creatures. Or they'll die. That's a pretty strong incentive to slow it down and get with the watering program. And once I do take a little time, and a few breaths, I realize that life is also about appreciating beautiful, cheerful moments. Like a blooming Babytoes! (Yes, it bloomed again.)

Do plants and pets help curb your stress and force you to breathe once in a while??

Saturday, January 19, 2013

More Weather Weirdness

Well, of course, as soon as I blogged about the crazy-hot weather we've been having, a cold front swooped down from Canada...temps dropped about 30F, the wind picked up to tropical-storm force, and we've got icy rain to boot.

My poor outdoor succulents and cacti are feeling doomed, I fear. The Lithops, which are indoor/outdoor, don't know what is going on. They are blooming, they're releafing, going dormant, then trying to bloom again. As soon as it's sunny enough to phograph them, I'll post about it with pics. For now, I'm just trying to find sweaters and earmuffs for everyone!

It wouldn't surprise me one bit to find snow on the beach this morning....

Have a wonderful weekend, and stay warm, or cool, as need be!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pensive Tuesday: The Arctic is Messing With My Lithops

And it's partly my fault....You see, we're having the strangest winter here. It's about 10C warmer than it usually is, and should be, in January. We're getting plenty of fog and a little rain, and it's supposedly the "dry season". Our wet season is summer, when it's hot hot hot. Our dry season is winter, when it's cool and arid. That's the subtropics. That WAS the subtropics.  As we force-feed warming gases to our atmosphere, we start meltin' things. Right now, we're melting the Arctic most of all. I've been up there, and I can tell you, it's getting weird up there.

Arctic Hare, Feeling Weird (MR 2011)
Bizarre, contorted loops in the jet stream are to blame for the unreasonable cold in parts of the world that should be warmer, and the summery warmth here. The Wunderblog has a post on it today:
Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University in the US thinks that the melting Arctic fuels these bizarre jet stream loops. As they get warmer at the North Pole, we get loopier down here.... So I'm running on the beach without a jacket in January....

And flowers that shouldn't even be in bud yet are nearly finished for the spring!

My Lithops really don't know what to think, and are going dormant, blooming, and showing their new leaf pairs, all at once. Awkward. Even the incredibly tough and resilient Mother of Millions is blooming early.

What a mess! Are the plants in your part of the world a bit out of sync, also??

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Blooms, Offsets, Sunsets

We're having beautiful weather. Too beautiful, really. It's much more like the end of spring, sunny, hot and humid, than the middle of winter. My cacti should be entirely dormant now, and using cold nights to grow next years flower buds.

They are...confused.

Mammillaria hahniana

Another Mammilaria
 And yet another Mammillaria is not blooming, but ofsetting like crazy....

Of course, the flowers are beautiful, but this is unsettling to say the least. I feel a Pensive Tuesday post coming on...but for now, just a beautiful sunset over the river for a lovely weekend.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Soap, Pots, and Baby Lithops

I've been feeling a little better, so I'm using my minimal energy to make a few things, and tend some seedlings. I just received some beautiful Italian Lemon essential oil (from Italy), and some exceptionally fragrant lavender eo from a farm in Oregon. I combined them with my honey soap and made some aliens, as we were running low (on both aliens and soap):

Lemon Lavendar Aliens, squeaky clean.

And it was time to make the first PetraPots of 2013. More Tillies mean more pots.... I didn't let these drying greenware pots stand out in the rain, fortunately!

They and a few others are heading for the kiln today.  And of course, I wanted to water the Lithops seedlings; most have their first adult leaf pairs now. Each one is different!

You can see 4 very different types in the closeup. Doesn't mean they are different species of course (the seed packet was simply labeled Lithops), but time will tell. They are each quite attractive.

It's certainly nice to be up and about a bit once more. Lying around coughing was getting plain boring.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pensive Tuesday: Calling In Sick

These past few weeks have been a real learning opportunity. What am I learning about? Influenza B! We're having a true epidemic here. I haven't been this sick for about 5 years. Yuck. And once the flu is over, there's this 2-week long thing called "Post Influenza Fatigue and Malaise".

I am fatigued and malaised.... I need to take more medicine.

Since my brain is operating on the level of a beached jellyfish, I only have practical, immediate thoughts for Pensive Tuesday. Like...who's going to take care of my 100+ plants until I can get out of bed?

Do you have a plantsitter? Do you have several?

3 Men and a Bunch of Lithops??? I called Tom Selleck, but he was sadly unavailable....

I really do need to get a couple of people trained to take care of these unusual plants. I make candy, so I will bribe them with it.

Mind you, Lithops and other mesembs, and Tillies, can do a Cam Idle and be left pretty much to themselves for at least a week or two. But sometimes, we get called away for longer periods. I really do need to train a couple of plantsitters.... What do you do for plant-sitting?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Marlothistella: A Tufted Mesemb

A tufted mesemb, what does that mean? Well, if you are tufty, you have fingered leaves, usually textured and packed together. Your stems are short, and of course, your leaves are succulent. In the case of Marlothistella, the tufts multiply exponentially!

This is a fast-growing mesemb that can cover large sections of ground. It can handle a lot of variation in the environment, so I think it would work well outdoors, in a rock garden, or anchoring your fragile hillsides for future generations.

Marlothistella uniondalensis, MR 2012
The tufty Marlos are named after the augustly named apothecary and botanist Dr. Hermann Wilhelm Rudolf Marloth (but they just called him "Hermy"), who lived from 1855 to 1931. It grows in only a tiny portion of the Little Karoo of Western Cape Province, South Africa. It likes quartz flats. And sunny spots. And acid soil. When it gets more water, like mine does, the leaves grow more horizontally. During periods of less water, the leaves grow more vertically. They are spotted and slightly fuzzy. I water mine once a week.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Gardening Resolutions

In The Garden, MR, 2010
For 2013, I've come up with the following resolutions for my gardening (habit) hobby. I'm trying to keep it simple and paint with broad brushstrokes....

1. Concentrate on learning more about the plants I already keep, rather than racing off to find new specimens like I did in 2012!
2. Learn more about botany. Review the basics, and hopefully, take a university-level class.
3. Practice botanical drawing and painting. Try both abstracts, and realistic depictions.

That will do for a year, I think! What are your gardening resolutions for 2013?