Ficus Pumila...

... can just go to hell. And nearly did.

I JUST got this plant and I've already maimed it. I had heard so much about this plant being tough, so I was really surprised when half of the foliage crisped up in ONE DAY, and I had to cut it all back. With hanging pots I'm usually concerned about overwatering, because excess water has no means to drain and can easily cause root rot. Thus I held back on the water and amped up the misting in an attempt to meet moisture needs through humidity... and killed it with kindness. I also neglected to repot it with a better, healthier mix when I brought it home, which was simply foolish. It shouldn't take too long to bounce back as long as I'm careful about the watering. I'll be keeping a much better eye on it - as you can see, it's a spider mite infestation waiting to happen. Apologies for catbutt.

After the loss of my asplenium bulbiferum and the rather accidental assassination of my Dryopteris erythrosora (previously and erroneously labelled "Davallia"), I needed a new fern to cheer me up.

According to the greenhouse people, "It's a red fern. A red-leaf fern." Erm... okey dokey. Hopefully I'll find out what it actually is before I kill it. In other news, I have resumed the terrarium art project...

These globes are on the fifth day of their quarantine. In case my ingredients were not perfectly sterile, I decided to give each little microsystem a week or so to start "breathing" properly and send up any volunteer stowaways. Next week I'll add a thin, thin layer of wet peat to the top, and then my Kyoto moss spores. The labels indicate different watering techniques (I'm trying to find the best way to prevent mildew and compaction).



Here I go, here I go, here I go again.
Girls, what's my weakness?

"Home Depot!"

Ok then. As anyone involved in the arts can attest, Home Depot is a dangerous place to be. Sculptors, painters, costume designers... you walk in and out of those motion-sensor doors, and all of your drinking money for the week has gone the way of the dodo. Now that I'm older and out of art school, I make fewer purchases like "plastic lawn deer to melt down" or "blacklights for neon velvet tableaus," but Home Depot has still figured out a way to take my money. They take it with their shitty, shitty plants.

Seeking fortifications for our domicile, the boyfriend and I make the long and treacherous journey from Rohan (Rogers Park), past Minas Tirith ("Minas TV," our favorite video store) and finally arrived at the encampment at Helm's Deepot. Here is a map (click to enlarge).

So I'm in there, chillin, chillin, minding my business, and what do I see? A big variegated Ficus pumila (probably "Sunny") for sale, on the cheap. I mean yes, it had lots of dead foliage, and probably spider mites, and root rot. But I understand that what when you buy plants from a store like the 'Po, you just want a holla for a dolla. So I grabbed that, and several other sickly little bastards. All the while, my boyfriend is shaking his head in disgust.

"Why do we need that?" he says of the beacarnea.
"Well it's only three dollars, and there's nine plantlets in there... if I raise them and sell them, we could make a profit."

"Uh huh," says he, "what about that?"
"Cotyledon tomentosa?" I struggled for an answer. "Well... look, it just has to come home with us. It looks like little furry paws, reaching out for help. Plus I don't have one yet."

And so...


Now to separate the beaucarneas. As I said, there were nine beautiful little plantlets in the pot.

First I teased out the rootball as much as I could. When no more dirt would come out I gave the rootball a good rinse and eased the plants apart very gently.

In an attempt to preserve the roots and create as little damage as possible, I used my fingers to untangle the knot of roots, literally pulling out each root at a time. Luckily it went well and there was little breakage. At this stage I should have sprinkled on a little rooting hormone, but I forgot.

I decided to pot the plants in several different mediums, just to see what would work. Nobody needs nine ponytail palms, so if some of them die I will say, "IT WAS IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE!" I labeled them with my goofy shorthand.

While I washed my hands, one was immediately eaten in its entirety by the cats (RIP). Five of them went into a mix of equal parts cactus soil (CS), perlite (PL), and small lava rock (pum). Two of these are a sort of control group, outside in plastic pots. Then two of them are outside in clay pots, and one is inside in plastic. Finally, one plant apiece went into plain cactus soil, plain perlite, and plain potting mix (PS).

Good luck, baby ponytails!


Nothing like that Homegrown

What started as a humble windowbox on my back porch has become an urban catnip lab. It must be the good stuff, because I've got stoners and layabouts of the feline persuasion howling and running in circles every time someone goes out the back door. My lavender smells heavenly, and just became full enough to warrant a little harvest:

Finally... pictures of the ledebouria (socialis?) bloom:

The recently separated aloe parvula "Jacobsonii" pup:

And that's all for today.