Whoopsie Doodles, and Other Projects

Hey y'all, remember that Homalomena that I just rescued from certain death?


Damn, I'm good! Now come up to the lab, and see what's on the slab.

Agave parryi is back inside, beginning the adjustment to winter quarters. This is my first experiment with tender perennials. Will it survive? We'll see. Is the cat tail more a photobomb or a derp?

Dieffenbachia (noid) had to be rebooted. I don't know what went wrong... maybe it was a watering problem, because all the leaves went chlorotic. In any case, this is still an open project... after being cut back to square one, new leaves are sprouting nicely!

Amaryllis hippeastrum 'Sydney.' Man, I really should put a cute soil cover on that to hide the plastic. By the way, if you want to have an Amaryllis bloom in time for Christmas, you need to get started... well, a couple of weeks ago actually. But there's no harm in starting now! You may get a bloom in time for the holidays, and if you don't, think of it this way: won't you be needing a little botanical cheer in your life come January, when the christmas lights are all down, and there are no flowers to be had until spring? With this in mind, I'm staggering a few bulbs for continuous bloom. Including...

Narcissus tazetta (paperwhite); an oldie but a goodie. DANG I need to get some soil covers going on. Maybe I'll buy some of that heinous neon-green dyed moss.

And finally, a mixed grouping of sedum cuttings, plus some sempervivums and one opuntia. Don't ask me why I keep growing different opuntias, because I don't know. "Opuntia: A Genus of Assholes." Anyway, I'm hoping to have them all rooted in time for spring container planting! 


Botanical Magic

Like John Fortune in China, like John Tradescant in Russia, I will gladly cross faraway lands in search of plants. Last week, I went on just such a mission. At Grand Street Gardens, I obtained several cute Peperomias and an Auracaria araucana (a.k.a. Monkey Puzzle Tree). Emboldened by success, I threw caution to the wind and ventured south from my kingdom, into that lawless wasteland, The South Suburbs. 

Forging through an ocean of K-Marts, subsisting only on Portillos, I finally arrived at my destination: the Black Gates of Ted's Greenhouse. It is appropriate that this unholy garden center be located in Tinley Park, for Tinley Park is a godless and inhospitable backcountry, providing the perfect protection for Ted and his minions. Yes, I have returned from this journey with plants, and with the truth of the matter: Ted is guilty of witchcraft most foul.

Ficus rubiginosa 'Variegata' 

"Alright, what are you talking about," you ask. I will tell you. They are just too good. Their level of expertise may be partially explained by green thumbs and horticultural degrees, but at least part of it has got to be Black Mass. Not only does this greenhouse grow FOUR kinds of passionflowers, including a PINK one, but they have got fruit. FRUIT! Upon this observation, I basically ran around until I found an employee, and made him look too just to be sure I wasn't crazy. No, he explained, those dozens of juicy, perfect orange spheres really were passion fruit. But, he continued, they are empty fruits because we don't have the correct pollinators in this area. He grabbed one off the vine and opened it for me to see... it was totally hollow. That's when I really began to suspect that Satan was involved. 

Agave NOID.

I saw many other plants which confirmed this suspicion. They have got variegated things there that... well... just SHOULDN'T be variegated. Their cactus and succulent department has shelves marked "Not For Sale," and the plants on those shelves are CLEARLY the product of the Dark Arts. 

Pachypodium lamerei

Obviously I could not resist the pink passionflower, ficus, or pachypodium. I also brought home a really amazing lithops, a stapelia hirsuta, some hard-to-find abutilons, and a gorgeous grevillea robusta. Another employee told me a wonderful story about the days when grevilleas were a popular holiday plant. Before poinsettias were improved to their modern state, grevilleas were used to fill the middle of circular plantings of poinsettias to obscure their legginess. Nice try, guys. You may have sold holiday poinsettias, but I think at this point we all know that you were acutally celebrating WIZARD SABBATH.

I'm lucky I escaped with my soul... and all these awesome plants. 


Oh Nomena, Homalomena!

Only because it was exotic and cute, I purchased a Homalomena (wallisii, possibly 'Camouflage') from Helm's Deepot. Literature on this houseplant was pretty scant, but I should have known better than to let it dry out, since I had just read exactly that advice via Mr. Subjunctive. But what can I say... when it comes to screwing up plants, I have a very special gift. So, after only a couple days in my house, the poor Homalomena was ready to give up the ghost. 

The first emergency care step was to rehydrate the soil and shower the leaves in the sink.

Then I employed a humidity bag. This is a really useful trick whenever your plants are suffering from dry air, are recovering from spider mites, or recently wilted from underwatering. Any clear, roomy plastic bag will work. Make sure you let your pot drain thoroughly before you bag it, to protect against drowning and rot. For example, I use a rubber band to affix the bag to the sides of the pot, so the drainage holes are still uncovered and breathing free. I also inflate the bag before I seal it up, so that the leaves aren't laying against moist plastic. Who knows... the plants may appreciate the carbon dioxide as well.

And look: by morning light, satisfactory bounce-back! The humidity-bag treatment has a certain window of efficacy; given too much time without water, and there is no possibility of recovery. I have tried to revive many a wilted Abutilon with a humidity bag, without success. And as you can see, a couple of the lower leaves on the homalomena died (they will have to be removed). But all in all, a successful crisis intervention.