Monday, March 28, 2016

Around the Greenhouse March 28, 2016

Here are a few shots from the greenhouse today. Most of the plants shown below are for our plant sale fundraiser coming up in May.


Echinaceae from seed:

Setcreasea pallida:






Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fenestraria aurantiaca (AKA Baby Toes)

I picked up a Fenestraria aurantiaca at Home Depot late this winter. I've seen these many times before, but for some reason, it looks like a plant I have a high chance of killing. I have a very green thumb in general, but I have my limits. So far, it has done well. I was excited that the specimen I bought had some visible buds.

Here is the plant label:

Those flower buds developed and opened into these beautiful cheery yellow blooms.

So far so good, but we'll see if I can ever get it to bloom again. I'll be happy if I can just keep this little guy alive.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Living Succulent Wreath

We recently hosted a class on making living succulent wreaths. Here are a few shots of the wreaths we made back in December to use as examples for our class in March. This wreath was made with Echeveria 'Black Prince' and 'Topsy Turvy', and Sedum 'Angelina'.

Each attendee made their own moss covered wreath using two wreath frames wired back-to-back, potting mix, sphagnum moss, and LOTS of paddle-wire. The wreath below was made with Echeveria 'Violet Queen' and 'Black Prince'.

We plant to sell our display wreaths at our upcoming plant sale fundraiser in May.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hypoestes from Seed

I am growing Hypoestes 'Splash Select Mix' for our plant sale. It is always popular because it is such an unusual looking plant. They take quite a while to bulk up, so I started these quite early this year. I love how you can almost distinguish the different colors very early on.

After a couple of week, the tiny seedlings show above were large enough to transplant out into flats.

A few weeks later, you can really start to see the polka-dot pattern. These are great little plants for fairy gardens, can be grown as houseplants, and do well outside in shadier conditions.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi variegata 'Aurora Borealis'

Here is yet another of the many succulents I purchased at Home Depot this winter. This one is Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi variegata 'Aurora Borealis'. I already have one of these at work, but I've had a lot of problems with that particular specimen. All of the leaf edges (specifically, where the white part is) keep burning and turning necrotic.  Maybe this is because this is a chimera? I'm hoping this new plant will have fewer problems.

Like other kalanchoes, this plant will eventually form little plantlets on the leaf margins.

And here's the tag. This specimen doesn't have as much of the pink coloration as my previous one, but then again, it has been sitting in a dim Home Depot warehouse for weeks. It'll probably color up soon.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Surprise Project

I bought a whole shopping cart full of dinosaur toys the other day! Stay tuned for updates on what I'm doing with these. It'll make sense eventually.

 Some of them spent some time in the vice...

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cannas from Bowling Balls

Did you know that cannas grow from miniature bowling balls? Blue bowling balls?

Okay, not really, but that's what canna seeds always remind me of this time of year. Many of the seed varieties come coated in a fungicide. They make the fungicide blue so you know its there (and don't lick your fingers afterwards). The seeds are also laser-drilled with a couple of tiny holes to break through the seed coat.

They come up pretty quickly and the seedlings are adorable!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


I took a walk around the annual gardens this morning. Now that the snow is melting, I can take stock of what needs to be done for spring cleanup (such as repairing all the snow-plow damage to the sod).

These cheery little guys were out in full bloom. Other spring blooms will be soon to follow.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Butterfly House Opens Soon

Our butterfly house is about to open for the year. This chrysalis fell down while we were misting the rearing box (the maintain high humidity). It seems very upset about us trying to help.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Around the Greenhouse March 2nd, 2016

Here are a few shots from around the greenhouse. In the next few weeks things will be filling up very quickly.

Annual ornamental grasses:

Various annuals, mostly young seedlings:



Friday, February 26, 2016

Oxalis Pips

We got a huge bag of 1,000 Oxalis triangularis pips donated almost a year ago. They've been sitting in the cooler this whole time, but they still look viable. Some of them even have tiny light-starved shoots growing out of them.

They sold really well in last year's sale, so I potted some up for this year's sale. We can market these as both a houseplant and an annual, so I'm growing two batch for the two different displays.

I'm not sure if "pip" is the correct word, but that's what I've always heard these worm-like roots called. I also heard citrus and apple seeds called pips, so maybe it's just a general word for small seed-like thingy.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Succulent Living Wreath-making Class!

I'm very excited to be teaching our upcoming Succulent Living Wreath class as part of our spring Curious Gardener series. We've been propagating echeveria and many other succulents this winter in preparation for this class. If you live in the Lansing, MI area, please consider signing up:

Start your garden season by creating a stunning succulent living wreath to hang on a door, fence, or set on a table. Succulents can thrive where little else will grow! Jessica Wright (Youth Education Coordinator) and Daedre McGrath (Annual Garden Manager) will take you step-by-step through the process of creating your own uniquely ornamental wreath. Each participant will be provided with all plants and materials needed to make a living wreath to take home. 

 $35 for Garden Members, $40 for Non-Members. 
Class Limit: 25

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Unusual Blooms

Here are a few plants blooming in the greenhouse right now. This Peperomia caperata 'Purple Ripple' has flowers that look like a rat's tail.

 I've never seen a Euphorbia tirucalli bloom before, so I was surprised to discover this bloom the other day. Looks like there are a bunch more on the way in the cluster below the open bloom (in the foreground).

I'm pretty sure this is Mammillaria elongata, or Golden Star cactus. I was also surprised to find this little guy flowering.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Transplanting Geranium Seedlings

I started the geraniums for our plant sale two weeks ago. It's now time to transplant them from their seedling tray into a flat. We use a special dibble board to punch holes into the soil of our 48-cell flats. Then I separate the seedlings and lay them across the holes. Next I use a chopstick to push each seedling into their hole.

People are really surprised by how little we fuss with the seedlings when we transplant them. The less they are handled, the better. All we really need to do is get their roots in contact with the soil...they do all the rest.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Gasteria maculata

Here's a plant I've had for quite a while. It doesn't ever seem to grow, but I suppose it has been multiplying without me realizing it. I purchased this plant at least 5 years ago from the MSU Student Horticulture Association annual plant sale fundraiser.

I should make some divisions and propagate a few more of these in the future.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Adromischus cristatus 'Key Lime Pie'

Here's yet another specimen I picked up at Home Depot recently. I know absolutely nothing about Adromischus cristatus, but I couldn't resist the wavy-edged leaves. I've never seen anything like it before. The common name, Key Lime Pie refer to the crinkled-edge of pie crust. Another common name is Crinkle-leaf plant or Pie Crust plant.

You can't see them very well in this photo, but there do appear to be some form of spines of fine hairs near the center of the rosette.

And here's the info on the tag.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

What I'm Sowing This Week

Here's a list of what I sowed this week (and the last couple of weeks, since I didn't think to do this earlier). The names jump around between common name and Latin name, depending on how the companies submit them to us. 

Sown Week 6 (this week) :
 Gerbera Jaguar Lemon Dark Center
 Gerbera Strawberry Twist
 Hypoestes Splash Select Mix
 Alcea rosea Spring Celebrities Crimson
 Coreopsis Sun Kiss
 Strawberry Delizz

Sown Week 5:
 Trifolium rubens f. album
 Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra
 Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra
 Solidago canadensis
 Solidago virgaurea ssp. Minuta
 Geranium Pinto Premium Deep Red
 Geranium Pinto Premium Salmon
 Geranium Pinto Premium Violet
 Geranium Pinto Premium White to Rose

Sown in January:
 Calamintha nepeta Marvelette Blue
 Cosmos atrosanguineus Maroon Crimson
 Echinacea Cheyenne Spirit
 Echinacea OP
 Echinacea PowWow Wild Berry
 Echinaceae Feeling Pink
 Echinaceae Feeling White
 Helenium autumnale Western Mixture
 Lupin Mini Gallery Blue
 Strawberry Toscana

The Lupinus was sown just a couple weeks ago and you can already recognize the unique starburst-shaped leaf.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Opuntia subulata (AKA Eve's Needle)

Don't you just love it when there's random flotsam hot-glued to your plants?  I really don't know why they do this to cacti and succulents. This plant is bizarre enough on its own, it doesn't need a silly flower to catch your attention. I especially love the hot glue tendrils that they didn't even bother to pick off. In any event, I promptly pried off the flower once I got home from the store.

This is my new Opuntia subulata that I picked up at Home Depot for $3.48. It appears to be thornless and has weird "leaves" growing out of the stem. After looking up information on this plant, it looks like it might develop needles later on in development. I guess, we'll wait and see.

Here's the label on the pot, although I couldn't fit it all in one photo:

Friday, February 5, 2016

Kalanchoe tomentosa 'Chocolate Soldier'

Here is yet another one of the succulents I recently purchased at Home Depot. This fuzzy little guy was $3.33, on sale. I've grown the regular Kalanchoe tomentosa in the past, but I've never had this cultivar. I can't decide if I actually like this cultivar better...I think I just like things that are unusual. I remember having a lot of trouble with my last specimen of Kalanchoe tomentosa, so I hope this one will be easier to grow!

Here's the description from the propagator, Altman Plants:

"Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Chocolate Soldier’, forms a shrubby plant with long oval shaped leaves densely covered in fuzzy felt. There are many cultivars with color variants, but the “true” tomentosa has dove gray leaves with reddish-chocolate margins and tips. This cultivar, ‘Chocolate Soldier’ has chocolate-colored leaves with nearly black markings at the tips. Very attractive, rich chocolate color provides an attractive accent with other plants. Flowers are small, but are quite uniquely attractive furry, bell-shapes that are golden ginger in color. Prefers bright light to full sun. Can be planted in patio plantings or even in garden beds in areas with temperate climes. Use porous soil with adequate drainage. Water thoroughly when soil is dry to the touch. Protect from frost."

And here's the pot label:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Crassula argentea 'Ogre Ears'

I recently purchased a specimen of Crassula argentea 'Ogre Ears' at Home Depot. Normally, I like to use plain terracotta pots, but this particular plant was calling out for something special. I've had this funky orange pot for quite a while, but I haven't used it for a few years. I'm pretty sure it's a garage sale or thrift store find.

This plant was named after the ogre's ears in the movie Shrek. The leaves are really cute and unusual. I also have a Crassula ovata 'Hobbit' that looks really similar. For the longest time, I thought they were the same plant.

The leaves of 'Hobbit' are more tube-shaped, sometimes with a little cup at the tip (see photo below). 'Ogre Ears', on the other hand, has a more pronounced, flared, saucer shape at the tip of the leaf. I think they do get mixed up a lot and are often mislabeled. But from what information I can find, they're not even the same species. To make things even more confusing, there's also a variety of Crassula ovata called 'Gollum', which looks exactly like "Hobbit'. If you know more about this, let me know!

Ogre Ears

Here's the label on the pot for more information: