Friday, January 29, 2016

Curly Locks Cactus

Epiphyllum guatamalense var. monstrose...that's a quite a mouthful of Latin nomenclature! The common name, Curly Locks, is a little easier to handle, and describes the ringlet-like, curly leaves. The Latin name is pretty informative though and tells us that this is an epiphyte from Guatemala with monstrously deformed leaves. I was recently reading about this plant in Bizarre Botanicals and learned that the leaves of this variety curl due to a genetic anomaly. Also, interestingly, this plant can produce fruit and viable seeds without being pollinated!

A colleague gave me some stem cuttings back in September 2015. They rooted very easily and started to grow new side shoots after 2 or 3 months.

The cuttings I received also had a couple of ripe fruit that resembled miniature dragon fruits (I didn't think to take a photo). I decided to see if the seeds would germinate, so I squished them out of the sticky pulp, wiped the goopy seeds onto some potting soil, and put them under the misters in our propagation greenhouse. Within a week or two, the seeds started to germinate.

The seedlings seemed to stay in the cotyledon stage FOREVER, but eventually I started to see tiny stems poking through.

Almost 4 months later, they're starting to show their curly growth habit.

And I'm extremely excited to see that they've started to grow tiny side shoots at the base of the main stem. I recently moved these from the propagation house (lower light, higher humidity), into one of our production greenhouses (higher light, lower humidity). Here's hoping the higher light levels will jump-start their growth. I would really like to get these bulked up enough to offer them at our plant sale in May.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Faucaria 'Jaws'

Here's one of the cutest succulents I've ever seen: Faucaria 'Jaws'. These rooted cuttings were donated last fall to be used for some of our undergraduate horticulture classes. The leftovers have been potted up for our plant sale fundraiser coming up in May. They remind me a little of Venus fly traps and look like they could bite your finger off if you touch them (hence the name Jaws).

Although the spines look sharp, they're actually soft and bendable to the touch. I've never grown Faucaria before, so I'm looking forward to tracking it's progress. I have a feeling that these will form offsets and develop into a clump over time.

One of the plants I potted up for our collection has started to flower! It's the only one out of the whole batch that's flowering, so I must have given it some extra attention. Here's the tag, if you're interested:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Last of My Seed Orders Has Arrived!

We spend January furiously ordering plants and seeds for the upcoming year. I just received the last of my seed orders the other day, this packet of Solanum atropurpureum. I hunted high and low to find this seed and eventually found a Canadian company, Urban Harvest, that carried it. They were nice enough to give me a reduced shipping rate since I ordered a single packet.

This variety will be grown for our "Weird and Wonderful" garden, a themed garden I am curating this year. It will be showcased along side approximately 40 other oddball varieties (I'll elaborate in other posts). This quirky plant, also known as Malevolence, forms a small shrub with dark purple stems covered in long spines. It forms small, eggplant-like, poisonous fruit. I'm really looking forward to growing this for the first time, although the common name alone gives me a sense of foreboding!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

About This Blog

Hello and welcome to my blog!

Plants and gardening have been a big part of my life for a long time. It all began in first grade when my teacher gave me a cutting from her classroom spider plant. I've been a vegetable gardener since the mid-90's and studied horticulture since 2008. I started working as a full-time horticulturist at the MSU Horticulture Gardens in 2013 and it is THE BEST JOB EVER!

My goal for this blog is to document my day to day experiences as a professional horticulturist. Between my personal and professional life, I grow hundreds of varieties and over 30,00 individual plants each year. I'd love to share some of their stories with you!