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:

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sedum adolphii 'Firestorm'

I'm loving this new sedum variety in my succulent collection. The red-orange coloration really makes it stand out. I'm hoping it will hold its color indoors.

One of my colleagues clued me in on the great selection of succulents currently at Home Depot. I've never seen so much variety at a big box store, and there were some truly unusual specimens available (more on these later). This plant came in a 3" pot and was on sale for $3.33 (normally $3.98).

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

"Sedum adolphii, native to Mexico, forms rambling stems with waxy golden yellow leaves with pinkish-peach margins in bright light. Star-shaped white flowers. Excellent color accent in rock gardens and dish gardens. Porous soil with adequate drainage. Thrives in poor, sandy soils. Bright light to full sun. Water thoroughly when soil is dry to the touch. Protect from frost."

And here's the growing information given on the pot. I was pleasantly surprised that Home Depot was selling named varieties. Usually their indoor plants are just labeled "assorted succulent"  or "tropical foliage assortment'.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Early Season Seed-Starting

We're already starting to sow seeds here at the MSU Horticulture Gardens. Perennials take an especially long time to grow from seed, so I usually start them early in the year. This tray was sown on January 18th.

On the far end of this tray are about 6 varieties of Echinaceae including an unreleased variety for our trial gardens. The tall guys in the middle of the tray are Cosmos atrosanguineus, or chocolate cosmos. This is the first seed-propagated chocolate cosmos ever developed, also an experimental variety. In front of the chocolate cosmos is Calamintha, with Lewisia in the extreme foreground.

Simple Beauty

Clockwise from top-left: Setcreasea pallida, purple heart; Tradescantia spathacea variegata, oyster plant; Sansevieria hahnii, bird's nest snake plant; and an unknown rex Begonia

Monday, February 1, 2016

Greenhouse Critters

We often find gray tree frogs in our greenhouses. We're not really sure how they get inside. Maybe they come in on plants we overwinter in the greenhouses (like this banana, below), or maybe they slip through cracks. No one knows. In any event, this is the third one I've found this year, which is way more than normal!

This little guy was sitting on a metal bench in a greenhouse used by a crop and soil sciences class. I moved him into our children's garden greenhouse. We don't use pesticides in that house, and there are some larger plants (like the banana it's climbing on) to hide in. Hopefully he'll survive long enough to move back outside this spring.

Here's another one I found a few weeks ago. This tiny guy was hanging out on a philodendron in our houseplant production area. I assume they must be eating fungus gnats, because that's the main insect we have in the greenhouses right now.

Begonias in Bloom

Our indoor begonia collection is blooming at full blast right now. These plants are mostly grown for their interesting foliage, so it's a treat to see them put on a show for us.

Here's Begonia 'Pegasus', a variety from Proven Winners. We grew this in the trial garden a couple years ago, and this plant made it's way into the greenhouse at the end of the season. We can't propagate from it because it's a copyrighted variety, but it's a fun plant to have in our collection.

These are the flowers of what I believe to be Begonia erythrophylla, or pond lily begonia. We have a lot of unlabeled plants in our collection, so I've been doing my best to identify them.

Here are the flowers of Begonia ricinifolia (again, my best guess at the i.d.), known as the star begonia.

Here's a closer look at the flower stalks of another specimen. They are just starting to open.

Now on to Begonia bowerae 'Tiger'. This plant was given to us by our perennial garden manager. She had kept it as a houseplant for many years, so it's a nice large specimen. This one has really fun foliage, so I actually think the flower stalks detract from it (and make it look a little unkempt).

I've yet to be able to identify this one. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. I'm currently calling it "the unknown sandpapery reddish green leaf begonia". It's just starting to flower, so it's a little behind the others.