Sunday, April 23, 2017

Lithops steineckeana and some others starting to grow (11 pics)

It is very cold outside but the sun in shining and you can see positive changes in lithops every day. All past hardships are forgotten and they are ready for this new season. 

Lithops steineckeana are probably the least lithops-looking of the genus. Supposedly, they are a cross between L. pseudotruncatella and some conophytum, and their looks do seem to support that, but who knows?

I grew below plants from seed. They are now 6 years old but they have never flowered for me. This year they have regenerated beautifully as always but have been nibbled on by mites a little bit. (The question is what has not been nibbled on by mites on my windowsill this winter?) Good thing lithops are not bothered by that much and get over it by the next regeneration.

The elongated form is the normal shape they grow in and the patterns lithops have only on top of their leaves actually go all the way down L. steineckeana's sides.

I do have one that is shorter. It is currently sharing its container with some L. gracilidelineata.

Same as their shape, the pattern is also not very stable. The below plant originated from the same batch of seeds, maybe even the same seed pod, but it almost looks like L. pseudotruncatella. If you have many seedlings you will see some completely white, others with little windows of L. pseudotruncatella patterns, and yet others that are fully patterned as L. pseudotruncatella. I only have 5 plants and they are all different.

Lithops lesliei 'Fred's Redhead' (more like Blackhead) I grew from seed back in 2011 have not escaped mites either. They're doing fine though. The color is so crazy dark when they are freshly changed! Too bad they also never flower. Only when the sunlight falls on them in a specific angle the red comes out. Otherwise they are all dark purple.

While lithops are plumping up like this L. bromfieldii v. glaudinae 'Rubroroseus' (5 years old)...

... most of the Conophytums are already deeply asleep. Make sure you don't bother yours until late August! 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Crassula rupestris pruning (10 pics)

I continue to tidy up the windowsill. Today it's make-over time for the Crassula rupestris. This is actually this same plant only that the big main plant is at my parents home and what I have are cuttings. As you see, this one got completely out of hand. The "last year of darkness" has been tough on it. You can tell its story simply by looking at it. All the stretching when the sun wouldn't come out for weeks. Then I gave up on it. As usual, neglect is the best thing that could happen to succulents. And so, without water, the upper parts grew dense and pretty again this winter like they should. Even with a nice red tan.

Having limited space, I can not be growing this monstrosity. And so it's time to pick up the scissors and prune it into something better. Good thing Crassula rupestris plants (or maybe all Crassulas?) grow roots with no problem and are low-maintenance in general. So let's remove the stretched middle part then. I've done it several times before.

What I like to do is separate all "good" parts with dense growth from the ugly stretched, dry or damaged parts. You have to make sure that there is enough stem with a free node where the new roots can grow from easily. So you cut well into the stretched part, under the first node with leaves. Those leaves you can simply pull off, you don't need them.

If there is a nice cluster of leaves and branches close to the root you can keep it too. Argh, this pic is really out of focus. Sorry about that. Can't re-do it now.

After you remove all parts you don't want you will end up with a bunch of smaller good parts.

Some of them might be really good.

If you want to keep as much of the plant as possible you can also keep the slightly stretched parts if the leaves are meaty. Those will branch out and look much better soon.

And then you'll have some random parts because why not.

Stick all of them into the soil in an arrangement of your liking and that's it. They will soon be rooted and will grow into bushy little leaf balls. Good light and little water will keep them dense and bushy. But if things go wrong again - repeat the procedure.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Adromischus propagation (4 pics)

I hear that the Adromischus price bubble continues to grow, going up to hundreds or even thousands for one plant. This is just too crazy because, as I said before, plants die. There is no way to buy a new plant of a small variety these days. Until the bubble bursts all we can do is propagate what we have.

Several years ago, before the prices exploded, I bought some Adromischus marianae plants. What I got was one f. herrei green form, one f. herrei red(-ish) form, one f. herrei CR1263 (with narriw red leaves) and a "Little Spheroid" cultivar. CR1263 and the Little Spheroid have died on me. But not before I could harvest leaf cuttings for propagation. Now I have a new red plantie and the below two spheroids are doing very well, too. It took them a long time but the new leaves are almost of the size of the cuttings making them into nice compact plants.

As for the next pic, the initial greenie has been growing and flowering and I have grown 2 more plants from its cuttings before. Last year I removed the older leaves and buried the mother-plant deeper to keep the compact round shape. The leaves were planted to re-grow. It took them at least two months to root and another three months for one of them to start growing the first leaf. That's actually quick. It might even take one year in other cases. But what a welcome sight it is!

Btw, I know it is always suggested to root cuttings in dry soil which is a very good advice to prevent rotting. This time however I made sure to keep the soil moist at all times. How rebellious! Very small pot and pumice reduce the danger of rotting though. That's why, I think, it all went quicker. The logic in my mind was basically "Hey guys, it's safe to grow, water is always available." Yes, I talk with my plants and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

I'm also very happy to report that the "kinda" red Ad. marianae f. herrei plant I bought from a guy saying "I sold out all red plants but I have one with a bit of red, will you take it?" has developed a real red color this winter.

All in all, growing Adros is satisfying and bugs don't like them much. It takes them a long time to grow but on the plus side - so cute!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Spring is here! (28 pics)

It has been some time since I last updated and I must say it was mostly due to my disappointment with my inability to get rid of mites. No one likes to admit defeat. I am even losing my beautiful Anacampseros seedlings. Although I have so many it is not quite that dramatic. Lithops are unaffected which leads me to the conclusion that I might wanna go back to the roots and grow more lithops again, while reducing the amount of other, mite-friendlier plants. Speaking of "reducing", I am down 7 kilos and have reached my goal. Now I can fill myself up with chocolate again! :D
In other news, Mila has developed some food intolerances and gets super healthy hypoallergenic food these days. Unfortunately that's the food she finds rather yucky. She does not understand meat and meaty smells (where are those predator instincts?) so that I have to trick her into eating it with "fastfood" smells on top. Luckily there are grain-free treats and tasty liver cremes around to help me.

Back to the plants. Now that spring is here and the sun is shining almost all lithops have regenerated. Hopefully we will have a warmer and sunnier year. The plants are a bit too small and I think I need to fertilize. I normally don't do that. The conditions do not allow the plants to get bigger without losing their shape. I need to time it right or I'll have cucumbers instead of lithops in no time. Also, I really need to continue transplanting and putting things in order on the windowsill. Lots to do. But not today.

Let me first focus on positive things. I really need some motivation. Rather then whining about mites all the time here are the pretty pretty lithops plants that are doing great and show their fresh new faces. No claw marks yet this year! Forgive me the dust and cat hair on the plants. Pretend it is the "natural" look ;)

And by the way, if you click on a picture you will not only see it xxl size but also see the name of the plant in the file title.

And here are my own seedlings. Some of the youngest have grown 2 heads this winter.