I’m a bit of a closet African violet fan. More than any other plant, African violets seem to have a demographic, and I am very much not it. My interest began with the success I had with a couple of plants while living in a dorm room in my first year of university. I already had the plants and didn’t think much of them until I discovered that they loved the hot and humid environment in my room. From that point on I have always had at least one. I currently have six, which is all the space I can afford to dedicate to them.
If I had more space you can bet I’d have lots more. I’m addicted to the variegated varieties with frilly leaves. I can’t resist the African Violet Society tables at events like the CNE. The society sells leaf cuttings of all sorts of interesting varieties for easy propagation — only 2 bucks a pop. All but one of my current plants were acquired in this way. These days I just repeat the mantra, “Walk away, don’t even look at those cuttings.” and buy another bulb I don’t have space to plant at the bulb booth instead.
The other day, I bought a Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula) for the greenhouse. There is an issue with whitefly and I figured perhaps a carnivorous plant will act as a botanical guard dog and keep them away from our part of the greenhouse.
Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. By that logic I should have bought one for every shelf. At least I’ll have an excuse if I happen upon any sundews for sale. Unfortunately, that almost never happens. I love sundews most of all.
I had to take the fly trap home with me tonight because there wasn’t any distilled water at the greenhouse, but I found a bottle on the way home and will be returning the plant next week. Until then she is sitting on my desk and needs a name.
This is the flowering cactus I mentioned in another post last week. It is yet to be identified. I would have done so already, but my gigantic cactus tome is currently unavailable. I’ve got it stacked in a pile of all of my biggest gardening books beneath the seed-starter, acting as a booster seat so that the seedlings can get as close to the light source as possible.
The next time you pass on a gigantic gardening coffee table book due to the expense, consider that it will serve you in more ways than one. I also use my enormous books to press plant materials and keep recently-glued paper flat. And if the unfortunate occasion were to arise, they could also make an unwieldy, but effective self-defense weapon. Come to think of it, arm weights are another possible option.
Everything they say is true. Gardening really is good for health and well-being!
The title is a quote from this video. No truer words have been spoken.
Spring must be in the air because I bought two cactus plants this week. The first is some kind of barrel cactus with beautiful burgundy spines (photos are forthcoming). The second is the plant seen in the photo above. I just bought it not an hour ago on an outing to the post office. It’s a Rhipsalis capilliformis, and the forth pencil cactus I have grown. I kind of like them, a lot. You can see another in my collection over here.
This week’s purchasing frenzy stems from a sudden impulse to fill my workspace with cheery cut flowers. And I’m not the only one. Over the course of the week, I passed several people on the street carrying bouquets. However, I generally don’t buy cut flowers due to the many problems with the floral industry and because I am inherently cheap. Frankly, I can get a living plant that will offer years of joy for the same price as a bunch of flowers that will be in the compost bin next week. The choice seems obvious.
Besides, the other cactus (not pictured) is blooming! Real blooms, not one of those stuck-on with super glue messes.
While in the Cuban countryside, we came upon a number of very old cemeteries that always sat right next to the ocean. I was told that one cemetery dated back to 1919. How they managed to survive the hurricanes when so many homes with much more distance from the ocean haven’t is beyond me.
This particular type of euphorbia seemed to skirt the edges of all but one of them. That one was fenced by a much tougher euphorbia. This plant looks very similar to Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) and I’ve been struggling to decide if it is or isn’t since our trip. Here’s a closer shot.
My argument FOR identifying it as Poinsettia are:
- It gets very scraggly and vine-like when growing in tropical countries. Nothing like the potted plants North Americans display and then subsequently toss every holiday season.
- Let’s compare. Here’s a picture I took in Mexico years ago. This particular plant was growing in the tended garden of someone’s backyard. Plants were being watered with hoses through the duration of our stay. So the difference here is a tended plant versus a plant that is left to fend for itself.
- It was the dry season, which would account for extra straggliness.
- It was growing in sand literally just off the beach. The beach was right on the other side of the cemetery. There were some trees providing a bit of shade but many plants were fully exposed. Let me tell you, it was HOT and the sun was punishing. That’s a lot for a poinsettia to take. They prefer a bit of shade coverage.
- Look at the leaves and the little red bracts. They look right, albeit on the small side. But numbers 2, 3, and 4 could account for that.
My argument AGAINST identifying it as Poinsettia are:
- I find it shocking to believe that poinsettia could survive that degree of extreme heat, sun and drought. See #4 (above).
- There are gazillions of euphorbias in the world. I’ll admit my experience of them barely begins to cover the myriad of species out there. There is a very good chance that there is a plant very similar to poinsettia.
- I am not an authority on poinsettias. I can barely stand the plant. Although I will say that I much prefer it growing wild and straggly. The cultivated potted varieties do little for me.
What do you think? Yay or nay?
As an aside, here’s another shot of the same cemetery. It was pretty incredible. Sigh. Let’s all get on a plane right now and go to Cuba together. I hear it’s warm there.