Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pruning the Deuterocohnia

Even though my plants are my babies, sometimes I totally drop the ball and neglect one even though it's crying for help. I can't explain why.
I got this Deuterocohnia brevifolia (pretty sure on that ID) at the Garfield Park Conservatory when they had their post-hailstorm fundraiser sale. (The hoya I bought that day died almost immediately.) Carrying this huge thing to the cashier station was one of the most painful experiences of my life. Those spines are SHARP!
I love this sassy, prickly, historical thing. It's unlike my other bromeliads, being terrestrial and desert-adapted, and it's pretty unusual.

So yeah, I dropped the ball. Moving it across the country was hard on it, with those stiff branches getting bent and roughhoused, and then I put it in front of a window where the dogs can knock into it occasionally. I noticed after a few months that some of the stems had died. I put off working on it (did I mention it's SHARP?) but finally sucked it up and did it.
I started from the ends and worked backwards, removing everything dead. There are some remaining stems that may be dying from the proximal ends outward, but since even the living stems look dead at that end, I will wait and be sure before doing any more butchery.

I discovered in the process that the silly plant flowered at some point. D. brevifolia has green flowers so it's not surprising that I missed it. IMG_0278
I also took a few stem cuttings and many leaf cuttings. I don't expect the leaf cuttings to work at all, and nothing online suggests that they could work, but hey, why not try? The cuttings are callousing and will be planted soon. I invested in some rooting hormone to give them a better shot at rooting. IMG_0280
The stems in cross-section are interesting, very fibrous with distinct dark brown vessels. I don't know what special role the brown vessels play. Desert plants are often fibrous because fibers provide strength with very little water content.
The finished product. Fingers crossed for a healthy recovery!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Window garden, part 2

In a sudden burst of creativity, I went to the workshop today and built a shelf for the window. It's 52"x8" with raised sides; no real reason for the raised sides except I thought it would look nice, and maybe it will reduce the chance of pots getting knocked off. Installed, the window trim will form the 4th side. All the wood is scrap pine we had in the garage. The sides I ripped from a ratty-looking 2x4 that was much nicer on the inside.
Now that I know the shelf fits correctly, I just need to give it a quick sanding, stain it, and wait for the cast iron brackets to arrive. (I've discovered the joys of buying hardware on eBay!) And if it all turns out the way I hope, I'll make a similar shelf for my office window, and I can move some of the plants off the Majestic stove.
I mean, it's cute, but it is a *stove* after all.

Monday, January 7, 2013

It's a new year! Let's grow stuff!

One of my goals this year is to finally get a window garden underway. We have a south-west facing window in the dining room that will suit just fine. I dug out my shoebox of seeds and potted up a few things I thought would do okay indoors, mostly leafy stuff.
We have mesclun, cilantro, parsley, basil, rosemary, and thyme (no sage, sadly). Most are from Renee's Garden Seeds or Botanical Interests. I used my usual mix of 2 parts soil (Fox Farms organic) to 1 part perlite (which makes me sneeze!). For now they must live on the table until I get the windowsill shelf built.