Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum Hampshire Medallion

I like paphs in general, but I really like Hampshire Medallion. Big, flattish, light-colored, spotted but not bumpy: something about that combination pleases me.1

There have been a few "Hampshire" paphs previously (Hampshire White Light, Hampshire Greenfield); although they don't appear to be particularly related to Hampshire Medallion, all three plants are registered by the same hybridizer (Arnold J. Klehm), so this appears to be yet another case of a breeder staking a claim on a particular word and naming their entire output after that word, as I-Hsin Biotech has done with "I-Hsin" and OX Orchid Farm has done with "OX."

As I churn through lists of words, looking for names for the Schlumbergera seedlings,2 I'm more and more sympathetic to this approach. I didn't realize before I started doing it just how quickly the list of all possible names gets whittled down, when you're talking about a particular seedling.

Like, soon, I have to come up with a name for an orange Schlumbergera. Rule out all the options that are inappropriate / offensive ('Piss Christ,' 'Nazi Party'), not offensive exactly but still unappealing ('Maggot Infestation'), deliberately confusing or misleading ('Gardenia Perfume,' 'Sky Blue Sky,' 'Hylocactus'), technical or jargony ('Undisenfranchised,' 'Cholecystectomy'), likely to step on another hybridizer's toes ('Interpretive Dancer,' which I love as a concept, but would probably lead to a fight with whoever has been producing the "Dancer" plants: 'Caribbean Dancer,' 'Cyber Dancer,' 'Exotic Dancer,' 'Limelight Dancer,' 'Polka Dancer,' etc.), overly similar to names I've already used ('Strawberry Shortcake;' close enough to 082A "Strawberry Madeleine" as to give me pause), or too obvious ('Sunset Orange,' 'Tangerine Dream'), and there are surprisingly few options left. After a while, the only way to generate usable novelty is to start throwing random words together.

Which is presumably how we've wound up with orchid names that sound like someone threw random words together, e.g. Masdevallia Copper Angel 'Highland' or Goodaleara Pacific Truffle 'Surrogate Star.' I'm not 100% convinced that this is necessarily a problem,3 and if it is a problem then I'm not sure every breeder picking a special word to identify their output is a particularly good solution,4 but whatever the solution, I have a much deeper understanding of the problem than I did when I started blogging about them back in 2007. If Arnold J. Klehm wants to stake a claim on the word "Hampshire," more power to him, I guess.

Paphiopedilum Hampshire Medallion = Paph. Hanes' Medallion x Paph. Barbi Playmate (Ref.)


1 See also Paph. Lunacy, Paph. concolor, Paph. bellatulum, Paph. Huddle 'Joan,' Paph. delenatii x Paph. Doctor Jack, etc. Though the stripey ones are still better.
2 Which I thought was over for the year, but then Schlumbergera 200 produced a bud -- in June! -- down in the basement, which is in the process of opening as I write this (on Tuesday the 21st). I'll give you three guesses what color it is, and the first two don't count.
3 (I suppose it depends on how comfortable one is with nonsensical and surreal names. It occurs to me that orchid names could make fantastic strong passwords, à la "correct horse battery staple," if one chose an obscure enough orchid. And clonal names even automatically include two single-quotes as non-alphanumeric symbols, making them that much stronger.)
4 Another option for generating large numbers of names would be to choose a single word that can be paired with a large number of others and still make some kind of sense, as with the "Dancer" line of Schlumbergeras or the "Love" Anthuriums. Though there are even fewer words that combine sensibly with a large number of other words, so the number of ways to do that successfully is probably limited.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Anthurium no. 0417 "Tilda Endatime" / Unfinished business: Araucaria bidwillii

Another seedling, another 'Gemini' look-alike.

The leaves aren't so hot either, though I'm a little bit curious about their shape. A few seedlings have had convex, dome-like leaves like this. In some cases, this was caused by insect damage distorting the leaf's development, but occasionally I run into a seedling that does this whether it has bug problems or not. I don't like it (it makes it harder for me to blast thrips off a plant if the sprayer can't reach the undersides of the leaves, which may partly explain why Tilda seems to have more thrips damage than her neighbors), but it's something slightly outside the norm.

In any case, Tilda isn't a great seedling. Probably gone in the next purge.

Also, I said a while ago that I would show you what my first Araucaria bidwillii was looking like these days, once it was warm enough to take the plant outside for photos. I did the photo-taking part and then got distracted before I could do the showing-you part.1 But here it is as of April 2016:

I've photographed it in a way that hides the problem, but it does have one notable flaw: when I repotted it, several years ago, it just refused to sit in the new pot vertically. I'd get it planted perfectly vertically, and pack the soil in around it, and then after a couple of waterings it would list ever-so-slightly to one side, or would actually fall all the way over (it was outside that summer, so sometimes there was wind). We did this three or four times before I gave up and told it, fine, grow however you want. So now there's a permanent 172-degree angle in the stem, at the second-highest tier of branches. It doesn't really affect the health of the plant,2 and I still love the species, but it does make me a little embarrassed to show it to people.


1 (I only remembered it now because the Anthurium posts are getting a little repetitive for me too, and I was trying to think of something else I could add to this post to make it more worth reading. The intent is to throw a non-Anthurium into all the Anthurium seedling posts until I run out of material, but I'm essentially asking myself to write two blog posts per post, so I probably won't be able to keep that up for very long.)
2 It might someday, if the weight of the vertical growth above the kink put pressure on the slightly non-vertical trunk. However, the plant's never going to be able to grow any taller than our tallest ceiling, and even that will take another decade or two, so I don't see this becoming an actual problem.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Anthurium no. 0501 "Freddie Prinze Charming" / Question for the Hive Mind / New Plant

I have news and a question, so let's zip through the critique of Freddie as quickly as possible:

Freddie's pink/pink, which is boring, but still maybe worth a second look, since he appears to be more thrips-resistant than average, and is much more resistant than his siblings. This is particularly the case with the spathes,

but the leaves are less terrible than usual as well.

Don't know if this will be enough to keep him around over the long-term, but he'll survive the next purge or two.

The news: for reasons I may or may not ever explain, I've bought a new houseplant book last week, and in the course of reading it to determine whether I approve of it or not, the bit about calla lilies (Zantedeschia cvv.) jumped out at me. I've long admired Zantedeschias, but had been under the impression that they wouldn't be good plants for me to try, because of the dormancy period and general fussiness, so I've never attempted it, but the author of the new book is very enthusiastic and encouraging about them. And I've been doing okay with a few winter-dormant plants lately (Amorphophallus,1 Eucodonia), so when I saw one I liked at the ex-job last Friday, I went ahead and bought it.

Since the purchase, though, I've noticed a few things that make me wonder whether this was a bad idea. First, the author of the book is pretty enthusiastic and encouraging about everything. As far as I'm concerned, it's irresponsible to suggest that anyone grow Hedera helix indoors, and recommending Selaginella or (oh my goodness) junipers (!) is criminally so, so I probably should not have trusted the author's judgment on this to the degree I did.

On-line advice about growing Zantedeschia indoors comes from sources I consider questionable as well, but they can't agree on whether it's a good idea: advice ranges from yes, it'll live for years and produce breathtaking long-lived blooms every time you sneeze, they're wonderful, go for it to it's absolutely not worth the trouble, throw it in the garbage when it goes dormant.

So I'm looking for advice from people who have actually grown Zantedeschia before. Could you overwinter one and get it to resprout in the spring? What about reblooming? Will it work if they're indoors all year, or do they need to be outside during the summer? Was your plant(s) prone to pests?2 Rot? If it's dead, what killed it? Etc.

Whether it's a permanent resident or not, it's lovely. I just need to know how low to set my expectations.


1 Though I'm beginning to worry about the Amorphophallus bulbs now. I dumped them out of the pots a couple months ago to divide them, and there were five bulbs total, so I gave them each a pot of its own and have had them outside for a while, figuring that the heat would encourage them to get moving, but we're about a week late now, so I'm worried that they've all rotted.
2 My plant, unfortunately, has spider mites or thrips or both, because it did not occur to me to check inside the flower until I'd already brought the plant in the house. I have some optimism that it might be possible to end this with frequent soapy-water sprays, since the infestation appears to be pretty small and isolated to the bloom.
Then I remember how frequently I've been optimistic about thrips before, and how that optimism has never not even once been justified, and . . . well, you know.