Hello everyone. I hope you are doing well. The beginning of September was cool, then back in the 90’s, now it has cooled off again. Right now, the forecast says 90° F again on the 27th! I know what October usually brings but I am trying not to think about it. The plants will have to be brought inside for the winter… It kind of makes one wonder where the summer went. No need to complain about the weather because it wouldn’t do any good.
This update is about the plants on the back porch. I originally took photos for this post on September 18 but I had to take a few more.
The top photo is the Alocasia on the back porch. From 2013 to 2019 I always kept them around the barrel that covers the old well in the “other yard”. They were in mostly shade with a couple hours of afternoon sun. They always did great there but I had to stretch the hose 150′ to water them. In the spring of 2020 I moved the Alocasia to the back porch because they needed re-potted. I didn’t get them all finished and they remained on the porch in full sun all summer. They did amazingly well so I put them on the back porch again in 2021. Who would have thought they would do so well in full sun in the heat of the summer without their leaves burning. Alocasia like kind of moist soil, but they dried completely out many times without any issues. I think if they were in more shade they would have grown much taller like they did in the other yard. That’s just my opinion…
Most of the cactus are happily sitting on a table on the northeast corner of the back porch. They have all done very well and enjoy the sun and heat. The Mammillaria pringlei has been leaning most of the summer and will get a good straightening soon. I am not going to photograph and measure all of the cactus until I bring them inside for the winter in October. It would be nice if the weather would hold off so they could stay out a little longer, but normally around the second week of October they have to come inside. It isn’t that far off… GEEZ! Typically, once we have an “F”, the temps warm back up and I can put them back outside for a while longer. You just never know…
I will take photos and measurements of the cactus as I bring them inside for the winter.
The Aloe arborescens (Torch Aloe) are doing great on the back porch. I put them in their own pots a couple of months ago and then left them in full sun. They have grown from 6 3/4″ tall to 12″ since I brought them home in November last year and they both have a pup.
I really like Aloe and there are MANY on my wish list. I bought this plant unlabeled so I didn’t know what it was at first, but Aloe arborescens was on the list. I have been taking more of an interest in the smaller cultivars, but these plants will definitely not be small… I probably would have brought the pot home even if it was labeled and I knew how large they could become. Well, what can I say? I like Aloe, this species was on my wish list, and I couldn’t help myself. It really doesn’t matter if they are on my list or not, if I see an Aloe I don’t have and it isn’t too expensive, it will come home with me. There are now 585 species of Aloe so I have a long way to go. Not to mention all the cultivars and hybrids!
I brought this neat little Cyanotis somaliensis (Pussy Ears/Furry Kittens) home from Wagler’s Greenhouse in March and it has done pretty well. I had it on the table under the roof for most of the summer, but when temps cooled off a bit I put it in full sun. Information online says anywhere from full sun to part shade so I thought I would give full sun a try. Well, even though the temps did drop at the beginning of September, they went back up in the 90’s again. I wouldn’t say this plant was too crazy about that…
This pot had no label, but when I saw it I thought it looked like a species of Tradescantia. It turned out to be a plant I hadn’t heard of before although it is in the plant family Commelinaceae with Tradescantia. There are 50 species in the genus and Cyanotis somaliensis is from Somalia… Who would have guessed that? I can hardly wait until it blooms because it will have very weird flowers.
Go ahead and laugh if you want, but this Delosperma echinatum (Pickle Plant) isn’t going to join you. Let’s start from the beginning… I was at Wagler’s Greenhouse on June 18 when I saw this strange critter. Well, you know I had to pick it up. I saw it had been started from a stem cutting by the way it was growing and it needed to be tidied up a bit. It had no label but Mrs. Wagler told me it was a Pickle Plant. There was another much better-looking and bushier plant in the greenhouse but a lady had it in her hand…
I brought several plants home that day but I was in the middle of working on a friend’s planters and landscaping. Once I came back home, I put the Pickle Plant on the back porch, and a couple of others, while the rest went to the front porch. I didn’t get their photos taken until the 24th, and I still just have a draft page for the Delosperma echinatum… So, clicking on the name will get you nowhere at the moment.
SO, on August 20, I decided it was time I had better do something about the Pickle Plant… I had already horrified it enough every time I watered it… I kept telling it I was going to give it a new pot and give it a good trimming. It just kept growing as if it thought it needed to do better to avoid getting a trimming.
I’m not sure what this stuff is growers are using for potting soil this year. This plant was evidently one of “those” that Mrs. Wagler’s son brought from the auction. All of them I brought home and repotted have been in this spongy feeling mixture. It really soaks up water just like a sponge.
Once I cut the stem and took leaf cuttings, I cleaned freed the plant’s roots from that weird stuff and placed them all around in the pot. I didn’t even let them scab over for a few days like I normally would have. They seem fine even after 28 days. GEEZ! Time flies!
I guess I should say something about the Delosperma echinatum… It was first named Mesembryanthemum echinatum in 1788 and renamed Delosperma echinatum in 1927. There are a few other synonyms it has accumulated over the years…
This species hails from the Eastern Cape in South Africa. They produce greenish-yellow Mesembryanthemum-like flowers and their leaves and stems have these odd spiny water vesicles… Well, that’s what LLIFLE (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) call them… It is definitely a neat plant…
So, if you want to talk about strange plants, the Epiphyllum oxypetalum fits the bill. I am thankful to Tony Tomeo for sending these plants to me last December. They have done quite well despite a little neglect. Information online says they need consistently moist soil and to water them when the surface is dry. Well, there have been times when they were VERY dry and they just kept growing. Since they are epiphytic and lithophytic tropical/subtropical plants, in their native habitat they grow in trees and on rocks and get a lot of their moisture from the air. I suppose all the humidity we have during the summer kept them going.
I haven’t written a page for these plants yet because I have no idea where to start. Tony sent one huge mass of the white-flowered variety which I left intact when I put them in a pot. It has grown like crazy and is just simply weird… Farther down you will see a photo of two other white-flowered plants and one that will have fink and white bi-color flowers. The red-flowered plant slowly fizzled out. The bigger pot is on a table on the back porch (under the roof) with the Stapelia gigantea and Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri. They get plenty of morning sun and light shade the remainder of the day.
The strangest thing about the Epiphyllum oxypetalum is its multitude of weird stem shapes. What appear to be leaves are flattened stems. They are leafless plants.
Then there are these square stems…
The plant to the left is a Stapelia gigantea… These 4-angled stems with hair are on the Epiphyllum oxypetalum. There are also five-angled stems that become four-angled closer to the tip.
Then there are the round stems… Some are quite hairy and they are very long.
It has been very interesting watching this plant grow. Hopefully, it will bloom at some point…
I take the plant shelf from the bedroom in the spring and use it for pots during the summer. It has also made a great place for the pink and white bi-colored and smaller white plants. The one on the left doesn’t have a strong root system and tries to fall out of the pot.
I don’t remember for sure, but I think the fatter stem had fallen off the bigger clump when I unwrapped the plants. It didn’t have any roots so I put it in a small pot by itself and over the summer it has grown offsets. What is strange is that this pot has been in full sun all summer and has dried out multiple times. It has not gotten sunburned or shriveled up from lack of moisture. I was very impressed when it started growing offsets when the original stem hasn’t grown a lick. This pot will be interesting to watch grow and I will no doubt learn a lot from it since it started out so small.
The Epiphyllum oxypetalum has several common names including Dutchman’s Pipe Cactus, Lady of the Night, Princess of the Night, Night-Blooming Cereus, Orchid Cactus, Night Queen, and Jungle Cactus. It shares a few of those names with other species in other genera. Of course, they are night bloomers… There are 14 synonyms from three genera and they are members of the plant family Cactaceae.
They are Mexican natives but have naturalized down into South America, parts of the United States, and MANY other subtropical and tropical parts of the world. They are very easy to grow and are popular throughout the world which has allowed them to escape captivity.
The Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (Donkey Ears) has been steadily growing all summer, but it really jumped in September. This is a really neat plant and a Kalanchoe that is really worth giving a shot.
It has grown to 12″ tall x 22″ wide but it may be that tall since it is leaning toward the sun. I rotated it again to lean in the other direction. I have put it in the full sun a few times which it doesn’t seem to mind. I have a tendency to keep my plants in a little shade when some of them would do just fine in more sun.
The largest “plantlet” is now 4″ wide. If you have one of these it may be a good idea to set the pot on something to raise the plant a little to keep its leaves from touching the table. Putting them in a hanging pot would also be a good idea.
I first started using the Mesembryanthemum cordifolia ‘Variegata’ (Heartleaf Ice Plant) in 2019 in a friend’s planters and they did GREAT. I used them again this year and hopefully, they will be available for years to come. I decided I would bring home several from the greenhouse for my own planter this year. They branch out and fill in a planter very well and trail over the sides. If you have a bare spot all you have to do is break (or cut) a piece off and stick it in the soil and it will take right off. The red flowers really stand out but they close early in the afternoon. The flowers look bright red, but in the photos they are more of a pinkish-red… The flowers open in the morning and seem to be almost closed by noon even though the pot is in full sun all day. Even now that the day length is shorter, is still in the sun until a little after 5 PM. I prefer to take photos of plants when they aren’t in the sun…
This species was named Mesembryanthemum cordifolium by Carl Linnaeus the Younger (Carl Linnaeus’s son) in 1872. It was moved to the Aptenia genus (est. 1925) and renamed Aptenia cordifolia in 1927. It was returned to the Mesembryanthemum genus in 2007, but in 2009 several botanists suggested the move be reversed. I have to re-read my notes because I see where the Wikipedia article says it was moved back in 1997 when the whole Aptenia genus was reduced to synonymy… Now, where did I get 2007? Ahhh… The paper published about the change was written in 2007, so where did the author of the Wikipedia article get 1997? Oh well, he is still using The Plant List as a reference which has been out of date since 2013.
You know I get somewhat frustrated when a cultivar name is used instead of an infraspecific name (like subspecies, variety, or form). In this case, I have no clue where the variegated leaves even came from. The wild species has green leaves… Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) lists the scientific name for it as Mesembryanthemum cordifolium f. variegata hort. (“hort.” stands for “horticulture(al) use”). The trend is to use ‘Variegata’ to distinguish it from the species but where it originated I have no clue. I already said that. SO, I have to change my ways and stop calling it Mesembryanthemum cordifolium f. variegata. I had a discussion (through email) with a knowledgeable man (retired professor and trained at Kew) about the use of cultivar names as opposed to infraspecific names. The discussion was basically due to my lack of enthusiasm when it comes to intraspecific names being reduced to synonyms. 🙂 As far as this plant is concerned, I can somewhat agree it is likely a cultivar.
I have not seen any of these plants with labels in their pots but Mrs. Wagler just said they were Ice Plants. So, let me see. How many species are called Ice Plants in the plant family Aizoaceae?
I put the Stapelia gigantea (Zulu Giant, ETC.) on the back deck in the spring of 2021 where it received morning sun and light shade the rest of the day. The back deck is in full sun except for 4′ or so that has a roof. The goal is to sneak it inside when an “F” is in the forecast in October and put it on a table just inside the sliding door. That way it will be in about the same light as it is outside and maybe the buds won’t fall off.
The Stapelia gigantea is one of the only species I have bought specifically for its flowers. Even so, its stems are pretty neat. The stems are velvety-green, spineless, and have four ribs. The stems have tubercles that are laterally flattened and vertically joined. Each tubercle has a small rudimentary leaf which is short-lived and leaves a scar at the tip of the tubercle. The stems are considered determinate as they only grow to around 8- 12” tall (20-30 cm). Plants can spread 2-3’ wide if given a chance in pots or in the ground. If grown in pots, they will branch out and hang over the sides.
When I took these photos on 9-22-21 I noticed a few buds. Keep your fingers crossed!
I think that is all for this post. It took a while to get finished because I was doing this and that. I needed to take more photos but it seemed to get too dark before I had time. I like the longer daylengths during the summer and I’m sure you do as well.
Now I will have to find something else to write about. I spend several hours a day working on the pages, but posting can sometimes be a challenge. I applaud all you folks that can write a post every day or every few days. Maybe I should give writing about other topics a shot. Hmmm…
Until next time, be safe, stay positive and well, and always be thankful!