Hello everyone! I hope you are doing well. This is the final update for the plants on the front porch. Cooler temps came in with September and we had a chance of rain Tuesday evening but we didn’t get a drop. We did get 1 1/2″ Saturday which helped. Today, Wednesday is supposed to get up to 82° F, 81 on Thursday, 88 on Friday, then back up to 91 Saturday and Sunday. GEEZ!
The top photo is of a small Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor) that was snoozing in the Ledebouria socialis (var. pauciflora) when I was taking photos. There are A LOT of tree frogs here of all sizes and I have photographed them in some of the strangest places
Previously, I had posted photos of the Gray Treefrog on iNaturalist and a member said, “Hyla versicolor cannot be distinguished from Hyla chrysoscelis using photographic evidence.” Somehow I knew it wouldn’t be that easy… Apparently, Hyla versicolor has twice as many chromosomes as Hyla chrysoscelis and to find that out you would have to do a karyotype. Hyla versicolor is a tetraploid with 48 chromosomes, while Hyla chrysoscelis is a diploid with 24. Another way is to count the cells on their toe pads with a magnifying glass as H. versicolor has slightly larger cells. Well, maybe after looking at hundreds of both species you could figure it out. However, the easiest way is to listen to their calls. The trill of H. chrysoscelis is much faster with shorter intervals between the syllables. Ummm… We are talking about trill rates of 25-65 pulses per second… They used a spectrogram to tell the difference. Apparently, H. chrysoscelis is not supposed to be present in Pettis County but are in Henry County (which is 100 feet away). A tree frog that climbed up the side of the house next to my bedroom window for two summers was a Hyla versicolor (according to its trill rate). One night a few weeks ago, I went across the street to get a recording of the tree frogs because they were louder there. Oddly enough, the recording reveals Hyla chrysoscelis in the mix… Ummm… Henry County is across the street. At any rate, the treefrogs I submitted are listed as “Complex Hyla versicolor (Gray Treefrog Complex)” as members of the genus Hyla (Holarctic Treefrogs). Well, I listed them as Hyla versicolor and other members tweaked it a bit. 🙂
As before, the plant names are clickable and the link will take you to their own page. Their own pages have more photos, plant information, and some rambling about my experience with them. 🙂
HERE WE GO…
I don’ know what to say first about the Ledebouria socialis. For one, they are great plants and so easy to grow. Just give them a little water and they do great. Especially “that one” on the left… They prefer filtered light, light shade, or possibly part shade and do great on my front porch. Too much shade and their leaves will be longer (etiolate). They are natives of the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa where they grow in evergreen woodlands and scrub forests. There are links at the bottom of these plants page, but I particularly enjoyed the PlantzAfrica.com write-up. The Pacific Bulb Society also has a lot of good information.
Several Scilla species were moved to the Ledebouria genus in 1970 based on their bulbs growing out of the ground, erect inflorescences, and small flowers with reflexed petals (tepals). There were several species that were determined to be the same as Ledebouria (Scilla) socialis even though the coloration of their leaves were somewhat different. Don’t worry, I am not going into a lot of taxonomic details. I already deleted two paragraphs then started over the third time trying not to blab so much. ANYWAY, the pot on the left is what I call Ledebouria socialis (var. violacea) even though it isn’t taxonomically correct. The one on the right is Ledebouria socialis (var. paucifolia). They are the same species but different… The Pacific Bulb Society prefers calling them cultivars (Ledebouria socialis ‘Paucifolia’ and L. socialis ‘Violacea’) which is perfectly fine. Due to the definition of cultivar vs. variety, I prefer saying they are varieties rather than cultivars. Since this is my site, I can call them what I want. 🙂 I just put the variety name in parenthesis and I am good to go. ANYWAY, you can go to their page (they are both on the same one) if you want to read more and see more photos.
Both of these pots of plants are the same age (October 2019). I have to use it in a plural sense because both the pots are FULL of bulbs and plants now. ‘Violacea’ has grown so much faster it is ridiculous which is normal for the variety/cultivar.
While taking photos on August 17, I noticed what appeared to be fruit… They fell off but it was interesting because I had never seen that before.
Violacea ledebouria (var. violacea), or ‘Violacea’ is the most popular and make great houseplants. You can grow them as an evergreen plant or stop watering them during the winter so they will go dormant. The latter is the best so they will grow better leaves and flower the next summer. Actually, I have never let them go completely dormant because their bulbs shrivel so much it looks like they will die. 🙂 Mine only produce a few flowers, but it is the leaves and the plant in general that I really like. If you haven’t tried Ledebouria, it is high tie you did. There are 64 species and several “cultivars” of L. socialis. Get one or more of something different than mine so we can trade bulbs…
Let’s move on…
The Mammillaria compressa (var. bernalensis) is another controversial species I am not naming correctly. Maybe someday it will be correct without the parenthesis. 🙂 There are 42 synonyms and the species is highly variable. Actually, Mammillaria compressa f. bernalensis was attempted by the guy who named it Mammillaria bernalensis but was somehow invalidly published… I am calling it Mammillaria compressa (var. bernalensis) because descriptions of M. compressa do not match this plant. Mammillaria bernalensis, which is a synonym, matches perfectly. I am not sure why Mr. Reppenhagen called it a “form” instead of a “variety”. Well, I suppose there is very little difference.
I brought this pot of three plants home from Wal-Mart in December 2020 with a label that simply said “CACTUS”. Who would have thought they were a cactus? I’m not sure how long it took me to figure out the name and it wasn’t as simple as adding photos on Succulent Infatuation or the CactiGuide forum for a member to suggest an ID. It didn’t work… I think it took several weeks off and on to figure it out. Well, again, I will get carried away writing about what I already did on its page. You can just click on the name if you want to know.
ANYWAY, when I brought this pot of three home in December 2020, they all pretty much measured 1 1/4″ tall x 1 1/2″ wide. Now, the largest plant measures 2″ tall x 1 3/4″ wide (without the spines). The pot is on the front porch because information online says they sunburn easily if exposed to direct sunlight for too long. At some point, I need to put all three in their own pots. One of my favorite sites says this species is “not a quick grower” in one paragraph and that it is a “rapid growing species” in the next. This species is a clumper…
If you see a cactus online or in a store labeled Mammillaria tlayecac (in one way or another), it is absolutely incorrect. I thought I would throw that in for good measure. 🙂 It is quite interesting how that name came about…
I have some strange and interesting cactus in my collection but the Mammillaria senilis wins the prize. For one, although it has 9 synonyms, It has managed to keep the same name since 1850. While we are on the subject of names… The full scientific name is Mammillaris senilis Lodd. ex Salm-Dyck… That means it was described by Joseph Franz Maria Anton Herbert Ignatz Fürst und zu Salm-Reifferscheidt-Dyck in Cactaceae in Horto Dyckensi Cultae in 1850. Mr. “what’s his name” gave credit to Conrad Loddiges for first naming and describing the species. I wanted you to see the author’s full name. 🙂
Getting back to this cactus… Being a Mammillaria it does have tubercles that are arranged in a spiral pattern. Areoles on top of the tubercles produce 30-40 very thin radial spines that are, um, 20 mm in length… That’s around 3/4”. My cactus was only 1” tall x 1 1/2” wide when it arrived from a seller on Ebay. It looked very very odd to have such long, thin, hair-like spines. It also has 4-6 white central spines with yellowish tips. The upper and lower central spines have tiny hooks that, in case you are wondering, stick in your fingers. The axils between the tubercles also have wool and bristles, but who can tell? There are other species of Mammillaria with hooked spines.
Several times I have noticed it sticking out of the potting soil, roots and all, just sitting on top. With other cactus, even though I may have to use gloves, all I would have to do is pick it up, dig a hole and stick it back in the potting soil. This one isn’t so easy because its hooked spines stick to everything. When I try to let go of it, it won’t let go. Forget about trying to get in the center of the pot. I didn’t measure it on August 17, but I really do need to do that and stick it back in the soil AGAIN… I am sure it is still alive because it does look a little bigger and it hasn’t shriveled up. 🙂
Mammillaria senilis grows “on” moss-covered boulders in pine forests at 7800-9000 feet (2400-2800 meters) above sea level in Chihuahua, Jalisco, and Sinaloa, and southern Zacatecas in Mexico. It does not appear to have a common name, but the species name, senilis, means “of an old man”…
I brought this Mammillaria spinosissima ‘Un Pico’ home from Wagler’s Greenhouse on April 3 when it was just 1 1/2″ tall. It has grown to 3″ already in just 4 months! Mammillaria spinosissima is a HIGHLY variable species with 107 synonyms. ‘Un Pico’ is a stable genetic mutation that only produces one central spine per areola but some spineless areoles are also present… Well, that’s what information online suggests. Photos online show plants with VERY long spines, but that isn’t the case with mine. While there are areoles with no spines, most have two recurved central spines. Hmmm… It may be back to the drawing board with this one although the photo on the label does look similar… With longer spines… Time will tell.
The Opuntia monacantha var. variegata (Joseph’s Coat) has done remarkably well and is now 8 1/4″ tall. It has grown 3 1/2″ since I brought it home in March 2020. The top pad fell off earlier this summer but it grew another one to replace it. I’m normally not an Opuntia fan unless they are growing outside in the ground and I don’t have to do anything with them but avoid their spines. I remember one my brother had when I was a kid that had tiny glochids that I used to get in my fingers. You know how kids are? We have to touch everything and learn. Well, I guess I am still like that to a “point’… Get it? Point (cactus)? Hmmm… Well, I was trying to make a joke…
I really like this cactus because it is neatly variegated and kind of colorful. It is hard to get good photos of this one, especially close-ups. OH, it is a monstrous form which also makes it a neat plant to have in a collection. I really like cacti that have mutated and grow weird.
The green Oxalis triangularis (False Shamrock/Wood Sorrel) I brought home in March has done very well over the summer. That is if I don’t let its soil dry out too much. When the Oxalis start drooping I know it is time to water the plants on the front porch. The Oxalis triangularis (subsp. papilionacea) is doing great except for one thing… Nathan started using the mosquito repellant and I told him to spray it in the house. I told him it would make the leaves on the plants turn brown and may even kill them. Well…The next thing I knew the Oxalis triangularis purple leaves started turning brown. Now how do I take a photo like that? The Oxalis tetraphylla (Iron Cross) has done fair because it had an, um, watering issue. I also think it needs more sun. I put a pot of one of those in one of a friend’s planters and it has done GREAT! He waters his planters daily…
I really like the Oxalis in my collection but some people have issues with them becoming invasive. When I re-potted the Oxalis and put the Amorphophallus in their own pots, I dumped the old potting soil in the corner next to the back porch. I had combed through the old potting soil and thought I had found all the rhizomes. Within a week or so there were Oxalis triangularis in the flower bed. Not only that, somehow a stray Amorphophallus came up in the big pot of Oxalis. Hmmm… Sneaky… 🙂
The pot of three Polaskia chichipe (Chichipe, ETC.) have done very well over the summer on the front porch (even though they may have been fine on the back porch). The tallest plant now measures 3″, so it has grown 1/2″ since last October when I brought them home from Lowe’s. Information on Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) says they are a slow-growing columnar species with many curved branches. It says they have short trunks and branch out freely at the top… They have a greenish, powdery-gray appearance, almost appearing variegated with a pattern similar to the Stenocereus pruinosus (Gray Ghost) on the back porch. The Polaskia chichipe is supposed to have only a short winter rest period which could be tricky… I’ll figure it out and I am sure we will get along fine.
There are only two species in this genus from Central Mexico.
I really like this little cluster of plants with its soft spines! The Rebutia fabrisii is another species without a common name. This one has A LOT of rules but I think it will be fine. I brought this plant home from Wagler’s Greenhouse on March 29 (with a label) when the cluster was just 1 1/2″ tall x 3″ wide. Ummm… It is still 1 1/2″ tall x 3″ wide. Information on LLIFLE (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) says this species lives at a high altitude in Argentina where it does best in cool, dry conditions. It can go dormant in hot summers but resume growth when cool temps return in August. Hmmm… We had a fairly hot August but September has been nice. I noticed a few days ago it looks like this cluster is having a growth spurt. Its soft spines come from very small tubercles that look like little bumps.
This species supposedly has deep tap roots which protect it from fires that are set in its native habitat to promote grass growth. This is usually done before the rainy season when the plants are dormant and buried in the ground. Even so, the species has a very limited range of approximately 60 square miles (100 km2)… Hmmm… 60 square miles equals 38,400 acres.
The Sedum adolphi (Golden Sedum) has grown more over the summer. I think “someone” has been knocking off its leaves as they walk by… I was planning on re-growing it this summer but I got busy with the garden and avoiding the heat and time just flew by. Now it is September and next month the plants will be moved inside. It will be fine over the winter as usual so I will wait until next spring.
And, of course, the Sedum adolphi ‘Firestorm’ has been doing its thing over the summer as well. GROWING! It is a sprawler like the other Sedum adolphi and I also intended to re-grow it over the summer… They will both be clipped next spring. This one flowers over the winter where the other one never has.
Both of the Sedum adolphi are great plants and even a beginner can grow them. This is the only Sedum I have been able to grow inside and have not tried them in the ground. I do believe their leaves would be too tempting for grasshoppers and crickets… When I re-grow them in the spring I am going to keep a pot of each in full sun on the back porch. Hmmm… I said that last year.
OK, so I have grown several Sempervivum over the past 8 years… Not a lot, just 5 or 6 different species/cultivars. I have brought home a Sempervivum arachnoideum probably four times (2 cultivars and at least 2 unlabeled). I need to work on that page to include them all. I have had a Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ more times than that. Actually, I had one of those, and its kids, for several years before it went kaput. I had an amazing pot of S. tectorum for over a year and then I had to let it go… The Sempervivum ‘Killer’ did AWESOME outside in a planter for three years until it flowered. Since then its offspring have barely hung on. SO, this spring, I brought home the two in the above photo. They are still in the pots I brought them home in and they have done great. They usually have issues when I transplant them, so if they do better cramped up then so be it. 🙂 One time I had a beautiful Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ until I put it in a larger pot. It had A LOT of offsets that grew even longer stems in the new pot. The mother was so frantic her kids were leaving that she died… Then the kids died as well! OH, YES! There was also the Sempervivum heuffelii Hybrid… It was NICE but a bit strange. It had been a Jovibarba heuffelii until botanists decided it was a Sempervivum AGAIN. It was decided it WASN’T a Sempervivum because it reproduced by dividing. There were only three species of Jovibarba but they “had” different characteristics than Sempervivum. The other two Jovibarba species produced offsets known as “rollers”. 🙂 I bought that plant in 2014 and it was supposed to be hardy down to USDA Zone 3 so I put it in a planter… It didn’t return in 2015 and I haven’t seen it available since…
There are 52 species of Sempervivum and I don’t know how many are cold hardy here. Probably Sempervivum tectorum and its cultivars/hybrids are the most reliably cold hardy. Heck, my brother had them growing outside in St. Paul, Minnesota. I will figure them out. They DO NOT do well inside the house over the winter, although they have survived well in the basement. There is no “good thing” that should be given up on. Of course, I could just grow them as annuals and not worry about it…
Last but not least by any means is the Tephrocactus articulatus var. papyracanthus (Paper Spine Cactus). I have had it as a companion since February 2016 and it is one of the most interesting cactus in my small collection. It has never had any issues of any kind. Sometimes one of the segments will fall off but I just stick it in the pot and it grows. One fell off a while back and I put it in the pot with the Kalanchoe marmorata temporarily. This cactus does need a larger diameter pot but not a deeper pot. Pots like that are hard to find unless I go buy one. I have such a large collection of pots but none fit its needs… A few of the “stems” have managed to get taller without the segments falling off. The only problem with transplanting this cactus is that it has those darn tiny glochids…
Believe it or not, I am finished with this post and the plants on the front porch. Of course, there are other plants on the front porch… Like at least 10 or so but who’s counting? I guess I need to take photos of the Geraniums, Tradescantia, Callisia fragrans (Grapdpa’s Pipe), Begonias, Bilbergera nutans (Queen’s Tears)… I think that’s all. Some are doing OK but some not so much. Working in the garden and trying to avoid the heat takes a lot of time and some plants need more attention (and water) over the summer. Cactus and succulents just keep doing their thing despite a little neglect. Even tropical plants can go without water to a point as long as it is humid… The Alocasia on the back porch in full sun are a great example.
The next post will probably be about the plants on the back porch.
Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful. Thanks for reading and thanks for your comments!