Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fat Plants are In Vogue

Pachycauls, Caudiciforms, aka Fat Plants

There's no doubt, the most popular succulent/xerophtye plant group at present are the Fat Plants.  I've been to several cacti and succulent plant shows over the past several years and the prevailing favorites on the show benches, with judges and public alike, are the plants with swollen stems and roots.  Their popularity began rolling in 1987 when Gordon Rowley wrote his book, Caudiciform & Pachycaul Succulents.  Today, they are THE plants to acquire, grow, and show.  Alas, I have not joined the masses, as I only have two Fat Plants.   However, to become one of the "in crowd" I hereby celebrate and show off one of my two.

Adenium obesum

This plant was a year old seedling sent to me from another C&S grower in a trade for some winter hardy cacti in 2010.  It was listed as Adenium arabicum, but as I understand it, that species has larger, pubescent leaves, and the leaves on my plant are glossy and smooth, no trace of hair or fuzz.  Irregardless of the correct name, it is a nice example of a fat plant, and one of only two I own; so I like it.

My fat adenium has been outside all summer where it receives seven hours of sun daily and whatever rain we receive.  When rainfall is inadequate I water it.  I bring it inside in the winter and it becomes a house plant.  I never force it to go dormant but it does lose some leaves in the winter, however I believe this is more due to adjustment to light levels rather than it asking for a period of dormancy.   I do like the swollen stem and the multiple branches.  It's very picturesque and a nice addition to my collection of succulents.  Will I add more fat plants?  I doubt it.  My space limitations continue to dampen the addition of any new plants, and when space matters you tend to look down on plants that are.......well.... fat.        

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Strange New Plants - Learning as you go.

Astrophytum caput-medusae

In late June of this year I discussed planting 10 seeds of the strange cactus, Astrophytum caput-medusae.  This cactus has a very reduced stem, you really can't see it, a thick, swollen root, and long, thin, snake-like tubercles arising from the stem.  My June 23, 2014 blog entry give more background on this strange cactus and chronicles the six seedlings that resulted from a March 2013 sowing.   The seedlings grew well and the June 23, 2014 blog entry shows one of the seedlings with a flower.  At that point the next step was the removal of the six seedlings from their birth pot and transplanting into a larger, or individual pots. However, because this is a relatively newly discovered cactus (2001), there is very little information on cultivation.  Thus, growing Astrophytum caput-medusae will be a Learning As You Go adventure.

Here are the six seedlings showing their thick, enlarged roots and ready for planting.  


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Oldest, Old Friend

Copiapoa cinerea - My oldest plant from seed.

In late summer of 1979 I purchased a pack of 20 seeds of Copiapoa cinerea from Mesa Gardens in New Mexico, USA.  I planted those seeds in November 1979.  I really don't remember how many of the 20 germinated, but I do know what happened to one that did; it became one of my favorite plants.  I gave it the best locations, most sun, and always remembered to water it, something I didn't do for some other plants.  I repotted it regularly, although that wasn't that often because it grew very slowly.  Beginning in the mid 1980's I entered it in every plant show our C&S society held, but it never won an award because it was still quite small.  

After it passed the 10 year old point it flowered every year.  The flowers are small and bright yellow but I didn't grow Copiapoa cinerea for its flowers, I grew it for the attractive body color and just to have a specimen of this wonderful cactus from the Atacama desert of Chile.  In habitat Copiapoa cinerea develops an almost chalk white body color.  I'm not able to provide enough sun for the white body color, but my plant has developed a very pleasing bluish-grey color and I'm satisfied.   Year after year it grew a little, flowered, and remained my favorite cactus plant.  

In 1998 it was 19 years old and began to develop its first offset, another stem growing off the main stem.  I had seen the photos of old Copiapoas in habitat with hundred of offsets, magnificent great clumps that had to be approaching a 100 years old.   It was exciting to watch it begin to develop the form that Copiapoa cinerea plants are suppose to develop.  It now has 10 offsets.  This November 2014 my old Copiapoa cinerea will celebrate its 35th year.  I'm very proud of my oldest plant.  Copiapoa cinerea is not the easiest cactus to grow, especially when you don't have a greenhouse.   I hope you also have a favorite plant.  It's alright to have a favorite, just don't tell the other plants. ^__^