Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Friday, January 24, 2014

Anticipation

Is there anything better than the anticipation of watching buds and bloom stalks grow? It is a time of potential, of excitement building up to the crescendo of open flowers. Surprisingly, I have quite a showing of Tillandsias producing their often short-lived inflorescences. I grow them mostly for their form, not their bloom, but when they do decide to flower the event is all the more exciting for it's relative rarity.

Sadly, many of my Tillandsias suffered an unfortunate chlorine treatment when my former landlady hired someone to wash the outside of the house and deck, where my plants were enjoying a nice summer outdoors. They talked her into letting them use bleach in the water, even though she has many lovely plants growing right up against the house which were also burnt by the bleach. Honestly, what did she expect? Of course I had moved my plants off of the deck during the cleaning, all except my Tillandsias, which were hanging in a tree just over the deck. I thought they would be safe from the spray. Guess not. Bromeliads in general take a long time to actually die, so I am still clinging to a few of them that may or may not pull through from the damage sustained. They might make it, but boy will they look ugly for a while!

Well, enough of my sob story. Back to the positive. I have 5 Tillandsias at various stages of bloom development. A first for me, due in part because I have more of these charmingly collectible airplants than I ever have before, and also because I have better lighting than I ever have before.

Tillansia bulbosa large form with the first flower just about to open. Purple, olive green, red, and orange. Nature comes up with some interesting color combos!

The whole plant. T. bulbosa is a good multiplier. I'm hoping for several pups after it finishes blooming. Old clumps can be bigger than a soccer ball!

T. caput-medusae just bloomed this past summer and produced one pup, which is already sending out a new spike! I have to say this has been one of the most successful airplants under my care. So easy.
The original plant is still mostly green. The blooming pup is sticking out to the side.
T. fuchsii f. gracilis is one of the first airplants I bought, at least 6 years ago, and is finally deigning to grace me with it's fragile bloom again, which is barely visible now as a little red-tipped bundle in the center. 

If I hadn't just watered my airplants, this one would be a beautiful silvery grey fuzzball.

T. butzii is one of my favorites. I had one years ago that due to my inexperience died unexpectedly. I seem to have gotten the hang of it though as this is the second of my two new plants to bloom in the last year. 

Like T. bulbosa, this is a good multiplier. My other plant, which bloomed earlier last summer, has 5 pups! I also love the long, thin leaves mottled like snakeskin, which is more visible in the previous picture.
No, this is not a Tillandsia, but since I'm doing a post about pending blooms, I thought I'd add my Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi), which as you can see has terrible timing. This is a genuine Christmas cactus, as opposed to the Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata and hybrids) with which it is often confused (I have a few of those as well). The easiest way to tell them apart is that the Thanksgiving cactus, also called the crab cactus, has fleshy points on the stem segments, while the Christmas cactus has rounded, scalloped edges as can be seen in the above photo. Actually if you look back at the second picture of T. bulbosa, you can see a Thanksgiving cactus on the left and the Christmas cactus on the right. The Thanksgiving cactus also has a bend at the base of the flower which makes its blooms stick out, while the Christmas cactus has no bend and sticks straight down, more or less. And of course the Thanksgiving cactus blooms earlier than the Christmas cactus, though they don't always follow our calendars. 

This lovely with silver and purple-green leaves is Phalaenopsis philippinensis, which I bought several years ago as a seedling. See that purple bloom spike! First bloom, hooray! 
The whole plant. The grey scouring pad-like material is called Eco-web and is made out of recycled plastic. The leaves are so beautiful that I can ignore the less-than-aesthetically-pleasing grey pad. Mounted orchids can be a challenge to grow in the home and this one in particular needs daily watering, but this is one of many instances where my plant geek side overrules my practical nature. Still, I may buy a cork slab or something else more natural looking to mount this orchid on. It deserves something pretty to grow on, don't you think?
 Honorable mention due to Begonia soli-mutata, which served as a backdrop in several of the Tillandsia pictures. Still so much to learn about this whole blogging thing. So many little gadgets and gizmos and tinkerings to do with the layout. I'm still under construction and some things may not work as well as they should, but I have a basic post down at least. ;)

4 comments:

  1. That bleach story is horrible!

    I have mixed feelings about my Tillandsia when they bloom. They always look, like they are going to be so much MORE than they are. Still you must be doing something right!

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    1. Oh dear, I'm already neglecting my comments. I'm still getting into the habit of checking. Thanks for the comment, Danger! I like Tillandsias just for the plants, not so much for the blooms, but when they do bloom it means pups! And sometimes the blooms are interesting, or at least the plant turns pretty colors.

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  2. I enjoyed seeing your Tillandsias in this post. I hope they all survive their dose of bleach. It's one thing when our own neglect or stupidity has bad results, but when it's someone else not really paying attention, it's maddening. I'm glad you identified that crinkly Begonia. I'm just getting into Bromeliads, Tillandsias and Begonias, so your blog with its emphasis on "houseplants" will be illuminating.

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    1. Thank you, Alison! I actually found a couple more sending out bloom spikes today. There are only a couple that are still iffy after their bleach treatment. I actually found another begonia that looks like it, Begonia moyesii, so it could be either one, or another species that has those crinkly leaves. So many begonias! I only have four at the moment. I've tried growing others but they just didn't perform well enough or died outright. Rex begonias from Fred Meyers are not my friends.

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