Hargrave Triffid

A Photographic Record of Plant Growth

MidWeek Reflective: Week 23/24

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The chaos of life has led me to be a bit tardy in my chronicling of late. Because of this I am plonking a mid-week reflective between weeks 23 and 24:

The second wave of winter temperatures have hit this week with temperatures again dropping down to 4°C once again. Between Monday and Tuesday the temperature remained between 4.2°C and 9.6°C and despite a lack of daily monitoring I believe that this temperature range was probably present for 3 or 4 days up until that day. Last night the temperature had returned to the 8/9°C mark heralded by the return of rain. Weather forecasters are threatening an abnormally wet winter which has 2 consequences for me. Firstly, it means that temperatures are likely to be warmer than normal, which could affect the dormancy periods of the plants, and, secondly, it means that leaving the plants out in constant rain will likely cause them to receive more water than all the advice and instructions recommend during a dormancy period, with the associated threats of fungal and bacterial infection.

Even for the plants inside, times have been uncertain as just over two weeks ago my boiler decided to pack up. I was somewhat lucky that this disfunction did not coincide with one of the colder periods of weather, which could have left me in trouble nevermind the plants, but nevertheless, for a period of about 10 days the temperature in the house was much colder than the normal heating assisted faux-Summer conditions that the plants are normally used to. I myself was normally forced to wear 2 jumpers and another extra layer later in the evening.

Weather Forecast wc 26-11-14

Weather Forecast wc 26-11-14 (2)

The above weather forecasts suggest that the wet weather may soon disappear meaning that the cold temperatures will again return.

 

The Basil Brothers

Basil 26-11-14

Again there is little to say this week. The flower remains the same and the mould in tall basil’s pot seems contained having not yet transferred even to small basil’s pot. I have been doing a fair amount of Italian cookery so the leaves have been thieved as sparingly as possible but the Brothers rumble on.

 

Pitch

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The third picture above shows that several smaller pitchers have formed and this was one of the signs of dormancy mentioned amongst the multitude of advice I have read. Some of the larger pitchers have begun to brown a little but even though the temperatures have dropped Pitch is far less dormant than the advice suggests he should be considering that temperatures are now reasonably regularly below the 10°C that would supposedly trigger dormancy. He still looks remarkably similar to his appearance of late Summer.

My dormancy guide for Pitch is as follows:

  • Pitch will require a period of cold dormancy of between 2 or 3-4 months
  • Dormancy will be triggered by shorter daylight hours and a drop in temperature below 10°C
  • Pitch should survive overnight temperatures as low as -7°C but if the temperature falls below this then he may be harmed
  • A combination of freezing temperatures and wind can also be harmful
  • If the temperature drops below 0°C for more than a week then this can be harmful as well

All in all, it seems that Pitch can survive his dormancy outside unless temperatures drop below -7°C, there is a combination of wind and freezing temperatures or the temperature remains below 0°C for more than a week. If any of these situations occur then I should move Pitch to the greenhouse but can return him to his outside position once the cold spell has alleviated. In the greenhouse Pitch should be placed near a cold wall.

 

Sunny & Piggy

Sunny & Piggy 26-11-14 Sunny 26-11-14 Sunny 26-11-14 (2) Piggy 26-11-14

With the house temperature dropping for a 10 day period I was a little worried that Sunny and Piggy may suffer somewhat. Sunny does not seem particularly phased by the whole episode and continues to flourish with sustained vigour. Piggy however does seem to have been affected by the drop in temperature. As a tropical plant that delights in heat and humidity, the damp cold of an English town house with no heating has caused him some damage. One of the green leaf complexes has definitely died back although the largest one continues to survive. Whilst I have always worried that Piggy’s deceasement is merely a matter of time it is unfortunate that the broken boiler may have rushed him towards his demise. There is little I can do really, with no wish, and no real space, to removed him to a terrarium. Fingers crossed that he will survive the Winter but once again he has me worried.

   

Drake

Drake 26-11-14 Drake 26-11-14 (2) Drake 26-11-14 (3) Drake 26-11-14 (4) Drake 26-11-14 (5)

Following all the worry about Drake’s response to Dry Thursday and whether his hibernacula were the right colour, he has really surprised me by sprouting new growth after looking dormant for weeks now. The pictures above clearly show the presence of some pretty well developed new leaves coming through. This suggests that Drake is indeed continuing to survive although one questions his rather reckless wisdom in choosing now to welcome the Spring. I will be waiting with bated breath to see if these leaves die back and produce any new hibernacula, and if so what colour they are, I feel slightly obsessed with the hibernacula thing but I was really worried about Drake. As he is still outside on the South Western wall he has certainly been getting a bit more rain, and thus water, than I would like but actually it doesn’t seem to be doing him any harm so I may just leave him to it. As he is the only indigenous carnivore and I know that in this country his species grown naturally on Dartmoor, I am happy to know that Dartmoor certainly sees a hell of a lot of rain over Winter. Even so, as a counterbalance I will restate his dormancy guide and watering instructions:

My dormancy guide for Drake is as follows:

  • Drake will require a period of dormancy of 3-4 months (October – January)
  • In the late Autumn Drake will die back and will form firm hibernacula
  • A shorter photoperiod (8 hours or less) is required for hibernacula production
  • Drake should be kept at approximately 0°C
  • The soil must be kept moist but not sopping wet during Winter
  • Watch out for fungal infection and use fungicide if necessary

As Drake should be kept at around 0°C he is probably best put into the Greenhouse over Winter. A little top down watering from time to time is recommended to keep the soil moist but not soggy. I must also regularly check that the hibernacula remain healthy but dormant and look out for signs of fungal infection.

 

  • Keep the soil moist but considerably dry. Do not let the plant dry out completely
  • Plants may only need watering ever 10-14 days or so depending on the average temperature
  • Soil moisture content  can be tested by poking a finger down into the soil to see how wet it still is under the surface. As a rule of thumb you should be able to stick your finger in the media and have it come out with only a few flecks of soil without needing to wipe any wetness off.
  • Consideration should be given that overwatering can increase the risk of rotting or fungal/bacterial infection. The plant should not remain wet for too long

 

Venus

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Two weeks ago I predicted that Venus would be dormant within two weeks. Although only one trap now remains that has not turned black I am reminded that since flowering Venus has never done anything particularly quickly. I will again rather foolishly predict that Venus will be sleeping by next week but I am prepared to eat my words.

Elsewhere in the pot, the rotunda certainly does not look like it is approaching dormancy at all and has, in fact, turned a quite virulent shade of red. As this plant is somewhat of a cuckoo in Venus’s nest, he is on his own and will be left to fend for himself.

 

Aphro

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Aphro meanwhile shows only the faintest hint of blackening and the pot is still pretty packed with healthy looking traps. It seems perverse to be wishing that a plant will die, or at least die back, but one hopes that Aphro will get the message that IT’S WINTER. GO TO SLEEP!!!

 

My dormancy guide for Venus and Aphro is as follows:

  • VPTs entering dormancy have their summer traps die and turn black with new lower traps developing closer to the soil level
  • Leaves may die back just leaving a very compact rosette at ground level
  • Dormancy can last between 12-16+ weeks but 12-14 weeks is more typical
  • Although VPTs can stand temperatures of -10°C, freezing can be very harmful
  • Most of the hours of the day the temperature should remain between 4-13°C
  • They can survive temperatures in the 21-30°C range during dormancy provided most of the hours of the day are on the cool side
  • On especially frosty nights or extended cold spells the plants should be extended further cold protection
  • Watering needs to be reduced during dormancy
  • Keep the soil moist but considerably dry. Do not let the plant dry out completely
  • Plants may only need watering ever 10-14 days or so depending on the average temperature
  • Soil moisture content  can be tested by poking a finger down into the soil to see how wet it still is under the surface. As a rule of thumb you should be able to stick your finger in the media and have it come out with only a few flecks of soil without needing to wipe any wetness off.
  • Consideration should be given that overwatering can increase the risk of rotting or fungal/bacterial infection. The plant should not remain wet for too long
  • Dead leaves should be removed to prevent fungal infection and to maximise light exposure to surviving winter leaves
  • Unless the plant requires protection from the cold in which case leaves should be left as self-insulation
  • Monitor fungal infection and use a fungicide as necessary (this should not be diluted with tap water)

Venus and Aphro can probably survive the UK Winter in the greenhouse but on exceptionally cold nights or during extended cold periods they should be given extra insulation or brought inside (suggestions include polystyrene or bubble wrap). I will need to work out a regimen for watering that I continue throughout the dormancy period. This is likely to last for between 12-14 weeks. Soil should be kept moist but dry and not be allowed to dry out completely. I will also have to monitor the weather forecast when deciding how often to remove dead leaves in case the plant requires some left for insulation. It will also be important to monitor both plants for root rot and bacterial/fungal infection.

 

Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)

Mint 26-11-14 Mint 26-11-14 (2)

There are still two stalks with leaves in the mint pot and it even looks like there has been some new growth. One supposes that this is further evidence of the botanically confusing conditions that this Autumn and Winter have so far yielded.

       

Gronda

Calathea 26-11-14 Calathea 26-11-14 (2) Calathea 26-11-14 (3) Calathea 26-11-14 (4)

Gronda is looking a little more sparse than previously and the heatingless house also seems to have accounted for some traumatic days. A number of leaves have died off and I do not want this trend to continue. I will be checking his moisture levels and giving him a drain and soak at the weekend if required. His previous one was on the 1st November and this will be a month past at the weekend.

 

http://www.theflowerexpert.com/content/aboutflowers/exoticflowers/calatheas states the following:

  • Calatheas actively grow from march to october when the soil is moist.
  • During winter allow the top soil to dry between waterings.
  • The ideal temperatures are 60-70 degrees farehheit.
  • Repot during late spring when the plant becomes crowdy in its containers.

 

Hulk & Flapjack

Hulk & Flapjack 26-11-14

Hulk has lost a number of spines and it seems like he will need a bit more watering despite this being contrary to the researched advice:

http://www.plantandflowerinfo.com/sansevieria/sansevieria.html states that, “During the winter months, water is restricted and the plants are watered only enough to keep the leaves from shriveling. During this period, we let nighttime temperatures drop to 50° F (10°C). At temperatures lower than this, the leaves will take on a pinkish hue and will eventually drop.

I will give him a drain and soak at the weekend as well, although I can’t say that I have noticed shriveling of the leaves although a good many do seem to have disappeared!

 

Flapjack is looking a little more droopy than my last record two and a half weeks ago but nothing significantly troublesome. I will also look at giving him a drain and soak at the weekend although I fear that this may be a little too much water for him so perhaps I may have to remove him from the confines of Gronda’s and Hulk’s watering regime.

 

According to http://thepalmroom.wordpress.com/plant-care-discussion-forum/kalanchoe-thrysiflora-kalanchoe-luciae/ instructions for this plant were as follows:

Light
Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade
*if kept in low-light conditions, they will become leggy and create interesting shapes …  In bright to full sun, expect them to get wide and bushy.

Water
Water regularly, when soil dries about an inch down into the pot or ground.  Kalanchoe thrsiflora and luciae are very drought tolerant.  They are susceptible to overwatering, however, so err on the side of not watering when unsure.

Bloom Time
Late Winter/Early Spring

 

According to the above advice, bloomtime is Late Winter/Early Spring. I know that it is only Early Winter as yet but I haven’t detected where these blooms are going to appear from. Might have to do a bit of homework on this although I don’t really want to spoil the surprise.

 

Snake

Snake 26-11-14

Boiler, what boiler?

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