Frosty wind made moan, indeed, back in dear old Blighty. It’s been very cold here now for some weeks with temperatures hovering regularly around the warm side of freezing, quite often even in the day, and the current threat of snow even in more Southern cities in the UK. In the Winter months I have not been publishing regular updates, with little to report on, but if this were to be a weekly report then it would be Dendritic Reflective Week 33.
My dad is still unwell and I have been just returned from being away visiting him. Indeed I have been away for a lot of the month of January and hence the plants have had to fend for themselves a bit more than normal. I have been reasonably responsible in looking after then with care when I have been around and my girlfriend has also been doing the occasional spot of plant-sitting (when she has been here), and has also taken some rather useful advice for me.
The Basil Brothers
The Brothers are still looking in reasonably fine fettle although Short Basil now seems to be copying his Taller brother by pretending to be a tree. There is now a real lack of leaves below two and a half inches stalk height. It is pretty cold next to that window and the Brothers have shown much slower powers of recovery following use of their leaves for culinary purposes. Lucky for them, I have not been doing much Italian cookery lately but as Italian is quite often my stock food I will soon be requiring their services once again. If they are not able to produce as many leaves in the future then it may be time to retire them to pasture and introduce some new bushier plants. This may sound like treatment akin to that of Boxer from Animal Farm but the Brothers are occupying valuable plant space in a kitchen where space is at a premium.
With the temperature routinely dropping to just above freezing and there being many and often consecutive days where it rarely rises above 4°C, the conditions are such that according to literature and internet, Pitch should be well into dormancy by now but I am still unable to determine whether this is the case. The taller leaves have certainly died back leaving a number of smaller pitchers with no other significant growth. Is this what dormancy looks like? I cannot say. As the temperatures approach freezing I have cut back his water but am still a bit paranoid at letting him dry out and have largely left his watering to the natural elements. I may not be in a better position to work out what is occurring until new growth hopefully begins in Spring.
Sunny is not looking as good as he has been and I have to attribute this to 2 main factors. Firstly, although the house is warm, with the thermostat set at 21°C, it is probably a lot colder next to that window and Sunny will also suffer the cold draughts that come with the back door opening. Secondly, with the house regularly at 21°C it is a constant battle to keep his water levels topped up, particularly when my cat delights in drinking the rainwater in his tray. This means that I have to watch the water levels like a hawk. Having been away for much of January this means that sometimes his water level has got dangerously low, although last week my girlfriend did kindly water him for me. It would be typical of feline behaviour if I provided an alternative rainwater source for the cat but she still persisted in drinking from the sundews’ water trays. The cat knows that she is not allowed on the top near the sink but when I’m out of the room she does go up there.
Not much to report on Drake. Again I am largely leaving his watering to the natural elements and as he is in a much more sheltered area than Pitch and the Fly Traps this seems to be working. I regularly check that his soil is damp and have not yet noticed it lacking moisture, if anything it may possibly be too wet but the greenhouse is not a viable option as it gets far too hot in there during the day. It is interesting to note that there is still one green sundew leaf remaining, as seen slightly below centre in the right hand picture.
Piggy is in the same boat as Sunny when it comes to cold windows, cold draughts and competition with cats. However, he does not look particularly different from how he looked back before Christmas in the last Dendritic Reflective. Perhaps he benefits from a slightly different position where he is more away from the window and partially protected from cold draughts by Sunny next door. Only thing to report is that the moss is really going crazy. Hopefully this won’t pose a problem but will have to keep a casual eye.
For Venus, conditions again should suggest that dormancy should now be well underway but the gaps in my knowledge do not allow me to judge whether this is the case. The majority of the larger Summer traps are now black and dead with only a few tiny ones remaining. This I suppose is a good sign. Quite surprised that there is still one of the larger traps left but as a carnivore commentator stated, carnivorous plants are tougher than you may think. This certainly has been borne out. Watering wise, I have again left Venus largely at the mercy of the elements with occasional top ups if the water levels drop too much. All the advice suggested that a dormant plant should not be overwatered but as I can only surmise that the plants are in dormancy I am continuing to hedge my bets. The squatter sundew in Venus’s is also showing little bother about the conditions of a UK Winter, if anything this plant is actually getting bigger. Will definitely need to be removed come Spring.
Speaking of hardy carnivores, Aphro just keeps buggering on. Winter is it? He doesn’t seem bothered and is largely unchanged since before Christmas. Watering is the same as for Venus and my only consideration for both the fly traps will be when it finally hits freezing although the way they’re both going, and particularly, Aphro, it doesn’t look like they’ll care even if there is a sustained sub-zero cold snap. Bring on the snow!!!!
Cass and Aggy (The Moroccan Twin Sisters)
Almost nothing to report and I still await the arrival of Spring to see how whether these ladies will recover. There are actually a few leaves still remaining as seen just below centre in the picture but can’t see these lasting long. Rather annoyingly, some cat or fox has also dug a large hole in the pot but I will not be addressing this issue until Spring lest I risk a repeat performance.
Poor old Gronda. he really does not like the cold or draughts but I really cannot find a better spot for him in our compact house. Lack of light is what did for my calathea last time and at least whilst he doesn’t look particularly happy at the moment, he is still alive. It has been much too cold in the Winter days even to take him outside for a Drain and Soak so I have resorted to watering him directly at the base of his stems with not too much water. Just enough to keep him perky. Whilst I was away my girlfriend reported that he was looking pretty sorry for himself and she sprayed his leaves and at my request watered his roots. The next day he was looking much perkier and less furled up. If I can just keep him alive through the Winter then I am hopeful that he will bounce back when it starts warming up.
Most of his lower spines have now dropped off but as a cactus, Hulk is pretty indestructible and I continue to water him little and often. The remaining spines actually look to be in pretty good nick though so am happy to keep this strategy going forward.
A bit of moody lighting and, I reckon, a slight rotation of the pot and Snake looks a different plant. Am actually pretty sure that there has been some sort of movement/growth since before Christmas but is always difficult to compare when his pot has been moved between pictures. Certainly no major concerns here.
My girlfriend tells me that roughly three or four days ago, when I was away, she was taken aback to see the dishevelled state of several of Flapjack’s leaves. Having had three succulent plants indoors oop North, which subsequently met their maker, my girlfriend had consulted a lady working on a plant stall and learned the advice of that lady’s mother. The internet mantras of watering weekly but lightly were described as well meant but incorrect. The lady’s mother had advised her daughter to lift up the plant pot and judge by the weight: if very light then water, if feeling not so light i.e. saturated on any level, then no water is needed. Following this, my girlfriend lovingly lifted up Flapjack and on finding the plant to be definitely of light weight she gave him a significant but not deluging watering under the tap. While she lifted him up, one of the larger leaves (which I am told was somewhat degenerated) fell off. Oh dear. My fault for letting poor Flapjack get into such a state. I will be guiltily weighing him more regularly in the future.