Diary - Apr 2006
Despite the cold late Spring the plants seem to be budding up exceptionally well. I donít think I have ever seen so many buds on Matucana aurieflora, Neoporteria comasensis or Acanthocalycium violaceum, to name but a few. Aloe plicatilis, which I have only flowered once before, three years ago, has produced three big strong flower stems with orange and yellow flowers each over an inch long. Mammillaria lauii v. dasyacantha is putting on its annual show of hundreds of deep pink flowers.
The Zone 9 Convention was a great success with good speakers and lots of nursery sales. I resisted the temptation to buy too many plants but did make rather a large investment in square pots. This has enabled me to pot up many of last years Lithops seedlings. The more mature Lithops are still very slow to shed their old leaves. I expect the hot spell that is promised later in the week will help them along.
Operculicarya is well into leaf and will soon be ready to go outside for the summer. Grown in the greenhouse the leaves mostly remain green but when it is grown outside in the full sun the leaves gradually become darker and darker until they are almost black, rather like the leaves of Aeonium schwartzkop. It likes quite a lot of water and reacts to drought by shedding leaves.
The leaves on the Testudinaria are gradually drying off and in a few weeks last years foliage will need to be cut back. I wait till the majority of the leaves are brown (or until I am driven mad by dead brown leaves all over the floor) before I cut it, because I have been told that some of the nutrients from the old growth are reabsorbed and stored in the corky base. I reduce watering at this time of the year but I never allow the compost to dry out completely, even when there is no top growth. The plant only remains dormant for about six weeks and then sends up its new shoots at a great speed. It can grow six or eight inches in one day and only repeatedly cutting back the tips of the vines will keep it from climbing over everything in the greenhouse.
Back to Diary Index