Joyce's Diary - July 2008
It always surprises me how short a time passes between the flowering of Astrophytum and germination of their seeds. The flowers I pollinated with my paintbrush last month have fruited, fruit has ripened, seeds have been cleaned and dried and seedlings are already a week old. The seeds only took two to three days to germinate and the two fruits have produced more seedlings than I can easily count. They are a bit too crowded in a full sized seed tray but I will wait till they are a bit bigger before I thin them out. I will have quite a time to wait before I see if any of them produce red flowers.
The Astrophytum plants are looking particularly healthy since I started including crushed oyster shell in their compost. Previously some plants were showing a slightly yellowish tint and roots were somewhat sparse. Now the yellowness has gone and plants are looking plump and clean and are flowering almost continuously throughout the summer. I use a mixture of four parts of John Innes No. 3, to two parts of Tesco Premium Cat Litter, one part Chick Grit and one part Hen grit to this I have added about two teaspoons of crushed oyster shell and one measure of slow release fertiliser. I have not yet worked out the ideal quantity of oyster shell to use, I get the impression that the plant takes as much nutrient and minerals as it needs.
Testudinaria, having shed their foliage a couple of months ago are now back into full growth again. The only way to keep them from taking over the greenhouse is initially to keep taking the tips out of the new shoots, and then to let them grow but to keep guiding them back to curl around one another.
Another plant that grows fast and would like to take over the greenhouse is the “Queen of the Night”. I would like to grow it to flowering size so I have put it in an eight inch pot with four upright canes spaced as far apart as possible. The shoots are then trained to snake around and around the outside of the canes. It will be interesting to see if this encourages it to flower or if it will just become so frustrated running around in circles that it will give up the ghost! I know the feeling!!!!!
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