Desert rose update

Two notes:

  • 100% germination (YES!!! I’m sure soaking the seeds for more than 12 hours made the difference)
  • Leaves are appearing!
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I gently lifted off some of the seed heads to reveal the leaves. You have to be careful with this or you could accidentally take off the leaves (I know from experience). Not sure why the one on the left is so pale. The leaves laying on the soil are from a string of bananas plant. Hoping it will make roots.




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Dumpster dive

For the past couple of years I’ve been saving cuttings from our office rubber tree (ficus elastica), rooting them, and giving them away as gifts. This year I had to dumpster dive for them (I couldn’t get to them before someone poured coffee all over the leaves, but that could easily be wiped off).

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Amaryllis taking centre stage while rubber tree cuttings try to make roots in the background. Just stick the cuttings in water and wait until they make roots before you stick them in well-draining soil. Don’t let the roots get too long or they might break as you try to transplant them.

I gave away 5 cuttings in April/May and kept one for myself. I watched over one for a friend as a house warming present so I was able to compare the progress of hers and mine. Hers took off right away. It’s only been recently that mine has started to make new leaves, even though they are both in the same environment.

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I was expecting a flower to come out of the red part. Happy to see it was a new leaf!

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And one became three, yay!!! This is one of my favorite plants, I’m glad to see that it’s growing.

Don’t knock dumpster diving. You can really get lucky. Even the shabbiest plant can sometimes be saved and give you or someone else great joy.

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If at first you don’t succeed…

I don’t know what it is about this plant! So far, I have not had success with keeping a thanksgiving cactus (schlumbergera) alive, although people say it’s really easy to care for and to propagate.

The one I picked up from a colleague who was leaving died this year. I only water my office plants every two weeks. It was rotting at the bottom which made me think wet roots, but that didn’t fit with how often I was watering and the fact that it was in a clay pot, which dries out the soil faster than other pots.

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I really thought that after I nearly killed it by forgetting it in a dark cupboard that it wouldn’t make it, but it started to come back to life until it recently rotted at the base.

I bought a new plant a few weeks ago. Fresh soil, clean clay pot, watering when the soil is dry… and I’ve lost a bunch of leaves already.

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The bottom segment of the plant was rotted. Perhaps there wasn’t good air circulation down there and it stayed wet.

This article has some really good information on care, how to produce blooms, and common issues which will definitely come in handy.

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I’ve tried sticking the leaves into the soil as shown here or laying them on top of the soil — techniques that people have said work — and spritzing the soil so it stays moist, but none of them have managed to take root. They’ve all shriveled up and died.

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Decided to try again. This time I put plastic over the top of this pot to create a humid environment. Hopefully this will promote root development. 

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Mystery green worm

A few weeks ago I found this worm hanging from a thread on my tomato plant. I had a sneaky suspicion it was a baby tomato hornworm so I used a stick to catch him for a closer look.

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If you look closely, you can see horns. Or so I convinced myself when I stomped the hell out of him!

I think it might actually be a cabbage worm now. It looks a lot like the worm in this article and less like the hornworms you see on the web. I mostly see large tomato hornworms online; never very early stage larvae. I guess the only way to know for sure would have been to let it get a bit bigger. Would it have been worth the sacrifice?


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Deciphering flowers

It’s always tricky when you plant seeds for the first time and you don’t really know what the plants look like as seedlings. It can be hard to distinguish a weed from a new plant so I often find myself pulling up things that I later regret in a frenzy to stay on top of the weeds.

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The mystery bunch. Some I’ve since identified as butterfly milkweed (left), some sunflowers (right) and easily recognized basil (top right).

I planted some butterfly milkweed I picked up at Urban Harvest and some scabiosa seeds from one of my plot neighbours. She had some really dark ones that I found very striking.


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Scabiosa pin cushion from a neighbour’s garden last year

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She tells me these are the scabiosa I planted.

Rather than growing veggies, she grows flowers specifically for cuttings. She tells me some flowers don’t really do well as cuttings, like the calendula and cornflower I always plant. I’ve taken my sunflowers  home and even bought them from the farmers market. Although they do hold up for a while, I find they get sticky with sap and harbour bugs.

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Calendula doesn’t last long as a cut flower. It also oozes a sticky sap that makes it messy but sought after for salves or other personal care items.

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You can see the sap oozing from the head, and a tiny insect on the leaves. The pollen coming out of the back flower is interesting to behold, but with no bees to harvest it, it ends up making a mess when it falls. Beautiful to look at though.

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Zinnias make great cut flowers. I got these at the farmers market last year.

My garden friend gave me some dahlias. Looking forward to seeing what they look like when they bloom.

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Dahlias, with evidence of  pests digging for roots (probably squirrels).


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Root or worm?

Sadly, I think it was a root.

I was fertilizing my succulents with kelp meal when I noticed this thing on the base of the orchid my garden friend gave me. It looked like a worm and it was pointing upwards along the base — why would a root do that? Roots grow outwards.

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The top of this mystery thing looked a bit like a mouth

I used a chopstick to gently poked at it and it came off. It didn’t look like it was moving (I looked for a while). I can see where it came out of the plant so I think it was a root.

And then I noticed a similar, but not quite the same, looking bunch of them following the path of one of the branches. I left them alone.

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These definitely look like young roots, not worms

I actually tossed out a similar bunch that were just sitting on the soil. Unless they came off of the other branch really easily. Argh!

In my defense, I had to make a judgment call. You can’t give a worm any leeway or they’ll devour or suck the life out of your plant. Lesson learned.



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Desert rose sprouts!

I’m squealing with delight!!!

I soaked my desert rose seeds for about 24 hours as the video I’m following recommended and planted them in Schultz seed starting mix with perlite. It was mostly a 50-50 mix to ensure good drainage, but I may have added an extra handful of seed starting mix; when I watered the soil before I added the seeds it didn’t drain as quickly as it should have. And I still planted the seeds!

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After 12 hours of soaking, 8 out of 9 seeds had sunk to the bottom. In the end, the last seed joined the rest. Soaking seeds speeds up germination. If they sink to the bottom they are more likely to germinate.

Since planting the seeds in less than adequately draining soil, I’ve been stressing over whether or not the seedlings would get root rot before I’m able to transplant them (the video mentioned doing this when the plants have 6 leaves).

Within 1 to 2 days, the seeds sprouted!!! At this point (about 3 days later) 6 out of 9 seeds have germinated, as far as I can see.

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I put plastic over the pot to create a humid environment and pointed a swivel-headed student desk lamp over it for a few hours at night. You can see the beads of moisture on the plastic. Once seeds started sprouting, I lifted up the plastic a bit to allow good air circulation.

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