In a Vase on Monday: 7/7/14

It’s been raining pretty hard, so this Monday’s vase was assembled quickly.  I used a little bit of everything and a strawberry pot from a long forgotten corner:


I filled the pot with Euphorbia tirucalli (pencil cactus) and Sansevieria trifasciata (snake plant) before inserting a few stems of Iris domestica (blackberry lily,) Ruellia tweediana (Mexican petunia,) and Verbena bonariensis (purple top/vervain.)

For the side pockets, I chopped a few heads of Aloe ciliaris to help anchor the Passiflora incense flowers.  Just before taking pictures I remembered the “filler/spiller/thriller” rule and included a few mandevilla tendrils to “wing out” the sides.


I was pleased with the outcome but Clarisse was unimpressed: she slept through all my efforts AND the drizzle. 😉

Kudos to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for creating this fun weekly challenge.  You can see other Monday Vases by clicking here

Until next time…

🙂 🙂 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Extra, Extra!

This week’s photo challenge asks us to share an image with a unique, unexpected element, and I just snapped a few that fit the criteria perfectly.

Take a look at this “little extra something” on an Aloe saponaria that recently bloomed in the Ranchero.  Note how the healthy, original flower spike (middle right in the frame) looks nothing like the new, extra-wierd one!


A. saponaria (aka Soap Aloe) is native to South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe and well suited to Florida’s salt air and gravelly, sandy soil.   A single plant will expand considerably by producing offsets (pups) so over the years I’ve watched many enter the flowering stage. Newly emerging spikes typically look like this:


So what is causing the strange growth in pic 1?  Eriophyes aloinis (aka Aloe Gall Mite) an extra-tiny “extra” I’d rather live without!

E. aloinis can attack any part of an aloe plant, but seems particularly drawn to flower spikes and the tops of rosettes. As they feed, the mites secrete a growth hormone regulator that induces a solid mass (gall) to form around them. Safe within the gall they eat and reproduce, wreaking havoc with their host’s normal tissue development and disfiguring the affected leaves and flowers.


Can you spot another “extra” in this picture? Hint: it’s alive!

Although the mites seldom kill, their aesthetic damage is irreversible. To prevent spreading, surgically remove any tumorous plant parts and dispose far, far away from your garden!

#extraannoying !

For other interpretations of this week’s challenge, click on the Zemanta related links below.

Until next time….

🙂 🙂 🙂

Wordless Wednesday: January 29, 2014

Monday was a glorious beach day,

Jaycee Beach Boardwalk Steps, Vero Beach, 1/27/14

and the Aloe arborescens looked especially splendid:

Aloe Arborescens, Jaycee Beach, 1/27/14

To put these images in context, I pulled back a bit for the next shot. (Note ➡ clicking the photo gives you a bigger version.)


To learn more about A. arborescens, read  my post from 11/24/13.

If you’d like to participate in Wordless Wednesday, click here for details!  🙂

Until next time……

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpected

This week’s photo challenge asks that we share an image of something unexpected. Well, mine is a bit of a “twofer!”

Saturday I went to Jaycee Beach and was totally surprised by a colony of Aloe aborescens that 2 weeks ago gave NO hint of an imminent bloom.  Take a look at them now:

Aloe arborescens, Jaycee Beach, 11/23/2013

Very unexpected!

A. aborescens, native to southern Africa, is one of the most widely cultivated aloes in the world.  As a prized fall-to-winter bloomer, it is found growing from mountains on high to sea level below:

Aloe arborescens, pic 2, Jaycee Beach, 11/23/2013

Each inflorescence is usually unbranched, but sometimes two (or more) arise from a single rosette.

A. arborescens has a conical, compact orange raceme, 11/23/2013

As I investigated the colony further, I ran across a completely unexpected mutant raceme!

Unexpected spilt raceme of Aloe arborescens, Vero Beach, 11/23/13At first I thought my eyes deceived me and maybe I’d missed a branched peduncle (stalk)…but no!  The next photo clearly shows a single stalk:

Unexpected spilt raceme of Aloe arborescens, pic 2, Vero Beach, 11/23/13

I have no idea if a split raceme is rare….but it was certainly unexpected! 😯

Until next time…

🙂 😯 🙂

Aloe Juvenna vs. Aloe Squarrosa

There are over 500 recognized varieties of Aloe in the world, and it seems I’ve misidentified this one:

20130613_111113What I thought was A. Juvenna from Kenya is actually A. Squarrosa from Socotra but I’m not alone in my mistake. Google  “A. Squarrosa” and at least half the returned images are mislabeled Juvennas….and some are from reputable succulent scholars and plant distributors!!!

Despite having the same white-spotted, bright green leaves, these aloes have VERY dissimilar shapes and growth habit. Squarrosa is a rock climber with long, recurved leaves that feel smooth to the touch;  Juvenna is a small, clump-former with prickly, triangular leaves that grow upward in columnar fashion. Take a look at this image from photographer Christian Defferrard and you’ll see the difference:
Aloe juvenna photo by Christian Derrerrard, 2010

If you’re wondering how I caught an identification error I never should have made in the first place, it has everything to do with flowering!  Both aloes have the same unbranched inflorescence that carries a cluster of tubular, coral colored flowers with greenish tips, BUT Juvenna rarely (and I mean RARELY!!) goes into bloom. Imagine my surprise and suspicion when I noticed an inflorescence on this barely 2 yr old aloe


 I don’t like that awful outlet dead center, so let’s just look at the spike:


All well and good to know exactly what I’m growing, but it still doesn’t explain the overall name game….so I dug a bit deeper. 😉

In 2003, the Aloes of the World Project began the daunting task of compiling data on each name given to every aloe in the world since record-keeping began in 1753. This compilation presented a unique opportunity to analyze and trace the use of common and scientific epithets in a large genus, and to identify trends in plant naming practices.  If you’re at all interested in linguistics and plants, I highly recommend reading the entire research file, but for our purposes I’ve pulled out this little nugget ➡ in 1979 someone misread the pseudo-Latin “Juvenna” on the original label of a cultivated aloe tagged as “possible juvenile.”  From that moment on, the new name stuck, but who and what Juvenna was before ’79 remains a mystery!  I can tell you this, though–last week I saw an aloe at Home Depot labeled  A. Zanzibarica and it looked exactly like the Juvenna in Christian Defferard’s picture further up the screen.   🙂   Uh-oh! Here we go again!

With so many mistagged plants and pictures out there, it’s amazing any of us ever gets it right!

Until next time……


Holy Mole-y: it’s a January Branch-out!

Walking across the backyard puts a spring in my step, but not from happiness! 😉   Spongy, raised mounds extend from the middle of the rear cutting garden to an area 10′ beyond the bauhinia tree. I suspect an entire mole/armadillo subway system exists beneath my feet 🙂  Here’s the entrance to what I’ve been calling Aloe Station: 😉

"Aloe Station" 1/05/2013

Aloe Station functions as a point of transfer. If you reach into this very wide hole, you feel 3 separate  tunnels, branching south, east and west.  I fear I was complicit in their construction when I staked bamboo poles (above) to assist the Climbing Aloe–no good deed goes unpunished, as they say! Incidentally, the aloe that caused all the trouble 😉 has started to bloom…here, I’ll show you:

Aloe Ciliaris in bloom, 1/6/13Back to the moles….

I’ve lost 2 growing season’s worth of flowers to this problem, and it’s time to plant again.  After researching various eradication methods, I decided herding the vermin away was the most reasonable option. Bring on the Sweeney’s Mole and Gopher Repellent, a granular castor oil product that (allegedly) sends the little buggers packing, as this video explains:

The goal is to apply the product over a four day period, shaking the granules further from the origination point each day. I didn’t want to hurt or kill the critters,  just relocate them faaarrrrrrr from Aloe Station.  If you’re wondering, “Did it work?”

New Mole hole, 1/6/13

This not-so-great photo attests the repellent is working! The morning after the first application, the hole above (and two others like it) appeared a foot beyond where I sprinkled the granules. As you can see at the top of the shot, Aloe Station is plenty far away for day one!

Today marked day 3. A section of the rear cutting garden, where mole-runs abounded instead of flowers, looks REALLY good!  Check it out:

Annual bed, rear cutting garden, 1/6/13

I am best pleased! 🙂  Maybe I can plant annuals here again:?:

…..and now it’s time to show you literal “branching out” re: two phalaenopsis orchids.

Remember the Winn Dixie Dyed Blue orchid from last August? It was growing a second spike when I purchased it.  During class last year, we learned if you cut a phalaenopsis spike along a middle node as its last flower fades, you might induce an additional spike to grow.  Well….I finally tried it, and here’s the result:

Phalaenopsis Lila Mystique w/ branching spike x 2, 1/8/13

Spiking x 2!

I nearly flipped-the-frig-out this morning when I noticed the teeny-tiny spike branching off the very top! (The bigger, side shoot I’d already flipped-the-frig-out over last week)  Pretty cool, yeah? At the conclusion of the current flowering cycle, this phalaenopsis might need a little rest. I’ll definitely watch it closely for signs of stress.

I’ve been more successful with orchid growing since hanging my plants in the Bauhinia tree: some are loose in baskets; others, lashed directly to branches. I think they’re getting better air circulation and the right amount of water this way. Overall, they seem far healthier, which brings me to the final picture:

Purple Phalaenopsis spike, 1/8/13

I’m not surprised this phal spiked–it typically flowers in February/March–but the heft and diameter of this particular spike DO surprise me. I hope the flowers follow suit!

If you’d like to read more about orchids, check out the blog in the related links. I’ve been following it for awhile now and it’s got great information!

Until next time…

🙂 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change of Seasons

In my neck of the woods, Aloe flowerspikes scream Change of Season almost as much as cars with northern license plates! 😉  While puttering in my rear garden this morning, I noticed an Aloe Ciliaris  sporting a healthy looking inflorescense:

Aloe Ciliaris Flower Spike, 12/14/12

Like most aloes, A. Ciliaris hails from Africa (mine came from Target, though! ha! 😉 ) When planted from seed, this vining climber grows FAST, but often takes 2-3 years to bear bright orange/red flowers. In their fully opened state, the flowers are approximately an inch long and tubular shaped, hanging in loose clusters from cone shaped racemes.

Until next time…..

🙂 🙂

ps. You can visit other Change of Season interpretions via the Zemanta links below: