B. houghtonii update, Wordless Wednesday: 1/15/14

Remember the Bryophyllum houghtonii succulents I blogged about on 1/5/14?  This morning I noticed a few little buds opening, just in time for Wordless Wednesday. 😉

B. houghtonii flower buds, 1/15/14B. houghtonii flower heads are known as corymbs, meaning flower stalks of different lengths appear as flat-topped clusters when viewed from above. The next pics provide a better illustration of a corymb’s shape:


B. houghtonii corymb, 1/15/14

To read other Wordless Wednesday posts, click on the Zemanta related articles below!

Until next time…..

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Bryophyllum houghtonii, Hybrid Mother-of-Millions

Jack is finally airborne!
After yesterday’s flight cancellation, I was relieved when today’s flight took off without a hitch ➡ ETA 3pm at Orlando Airport. 🙂

Because I may not post too often while he’s here, I thought I’d show you the Ranchero’s latest blooming Kalanchoe (or Bryophyllum, if you prefer) the hybrid K. houghtonii:

K houghtonii emerging flower buds and plantlet, 1/5/14

Here’s a view of the entire plant, which oddly grew parallel to the ground for 3 feet before infloresceing skyward:

K houghtonii, 1/5/14

Bryophyllum houghtonii is a hybrid form of B. daigremontianum x B. delagoense. There is much disinformation online–with erroneously labeled photos–of these 3 nearly identical plants. The best way of differentiating them is by closely observing the leaves: variegated boat-shaped leaves are indicative of the houghtonii hybrid:

K houghtonii boat shaped leaves, 1/5/14As the buds mature, they deepen from whitish-pink (as seen in the next pic) to either coral or red, depending on sun exposure.

K houghtonii inflorescense, 1/5/14

And now we’re off to the airport! 🙂

Until next time…..

🙂 🙂 🙂

Kalanchoe (Bryophyllum?) Pinnata

Kalanchoe pinnata is a succulent perennial that grows 4-6 feet tall on hollow stems. It has bright green leaves comprised of 3-5 leaflets with distinctively scalloped dark maroon margins.Bryophyllum pinnata, 12/2/13

The number of leaflets present varies from one (simple) near the base of the stem to two or more (compound) as the plant grows.

Bryophyllum pinnata compound leaflets, 11/05/13

When more than one leaflet is present, the one at the tip is significantly larger than the others, as seen in the next image:

Bryophyllum pinnata, 11/05/13

Although I’ve been calling this succulent a Kalanchoe,  Bryophyllum appears to be the current taxonomy based on several characteristics: (1) formation of plantlets in the leaf notches AFTER the leaf falls from the stem (2) the presence of pendulous flowers, (3) origins in Madagascar.

In contrast, species classified in the Kalanchoe group originate from a larger geographic range, have upright-facing flowers and produce plantlets along the margins of leaves still attached to the mother plant.  Of course all of this could change because numerous species don’t fit neatly in either category, and taxonomy has a way of updating with each new DNA analysis. 😮

But for now, let’s take a look at the traits that made K. pinnata the Bryophyllum she is today ➡ pendent flowers opening from short, lateral branches on tall, chandelier-like stalks.

Bryophyllum pinnata blooming, 12/02/13

The individual blooms are 1″ long and tubular shaped, emerging pinkish-green and deepening to red before drying on the stalk as a pale, papery brown. .

Bryophyllum pinnata flower, 12/02/13

When pinnata drops a leaflet, it goes into survival mode: bulbils (plantlets) begin growing along the leaf notches.

Bryophyllum pinnata leaf with bulbil, 12/02/13

As you might imagine, this form of propagation can be mighty invasive!  Good thing I like these burgeoning renamed kalanchoes! 🙂 I’m surrounded! 😉

Bryophyllum pinnata flower close up, 12/02/13

Until next time…….. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

Finally! The wind died down this morning and I got outside to take pictures for the first time in a week.  Unbelievably, almost every image wound up working for this week’s challenge, yet I had NO idea the topic was layers until long after lunch! 🙂  Gotta love when the stars align like that!!

Anyway…here we go 🙂

The first photo shows an unidentified kalanchoe with layers of leaves in different shapes and sizes:

Unidentified Kalanchoe, 11/15/13

Next, Lady Margaret Passiflora is a study in multi-layered beauty!

Passiflora Lady Margaret, 11/15/13

Tiny roots form the bottom layer on this Kalanchoe pinnata leaf-plantlet.

Kalanchoe pinnata plantlet, 11/15/13

In a few weeks, layers of orange flowers will burst from this wild Sesbania bud.

Sesbania punicea, 11/15/13

Before I sign off….. If you can identify the Kalanchoe in the first photo, let me know!

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

Until next time…

🙂 🙂 🙂

Hemorcallis Hyperion, 10/11/13

Odds and Ends and Bulletins

In the real world, I’m famous for “newsflash” outbursts, usually unrelated to the topic at hand.  Example: My kids and I are discussing an earthquake, say…in a conversational lull, I blurt out, “Michael Crichton’s new book came out today..ok…back to earthquakes!’  Over time, they dubbed my peculiar trait, “Ma’s Bulletins,” and I’m chuckling about this post revealing my real world behaviour to those of you in cyberspace! 😉   Pay close attention, friends, as I jump from odds and ends to bulletins……starting……now!

–Remember the unidentified pink wildflower that began blooming in September?  This is what it looks like now…..

….and thanks to the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden Forums, I have a name for it: Ammania Coccinea aka Valley Redstem.

I’m not a big fan of posting questions on gardening forums: I distrust advice and identifications I haven’t found on my own!  However, I’m consistently impressed with the calibre of knowledge at UBC, and wholeheartedly recommend ALL their online resources. You can browse and research without registering, but posting requires a (very) quick sign-in procedure.  The next time you’re really stumped, give it a shot!  They also run a Botany photo of the day list-serv (remember those?!?)  that sends the most unusual plants you can imagine to your inbox several times a month. Love it!!

Backtracking to the pics of A. Coccinea for a second, you’ll notice the lowest flowers morphing into seed pods.  Inside are zillions of teeny bright yellow seeds that I hope germinate as well as these have:

Coleus and assorted seedlings, 10/16/13

Can you believe these are the first coleus seeds I ever planted?  Wierd, right? One of the simplest, most common plants!  The tallest seedling in the back left pot is a cactus zinnia, and the skinny leafed one next to it, a carnation.  At least those are the three Burpee seed packets I sprinkled around.  Everything else in these pots is anybody’s guess!

My mother recently celebrated her birthday and apparently a change of race! You have NO idea how hard we laughed!  The cake on the right was from 2012, and you can see more of that birthday here.

One of my favorite Ranchero succulents is Kalanchoe Gastoniensis Bonnieri. October is a bit early for them to spike, yet here they go:

Mexican Donkey Ears, 10/16/13

The spikes are quite similar to another kalanchoe I shared in early October, K. Luciae, whose skyward stretch looked like this, yesterday:

Kalanchoe Luciae, 10/15/13

Last but not least,  Hemerocallis Hyperion, the yellow reblooming daylily, is back in business!

Hemorcallis Hyperion, 10/11/13

….And with that, the cyber debut of “Ma’s Bulletins” comes to a close!

Until next time…..

🙂 🙂 🙂

Kalanchoe Luciae coming into bloom!

Kalanchoe luciae (aka Flapjack Plant) is a “big statement” succulent from South Africa. When I bought these plants last November, cooler weather and shorter days turned their chalky green leaves a dramatic, blushing red.

Kalanchoe Luciae, 12/01/12

K. Luciae is an incredibly FAST grower:  by March, both had sprouted “pups” and needed repotting!  As an experiment, I planted one group into the Ranchero, and upsized the others to a pot measuring 12″wide x 6″deep.  Each received full sun and equal amounts of water, which is why what happened next surprised me!  With the exception of 2 small pups, the Ranchero group died off; the container specimen continued thriving, as seen in this photo from 9/14/13:

K. luciae 9/14/13

I’ve never grown this perennial before, so didn’t know what to make of my plant’s new “legginess.”  While looking through the viewfinder yesterday, it hit me:

🙂 🙂 !!Flowerspike!! 🙂 🙂

Kalanchoe Luciae, 10/2/13

And here it is in close-up:

Kalanchoe Luciae flowerspike 10/2/13

There are two things worth noting in the picture above:

  1. the leaves are pruinose, meaning they’re densely covered with a white flour-like powder to protect against excess sunlight.
  2. tiny plantlets are forming along the leaf axils because K. Luciae dies after flowering. When the spent flowerspike hits the ground, the plantlets root themselves to assure the species’ survival.

As soon as the flowers appear, I’ll be back with an update!

Until next time…..

🙂 🙂

When succulents see red!

Chlorophyll is responsible for the green we see in plants, but what causes the red?  In times of seasonal change, plants reveal pigments that are otherwise hidden, and anthocyanin is one of these. In Florida, as the days get shorter and overnight temperatures drop, sugars accumulate in the plants’ leaf tissue.  This kicks off a storm of anthocyanin production and many of my tropicals are seeing red! 😉


The Kalanchoe luciae (above) is particularly vibrant. The offset (in the pot’s foreground) illustrates this succulent’s typical chalky green-ness, visible 9 months of the year.

The Euphorbia Tirucalli (below) has been slower to brighten due to living on the back patio under partial shade. Placed in full sun during the change of seasons, these succulents are known to turn a deep, bright orange.


Bromeliads produce anthocyanin as a natural sunblocking response.  The deep pink splotches on the neoregelia below, protect the plant’s DNA from damaging UV radiation.


The presence of red leaf margins is a good indication a succulent will undergo color changes.  The Agave guiengola is a great example of this trait!

Agave Guiengola, 12/01/12

In the Ranchero garden live some of my best loved species, acquired in crazy ways. One day, I admired a plant in a garden adjacent to a yardsale..the homeowner overheard me and gave me a little teeny (variegated green) cutting of Pedilanthus tithymaloides. Fast forward two years and this euphorbia is MUCH bigger…and seeing red…well…ok… pink, really 😉

Pedilanthus Tithymaloides Variegatus (zigzgag plant) 12/02/12

Now we’ve come full circle: this post started with a Kalanchoe and so too, ends with one ❗


K. Gastonis Bonnieri may be one of the most stunning kalanchoes, ever!  Right now, my yard has several in full bloom AND coloration.  Note how the plants along the perimeter experience the full anthocyanin response, while the more protected ones behind them do not.

For a well written, layman’s term explanation of the science behind this post, I recommend this link.

Until next time…….

🙂 🙂 🙂

Ready for Liftoff

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ready

As gardeners, we spend considerable time planning the best use of our available land.. Where should I place the vegetables? What spot is best for sun exposure?  Is that the best sight line for a small tree?  As you tick off the answers, patterns of land use emerge. Soon you have your garden’s perimeter and ask, “should I edge it with pavers or river rock? Does it matter either way?”

Yes, it does, and this little creature is why:

Ready for Liftoff

Ready for Liftoff!!

Who knew dragonflies are attracted to light colored river rocks?   I had no idea!

In its previous incarnation, the Ranchero was a Koi pond surrounded by river rocks.   When I moved to small house, I threw out the plastic pond insert and enlarged the area by half, meaning I was short on river rocks to edge my new garden space.  Rather than buy additional ones (waaayyyyy expensive) I intended to use cement curbing I’d gotten for free but, you guessed it….not enough of that either…

….so I finished the project with a few feet of river rocks and set about “hiding” the evidence with Kalanchoe diagremontiana like you see in the picture.

Who knew dragonflies are attracted to “mother of thousands” kalanchoe?  Again, I had no idea!

Unexpectedly the stars had aligned, bringing  life to my yard and adding quite nicely to my land use plan!  🙂

Until next time….

Weekly Photo Challenge: Winter……Out with the (C)old!!!!

Wow! The final weekly photo challenge of 2011 is upon us!!   We’ve a scant 30 minutes ’til it’s “out with the (c)old, in with the new!”

If you’ve looked through my blog at all, you know I spent my entire life in the Northeast. I could share hundreds of Winter “Wonderland” pictures with you, but I”m loathe to perpetuate that myth.  Besides, on the advice of a caterpillar 😉 we left that mess behind!  😉

But the question remains…how to photograph winter, when you live in a place it doesn’t typically visit?    Simple…you take a picture of this December bloomer with a name CS Lewis would love:

Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri

Mexican Donkey Ears

Kalanchoe Gastonis Bonnieri isn’t the only winter bloomer, though.   Look at this other harbinger of winter, watching over my front walk.

Euphorbia Trigona

Euphorbia Trigona

When the yellow “dots” emerge in late November, count forward three weeks to the arrival of winter….and Santa!  Now he’s a myth I can get behind!!!!

Until next year…….

Nature’s Way on a Rainy Day

What a rainy weekend we’ve had along the Treasure Coast—downpours for the better part of two days!  On Friday morning, I planted a half package of morning glory seeds directly into my perimeter garden–undoubtedly they’ve washed away to who-knows-elsewhere in the yard.  Guess I should have checked my weather app more closely, but it might’nt have mattered…nature has its own timetable, despite our best efforts to control it.

Nevertheless, I went out during a lull in the storm to snap a few pictures–I love how the Ranchero looks when the sky is grey and there’s water droplets about…see if you don’t agree!

Pincushion Cactus in BloomAnything that flowers in winter is a favorite of mine; I like its spirit!  I bought this Pincushion Cactus from the Target on the next block, just before they closed their Garden Center forever. (Woe was me, that day!  😦 )

Columnea aka Dolphin VineCavorting in the water isn’t a problem for this next plant! I received the Columnea above as part of a Spring Hill Nursery grab bag. I’d never heard of “Dolphin Vine” but was delighted to find it among the items they sent last summer. It’s grown so much, I’ve since divided and repotted it into 3 containers; I’ve rooted quite a few cuttings from it, too!

Another winter bloomer is the Kalanchoe Gastonis Bonnieri…now THAT’s a mouthful! I prefer to call it Mexican Donkey Ears, which technically is inaccurate because this succulent has nada to do with Mexico and mucho to do with Madagascar.  One of the best descriptions of this plant’s history can be found here, and one of the prettiest pictures of it, here:

Mexican Donkey Ears😉 I admit to being biased, but this particular plant IS pretty, yeah?  In two weeks or so, the pink buds will open into beautiful bell shaped flower clusters. As one of the original Ranchero “baby” plants from winter of 2010, I’m very excited to witness its first bloom. The fact that it survived two years in which Vero Beach experienced several weeks of hard freezes, is remarkable!

Even though it was raining, not snowing, it began to look a lot like Christmas today:

First Christmas Cactus Bloom of 2011The first Christmas Cactus flower of the 2011 season opened alone amidst a downpour, another reminder that nature ALWAYS finds its way, even when circumstances aren’t ideal, and conditions are downright negative.    Something to ponder…..

Until next time……