Saturday, February 25, 2017

Now, I can tell you where to go...

Peperomia prostrata

            Now, I can tell you where to go to find my plants at a nearby Garden Center.

            Both my Website, and this Blog show a link to Google maps with locations that stock my plants.

            I’ve had numerous requests for unique plants discussed on this Blog.  Now you have a place to start.  Check with stores near you to see if they have plants you want.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

There will be no Cabin Fever in Southeast Pennsylvania !

Petunias for Spring

            Commercial horticulture counts on Spring.  When Spring breaks, the entire gardening public descends on Garden Centers for their Spring and Summer color.

            Traditionally, we are hibernating, but building plant inventory for the eight-week crush in April and May.

            This year, the weather has been mild with no deep-freezing weeks and only a few minor snows that quickly melted away.

            Everyone has been freely moving around.  There is no cabin fever in sight.

            What will this do to the Spring sales if there is no pent-up demand?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Just thinking, O. T.

Hey, what do you think we should do?

                   These guys are thinking about the Presidency of the United States.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Why Lipstick Plants Flower? --- My Conclusions

Lipstick Plant Buds

What problem are we trying to solve here?

            Commercial horticulture demands that flowering crops can be consistently grown into a salable product in the shortest possible time.  This depends on knowing the flowering response ---- what triggers flowering?

            There is a vague understanding of what makes Lipstick (Aeschynanthus) plants flower.  Flowering is variety specific.  My conclusions are for the clone with classic red lipstick tube and flower.  This clone may be A. lobbianus.  Regardless of the name, the stock material that I have available to me, flowers in hanging basket form around Christmas.

            The goal will be to produce 4” or 6” baskets in the Fall for December flowering.  8” or 10” baskets are too heavy for indoor use.  If a 4” pot can be produced from budded shoots --- even better.

Everyone agrees that Lipsticks are seasonal, but what does that mean?

            I believe that day-length is not a trigger.  If it were, growers would already be cranking them out on a Mum schedule year around.

            The Fall flowering must be either from the total accumulation of light from Summer or a lowering of temperature.  Or Both.

            The maturity/age of the branch is mandatory.  Young growth does not flower.  After the main flush of flowers, any sporadic later flowering is probably from younger growth that has matured.

            So, in the absence of controlled experiments where we can test one piece of environment at a time, my conclusion is this:

1.      Propagate Spring and Summer.
2.     Get maturity Summer and Fall
3.     Wait for cooler Fall temperatures.
4.     Budding will occur Oct/Nov

5.     Flowering in Dec/Jan/Feb

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Why Lipstick Plants Flower? -- The Working Theory!

Aeschynanthus in flower at Christmas - Why?

Several advanced hobbyists have given me their observations about growing Aeschynanthus to flower.  I’ve copied them here and will draw my own conclusions as GSP (Gary’s Specialty Plants)

            GSP.  First, Paul’s growing method may be essential to proving that it is not day-length.

“I had Aeschynanthus lobbianus variegated and Aeschynanthus radicand in full bloom in December.
I posted a few photos of them on G’philes at that time.

I have grown them for years, and find the following:

They must have some maturity (i.e. length of stems) to bloom well.  
They do not seem to need longer nights or days, as my lights are on 12 hours per day, all year long.

They do love the 4-tube T8s.
Repotting about once a year., shallow pots, loose soil.  ( I do not wick water anything)”

            Ruth, in Australia sends her experience:

“Gary, I found your information interesting, but as usual there is a difference because of conditions - or at least I think that is what it is. No Aeschynanthus that I have grown (and I've grown 30 or more different species and hybrids) have ever been a problem for coming into flower. A few flower in our autumn, but the rest begin to flower in mid-summer through most of the autumn. A few will flower during the winter. I am growing outdoors and yes, this is a warm climate. A. lobbianus (or what we used to call lobbianus - I believe it changed) is starting to produce buds now - mid-summer. Is this odd to you? Most growers in this area have plants in flower at the same times as I do.

            GSP.  One obvious conclusion is that results are variety specific.  You must know what clone you are taking about to compare results.  Different species or hybrids may have different flowering responses. They all flower if we do the right thing.

            Dee offers this:

“The Aeschynanthus that bloom at the ends of the stem are often seasonal. They will bloom in the fall and only in the fall. If you cut them back after a summer outdoors, you won’t get any flowers.”

              GSP.  So, with terminal bloomers, what triggers them to flower in the Fall?  Is it the total accumulation of light from the Summer or the lower temperatures of the Fall?
              Irina has this to say:

“In my limited experience - maturity of the plant triggers the bloom. Some species and hybrids are more floriferous, some very shy and seasonal. It generally takes much longer to root the stems of Aeschynanthus than Nematanthus - so there is a good chance that the cutting will abort the buds that are already set. And you will wait a healthy amount of time before it buds again.
The widely spread in culture Aeschynanthus lobbianus - the Lipstick plant - is a fast growing and quite floriferous species - it is a good candidate for what Gary Hunter is trying to accomplish - get finished blooming compact plants ready for sale. It will probably take them another year or more to bloom again.
I do not think we can use this technique when we grow for show, rooted cuttings do not produce a full mature plant we all want to see. Plants for sale - are definitely more desirable when they are in bloom.”

              GSP.  This adds to my problem of how to get budded cutting to not abort the buds before rooting.  They only flower once a year.

              Ruth added this:

“For me, most Aeschynanthus flower in mid-summer to late autumn. A few will flower through some of the winter, and there are some that prefer spring. No problems with flowering.
I have one with pink flowers that was brought in from Malaysia and it didn't flower when it was a young plant, perhaps because I kept taking cuttings to make sure other people had it. Several years later, virtually everyone had plenty of flowers. One grower reported the other day that his was full of flowers - and this is mid summer.”

              GSP.  Yes, if you cut the tips of terminal flowering types you don’t get any flowers.  And when they flower must be backed up several months to when the flowering was initiated.

              Mark adds:

“It does seem to have to do with maturity in my experience, with a seasonal influence as well.  My 'Thai Pink' never bloomed until the vines were 3 feet or so long, and has a heavy bloom in winter every year.  This is followed by a lesser bloom several months later. It hasn't changed in 5 or 6 years of growing.”

              GSP.  This is the maturity(Age) idea.  And that the trigger is consistent which is what we want.  What does seasonal mean?  If we eliminate day-length, then is must be temperature or accumulated light.

              There is a lot to consider with these comments.  Thank you to the growers for thinking about this problem and taking time to help me.   I will give my conclusions in the next post.