Thursday, March 6, 2014

Succulent Seeds planted!

So, I haven't been dead....merely sleeping.

I decided instead of breaking it up into two postings, I would wait until my succulents sprouted before I bothered updating again. The seeds did come, and I tried my hand for the first time at starting succulents from seed. Here is a pictorial description of the steps taken!

First off: the seeds arrived the 4th of January. These things were TINY. I expected as much, but boy were they hard to get out of those packages!
After researching the best ways to germinate succulents, I was really torn between the ziplock baggy approach, and using a seedling starter kit. Eventually I decided why not go 50/50 and try both!
So I prepared a mix of cactus soil and crushed coral (I didn't have any sand on-hand) and sanitized them in the microwave. I also laid down a line of coke coral to aid in transferring the seeds.
Here are the seeds compared to the fine-grain coral. This was the small amount going into the ziplock baggy method.

I also prepared a standard seed tray, to see if that would yield better results.
I broke the seeds up into quadrants, each variety getting its own cube. I placed a marker so I could figure out who did best! I then place it outside, and heated from below using a reptile heating cord (a trick I picked up starting seeds in California)
Now unfortunately, a crack developed in the water tray (probably from the heating element), so the water drained a couple times before I figured out what was happening. So, I switched to some tupperware and as you can see: despite freezing temperatures the seeds stayed quite warm

Fast forward two months....
First, the Cheiridopsis on the seed flat:

I love the color of these, and the bottom left one is starting to develop it's first true leaves. Unfortunately the outcome wasn't huge for these, mostly because I had a bit of rot and also some drying out issues. I couldn't quite strike that perfect balance.
Meanwhile, in the ziplock baggy....
BAM! These things got huge! They also were sat on by the cat, since they lived in a sunny window. I also had some drying out issues, since they were easy to forget about. I misted them about once a week, and kept them sealed 24/7. They might have done better if I were more adamant about re-misting them, and keeping fat cats off of them (note the broken one)
Next, the Echeveria seed flat:
Nothing too spectacular. They were a little light in color, probably got too much sun before I took their cover off. But, what i'm lacking in size i'm getting in quantity! These two squares were the most prolific, but there were a lot more I couldn't see as well.
For the ziplock bag...
Just as many numbers wise, and a bit brighter in color. 
Next up: Gibbaeum
These are sooooo pretty. I really do love the purple! I got a fair amount, to boot.
About a whole 4 squares worth.
The Ziplock bag, however:
A measly 2 buds. Sadness.
Finally: Aeonium

It's hard to tell from my blurry picture, but these have some super cool red speckles! Got a nice amount on the seed flat. But for the the Zip-lock bag, I got a big fat zero. Nothing to show for. Either the bag was bad (it did dry out more often than the others) or just a fluke on placement in the window/cat sat on them too much.

So what will I do differently next time?? 

I'm considering starting another batch in the late summer, so I don't have to deal with heating from the bottom as much (maybe just at night?) or I'll just stick with the plastic bag approach, and be better about checking for drying out. Either way I've officially hardened them off, so they will now live un-covered but still being soaked from the bottom. That way I don't have to worry about misting them, and they won't dry out.

Wish me luck as this little experiment continues!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

In the courtyard

I can hardly wait, my seeds arrive in the mail today! I've decided to break up the seed packs into quarters - 1/4 will be sown in a standard covered seed tray, another 1/4 will be sown in zip-lock bags, and the other 1/2 will be kept until spring for planting. Very excited!

Today is overcast, which is perfect for acclimating my new cacti to the courtyard. The store I bought them at kept them in the greenhouse, so they will be gradually introduced to direct sunlight.

The overcast conditions also makes for great photography! Here's a shot of the mammillaria with a flower totally open

Next is a Notocactus magnificus, or your standard Balloon cactus. Purchased by my loving husband!
Here they are in their new home - a really neat inset planter box. I took all the old crap potting soil and replaced it with a layer of drainage and cactus soil. Those are two more Opuntia microdasys on each side, along with an unknown variant...
But here's a picture of him back in May, blooming (he's grown quite a bit since)

Finally, here are my first Echeveria that first kicked me off on this adventure! I bought it 2 years ago, the original plant died and the largest middle one regrew from a single leaf. Too bad it hasn't flowered since...maybe this year!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Cacti & Mesembs & Succulents, oh my!

Hello, World!

Having recently become very active in both the knitting/spinning world, as well as growing succulents (in addition to my normal garden growing) I believe a new blog is in order. This is mostly for my benefit, as I can easily see progress on my many projects.

To begin: I recently ordered two families of succulent seeds: Mesembs, and Crassulaceae. If that sounds latin to you (har har),those are the broad range of succulent plant. For mesembs pecifically , I've ordered a mix of Gibbaeum & Cheiridopsis, which might seem a bit foreign (they did to me anyway). The Gibbaeum could look like any of these:
While the Cheiridopsis looks like these:

Now these should look a bit more familiar to you. While you haven't heard of 'Echeveria', you've probably seen them on Etsy or Pinterest, and when you hear the word 'succulent', these should come to mind: and lastly there are Aeonium, which I was drawn to as they are more uncommon, and generally more colorful.

Now, along with this adventure of growing those little suckers from seed, I'm also trying my hand at keeping cactus alive. This should be a fairly easy endeavor...but you never know with me. I might over-water them, despite living in a region that gets 3-5 days of rain a year. Here are my little beauties I picked up today: From the top left: a variant of haageocereus? A flowering Mammillaria, Acanthocalycium, and finally an Opuntia microdasy. As you can tell, I'm still not sure what the specific genius they are, save the 'Rabbit ear' microdasy.  photo 6d597944-8628-4851-97b4-20748abf87ef_zps5fffccf5.jpg
Here's a very cool 'Burro's tail', or Sedum morganianum  photo photo_zpsa8a1a50f.jpg another type of succulent, Sempervivum  photo IMG_2154_1_zpsf84ebe3d.jpg and finally, my favorite of them all: Lithops! I'm not 100% certain, but I believe it is L. lesliei. These are considered 'living stones'.  photo photo_zpsdf69d8a0.jpg

That's it for now! Check back tomorrow (or monday?) to see if my seeds arrived or not!