Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mid-winter check in (with the prisoners)...

The sun was shining, the temperatures were mild, it was finally time. Time for the mid-winter check in. Time to take enough of those prisoners out of the shade pavilion that I could actually get in there and see how everyone is doing. Heck maybe even give them a little drink?

This is the view that greets you as you try to enter. That charming (custom!) cement pedestal is where the heater sits if it's needed, it hasn't been needed much this season so the surface is currently covered in plants.

And there are plants spilling out of the door too, of course.

But wait! There is actually some room in there, once you get the cement out of the way. Of course on the cold nights when the heater is on that space is stuffed full of things, things that were out of frame in the first few shots. In case you're wondering 21F is the lowest my garden has seen this winter, and we've had 3 events (one each in November, December, and January) where temps have been in the 20's at night.

I still haven't upgraded from the super chic cement and wood shelving. I doubt I will, it's just too easy (and free).

Looking good!

This is curious. A desiccated worm perhaps?

Thankfully I didn't find any unexpected guests (an infestation) or death. The Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' still looks good. Fingers crossed that continues, these can be notoriously tricky and in fact I've lost one previously.

The Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' I picked up at the Ruth Bancroft Garden during the 2013 Garden Blogger's Fling is still looking good, as is the Leucadendron ‘Ebony’ (visible in the 5th photo from the top).

I have heard tell that leucadendrons can be very difficult to overwinter in a climate where they're not hardy. In fact I've had two just up and die for no apparent reason what so ever, most recently the L. 'Safari Sunset' I brought back from Flowerland last fall. So naturally I brought one back from San Deigo at Christmas time! (I guess I like a challenge) Leucadendron salignum 'Winter Red'...

The brugmansia is done flowering and thankfully has retained some of its leaves.

So that's it for inside the "greenhouse," but since I was out with the camera I thought we'd take a look at the Agave ovatifolia and A.lophantha 'Splendida' which have spent winter (most days) under the PVC hut (written about here)...

Looking good!

Oops! My camera has strayed. Fatsia polycarpa 'Needham's Lace' - I'm so glad it survived the move to this new location where it can go crazy (and it is)...

Rhododendron 'Ebony Pearl', I wonder if it's fixing to bloom this spring?

So as turns out I was on a roll, why not tackle the indoor plants too?

Things have been pretty much ignored since I brought them inside back in October.

Time to go through and look each one of them over, and like outside, offer up a little water.

I do laundry once a week, and the machines are just a few feet to the side, so I do frequently look at these plants. Just not up close and personal. Doing a close check-over like this I'm always a little concerned about what I might find. This one (below) is a mystery. One of the Agave desmettiana has this darker splotches all over it's leaves. No insects, no signs of real damage. I'd say it was freeze damage except it's been in the basement where the temperature hasn't dropped much below 60. Any guesses?

The Greenovia aurea 'Gran Canaria Form' is telling me it's a little thirsty.

Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor', looking brilliant.

Oxalis, oh how I wish ye gone from my garden, and my containers...

Interesting pattern on these leaves.

Soon to be flowers on my Mammillaria gracilis var. fragilis...

Finally! I've never been successful with leaf propagation of succulents. No doubt this one worked becase I didn't even know it was happening.

Healthy little bugger.

This is interesting. I give you Aloe dorotheae, exhibit A

Aloe dorotheae, exhibit B

Aloe dorotheae, exhibit C...all three growing just inches apart from each other, under the same conditions since October. Bizarre coloration eh?

This is interesting too, although not in a "neato" way, more of an "oh damn" way...this is my largest Agave 'Joe Hoak'...

And this is what I found on the lower leaves.

Mealybugs, a form of scale.

At first I thought maybe it was cochineal, because when I smashed them (as I did with my gloved fingers) they released a red fluid. Further research pointed to mealybugs. Thankfully I can only find them on this one plant, which I'm treating with the same solution that Gerhard wrote about on his blog.

And I'm watching little Joey to make sure he doesn't follow in his big brother's footsteps. Gardening, it ain't all fun and games...

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

24 comments:

  1. Never mind the little blighters, I'm sure you'll sort them out ;) so far so good and I'm feeling inspired to go out there and check out those tucked away.

    Oops, it's too dark already...

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    1. It will be light again soon, get out there!

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  2. Loree,

    There has been an increased incidence of plants coming from SOCAL and AZ infected with the crown mealy bug. This is a particularly nasty new species that burrows into the core of the plant. With plants infected with this pest it is most common to see them clustered in the crown with a few out on the peripheral leaves.

    Your bugs look like they are concentrated on the periphery and not in the core, but I could be missing something.

    I had a few plants last year that came to me infected with this pest. Those bugs looked just like yours (including the red staining), only they were clearly emerging from and clustered about the core. Unfortunately, because they are burrowed down in the core, topical treatment won't get them all. If you have reason to suspect that what you have is the crown mealy bug, then you should consider some systemic insecticide.

    I hate to be the one to call them out, but the sheer number of plants infected with crown mealy bug at Rancho Soledad was shocking when I was there in June. It was on virtually every plant I saw there. With that kind of infection rate at a place that is such a big supplier of great plants, it is likely that this pest will be coming to a nursery near you soon.

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    1. Ugh. Thank you Daniel. I've long dreaded the Agave Snout Weevil showing up in my garden but now I guess I've got other things to worry about. I did find a couple on the center cone (of yet to unfold leaves), that's why you can see in the shot 5th up from the bottom that the new leaf looks like it was pulled back rather than unfolding naturally. I thought I might find more there but there were none. I will be extremely diligent in watching this one, thank you so much for commenting.

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  3. Your stuff is wintering over beautifully Loree! Your agaves look great!
    I've had an occasional mealy bug outbreak this winter in my succulent collection myself. Some of my light colored aeoniums have been the most effected, one in particular from a cutting a friend sent mer from Berkeley. I've used the 70% Isopropyl Alcohol quite effectively just dabbing with a Q-Tip. I've had a little crossover to echeverias but not much. So far the aloes, agaves and cacti are unaffected. When I remember, I try to run a fan to keep air circulating in the sunroom. I think that may help some.
    This has been a dry, very mild January in PDX. Hope it keeps up!

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    1. Thanks Paul for the reminder, I really should pull out a fan.

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  4. Happy to see all the plants wintering away fairly well! Ugh on the mealy bugs...but now that you know I am sure you can sort them out!

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  5. Your greenhouse and basement plants look great! Congratulations on keeping them so healthy looking and happy! I had an agave with mealy bugs last season and, while the alcohol treatment cut down the numbers, there were some I couldn't reach inside newly emerging leaves. A couple of treatments with a systemic insecticide and they were gone, the plant survived, has now gotten even larger, and there was no spread to nearby plants.

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    1. I'm trying to avoid going there (the systemic insecticide) but it's good to know that solution is there should I have to, where did you buy it? Is it the Bayer product?

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  6. You're lucky you have so few bugs to deal with, even if they are a pain. I just finished sorting out containers in the greenhouse, and I have aphids, woolly aphids, white fly and spider mites. I bit the bullet and gave everything a good blast of Neem Oil, even brought a few pots into the house to wash them under the tap. I hope your Joe Hoak survives. I have a similar problem with Oxalis, I swear they're intelligent.

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    1. Ugh, I'm sorry. I went into the season with a nasty bunch of aphids on my Sonchus canariensis but insecticidal soap and hose sprays seems to have done the trick (knocking on wood...).

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  7. The sheer number of plants you have squeezed under cover is amazing. I hope you sort out - are cure - 'Joe Hoak' of the current infestation. Give yourself kudos for all the healthy specimens you've got.

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    1. Thanks Kris, it is easy to loose sight of the good ones.

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  8. The plants look happy...even those mealybugs do...I know they won´t be for too much time. I´m happy Fatsia polycarpa is totally recovered!!

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    1. And it's branching (the fatsia), it's going to be even more amazing!

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  9. Keeping my fingers crossed that you'll get rid of the buggahs on your 'Joe Hoak'. Mealybugs, how I hate them!

    Your plants look fantastic overall. I'm especially amazed at the plants in your basement. How many hours a day do you run the lights?

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    1. Thanks Gerhard. Andrew turns the lights on in the morning at about 6:30, I turn them off at night anywhere between 9:00 and 11:00, poor things are probably very confused about the seasons...

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  10. Everything looking so good! Which Aloe dorotheae color do you like best? It's the combo of all three that gets me -- they don't have those colors during the growing season, do they?

    Like Gerhard I'm curious about the indoor conditions, specifically the lights. What kind and how many? It seems so nice and bright!

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    1. I like them all! Is that cheating? Seriously though, I love the mix. They all did have a similar coloration (to what they have now) during the growing season, but then they were in 3 very different places with different light levels. I would have thought they'd even out over the winter. If anything the red has become more intense, the orange has faded to more of a yellow and the green has remained the same.

      I've got 3 metal shop fixtures that hold 2 fluorescent bulbs each and then 3 metal clamp on lights. I am not terribly picky about what bulbs go in the fixtures. It's a mix of cool and warm light. I don't buy grow-lights, too expensive and they don't seem necessary.

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  11. Yucky mealybugs! What is that underneath the photo of the Agave lophantha 'Quadricolour', sharing the container with the oxalis? (Damn oxalis, it really knows how to get right up in there with the spikey plants)

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  12. Very impressive collection! I noticed the black mondo grass in one of the photos. I've had my eye on it for a while but I just don't know how I would work it into my 'north woods riverbed' theme I've been doing so far. It's so cool though!

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  13. Hi Loree
    how long do you leave the grow lights on for the plants in the basement. I assume the light are on a timer?


    thanks !

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    1. They're not on a timer, we turn them on when we get up in the morning and turn them off when we go to bed. When we're traveling they're on 24/7, poor plants!

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