Join us on Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter.

Plantgasm - I love plants too much. By Derek Powazek.

First Bloom: Cirrhopetalum pulchellum

Cirrhopetalum pulchellum

I picked up this Cirrhopetalum pulchellum back in January from Norman’s. This is its first bloom. The flowers are much smaller than they look – the whole spread is about an inch across.

The Caladium Hour

Every day, just before sunset, the sun spends one of its last afternoon hours streaming into my living room window, falling on my dining table, and beaming right through the opaque, nearly transparent leaves of a Caladium growing there. And every day I think to myself, I should really photograph that. Today, I did.


Two Links Closer in the Chain of Dendrobium Ifs

Back in May, I wrote about A Dendrobium Seed Pod and the Long Chain of Ifs. Now we’re a couple links closer.

First, good news came from Troy Meyers, the flasking lab, last month. The seed embryos looked good under the microscope. Here they are, under transmitted and reflected light.

Photo by Amber Kost Photo by Amber Kost

Next, more good news from Troy Meyers, last week. The seeds have germinated! I asked for a photo and he sent me this.


It may not look like much now, but that layer of yellow blobs are all clusters of tiny, growing Dendrobium embryos. Sexy goop, eh?

So we’re two more links into the long chain of ifs. Now if they stay alive, and if they survive a reflasking or two, and if they survive the trip to me, and if I can get them transitioned to media, and if I can keep them alive another few years, and if I can get them to bloom … then we’ll finally see what the flowers look like.

Like I said, it’s a long chain of ifs, but still so exciting!

Dahlia Darling


I’d never grown a Dahlia before, but Heather picked out a few back in March and they went into the back corner of the yard after The Great Potato Bush Massacre. Little did I know that they’re the official flower of San Francisco. And now I know why – they love it here!


This is Dahlia ‘Vancouver’, the first to bloom. I can see a whole lot more Dahlia in my future.

Pollination By Post

Back in May, my friend Zach sent me some pollen from one of his Phalaenopsis orchids in the mail. I used it to pollenate one of mine that happened to be blooming.

I snapped a quick photo to remember the details. That’s the pollinia there in the plastic bag after the word “purple.”


The pollination took! Here’s the pod today.


Phalaenopsis orchid pods can take 8 months or so to mature, so we still have lots of time to wait. But if this pod produces viable seeds, the plants will be a mix of two different Phalaenopsis hybrids, both with white and purple blooms.

A Repotting Lesson from a Philodendron Cutting

Last year, my friend Leland sent me a cutting of Philodendron pinnatifidum x melinonii from his yard. The photo on the left below shows what it looked like when I received it. It was just a few inches wide. I planted it in a 5 inch pot.

By December, it had rooted and thrown out its first enormous leaf, which you can see in the photo below on the right. Magnificent!

Philodendron pinnatifidum x melinonii

What’s interesting (to me, anyway) is that it remained a one-leaf-wonder for months. In May, I noticed that the pot was going dry very quickly after watering. This is a good sign that the plant needed more room, so I repotted it into a gallon pot.

Philodendron pinnatifidum x melinonii

The plant immediately started putting out new leaves. It’s now up to four and I’m considering another repot soon. Lesson learned: some plants really need space below in order to thrive up top.

A Fistful of Carrots

Oh hi! I know, it’s been a while. Miss me? The will to blog comes and goes, while the plant urge stays strong.


Harvesting carrots. Photo by Heather Champ, shirt from You Grow Girl.

As last year, the carrots are about the only thing doing well in the vegetable garden right now. But there are lots of other plant happenings afoot, which I’ll write about as soon as I can. If anyone’s still reading. Hi!

Tube Planter and Blooming Maranta

tube planterI’m loving this Tube Planter from West Elm. It’s bigger and more robust than it looks – about a foot tall, the walls are a centimeter thick, made of robust ceramics, but most importantly, it’s just gorgeous.

Like any closed-bottom planter, you have to be careful what you plant in it and how you water. If you leave water standing at the bottom, roots can rot. I tend to use plants that don’t mind staying wet (like ferns and jungle plants), or succulents that don’t mind staying very dry (like Sansevieria, which I used in a another one).

In this case, I chose a Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura erythroneura). I know, it’s a typical doctor’s office plant, but I love the pattered leaves. And bonus: It’s now blooming! See below for a closeup of a leaf and the tiny flower.

Maranta leuconeura erythroneura

Maranta leuconeura erythroneura

A Dendrobium Seed Pod and the Long Chain of Ifs

Dendrobium Seed Pod

Dendrobium Seed PodBack in March, I happened to have two Dendrobium orchids in bloom at the same time and decided to try and cross them. After one false start, I got a pod. This week the pod opened! Unlike the Phalaenopsis pod which took nine months, this one took only two.

In the photo above, you can see me collecting the seed as it drops into a paper towel. In the photo on the right, you can see a closeup of the open pod. That tiny fluff is just the packaging – the seeds are too tiny to be visible to the naked eye.

Like the Phalaenopsis pod, I’m going to send it off to Troy Meyers for flasking. The pod’s parent plant is Dendrobium kingianum, and the pollen is from D. “Micro Chip,” a named hybrid I got at the last Pacific Orchid Expo. They’re both small orchids with sprays of little flowers.

Now we enter the “long chain of ifs.” If the seeds have viable embryos, and if Troy Meyers is able to grow them in a flask, and if I’m able to transition them to pots, and if I’m able to grow them happily for a few years, then finally we may get to see what the resulting flowers look like.

Jewel Alocasia Bloom

My Alocasia melo bloomed today. I just love his adorable little polka-dotted winkie.*

Alocasia melo

* “Winkie” is not a proper botanical term.


Plantgasm is where Derek Powazek chronicles his botanical antics and misadventures. More.