05/20/2022

Beautiful plant.
Rocky mountain bee plant
Geometrid moth among the dayflower leaves.
The striped planthopper on the elderberry.
Very tiny bees on the widow sedum. One sitting, one blurring through in flight.
One Missouri fluttermill primrose among the strawberries!
During weedeater repair we found a DAMN EARWIG.

2022/05/22 cool morning again

I sprinkled some grama grass seeds in this planter last winter so I am hopeful for this tiny grass sprout.
While it’s cool I decided I should go ahead and plant the showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa). Its root was all tangled at the bottom and the soil fell off. It looks like it wanted to send out a tap root anyways.
So, it’s safely in the ground now. It is supposed to continue cool for several days, with rain too, so hopefully it likes its new spot.
I tidied up the plant shelves here by removing some pots where seedlings died.
I moved the winecup tray onto the table…
…Because some critter went rooting around in it. Hmph. Very rude. I tried to re-cover the soil on the survivors of the 2-4 that were disturbed. Fortunately many were left alone.
Frogfruit has started blooming!
Someone wants me to make guest kitties appear more.

05/01/2022 ashy sunflower from moldy humid container, attempt 2

The ashy sunflower humid tupperware had those two new seedlings. Last time I transferred out into soil, they shriveled within a few days.
So, this time I’m making them a little greenhouse to get adjusted.
This pot actually has two: one seedling and one I found sprouted with a root but the cotelydons (seed leaves) weren’t out yet from the seed husk.
The upside down lunch meat container doesn’t quite seal over them, so I put damp paper towels as a sort of barrier. We’ll see if it works!
Accidentally knocked off some flowers of showy evening primrose by the sidewalk when going back and forth to get pots and soil.

04/26 and 04/28 assorted

The Tupperware experiment Ashy Sunflowers have a few more sprouts as of 04/26. I need to move them more carefully as the last two I tried to plant promptly shriveled up and died.
Texas mallow coming up!
The other individual of Texas mallow coming up!
Now on 04/28, an Ashy Sunflower actually sprouting from seed! I believe this was one that got stratified.
04/28 rock garden is looking good.
Penstemon grandiflorus from prairiemoon.com as bare root seems to be growing!
The Astragalus (ground plum) not looking as good again.
Finishing up the 04/28 pics, the culinary sage is blooming in the rainbow garden!

Oops, somehow I got more plants??

Mom told me that the Native Plant Society was having their spring sale on Saturday… So of course we had to go. I got lots of understory trees and shade ground covers, plus a few other things. More on this once I get home and plant them next weekend.
On Saturday evening, we went ahead and put Mom’s tomatoes in the ground. I think our yogurt containers may be part of why the seedlings have been struggling. The knife “slices” in the bottom don’t leak well enough I think; each one was still very wet in the soil at the bottom. In the future I think we’d better drill holes.
Doggies always alert. (From today, Sunday.)
This chickadee in a nest box refuses to move. The eggs, visible in a previous check, are on Mom’s blog.

By popular request: germinating native cacti

A few caveats

  • To my knowledge, none of the cacti around north-central Texas or central Oklahoma are legally endangered or threatened, but cacti can be highly desirable to plant collectors. So, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make sure any cactus seeds you have acquired are from a sustainable and legal source! The three species I have grown (below) are relatively common.
  • I am assuming in this blog post that you are growing within the native range of the cacti so that outdoor temperatures are not a concern once established.
  • I don’t really know what I’m doing. I have managed to get three of our local species (Escobaria missouriensis, E. vivipara, and Coryphantha sulcata to grow, but only the two Escobaria have as yet made it to a stage where I think they’ll live. The first C. sulcata died after sprouting, and the one I have now may or may not make it.
  • When I have encountered cactus genera in articles and resources, it appears the species in the genera Coryphantha, Escobaria, and Mammillaria seem to get reassigned among each other periodically, so I’m going to guess that similar conditions apply to all. I will specify the species given if it’s one of the three I have grown that are common in our region.

What to plant in

  • Soil needs to be well drained. You could go with cactus/succulent medium, possibly sterilized or with anti-fungal liquid added (pg 3 of Newland et al. 1981 suggests “Captan fungicide”). I did this for last year’s baby. What I did for the first time I tried was random dirt similar to where they normally live – I filled my outdoor planters with some sandy loam and gravel from a berm in my yard. The three-tiered planter had a lot of germination for E. vivipara (at least 7 up, though I didn’t count how many I planted), only a few (two? I don’t remember) for E. missouriensis, and one for C. sulcata. Not all survived, however – see “What to do once they sprout”.
  • Perhaps a pinch of local dirt from near the same species of adult cactus to ensure they get suitable mycorrhizal partners (Carillo-Garcia et al. 1999; Harding 2017). Most sources I read about did not talk about this aspect of germination, so I imagine many can make it without it, but germination or survival may not be as good. I didn’t do this, but if I try again in the future I will see if it’s possible.
  • They may need a bit of richer soil, as might be found under a nurse plant such as a tree or shrub or neighbor plant (Carillo-Garcia et al. 1999; Muro-Pérez et al. 2014). However, not too rich, as more northern Coryphantha (like ours presumably) prefer less organic matter. But not much. No details are given on how much is too much. Think about where you find the little round cacti around here normally – it’s usually up on barrens or dry hilltops, not a lush forest humus layer.
  • Make the seeds’ environment humid. Page 3 of Newland et al. 1981 provides a recommended cactus sprouting soil recipe and humidity-containing bag. As it’s for Arizona, I imagine it would work just as well for our cacti farther east here (ie if Arizona cacti can take the humidity recommended, ours probably need at least that).

How to get them to sprout

  • Germination rates vary and fresher (ideally this season’s) seeds seem to be better. Love and Akins (“Second summary of the native seed germination studies of Norman C Deno: species with names beginning with letters C through E“, 2019, Native Plant Journal, vol. 20, issue 1, pp 65-97; not freely available online, so you’ll need to get it via interlibrary loan from your local library if you want it), actually have results for E. vivipara (22% germination in 1-4 weeks, at 70°F. with “a few more” seeds sprouting the following year) and E. missouriensis (65-80% in 1-6 weeks, specifically noted as being from freshly collected seeds, temperature not specified). For one Mammillaria species, less than a year old is best and two years was the maximum but germination was lower (Flores-Martínez et al. 2008). Another source said 2-3 years old at most, but I could only read the abstract as the rest of the article was in Russian. I would err on the side of planting sooner rather than later. My 2019-collected Coryphantha sulcata seeds (ie two years old) only had one germinate in 2021 and it took from Sept. 28 to mid December.
  • Surface sow. Most species, and this probably includes our local species (the three above at least) need light (pp 426-427, Barrios et al. 2020), so put them on the surface of the soil. Muro-Pérez et al. (2014) also argue against burying for a different species of Coryphantha.
  • Most cacti do well around 20-35 degrees C (aka room temperature or warmish), with an optimum of around 30 C (Figure 4, Barrios et al. 2020), including for temperate zone cacti (which is where we live).
  • I’m waiting to get this article via interlibrary loan and will update the post if it has anything new: R. BREGMAN, F. BOUMAN, Seed germination in Cactaceae, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, Volume 86, Issue 4, June 1983, Pages 357–374.

What to do once they sprout

Two steps forward, two steps back??

Saturday night (yesterday) planting more tomato and pepper seeds of varieties that haven’t sprouted well or I accidentally killed of sunscald (see end of post).
Yesterday, Mom and Dad sent me this cute little indoor fern friend and Paula added the little frog clip on top!
His Doggie outside yesterday, Gram had to curl tragically on her rope toy.
Couscous, venison roast, and shakshuka with the first indoor garden tomato (dwarf Audrey’s Love).
The cover radishes (Sparkler variety bought in bulk from Ellison’s feed store) have begun sprouting and the transplanted Viola bicolor aren’t dead yet. I just have to hope they will bloom and seed.
More of the radishes. The goal here is growing enough stuff to keep plants I don’t want out until I can get a ground cover started. (Friday)
The Mexican plum from home is alive! (Friday)
Thursday night, Wes wanted to look at things in yard with our new blacklight.
These (already hatched) eggs on the rock outside glow!
The porch loofahs are very welcoming.
Found more googly eyes just randomly in the raised beds.
While we were outside I examined the angry tomato seedlings.
I have determined that going from inside the house to the front porch every day is giving them sun scald, as the leaves are turning white but newer growth is a nice healthy green. So for now I’m putting them in the less intense backyard and that seems to be helping the survivors.
Same thing happening here, green new leaves with white, dying burnt leaves.

No vampires

Paula noticed more spider mites on the indoor peppers so we did garlic spray on them. I’ve also recently added a sprinkle more fertilizer to the pots since the leaves are yellowing. Hopefully this helps.
Then we decided to garlic spray the remaining tomato plant. Its fruit still seems to be growing but all the leaves on top are just drying up, even with more consistent watering. However, it’s growing new stems from the base. Not sure what the deal is.
In the backyard, Viola bicolor have flower buds.
A ground bee or wasp has a nice burrow near the potential greeneyes seedlings.

Garlic spray deployed!

Today I filtered the garlic spray twice so chunks won’t clog the sprayer.
Then I spritzed all over inside the mini greenhouse hoops area as well as directly on a few test chamomiles indoors. I think the neem oil may have made a few baby peppers and tomatoes wilt so hopefully this spray is less angering.

Garlic spray

I used the blender to pulverize garlic cloves that Paula got out for me (she was making focaccia anyways) and now I will leave it to soak overnight. This is another anti-earwig experiment.