Field notes — September 2, 2021

Jade, Jubileum

  • Soil: moist (last watered three days ago)
  • Light: at 6:20 a.m., ~3 FC from the south-facing window (which faces the neighbour’s house) and ~15 FC from the kitchen lights. But who expects good light at this time?
  • Longest stem: ~6.5 cm from soil to node of top set of leaves
  • Number of strands: three
  • Largest leaf: 3 cm from node to tip; 2.3 cm wide
  • New growth: at tips. Pinched off 2/3 sets of newest leaves to encourage branching.
  • Signs of pests: none
  • Signs of care issues: new leaves at top had indentations three days ago; probably a sign of underwatering. I watered the plant immediately after noticing, and today, the indentations are gone in the smaller leaves. So that’s pretty neat.
  • Other care: Seems somewhat etoliated (leggy due to not enough light), but also is developing the red edges and undersides to the leaves (due to high intensity light). So… not enough light overall, but too intense when it gets it? Iunno, man. Probably.

Watch this, watch chain!


This neat little guy is sometimes called a watch chain plant. Look at those little linkages along each stem; so cool. I ordered it at the same time as my Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Dorothy Brown’ and my Euphorbia trigona ‘Rubra’, mostly because who orders two plants only. Must order three. Makes sense. But I really like how so very different it looks.

Do dirty windows help filter direct light?

Clock’s ticking; let’s get to it

  • Binomial name: Crassula muscosa
  • Given name: Mobius
  • Native to: moderately humid environments in South Africa and Namibia
  • Delivered: Aug 10, 2021 from Grow Something
  • Original pot: shipped bare-root

Field notes–September 1, 2021

  • Soil: dry to touch, but pot is somewhat heavy; last watered 3 days ago
  • Light: 11 a.m., slightly overcast day: ~300 FC
  • Longest strand: 19 cm
  • Number of strands: 6 rooted, branching into 19 tips that have more than 2.5 cm in length
  • New growth: new tips and aerial roots
  • Signs of pests: none
  • Signs of care issues: drying along some stems (as received; probably too much light)
  • Touch: firm, neat texture (like a zipper)

Field notes–August 10, 2021

  • Repotting: 2.5 inch terracotta pot with cactus/succulent mix
Shipped bare-root style

Research notes

Atmosphere

  • Light:
    • Indoors: a lot
    • Outdoors: not full sun during midday, unless well-ventilated
    • Full-spectrum LED grow lights work well
  • Humidity: 50% or lower is ideal; allow to dry out more if higher
  • Temperature: optimally 21 to 24 degrees Celsius; frost hardy to -6 but dislikes cold and moist

Water

  • Preference: soak and dry
  • Frequency: when dry; more in growing season, less in winter (perhaps once per month)

Soil, fertilization, and pots

  • Soil type: well-draining; cactus mix or 1 part potting soil : 1 part perlite
  • Fertilization: weekly with diluted solution
  • Repotting:
    • During the warm season. Remove all soil from the roots and any damaged roots. Repot into fresh, dry soil; wait a couple days to water.

Lifestyle

  • Grow style: fast (during growing period), spreading
  • Maturity: 15 to 20 cm tall
  • Common problems:
    • Too much light (signs: drying and stiffening from base of stem to the tips)
    • Mealybugs
    • Fungal disease (treatment: treat with horticultural neem oil and horticultural soap; spray thoroughly every week for four weeks)
    • Root rot (due to overwatering; treatment: take cuttings and start fresh)
  • Pruning:
    • Prune in spring to shape; keep cuttings to root
    • Occasionally pinch tips to promote branching
  • Propagation:
    • Between spring and fall, take sterile stem cuttings.
    • In soil:
      • Rest a couple days to form a callus.
      • Place in dry soil in bright indirect light, in warm area (20 to 21 degrees Celsius)
      • Water sparingly until it grows.
    • In water:
      • Place cuttings in an inch of water.
      • Roots form in two to six weeks.
      • Plant in dry soil.


Research sources: Desert Plants of Avalon, Wikipedia, World of Succulents, Succulents and Sunshine, Plant Care Today

Dear, departed Ivan and Tahmatassu

Ivan, Pilea peperomioides. February 2021 – July 26, 2021

It’s with a heavy heart I acknowledge the death of Ivan, a once-hopeful pilea peperomioides.

Ivan was born from one of two juvenile pileas I acquired in summer 2016 from a vendor in Toronto. Oh, 2016. It was a sunny day, and I’d gone into a corner store to purchase a drink. At the side exit, lo! there was a covered plant market. I bought from there my first two pileas, in very small pots. They were so cute.

These original plants grew up under my inexpert care, sometimes being turned to the light, sometimes not. Sometimes surviving long periods of drought and neglect. They grew into twisted, beautiful, Dr-Seussian specimens of whimsy.

I gave them away during a purge around April 2021, but kept their many babies (honestly, Ivan probably started developing some time in 2020, well before I cut him off him mother plant around February or March, but I’m not exactly sure). Several of these babies I again gave away, but I kept two of the smallest for myself–eventually to be named Ivan and Sigmund. Ivan was the larger; Sigmund just a little runt of a plant.

Due to the limited space for lighting and the number of plants I had, Ivan and Sigmund did not receive enough light and were looking ill. I wondered if they would like to come outside in the afternoon for some sun and would therefore improve, but being unsure, I just took one plant. Unfortunately, the sun was strong and although I did not think I had left it outside too long, I did indeed. Ivan got sunburnt. Just a little. I thought he would survive. But over the next two weeks, leaves kept dropping, and I didn’t give it the right amount of light/water to let it come back. His roots rotted away and he died.

Goodbye, Ivan. Thank you and your ancestors for teaching me many things about plant care. Light, water, propagation, stress, sunburn, and nuances about all these things. I truly did like you.

Tahmatassu, unknown succulent. June 16, 2021 – August 23, 2021

I bought the cute little Tahmatassu from a porch sale of one of my local plant shops on June 16, 2021. He wasn’t doing well and cost me a dollar. He failed in his original pot and developed root rot; so I cut off the clean areas and repotted him into a smaller pot. He rooted and his little leaflet survived too.

He had space to share, and seemed to like the same care as my string of dolphins, so when I needed to move the string of dolphins to a smaller pot too, I combined them. They seemed happy together–Tahmatassu even put out some new growth! Two days ago, they were looking well. Today, I checked and Tahmatassu was toast. Twisted, shrivelled, wilted. I don’t know what happened. The string of dolphins, at least, is still holding in there. So, I pinched off Tahmatassu and pulled out what I could and threw him into the trash.

What did you teach me, oh Tahmatassu? Look for healthy plants. And don’t buy unhealthy plants if you can’t find out what they are and what care they need. But also: you taught me more about propagating succulents by sticking them into dry soil and leaving them alone–and it works! Until, that is, I kill them later.

Adieu, cute little friend.

Grow lights and SAD lamps

I brought up my grow light from downstairs, where it’s usually installed on a shelf for seed-starting and is typically only used in early spring. I thought it would feel make-shift and that I’d dislike the purple-pink cast of the light as it shines over my desk, but it’s not bad!

I’m just happier with something there so that I’m not starving my hoya; I doubt it receives enough light from the nearby window.

I also received three new succulents in the mail yesterday and put the two smallest into this glass cage, which may refract the light they receive and increase it for them? Unsure, but it’s pretty and nice to look at from my desk. Maybe it will encourage me to stretch my neck and look up more often.

Hoya, two succulents, a grow light (mostly hidden), SAD lamp (for me, cause I need light too, OK!), some leaf props in a tray, photo of my grandma and her sisters, and Futurama figurines

I doubt the SAD lamp helped the hoya much, but I am glad for it for myself. Who wants to sit at a desk in so much darkness?

The best little coworker, my Sedum Makinoi


I like succulents. They’re pretty. I really like compact, trailing succulents and can’t wait to see this one get bigger. I feel like it’s the most calming plant in my office.

My sedum looking out the window.

Chit-chat at the water cooler

  • Binomial name: Sedum makinoi
  • Given name: Mäkilä
  • Native to: alpine rock crevices; shady, moist forests in mountain valleys in Eastern Asia, including China and Japan
  • Bought: July 1, 2021 at House of Plants
  • Original pot (current): 5 inch plastic nursery pot

Field notes–July 22, 2021

  • Soil: not quite dry; pot seems to still have water weight (last watered 8 days ago)
  • Light: East-facing window; Lux Light Meter app estimates 360 FC
  • Longest strand: 6 cm from soil to base of last rosette
  • Largest leaf: 2.5 cm wide
  • New growth: lots of little rosettes, some new growth along base of older stems
  • Signs of pests:
    • Some leaves have little white spots, not sure if this is damage or something else
    • Removed a leaf with yellow discolouration; not sure what it is.
  • Signs of care issues:
    • Some leaves have damaged edges; am uncertain if they are worsening. There is a consistent style of indent. May be due to underwatering? [1] I will ask online.
  • Other care: removed some dead leaves close to base of plant

Leaf collection

Sign of distressNotesInexpert diagnosis and treatment
Soft white spotsEasily scratched off; a bit sticky, maybe?Mealybugs? Scarring?
Yellow discolourationRemoved leafFungal or bacterial or pest issue?
Consistent indentationShows up on various new and old leavesWatering issue?

Research notes

Atmosphere

  • Light: full sun to part shade; 6 hours direct sun indoors
  • Humidity: average
  • Temperature:
    • Summer: 10 to 25 degrees Celsius
    • Winter: 7 to 10 degrees Celsius

Water

  • Preference: dry out slightly before watering
  • Frequency: more frequent in spring and summer than winter

Soil, fertilization, and pots

  • Soil type: well-draining; cactus or succulent mix is good; or 1 part perlite, sand, or pumice to 1 part potting mix + compost or worm castings
  • Fertilization: not necessary if potting mix has nutrients, but can use diluted fertilizer once a month in spring and summer
  • Repotting: when doubled in size or once a year

Lifestyle

  • Grow style: medium;
  • Maturity: can live a “long” time, stems can grow up to 15 cm long; may reach 10 to 20 cm high and 30 cm wide
  • Neat stuff: creeping succulent
  • Common problems:
    • Generally pest-free, but watch for aphids, mealybugs, or flies
  • Propagation:
    • In spring and summer
    • Stem or leaf cuttings in water:
      • After a couple weeks in water, roots develop
      • Transfer to pot with appropriate potting mix
    • Stem or leaf cutting in soil:
      • Let callus over for two days
      • Place in soil
      • Keep soil moist until roots develop (a couple weeks)
    • By division

Research sources: [1]SFGATE, Lazy Flora, HOMEMAKR, Greg, Plants for a Future, World of Succulents

Ahoy-hoy hoya


I didn’t think I would get into hoyas; I can’t really see what the fuss is about. But I love the bushiness and elegant colouring of this particular specimen. It brings such a statement to the room, but in a way that adds a sense of wonder and groundedness–the last one a bit strange, perhaps, from a hanging plant.

I should figure out how to post gifs instead, and how to make gifs, because I need to give this a spin to really show it off. Some leaves and stems have such a pretty pink!

Who’s this?

  • Binomial name: Hoya carnosa ‘Krimson princess’
  • Given name: Harriet, after the nurse who gave me my second COVID-19 vaccine dose
  • Native to: Eastern Asia and Australia
  • Bought: July 14, 2021 at Plant & Curio
  • Original pot (current): 8 inch plastic hanging basket with drainage

Field notes–July 17, 2021

  • Soil: moist
  • Longest strand: 59 cm from soil to tip
  • New growth: two runners; some new leaves forming
  • Signs of pests and care issues: see “Leaf collection”
  • Pruning: removed heavily damaged or suspicious leaves; see “Leaf collection”
  • Propagation: A damaged strand with no leaves was nearly broken off, so I snipped it and stuck it in water even though I don’t expect anything to happen.
  • Other care: wiped down quite a few leaves with water/vinegar/tea tree mix (pre-mixed spray for cleaning home gym mats) to remove residue spots

Leaf collection

Sign of distress (from images left to right, top to bottom)NotesInexpert diagnosis and treatment
Scarred, dry, light brown scratches or webbing on surfaceShows on two leaves (not removed)Sunburn
Tiny white flecks on leavesShows on many leaves (not removed)According to online posts, this is natural variegation
Brown, gunky-looking patchesShows on two leaves (removed)Fungal? Bacterial?
Grey tinge to leavesShows on leaves mostly in the same area; about 6 leaves total (not removed)Normal variegation, according to a reddit comment
Dark black spot; note the developing light green spot on the right as wellOnly on one leaf, probably due to the cut on the leaf (removed)Fungal
Green and white powderShows on three or four leaves; (three leaves removed; one leaf I just wiped off)Mold? Some type of fertilizer or other spray?
Tiny brown spots on underside of leavesShows on two leaves (removed)Bacterial, fungal, or due to watering issue?

Research notes

Atmosphere

  • Light:
    • Bright indirect light, may be able to manage some full sun if slowly introduced
    • Direct light at end of winter or early spring promotes flowering
  • Humidity: 40% minimum; 70 to 80% preferred
  • Temperature: 16 to 35 degrees Celsius

Water

  • Preference:
    • In the morning
    • On soil, not leaves
  • Frequency:
    • When top 1 to 2 inches are dry, then drench-and-drain top down several times
    • When folding lower leaves in the “taco test” is easy
    • When lower leaves are wrinkly, they are too underwatered [1, 2]

Soil, fertilization, and pots

  • Soil type: airy and well-draining, such as African violet mix; leca
  • Fertilization:
    • Foliar spray; higher phosphorus value if want it to bloom
    • Diluted balanced liquid fertilizer; every 2 to 4 weeks
    • Needs little potassium, so go for higher nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) when looking at the NPK values
  • Repotting: in spring but not when flowering; snug but not root-bound; don’t loosen the rootball: put top of rootball to top of pot

Lifestyle

  • Grow style: fast in ideal conditions, but slower than plants with more chlorophyll (such as Krimson Queen)
  • Maturity: after 3 to 4 years; may then bloom
  • Common problems:
    • Too much sun (signs: leaves are red or black)
    • Lack of water or low humidity (signs: leaves shrivelling)
    • Root rot (signs: plant is limp)
    • Low light (signs: plant is limp or leggy)
    • Too cold (signs: leaf drop)
    • Lack of airflow, especially with high humidity (leads to fungal growth)
  • Pruning:
    • Don’t prune peduncles or flowers
  • Neat stuff:
    • Sends out long, bare runners (peduncles) from which leaves will grow (if leaves don’t grow, add more light)
    • Blooms smell like chocolate (!!?)
    • Roots are rather fine
    • Leaves store water
  • Other care
    • Climbing on trellis may grow faster than hanging
  • Propagation:
    • Spring/summer
    • Snip healthy 10 cm stem (not too woody) with 2 to 3 leaves with sterilized cutting tool. Cut below a node at a 45-degree angle.
      • Remove lower leaves
      • Dip cut end into rooting hormone or cinnamon if placing into soil.
      • Place in soil or water
        • Soil: same as for plant; water and drain; dip cutting in rooting hormone then into soil; keep moist but not wet
        • Water: use filtered water in sterilized jar; replace water regularly; plant in soil when rooted
    • Place in bright filtered light (morning light is nice) with good heat (may use a heat mat)
    • When plant is well-rooted after a couple weeks, replant into fresh soil

Research sources: [1]Bee’s House of Plants, [2]Indoor Home Garden, Plantophiles

None too jaded


This cutie is such an optimistic, cheery little plant. Look at the upward lift on all its little leaves, the plump roundness, the happy, bright green of new growth. Who wouldn’t feel better contemplating this little jade plant for a moment?

The IKEA pot might look a little large from this angle, but in real life it suits well!

Let’s get to know you

  • Binomial name: Crassula ovata
  • Given name: Jubileum
  • Native to: South Africa and Mozambique
  • Bought: June 16, 2021 at Terra Plants & Flowers
  • Grown in: Canada
  • Original pot (current): 2 inch plastic nursery pot

Field notes

  • Soil: moist; last watered 3 days ago
  • Longest stem: middle, 4.8 cm to base of leaf
  • Number of stems: three
  • Largest leaf: 2 cm wide, 3 cm from stem to tip
  • New growth: young leaves at the ends of each stem.
  • Signs of pests: none, but spider mites were last present about 2 weeks ago. Treated with rosemary spray about three times.
  • Signs of care issues:
    • Little white spots on leaves: excess minerals from the water; will switch to filtered water
  • Pruning:
    • Pinched back new little nodules to encourage branching

Research notes

Atmosphere

  • Light: full sun at minimum of 4 hours per day
  • Humidity: dry is OK
  • Temperature: 18 to 24 degrees Celsius

Water

  • Preference:
    • Filtered or distilled water
    • Avoid getting water on leaves
  • Frequency
    • In summer: when soil is mostly dry
    • In winter: when soil is fully dry

Soil, fertilization, and pots

  • Soil type: well-draining sandy soil, such as cactus or succulent soil
  • Soil pH: neutral
  • Fertilization:
    • Every 6 months with balanced, water-soluble fertilizer over already-wet soil
    • Every 1 to 2 months during growing season with diluted, balanced, water-soluble fertilizer
  • Repotting:
    • In early spring
    • Young plants: repot every 2 to 3 years
    • Mature plants: repot every 4 to 5 years or more
    • Keep somewhat rootbound. Choose a wide and sturdy to avoid tipping as plant is top-heavy
    • Water only after several days to a week
    • Fertilize at least one month after

Lifestyle

  • Grow style: slow; 5 to 20 cm per year
  • Maturity: 3 feet or more; can live in the lifespan of several human generations; as they age, the trunks develop a bark-like appearance
  • Neat stuff: as the the leaves transpire, excess minerals from the water can form tiny white spots on the leaves, which can be removed with a damp cloth.
  • Common problems:
    • Too little water (signs: leaf drop, brown leaf spots, shriveled or wrinkly leaves)
    • Too much water (signs: leaves are squishy, waterlogged; may result in root rot)
    • Too little lights (signs: stunted, leggy)
    • Pests (mealybugs, scale)
  • Pruning:
    • In early spring, before new growth, pinch back to a healthy node to encourage branching
  • Propagation by leaf or stem cutting:
    • Remove a leaf or snip a stem 5 to 8 cm long with two pairs of leaves
    • Let callus for a couple days
    • Add slightly moist soil mix to pot
    • Place in soil:
      • For leaf, place horizontal on mix, covering the cut end with soil
      • For stem, place vertically into the soil
    • Place in bright, indirect light. Do not water.
    • In three weeks, give a gentle tug to see if roots have formed. If not, wait and test again until there is resistance.
    • Water gently and keep in bright, indirect light until well established.

Research sources: Wikipedia, World of Succulents, Gardening Know How, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Smart Garden Guide

Dear My Succulent of Mystery,

I don’t care who you are,
Where you’re from,
What you did,
As long as you love me!

Aiee, so cute

And by love me, I mean, survive please and let me love you. You arrived a little battered, scarred, and sparse, and only cost me a dollar. You soon got a wrinkled leaf, so I have to be careful to make sure you get enough water. So without further ado…

  • Binomial name: no idea!
  • Given name: Tahmatassu
  • Native to: no idea!
  • Bought: June 16, 2021 at Plant & Curio (discount plant shelf)
  • Original pot (current): 3.5 inch plastic pot
  • Soil: dry (average 1.5)
  • Watered: top-down, filtered, twice to run through. If leaf is still wrinkled in 4 days, will water again.
  • Largest leaf: 7.4 cm long
  • New growth: two new leaves at the top, like pea shoots (since before purchase). Largest new leaf: 3.9 cm long
  • Signs of pests: ? see unknown
  • Signs of care issues: wilting leaf (underwatered), 1.5 cm scar along top of largest leaf (since before purchase); drying leaf tips
  • Unknown cause issues: bump like a knuckle over the tip of the largest leaf, 1.5 mm high; three tiny brown specks (hard and dry like scabs) on top of wilted leaf, each under a millimeter, scaly, dry brown patches (like bark) on underside of largest leaf and down the trunk. Are any of these bad? No idea. Nonetheless, will isolate and track for changes.
Bark-type growth? I assume natural. Maybe some leaves were removed from stem.
Three tiny scabs

Research sources: Succulent Studios