Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Growing Challenge: Unusual Plants

As a gardener, I love going to gardening centers and the Denver Botanical Gardens in the spring. Love it. I love to see the new offerings plantsmen come up with every year and sometimes I bring one or two new varieties home with me to see if I can kill them quickly or slowly. Errr...that is, to trial them in my yard.

Sometimes these trials are a lot more trying than the plant can handle.

I, and many gardeners I know, have the Drawer of Shame. The drawer in which you have stashed all of those little plastic tags that tell you all about the plant you purchased and then doomed.

Face it: You're not a real gardener until you've killed a few hundred plants.

Sometimes, though, you come home with a real winner and you keep it going season to season.

Here's one I've had for almost seven years that I'm really proud of that just sprouted again today. I took a series of time lapse photos of it, because it's just that cool.

Yes, it's a container planting. Takes a big pot, too. That's a 24" pot!

Here it is putting up its cotyledons or seed leaves.

Here it is in full bloom. I call it the Hatchetus offspringia primus 'Caitlin'. I've got two others that I just started recently. They're only 6 months old, but they look pretty good so far.

This is what it looks like when it closes up in the evening. It's very light sensitive.

Happy April Fool's Day!

- - - - -

Just so I don't leave your plant lust unsatisfied, here's another unusual plant I've grown from seed this year: the Sensitive Plant.

I first came across this plant as a young child while visiting my grandmother in Jamaica. It grows wild there and I've heard it referred to as "Shame Me Makka". I have no idea what that's supposed to mean. This was my most favorite plant ever. Why? Because when you touch it, it does this:
Can you see that?! It folds up its leaves and drops its tiny leaf stalks to the ground. How cool is that?

It may not be as sturdy here in arid Colorado as it is in warm and humid Jamaica, but I thought I'd give it a try. It also gets thorns when bigger, to fend off grazers, so you've got to watch out for those.

In case you were wondering whatever happened to my huge pile of tomatoes, they've been going mad. Mad, I tell you!

On the floor.
Tomatoes, tomatillos and rosemary. Oh my!

On the window shelf.
All lined up with no where to go.

On the basil-free shelving unit.
Two spots are empty because the tomatoes are too tall to fit under the lights anymore. Oh look! Space to start more plants! A silver lining.

Upstairs is hardly any better.

My business partner came over yesterday and we repotted like mad women. We potted up 7 trays of very small plants that I was slowly killing in their tiny strip row homes. Unfortunately, that only accounts for 126 plants. We still have all of those basils (~216) to separate (Almost every cell has two plants in it, so there are potentially 432!) and pot up the remaining flat of tomatoes (~48). Oh, and the remaining, very stressed, tomato plants (32) in the strip row.

Not to mention all of the other herbs in the basement.

Or last season's survivors in the garage. I'm looking at them as an experiment, rather like Schrodinger's Cat. Are they alive or are they dead? I won't know until I can pull them out and let them warm up but since it keeps snowing! I'm not ready to expose them to Certain Death.

Maybe in another week I can show you what lurks in my garage.



Julie Artz said...

I absolutely love it! Adorable pictures of Caitlin and wow, you put my seed-starting rack (no matter how lovingly built by my darling husband) to shame, lady!!! Maybe we should swap tomato starts just for variety...Have you ever tried a Zapotec? Mexican variety, oddly-shaped but super-tasty and prolific...I've got an extra with your name on it!!!

:) Julie

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Hi Julie!

No, no, your husband rocks the hammer and boards. I'd love to have some built in, but I don't have enough space anywhere in the house!

I haven't tried a Zapotec, but I'd love to swap. I have 15 different types:

Candy's Old Yellow
Black Krim
Black Plum
Black Zebra
Green Zebra
Caspian Pink
Cherokee Purple
Gardener's Delight (cherry)
Snow White (cherry)
Sun Gold (non heirloom cherry)
Principe Borghese (drying tomato)

Heh heh. Choose one!

Mommy Daisy said...

Oh, I had to post when I saw the sensitive plant. When I was growing up my neighbor had several she kept alive in Ohio in the summer (and maybe FL in the winter). I have fond memories of those. So cool! And my lovely old neighbor just passed away 2 months ago, so it was really neat to see this on your blog.

jennifer h said...

The pictures of Caitlin are adorable.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I wish mine were light sensitive - it would be so much easier to put them to bed at night.

Kimberly said...

Your little Caitlin plant is quite a beauty! Nice job!

The sensitive plant is very cool too. Wonder if I can grow one here in NJ?

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Thanks, ladies!

Kimberly, you can grow it, too. The seeds are pretty easy to come by - I picked mine up in the local home/garden center. They called it Ticklish Plant/Ticklish Tim. It's an annual everywhere but the most tropical climes, but would be fine as a houseplant for a little while.

SC: maybe they're birds and need blankets pulled over their cages to induce sleep? Mine needs that some nights.

Melinda said...

That was awesome - she's and adorable little child plant. Your seedlings look great, too, btw.

And I have a drawer of little tags and seed packs...

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Thanks Melinda!

It has to be plant guilt that keeps us from throwing those out. Either that, or it's almost like trophy hunting.

Ayup. Killed me one a' them compact wax plants. Variegated, even!

Anonymous said...

You can find the Ticklish Potted Plant party favor at onlinesciencemall.com

Anonymous said...

Just search TickleMe Plant to get the TickleMe Plant party favors. It really does move fast when you Tickle It

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