Plant Diary | September 2021

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I was feeling out of sorts this afternoon, so I cleaned and tidied the flat. Tidying the flat always makes me feel calmer and able to think straight, and once I’d finished cleaning the sun came out, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to capture some end of season photos of my plants, before the gloom sets in for six months.

I am dreading this coming winter, because we’re due to have the flammable cladding on our apartment block replaced, and the work is scheduled to take six months and involve scaffolding on the perimeter. It’ll be both noisy and dark, and I am going to miss this light even more than I usually do. I hope that my worst-case-scenario mind is pleasantly surprised and that we don’t end up with scaffold boards blocking all direct light to our apartment for six months, because I really don’t know how I – or my plants – will cope with that.

My selenicereus chrysocardium pushed out two new cladodes in late winter, did nothing for several months, pushed out a little bit more growth on one of the cladodes – the long spindly bit curling back on itself – and it has just decided to grace me with two new growth points to celebrate the end of summer. This plant seems to hate the light, and only grow in the dark months. Weirdo.

String of hearts – ceropegia woodii – on the left, which I have had a great deal of trouble rooting. It roots just fine but then the roots die when I try and transition it to potting medium. I think it’s because I let the potting medium dry out too fast when it is adjusting from water roots to soil roots. On the right, there’s my ficus lyrata ‘bambino’ which has put out seven new leaves for me since I first got it, the day before Minou died back in February. In the front is my hoya kerrii, which has put out six new leaves since I got it last October. The latest leaf is a bit misshapen, but it seems quite happy in this spot. I let it dry out completely before watering, the same with the ficus.

Tradescantia ‘tricolour’ – this is the fastest rooting plant I have encountered. It is prolific.

The cat flap is screwed in wonky, I need to fix that! I didn’t realise until I was looking at it through my viewfinder. I’m sorry, Minou, my love, I can’t believe I made you use a wonky cat flap all those years!

The maranta in front is supposed to be an easy plant, but mine was getting a bit lanky at the end of winter and so I took a cutting to root it up. The cutting struggled to transition each time I put it in potting medium – much like with my ceropegia woodii cuttings – but I think I have finally found success with LECA.

This gang have been camping out on the balcony since April, and I am trying to keep them out there for as long as possible as they get the most sun in this spot. My epiphyllum anguliger – the zig zag looking cactus at the front – has tripled in size this summer, it seems to love all the sunshine I’ve been giving it.

A couple of succulents which will no doubt throw tantrums and drop leaves as soon as October arrives. Last year, the one on the left almost died. I will see how we get on this coming winter, but I don’t have high hopes. The one on the left is a pachyveria ‘powder puff’ and the one on the right is pachyphytum oviferum, or ‘moonstones’. I saw the moonstones at BBG and couldn’t resist, knowing full well that I would likely struggle with them over winter as UK winters are just so damn gloomy.

Oxalis triangularis, bought at the Botanical Gardens in late spring. These two are doing well, they are prolific and just keep pushing out new leaves when the old growth dies back. I have beheaded them twice, and they grow back fast, and they’ve even bloomed. The flowers aren’t anything special, but they’re nice to have all the same. I’ll probably leave these outdoors over winter under my grow frame, as they are cold hardy for UK winters. The balcony is sheltered, we don’t get frost or snow settling on it, just wind and blown rain.

My sedum burrito – on the left – has also grown a lot this summer. He was quite happy last winter and didn’t sulk when it got dark, so I think we’ll probably get through winter okay again this year. I added a few extra cuttings earlier in the summer to fill out the pot, and he’s looking really good now. My only concern is what to do with him in winter, as the beans fall off really easily if they’re knocked, and I’m not sure where to put him indoors where he won’t get knocked.

A controversial decision – I have put these three carnosa cuttings in one pot, as it saves on pot space and I quite like the look of three varieties tucked into one pot together.

My two philodendrons, hanging in glass terrariums filled with LECA – I love LECA as it takes the guess work out of when to water. These are essentially self watering plants, I just have to add a bit of water when the level drops, and it’s easy enough to see as they’re transparent. On the left is a philodendron scandens ‘micans’ and on the right is a philodendron scandens ‘brasil’.

Another one in LECA, this is my rhaphidophora tetrasperma, and again the setup is a self watering affair.

Monstera sp. ‘Peru’, again in LECA. These cuttings took ages to root, but I can finally see some new growth coming in.

Monstera deliciosa. I ummed and ahhed about getting one of these as they’re beautiful, but grow far too big far too quickly. I decided to start small with cuttings, and if it grows too big I can always restart it with new cuttings and rehome the mother plant – either by leaving it downstairs in the communal entryway, or through eBay. There are always ways to enjoy big plants in small spaces.

My hoya corner, in the music room. Lots of little cuttings – almost all of these were grown from cuttings as it’s the cheapest way to get into houseplants. Besides, I enjoy the challenge and watching something grow from nothing.

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