Tiny Plants: Overwatered Cactus!

June 8, 2021

Has Your Cactus Gone to Mush?

AW DANG...I totally killed this tiny thimble cactus (Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis). I gave it one extra watering I shouldn’t have, when my grow light was accidentally off cycle for a few days. If the grow light had stayed on, it would have been fine. But with the grow light off, there was too little light to compensate for the extra watering. Now it’s turning to mush. Often, it's not necessarily that you're overwatering your succulents and cactus, it's that there isn't enough light to support adequate levels of photosynthesis.

YEP, I kill plants too!

Don’t worry...this wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last that I turn a cactus to mush...it’s all about having enough light quantity to balance out the soil moisture. Most cactus and succulent need the equivalent of a good 5-8 hours of direct sunlight when grown indoors, and typically providing that much light means using supplemental artificial light.

Luckily, I have many offsets from my mother plant that I can propagation so new plant babies it is!

If you want to learn more about growing tiny cactus and succulents indoors, be sure to check out my new book Tiny Plants; Discover the Joys of Growing and Collecting Itty Bitty Houseplants".

Tiny Plants: Propagation Under Lights

June 6, 2021

I get a lot of questions about what kind of lighting, or how much, is needed for plant propagation. While dive into this topic in my book Plant Parenting, I also review propagating tiny plants in my new book Tiny Plants. While the basic principles for propagating many different types of tropical plants are similar, I do employ some slightly different tactics when propagating my most itty bitty houseplants.

In the photo you'll see some vegetative propagation and new transplant areas I have under grow lights. Some of the plants here are in the genera Sinningia, Begonia, Masdevallia, Peperomia, etc. and some new bareroot Lithops spp. just potted up (which should be in a shaded area for a week or two).

Here I have a s 24" 4-lamp T5 fixture that I've fitted with just one 24W HOT5 fluorescent lamp, for lower light cuttings and species that are rooting. Directly under the lamp the plants with some active root growth are getting a DLI of about 5 umol/m2/day - measured with quantum flux meter and PPFD- putting the output in a shade/heavy shade low-light category; which is perfect for cuttings or other low light species that are transitioning. At the outer edge of the fixture and the lamp, it’s about a 2.5-3 umol/m2/day DLI for cuttings with no roots yet (cuttings need less light before they've started rooting). This lamp is on for 12-hrs (to hit the DLI ranges I listed above).

You could do the same with an LED bar lamp or HOT5 retrofit LED - although a lower wattage LED would typically do the same job 18-20W range would do the job nicely and you could probably leave the LED on for less time to achieve the same DLI (depending on it's actual PPF - output potential of PAR).

Most importantly...aren't they so CUTE???

If you'd love to learn more about growing and propagating tiny plants, be sure to check out my new book TINY PLANTS!

Tiny Plants: Micro Orchid Dryadella cristata in Bloom!

June 5, 2021

Micro Orchids are Tiny but Beautiful!

Check out this phat little flower bud on my micro orchid Dryadella cristata (commonly called crested dryadella)! This tiny epiphytic orchid species is endemic to only a few locations in Columbia, growing at elevations of 1500-2000m. Plants tolerate shade to bright filtered light conditions.

Dryadella growing conditions

I like growing Dryadella spp. micro orchids because I find them relatively easy to grow - not to say I haven’t killed my share from letting them dry out a bit too long (I’m in general a neglectful waterer by nature). Dryadella orchids prefer intermediate light and temperature conditions and humidity of about 65-75% so I find them best kept under glass (vented) or in an orchidarium, with artificial lighting which is where this specimen resides. I’ve had a number of Dryadella spp. Do fine in lower light situations, however they won’t be as eager to bloom.

If you'd like to learn more about micro orchids and growing other tiny plants under glass, be sure to check out my new book Tiny Plants; Discover the Joys of Growing and Collecting Itty Bitty Houseplants".

Tiny Plants: A Favorite Tiny Succulent

June 3, 2021

A Tiny Succulent with Big Personality

One of my favorite tiny succulents I grow under grow lights indoors...this ‘lil Graptopetalum filiferum has been happily growing in a 2-inch pot under a small LED lamp in my dining room for more than a year now.

It’s just as squat and phat as it was when I first acquired it, but even prettier now. Because this species is naturally very small and slow-growing, you can keep it in tiny pots for extended periods of time.

Generally speaking, if find it one of the easier Echeveria spp. to grow indoors because it can thrive in somewhat lower light levels than other related species. That's the great thing about tiny plant...they typically take less resources in all forms, be it light, water, fertilizer...you name it.

Just make sure you respect the plant species' natural light needs and when it comes to succulents indoors that still usually means supplemental lighting, even with tiny succulents. BUT you don't need larger high-powered grow lamps for tiny succulents. Small LEDs in the 9-20Watt range (depending on how many plants) are usually adequate - which makes it much easier to be flexible about where you place your tiny succulents. Tiny plants...tiny lamps!

If you want to learn more about tiny succulents and other tiny species you can grow in small spaces, be sure to check out my brand new book TINY PLANTS!

Tiny Plants: Plant Resurrection!

June 1, 2021

Plant resurrection! Ever wonder if you’ve killed a plant, or just need to let it rest?

LOOK CLOSE! (Zoom in) 🔬 Some plants, like this itty bitty micro Sinningia pusilla - that have storage tubers - tend to go dormant now and then. A natural inclination is to think the plant is either completely dead, or you should keep watering it to help it resprout.

But in this case, and with this species and related species/hybrids, it’s best to just walk away, stop watering, and wait. That’s what I did with this little colony - I left it alone and didn’t water it for about 8 + weeks.

Low and behold, a new plantlet is emerging from the tuber. YAY! If I had kept watering this dormant plant, I may have rotted the tuber. Since I keep these babies inside glass canisters for increased humidity, and with the new sprout so itty bitty, the potting mix is still moist so I’ll hold off on any new root zone watering for a bit longer. This plant has now returned to it's normal size (about an inch tall) and is blooming its tiny head off!

Sometimes, if you just let a plant take the timeout it needs (like we all do) it will come back out when it’s good and ready. 😬

If you'd love to learn more about growing and collecting itty bitty houseplants, be sure to check out my new book TINY PLANTS!

Tiny Plants: With Big Personalities

May 25, 2021

Tiny plants with big personalities! Who says you have to grow big to be bold?!

A BeBe Peperomia prostrata (string of turtles) that I started from a wee cutting in one of my favorite handmade tiny glazed pots. SO CUTE!

I think I started this plant from about an inch-long stem cutting back in, Ohhhhh, March or April of 2020? Anyhoo, I kept it, pot and all, inside of a glass canister for much of that time, up until about December '20. Hence the bodacious growth and flowering (thanks humidity!. It's even longer now...

It may not be intuitive that such a succulent looking plant would be happy growing under glass...but it is. And you’ll be able to get cuttings rooted and growing much faster that way.

I take a deeper dive into plant propagation with you in my book PLANT PARENTING - and if you want to geek out on itty bitty houseplants, then be sure to pick up my NEW book TINY PLANTS. Tiny rules!

Tiny Plants: Micro Orchid Obsession

May 24, 2021

My obsession with micro orchids began many years ago (26 to be precise) when I was taking post-hurricane regeneration data on trees in the El Yunque rainforest in Puerto Rico. I came upon the most exciting, yet tiny, native orchid in bloom, growing in some large rocks -Lepanthes rupestris. I almost peed my plants! I still have the grainy printed photos I took of those amazing little orchids (you can see one of those photos in my new book Tiny Plants; Discover the joys of growing and collecting itty bitty houseplants).

The species in this photo, Lepanthes calodictyon, is quite a bit "larger", with much showier foliage, but its tiny size still places it in the micro orchid category. I’m working on some blooms with this little gem, but the foliage is so pretty the blooms “almost” don’t even matter! I keep mine in a glass vessel for humidity management.

Note that this species likes cool temperatures so keep this in mind when creating and managing your plant's environment, and group with other species that enjoy the same conditions.

If you'd love to learn more about micro orchids - and lots of other small species - be sure to check out my new book TINY PLANTS!

Fragrant Roses: Rose ‘Crown Princess Margareta’

April 27, 2021

Love Roses with a Heavy Fragrance?

Rose ‘Crown Princess Margareta’

Sure wish I could make this scratch-n-sniff for you! Rose ‘Crown Princess Margareta’ is one of my favorite English roses with an INTENSE fragrance. This one plant perfumes my entire front garden.

I have a penchant for collecting peach-apricot-Orange flowered roses, but most of those fall into categories that don’t typically fare as well in our extreme HOT Texas climate. But, I grow them anyway! This cultivar is now one of only a handful of roses I have left that hasn’t succumbed to rose rosette disease (or at least don’t yet APPEAR to be infected). My giant ‘Mutabilis’ rose was mostly killed by the deep freeze.

So, I’ll enjoy this beauty while it lasts.

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