Friday, March 09, 2007

The Nautilocalyx!

I'm very excited to welcome a new contributor to the blog today! Jude not only grows beautiful African violets but has an extensive collection of very interesting, gorgeously grown gesneriads! She's agreed, from time to time, to share some of the lesser known and quite fascinating gesneriads and their culture with us! Enjoy!

I've become interested in the gesneriad Nautilocalyx over the past year. My first one was Nautilocalyx pemphidius, well actually it was my third. The first and second I accidentally allowed to dry out. Never, ever allow a Nautilocalyx to dry out. They die immediately, they don't even say good bye, they just leave! Nautilocalyx pemphidius, affectionately called "Naughty Little Pimp", is a small growing plant. At present, mine is seven inches high by seven inches wide. It grows by sending out side shoots and I expect it will soon fill out the twelve inch shallow bowl that it's planted in. The Plant was growing in a very porous medium. I took it out of it's pot and placed it in the domed bowl and filled in around it with long fibered sphagnum moss which I keep damp at all times. The plant has small, pebbled, strappy leaves in a bronzy green. It blooms easily and quite heavily but the flowers are very small. They look like little white stars against the dark foliage.

My next variety was Nautilocalyx forgettii. This is a larger growing plant with pebbly emerald green leaves with a red center and fuzzy red stems. I'm told that it will have small yellow flowers but I would grow it just for the lovely foliage. This plant is also growing in a very porous medium. I propagated it from cuttings that Bill Price was giving away at the '06 AVSA Convention. I asked if I should plant the whole cutting or take off leaves to plant. He said "Do both" so I did. Every piece grew. This one is growing in a large plastic open topped box to give it plenty of humidity.

I have now started seeds of Nautilocalyx Burle Marx and I have no idea what this one will look like. But I do know not to let it dry out.

I'm told that these plants may or may not form tubers. So far I have not found any in the pemphidius but the forgettii seems to be producing tubers. With tubers I always feel that I have a second chance if something goes wrong.

Many thanks to Jude Neumann for writing this entry today. Please leave comments and questions about the plants and their culture for us! We all learn from the exchange of ideas.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


"Pssssst, have I got something for you!" Here are a couple of tips that will make your life easier and your plants prettier! I'd like to thank Sharon J. for sharing this article with us!!!
Ah, yes, we all have secrets. What prompted my writing about secrets is that at our last local club meeting Barb told us a few things that she does with her plants.

Use straws to move the leaves into position.

Lift the leaves rather than a bloom stalk to raise it above the foliage because bloom stalks break off easier than leaves.

Mark the pots with different colored labels so that you know when they need to be replanted rather than having to look for a date written on the label.

Use Yard Glove on your hands to act a a "glove" before working with a lot of soil. Use it under your finger nails too.

Use cheap acrylic blankets as "mats" for mat watering. Wash them several times to remove sizing and cut them to fit the trays.

Here are some of the things that I like to do and use:

Use beverage straws to make which plants are for sale. It's a constant reminder of which ones I want to sell.

Use old pantyhose to tie up plants. I bring the string around the back of the stake, then to the front and cross over to the plant. Bring the string around the back of the plant and cross over again before going to the back of the stake where it is tied in a know. It forms a "T" between the stake and the plant. I do this in the garden too. The plant never rests on the stake that way.

Use hairpins to hold down suckers when they are removed from the parent plant. It helps to get it rooted. And yes, they are still available in the stores.

I use many thing to clean my hands including denture cleaners, make-up remover and lemon juice.

Use landscape fabric on the top of the blanket mating. Put the "hole" side down on the fabric and be sure to cut it a tiny bit larger than the mat. It prevents algae from forming on the mat. When it gets dirty, just throw it in the washer. This was a suggestion in the AVM by Bill Pawee.

These are just some of the secrets that we have. They are now no longer "secrets" but simple things that we can do to make growing easier. Do you have any "secrets" to share??? Leave them in the comment section!