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Author Topic: Plant Instability  (Read 406 times)
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splinter1804
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« on: March 08, 2017, 22:26:55 »

Hi everyone - In a previous thread the topic of “plant instability” was mentioned and rather than continue with it on that particular thread I thought it more appropriate to start a thread if its own.

I think we’ve all had experience with unstable plants and the object of this thread is to share some of our experiences and I’ll start off with my experience with a Billbergia I purchased a few years back. I didn’t have many Billbergias and most were of the plain grey/green colour and not very appealing to the eye and I decided to look for a plant or two with more colour.

It was when looking through eBay one day that I saw a picture of a quite attractive plant called Bill. ‘Ralph Graham French’ and to me it seemed to be the perfect example of an attractive plant with its nice horizontal banding on the underside of the leaves and variegation on the upper side.

It was much later that I found the seller had used a picture from the BCR to advertise her plant and for anyone interested in what it looked like if you go to http://registry.bsi.org/?genus=BILLBERGIA&id=1067#1067 and look at the last picture on the right, I’m sure you’ll agree it is most unusual and you will see why I got hooked on this plant. Anyway I ordered the plant and it duly arrived as a single growth bare-root pup looking just like the one in the picture so I was more than satisfied with the sale as it was all the seller said it was.

It continued to grow and after it eventually flowered started to produce pups (initially two pups from the one area). As these grew I was disappointed to see one was albino and the other, mostly albino with only a minimum of green on two leaves.

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I removed these two pups and binned them and fortunately shortly after the Mother plant produced two more pups from the other side and these appeared to be normal, but on closer inspection one had the usual horizonatal banding on the under-side of the leaves and the other had the banding combined with the start of some variegation.

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The strange thing was the length of the leaves, instead of stopping when they formed a “tube” as the original plant had done, they continued to grow; and grow; and grow. Eventually they were so long they were touching the bench so I decided to hang them from an overhead rafter and still they continued to grow..........................

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...................until eventually they were hanging well down below the bottom of the pot

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As they grew, they also began to change colour with some of the variegation taking on a pinkish hue both beneath and on top of the leaves.

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The first of these plants has now produced their own pups which seem to have reverted back to the same shape, size and foliage colours and patterns as the original plant I purchased from eBay. A good example of “what goes around comes around”.

All the best, Nev
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jaga
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« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2017, 07:57:42 »

Hi all, Nev, got to say your plant is one of the better ones, looks fabulous! I checked out 'Planet Bilbergia' on FB and there are many different forms that evolved , a lot are albo marinated if that so I reckon you are lucky. This plant is obviously unstable and from memory have seen a bright red variegated version as well but just cant find it at the moment. I guess its buyer beware with most variegates, some where along the line there will be a sport or throw back to the parents.
Keep as many as poss Nev that is the answer to always having a good one.

Cheers John

Ps We are close to be flooded here, had over 350mm of rain in a few days, our intire Autumn and winter rain fall combined. Aucklands water supply is now contaminated and ironically we have all gone on water restrictions.
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splinter1804
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« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2017, 18:56:40 »

Hi everyone.

John - Thanks for your comments, I have kept two of the above plants (both large with several pups each). I might just do an experiment and divide them into several plants and photograph all of the new pups as they develop. Should be interesting.

Sorry to hear about your water worries. We've also had much more rain recently than we normally get, and although it has been very dry up until now and the rain was badly needed, areas further south have now had flood warnings issued.

It seems the crazy weather isn't just here, it's also visiting you.

All the best, Nev.
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Kayleen C
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2017, 11:41:48 »

We haven't had rain like that for years.  Feel free to send any spare rain up this way. Grin
Not good about your water supply John. At least your plants won't need watering for a while.

It is a nice looking plant colour wise.  I thought you had over fertilised as that makes them strappy.

« Last Edit: March 11, 2017, 11:44:02 by Kayleen C » Logged

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splinter1804
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« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2017, 21:53:08 »

Hi everyone.

Kayleen - Yes we've been getting our share of rain here as well, and it's great to see all he brown areas turning green once more.

I don't think that plant had any fertiliser at all, not that I remember anyway, as I don't normally fertilise my Billbergias as i find it drains them of colour. I do occasionally give them a dose of Condy's Crystals though, as it's said to help them withstand extremes of temperatures better.

On the other hand I have on occasions experimented with fetiliser on different plants but nothing is recorded on the rear of the name tags and that's where it would have been recorded, so to the best of my knowledge it wasn't fertiliser that caused the changes in the foliage, besides fertiliser would have probably diluted any foliage colour and not intensified it.

All the best, Nev
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Kayleen C
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2017, 12:11:24 »

Where do you grow your Bills Nev? Up here we grow them about 30cm below the shadecloth.
I give them fertiliser when I pot up, but not a lot.
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splinter1804
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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2017, 21:37:53 »

Hi everyone.

Kayleen - I too hang my Bill's about the same distance from the shade cloth. Of course I can't fit them all at that "best" height and there are others which are hung below them, but the thing is, they are all hanging except for a couple of really big plants which are on the bench.

I read an article once which said they also do much better in small pots, so when previously re-potting, I down-sized the pot size of a few and the improvement was so good that they are all "under-potted" now. I think the improvement is due to a combination of the smaller size pot and the fact they all have greatly improved circulating air supply (their own personal little micro climate) which is much better than you can achieve on a bench as the air is "all around" the plant and they have definitely grown better since I made those changes.

Colour has also improved since I stopped fertilising (but I still give a bit of Condy's as I think the extra potash improves the colour long with its other benefits) and the colour has also improved considerably on all coloured foliage plants since I changed from green to beige shade cloth.

I was thinking of using a dozen or so plants (of the same type) to test the effects of various fertilisers. There are two "definites" that I know of; (a) I know that excessive nitrogen will rob the colour and (b) I know that professional growers do fertilise their Bill's. but it's a pretty well guarded secret as to what they use and how much.

I now just have to work out what is the best N.P.K. and what rates to give. I think as long as I stick to fertilisers with a higher potassium than nitrogen content I shouldn't lose too much colour, but just where I draw the line on strength and frequency I have yet to find out. I think I'll probably start with the new Yates Thrive Orchid Liquid Plant Food, as it has an N.P.K. of 10:03:14 which sound like it might be pretty good.

Some of my friends get good results from Thrive Soluble Flower & Fruit Plant Food which has an N.P.K. of 14:2.6:21, but I've gone off soluble powder forms as I find they don't completely dissolve and there's always some granules left in the bottom of the mixture no matter how much you stir it, and the thing is, we don't know what part of the N.P.K. this is and whether it has any significant effect on the N.P.K of the fertiliser which is delivered to the plants.

So "if and when" I get around to doing this trial, I will let you all know what the results are, but until then I'll continue to try and catch up on my mountain of re-potting.

All the best, Nev
 
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« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2017, 02:15:28 »

Since we are looking at plant instability, what follows is some images of a poorly variegated seedling I sacrificed by stabbing/twisting with a medium tip screw driver, some 3 months ago. So to start, a few images I took as I operated on it.

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So as a 1st stage result there is now 3 pups, only 1 is variegated and seems much better than the mother, the other 2 are green and are about to be removed. Will see if any more come along. The Idea is to get the best one to a size where it can be removed and if the variegation is not good enough will stab again. Simply can not wait years to improve these plants so this is the fast track method.
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Here's another, result not as good and are thinking both pups will be cut off this one in the hope some better ones come along
Side view
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Cheers John
« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 02:34:50 by jaga » Logged
Kayleen C
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« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2017, 13:36:50 »

Nev I will find out what fertiliser is used on bills here and let you know.
How do you use the Condy and at what rate. I have not heard of this before.

Sometimes John it is all you can do. Hope they work out for you.
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splinter1804
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« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2017, 02:57:42 »

Hi everyone.

John - That's an interesting project you've undertaken there; as you say, it will save a lot of time and it will be very interesting to see what results are forth coming.

I look forward to more progress pic's and thanks for sharing.

Kayleen - When I first heard about using Condy's, the instructions were very vague and just indicated to mix it to a dark pink colour.

After much fiddling around I worked out that by using a one gram measure of the type that comes with Manutec fertiliser (5g one end and 1g on the other and pictured below) and dissolving 1½g in 100 ltrs. of water, a suitable strength could be made.

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Using a swimming pool pumping unit I just pump it from the tank through my normal garden hose via a watering wand and apply it to the foliage and the potting mix in the same way I do when watering..

The down side:
It does stain skin and clothing
It is fatal to ants and worms.

The up side:

It provides a ready source of potassium, which is readily absorbed and improves foliage colour.
It controls some fungus diseases
Is said to help plants withstand up to an extra four degrees of excessive hot or cold weather extremes
It controls powdery mildew
It can be used to kill ants and worms in potted plants. 

All the best, Nev.


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Kayleen C
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« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2017, 12:10:08 »

Thanks Nev. I shall give it a go.
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