Archive for January, 2012

Uprootin on up! Great root development on succulent leaf pups in two weeks time!

So here we are!  My little Crassula Arborescens is preggers with pups!  I’m so excited that today I found three separate leaf pups with their own root systems developed!  The whole process took about two weeks.  I didn’t know what would unfold since, I’ve never heard of this type of succulent propagation.  Certainly, the most common propagation method is taking a fresh young leaf cutting and sticking it in soil and keeping it in a moist but shaded environment.  These pups, however, just started growing on the plant’s leaves while still attached to the stem.  I have done lots of online research about this particular plant’s propagation but never one saw anything similar to what I was able to observe and photograph.  I could probably detach the pups with roots and plant them in soil right now, but I think I will wait for one more week to be safe.

Honey Bee Pollen Sacs

Honey Bee Pollen Sacs

Off with their heads! Deadheading Succulents

My Topsy Turvy was flaililng so I decided to give it a quick shower under the sink to view what was going on under the hood.  I discovered multiple pups shooting out of the stem.  I have chopped the rosette off to allow the plant to redirect it’s energy into growing the pups.  We’ll see how it goes.

Topsy Turvy Offshoots

Heads will roll

Topsy Turvey Pups (3 months later)

January has brought me colorful blooms

It’s January in San Jose and the weather is just unbelievably nice.  Here are some of my beautiful flowers on the patio.

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Beehold the European Honey Bee!

European Honey Bee on the purple Anemone Flower

Honeybees are social insects that live in hives. Like all insects, bees have six legs, a three-part body, a pair of antennae, compound eyes, jointed legs, and a hard exoskeleton. The three body parts are the head, thorax, and abdomen (the tail end).

Bees can fly about 15 mph (24 kph). They eat nectar (a sweet liquid made by flowers) which they turn into honey. In the process of going from flower to flower to collect nectar, pollen from many plants gets stuck on the bee’s pollen baskets (hairs on the hind legs). Pollen is also rubbed off of flowers. This pollinates many flowers (fertilizing them and producing seeds).

All the members of the hive are related to each other. There are three types of honey bees:

  • the queen (who lays eggs)
  • workers – females who gather food, make honey, build the six-sided honeycomb, tend eggs, and guard the hive
  • drones – males who mate with the queen.

Bees undergo complete metamorphosis. The queen lays an egg in a cell in the wax comb (all the immature bees are called the brood). The egg hatches into a worm-like larva, which eventually pupates into an adult bee.

Bees VS. Wasps from UC Berkeley

I came across this guide on how to differentiate between Bees and Wasps.  I have been planting flowers for the past year to attract bees and starting noticing different types of bees.  Lo and behold, possibly half of the ones I was observing were actually wasps.  PS.  Wasps are beneficial insects too, since they eat pests.  I learned quite a lot from this UC Berkeley guide below.  Enjoy!


Bees Vs. Wasps

Many gardeners and other urbanites often refer to bees and wasps interchangeably. As you become familiar with the organisms in your yard environment it is important to learn to distinguish bees and wasps as each of these insect groups has very different lifestyles. Bees are interested almost exclusively in pollen and nectar from your plants, and they are adapted evolutionarily to use these specific plant parts for energy (nectar) and to provision their offspring (pollen plus nectar). Wasps, in contrast, are mostly predatory and visit your garden searching for small prey items like caterpillars. Occasionally, small slender wasps can be observed taking nectar from selected flowers only, for example, from species of Eriogonum (shown at right), the buckwheats. In almost every case, these are beneficial wasps looking for a drink of nectar. They have no interest in the pollen. In fact, they don’t have body parts adapted for pollen transport as do bees.

The yellowjacket wasps (see above photo) are most often confused by urbanites. Yellowjackets are not bees! These wasps are predatory in habit, which means they hunt and feed on other living organisms, mostly other insects. Often, they fly around plants and even land on flowers where they look for prey items such as caterpillars. However, these wasps have also taken a liking to human food, especially meat and soft drinks. You may have already noticed that encounters with yellowjackets usually occur whenever we eat food outside. We can guarantee that you will never see an authentic bee eating a burger or hot dog.

If you study the photos in this website you will begin to be able to distinguish between bees and wasps. Note especially the great amount of fine hair found on almost all bees in contrast to the sparse hair on wasps. It is their hairiness that makes bees so important to pollination and plant reproduction: these hairs are designed to pick up pollen and carry it from one flower to the next.

Finally, as mentioned elsewhere in this website, female bees and female wasps have stingers that are used in defense. Some wasps species also use their stingers to paralyze prey items, which are then used directly for adult food or later for food for their offspring, in the case of social wasps. When close human encounters with bees and wasps occurs, stings may result but this almost always happens when the insect feels threatened. This is even true in the case of the famous Africanized honey bee (or killer bee), which behaves more aggressively than most other bees and wasps in defense of their hives.

The benefits of Beneficial Instects are visually apparent

I have been promoting planting flowers to attract beneficial insects since I attended the Master Gardener’s class .  Since moving to my apartment in August of 2011, I got involved with California Native Garden Foundation and learned the endless benefits planting Natives.  I purchased a Dudleya from CNGF that is a succulent with beautiful yellow flowers.  I split the plant into its two clusters.  I kept one cluster for myself and gave the other cluster to my boyfriend Henrik as part of a beautiful succulent arrangement.  He still gets lots of compliments from his friends over the arrangement.  I should state at this point that Henrik only has one other plant on his patio and that is the African Daisy.  And his plant’ is in a winter slumber at the moment with no flowers.  So basically he has no plants on his patio to attract Beneficial’s on his patio in the Fall/Winter period.  Well it’s been 2 months since we’ve had our Dudleyas and here are the results:

Bottom line: I haven’t had to use any pest control sprays of any kind on my patio this year!  The Neem Oil pesticide I had bought a year ago was promptly gifted to Henrik to control his Aphid infestation on the Dudleya.

New Years Even Resolutions for the Garden

  1. Continue to spread awareness through California Native Garden Foundation as Board Member and Treasurer. (continuously drop it in my conversations when I meet new people)
  2. Start composting.    (started as of Jan 1st)
  3. Start growing vegetables on the roof.  More specifically tomatoes and cucumbers.
  4. Expand my California native plant collection so as to attract “native” beneficial insects.  One specific flower I plan to have is the California Poppy.  (purchased the CA Poppy seeds on January 10th)
  5. Fertilize my vanda orchid (weekly weakly).  I’ve been slacking off on this and haven’t been able to get my vanda to bloom since I purchased it in mid 2011.

*Updates in Green

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