Two of the blackcurrent swirl daturas have flowered again. This time the fragrance is stronger and, it must be said, reminiscent of fine laundry detergent. Furled, the purple flowers look like witches’ hands in dark satin gloves; open, they reveal an interior of violet-tinged white, and the final effect really is like ice cream with berry syrup.
I had given them heavy doses of bat guano, which is high in phosphorus, the element that increases flower production. That may — I don’t know how long it takes fertiliser to work — have had something to do with them producing buds galore, but many of those dropped as the flowers grew. They are huge flowers, and my best guess is that the plants didn’t have the resources for so many. Some of the flowers have had double corollas, some triples. In most of the triples the inner corolla hasn’t opened properly, though there still may be room for small bees to enter and wander around.
One of the blackcurrent swirls is the runt of the litter. It produced one flower, then seemed exhausted. It had three buds, which I cut off. I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to encourage the plant to put its resources into growing bigger before flowering again. Then I noticed little wriggly yellow thread-like stuff on its leaves. One of the larger plants had always had a bit of this on one leaf, though green rather than yellow, and flattened. I cut off that leaf, sprayed the runty plant with fungicide, and quarantined it. The squiggles went green and flat like those on the other plant, but the leaves looked terrible, so I removed the worst ones. It is now growing quite a few new leaves and looking better.
Adding to the datura collection, I bought two white-flowered plants. They have triple blooms too. Beautiful flower, and similar scent to the purple, but a bit sweeter.
Re the yellow thready stuff, I’ve just been reading about endophytic fungus. These organisms live in plants and can benefit their hosts, but: “Some endophytic fungi are actually latent pathogens or saprotophs that only become active and reproduce when their host plants are stressed or begin to senesce, respectively.” Maybe this is an endophytic fungus? It seemed to appear very quickly, almost overnight — but maybe it crept up and I just didn’t notice.
The brunfelsia has new foliage and, with it, flowers. Excitement! Complementing the daturas, they smell like nice jasmine soap. It’s on the porch, getting morning sun and afternoon shade, and seems happy with that arrangement. I’d dearly love to see it flower like the one in the picture. A light all-over prune, maybe, so that all the new growth hopefully happens at the same time?
At the same time as staking the chalice vine I moved it out of all-day sun and onto the porch too, having read that someone’s chalice vine liked a bit of shade. Lo and behold, the leaves have darkened rapidly and new leaves are sprouting everywhere — all along lifeless-looking branches as well as at branch-ends. I haven’t seen it look this happy in ages. I don’t know whether the main factor was the staking, the change of sun exposure, or just the repotting taking effect. I could remove the stakes or put it back in the sun to try and answer the question, but for now I’m leaving it just as it is.
Far less happy is a miniature orange tree that I neglected at the old house and which became very bare and spindly. I repotted, pruned it back to one branch and a three-inch stick and waited, but nothing happened. Perhaps I was too impatient for results, but I took it out of its pot and checked the roots. They were all stuck in the ball of clay they had been in when I repotted it, and some were rotten. I washed all the clay off, trimmed the rotten bits, and put it in a pot with lighter and better-draining soil. I know I could buy another one, but perhaps rather ridiculously I feel guilty for taking so little care of it and would like to make amends if possible. I may have done nothing but hasten its demise — but there are now three tiny buds on the stick, so we’ll see what time brings.
I’ve planted tomatoes, of which six have sprouted, and bought a young banana tree, which has just grown a new leaf. (The rate at which some plants can grow never ceases to astonish me. Also, wouldn’t it be grand if we could photosynthesise?) I’ve planted cosmos flowers to attract ladybirds and lacewings for pest control — I shall tell of the Mealybug Tree another time…