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Frank

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  1. frogsintn3, The third photo in your posting above is not a M erinacea - The leaf shape is drastically wrong and there needs to be branched spines on the caudex.
  2. Hi Anita, welcome to the forum. Why don't you gather a little more information on this. Perhaps use a single-edge razor blade to cut the raised area in several different directions and see if they are solid or if there are perhaps insect larvae inside. Are new ones forming constantly or did the plant come with a certain number and they are not increasing? You may want to do a precautionary spray for bugs, something like safer's insecticidal soap - especially lf more leaves are getting the deformation since you got the plant. If it is not showing up on new, previous uninfected leaves you may be able to end the whole problem by just cutting off the infected/infested leaves.
  3. Hi Ladislav, The other 3 plants in the case look good, are you treating this new one the same as those or different? What do you mean by "dew"? Does that mean you only mist the plant and do not saturate the growing media with water? Does the growing media for this sick plant have sphagnum in it or is it all bark pieces? I see the droopy leaves as either a lack of watering or as a fungus causing rot in the stem or caudex. If you have not given the plant a good watering yet - as in set the pot in a bucket of water for a few hours so the bark or sphagnum can fully absorb water - than do that immediately. (Do not submerge the actual plant just have the water deep enough in the bucket so the entire media has a chance to soak up all the water it can.) If you have the media fully saturated with water already, do not water more until it starts to dry out. If the drooping continues gently touch the stem and caudex to look for soft spots that could be rot. (If the pot is just very dry the caudex will be somewhat soft because it normally stores water - but if the softness is because of the caudex turning to black mush inside that is rot and it needs to be cut out if the plant is to have a chance to survive.) Let us know how you proceed and how it works. Good luck
  4. What do I use for a growing media for Rubiaceous ant-plants you ask! The answer has changed many times over the years. What I am currently growing with is about: 33% long fiber sphagnum 27 % triple washed coconut husk chips 20% #3 perlite 15% Growstone, GS-2, for aeration 5% charcoal chips And for larger plants in larger pots I add about 5 to 10 % of Hydroton - baked clay pellets that are round and red. Now, for the finer details: SPHAGNUM The long fiber sphagnum has to be very good quality. The one I use now is a widely available one on eBay called “Spagmoss”. I soak it for an hour or two before using and then cut it into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces, slightly longer for large plants in larger pots. COCONUT HUSK CHUNKS I like the way roots attach to coconut husk chunks better than the bark I used to use. I use 1/8 to 3/8 inch size pieces for plants in smaller pots, say to 4 inch pots. Bigger pots than that I use 1/2 to 5/8 inch pieces. It is very important to triple soak these overnight to get the excess salt out of them. I have an electrical conductivity meter (DiST 3, Hana Instsruments) to measure the amount of salt in liquids. My tap water (city) registers about 140. When a put a bag of the husks into a 5 gallon bucket of that water within an hour the water tests out at over 1000. The next morning I dump that water and refill the bucket with fresh water. And again the third morning. After that if I fill with water again it tests in the 150s to 180 range and is ready for use. PERLITE I agonize over whether I should rinse off the perlite before use to get rid of the fine dust – or is it actually good in the mix? Now I generally pre-rinse only when I get near the bottom of the bag and there is a lot of the fines. GROWSTONE I like this in the mix for no apparent reason that I can think of other than it helps with drainage and therefore helps reduce root rot. CHARCOAL CHIPS These I definitely rinse before using otherwise the mix has a “dirty look” from the charcoal dust. HYDROTON I like using these because when I unpot a plant the roots will be hanging on to these. It is recommended to rinse and soak these before use. WATER AND FERTILIZER I make an effort to never let the pots dry out completely. I water as soon as the top of the media gets dry. My go-to fertilizer now is “Miracle Gro, water soluble tomato food, 18 -18 -21”. It has additional micronutrients. Once in a while I will switch over for a feeding or two to the Maxsea seaweed fertilizer (16-16-16) that Jay has championed here on the forum (also with micronutrients). I fertilize only when the plants are in active growth and only when the growing media is wet. There is nothing magical about the mix I use. Our individual growing conditions and climates are so different that it has to mean that no one mix will work for everyone. So you will need to experiment to see what works best for you. I hope my remarks will help you. Good Growing!
  5. Hi Derrick, The link you just put in the above post is not taking us to any information about M. horrida. You may want to fine tune the link. As to updating your e-book, I suggest you keep people up to date by posting notes as as you proceed to build your magnificent work in the folder just below this one titled: "Derrick Rowe's ant plant e-book has just been released!!! and is available on our forum for free". Or as an alternative you could put notes about the changes to your e-book in the folder: "Ant plants - general information, literature and links" in the thread titled: "Now available for free download Epiphytic Myrmecophytes Bizarre Wonders of Nature 2019". You will want to start with updating the link to your e-book there, because that one no longer works. Or another alternative would be to start a new thread here in the "News" folder titled something like: "A listing of the latest updates to Derrick Rowe's e-book: Epiphytic Myrmecophytes, Bizzare Wonders of Nature". If you put that one in here I will pin it to stay near the top of the "News" folder. Thank you for your continuing efforts on behalf of ant-plants.
  6. I have been studying and growing Rubiaceous ant-plants for 20 years now and there have been lots of exciting developments during that time. Arguably one of the best developments was getting Squamellarias into cultivation! Wow! And then that introduction gets followed up with the fabulous work of Dr. Guillaume Chomicki uncovering the complex symbiosis some of the Squamellarias have with Philidris nagasau ants that has the ants "farming" the plants. The ants "plant" the seeds, protect them and fertilize them (feces in the warted chamber of the seedlings). The plants, for their part in the symbiosis, delay the development of the fruits for several months after pollination happens so that a special nectary on the top of the ovary can feed the ants of the colony! If you need to catch-up with this research start with these two articles - available with free download at these two sites: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/310608117_Obligate_plant_farming_by_a_specialized_ant and https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nph.13990 Even before these articles I knew I had to grow this species when I saw the habitat photos of this species that Derrick and Andreas posted here on our Forum of what looks like Australian rugby balls hanging in the trees with concentric patterns of holes punched in their surface. (see Derrick's thread titled "Squamellaria major" in this Squamellaria section of this Forum for some of those photos.) My plant, which I bought as a seedling in July of 2018 from Andreas at the Nepenthes Nursery, is shaped more like a pile of dog droppings than a rugby ball and is covered with an excess of adventitious roots! I have the large mass of adventitious roots because I am growing the plant in a high humidity orchidarium. Here is how my plant looks today; it is growing in a 5 inch bulb pan: In spite of its shape I can live with how it looks because of the thick, textured, and beautifully patterned leaves and the fact that it made its first flower on April 21 of this year and its first fruit today, July 12, 2020. Here are photos of that first flower: (The flower in the second photo is lying alongside the inches side of the ruler.) I was very happy to see that the flowers are self fertile because I no longer have the second plant of this species that I had originally obtained to use for cross pollination. Here are two photos of the ripe fruit on the plant. Note the veins in the fruit, the interesting color and the black marks on the surface of the fruit. There are other flowers and fruits in different stages of development on the plant: The mature fruit is in the background in this next photo. On the left is a fertilized flower that is currently using the nectary on the top of the ovary to feed the colony - it has the white base with the greenish collar. Just below it is a flower that just got fertilized in the last few days. The style is still attached to the top of the ovary inside the green collar (the calyx) and the petal tube is decaying but still hanging on the style. This view of the fruit shows the small black spots better: (the numbered lines are centimeters, the unnumbered are millimeters in the next 3 photos.) I pulled the fruit apart and found the expected 4 seeds inside The seeds each have an elaborate tail, much more fibrous than the mucus-like tail on Myrmecodia seeds. The seed to the right of the other 3 has a small protuberance showing on the side of the seed opposite the tail. I suspect it may be the radical, the tip of the root, that leaves the seed first on germination. I fear I broke it off of two of the seeds. I have already planted the seeds on chopped up long-fiber sphagnum, so I will know if I messed up those two seeds soon enough. These Squamellarias are surely different than the Hydnophytums and Myrmecodias! I have to say I have really enjoyed growing this plant --- I just need it to start looking like a rugby ball soon!!! PS. The next morning 3 of the 4 seeds are germinating. This is fast, even by ant-plant standards!
  7. Hi, Frank the administrator here, I ran Ezhikovich's posting thru google translate (Russian) and this is how it came out. Some of our people want to take a shot at a possible answer for this person? Hello! Half of my plants began to deform their new leaves, and the old leaves began to curl. They grow in different conditions of humidity and temperature, some on the windowsill, and others in the orchidaria. No pests, fertilizers use Osmokot. What could be the problem? I would be grateful for your suggestions.
  8. Science News, a bimonthly magazine about science topics, in it's April 25, 2020 issue has a 5 page article about various ants who have been cultivating plants and fungi; saying that they "may be the first known animals other than human to farm plants". The first page of the article stars the Philidris nagasau ants that plant Squamellaria seeds in the bark of trees on Fiji, protect the seedlings and adult plants, fertilize them with their feces and occupy the plants by living in the chambers in the caudex. None of this is new to us as Science News got all of this from Susan Renner and Guillaume Chomicki's papers that we have been following starting with their first one that revised the genus Squamellaria in 2016: (available free on line as, " Evolutionary relationships and biogeography of the ant‐epiphytic genus Squamellaria (Rubiaceae: Psychotrieae) and their taxonomic implications"). The Science News article has photos of Squamellarias in habitat on Fiji and a cross section of the caudex to show the chambers. A serious disappointment to me is that the Science News article refuses to use the word "caudex" and refers to it instead as the "bulbous base" or "blob". I am shocked about this!! Most of the rest of the Science News article is about three groups of fungus farming insects: 1) several thousand species of Ambrosia beetles, 2) about 330 species of termites in the subfamily Macrotermitinae, and 3) the Atta leaf-cutter ants (who get discussed the most). The last section of the article goes back to the Squamellaria/Philidris relationship including mention of the sugary, amino acid spiked feeding stations that form specifically to feed the ants. These form on the flowers after the flowers have been pollinated and fertilized so they are not there to draw in and encourage pollinators. Also referenced in this article is Guillaume Chomicki et al's latest paper: "Trade-offs in the evolution of plant framing by ants" in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, dated February 4, 2020. I have not read this one yet.
  9. Do not leave here today without seeing Aurelien's great posting about the new greenhouse in Nancy, France. It is a FANTASTIC PHOTO TOUR! Look for it in the "Ant Plants in Cultivation" section.
  10. Hi Tommy, Welcome to the forum. We hope you find the information here useful in your plant hobby. Growing ant-plants mounted requires more effort and diligence than growing in pots and is best attempted only when you have a high humidity growing area, say 75% and over. Your plant and the overall planting look very good. The mass of sphagnum is essential in this way of growing and you need to keep the moss constantly wet, or at least moist. This is what make this way of growing more high maintenance compared to pots. The yellowing and loss of lower leaves is not unusual when the plants are stressed - like when being repotted or getting too dry. Good growing
  11. Hi George, Welcome to the forum. We hope you find a lot of useful and interesting information here. Thanks for joining us. As to your H. puffii - you are right to be concerned - the shrinking of the caudex is not a good sign. (A caudex is a swollen stem base -- a bulb is like an onion, a collection of closely wrapped leaves) . When you say "soil" we hope you do not mean soil as in what you plant a garden or regular houseplant in. These ant- plants are epiphytes - plants that live on the surface of another plant so their roots will die if they are planted in normal garden-like soil. They need to be grown in an epiphyte mix like most orchid growers use to grow orchids. Something made of bark chips, long fiber sphagnum, perlite, coconut husk chunks, etc - so that the roots stay moist but can still get air. If you passed the soil test and have the right growing media, the next thought is watering. When you water, water well, not just a little water at the surface. With epiphyte mix you can even set the pot in a small tray or container of water for 10 or 15 mintues, let all the soil components soak up their fill and than take the pot out and not water again for perhaps a week or so until the mix is close to dry again. Do you live where it is cold? If so and if what you are describing as your window growing is between the blinds and the window than your plant could be getting too cold at night Get it a little further from the window. Most of these ant-plants do not like getting below 60 Fahrenheit Cold can cause rot that often presents as a soft, shrinking caudex. Those are my thoughts on your problem based on the information you gave us. If these things I have described are not the possible problem tell us more about your growing situation, perhaps give us photos, and we will try again to help. Let me add that in my experience H. puffii is the poster child for an ant-plant that takes a definite winter rest for me (northern hemisphere, USA,Michigan). They have never grown for me during December to sometime in March or April. They just sit there and look pretty. Thanks again for joining the forum
  12. Hi Bern, I grew it in a greenhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA for about 7 years. It started out as a cutting on a piece of tree fern. When that started growing off the tree fern I nailed that to a tree trunk in the main conservatory and it has grown up that trunk about 8 feet. It has always had some of the bullate leaves but it has not flowered there. I know it got regular fertilizer, but I cannot say that it ever grew vigorously for me - perhaps that is why no flowers.
  13. Fantastic Piece Jay !!!! Just great! I can't get over how good your photos are. Beautiful flowers. The step by step instructions and photos for building that display are priceless. You know a lot of us are going to have a go at it ourselves! Thank you for your continuing support of the forum both monetarily and with your exciting and insightful posts. We appreciate you sharing so generously with us!!! Frank
  14. A common question on this forum and on the facebook ant-plant groups is "Where can I get a book about the ant-plants? We have never had a good answer to that and while there is still no traditional book to fill that need, as of today, there is a free and very thorough e-book answer of yes, YES, YES Derrick Rowe has completed the revision of his epic resource "2. Epiphytic Myrmecophytes. Bizarre Wonders of Nature, 2019" and he has very graciously given me permission to make it available here to all of us! The amount of information and photos he has assembled in this work is absolutely amazing! This is such a valuable resource that it has to be kept available on the internet and I am very happy that we have it available to us all, here and now. You will find the free download available below in the Ant Plants - general information, literature and links folder. Thank you very much Derrick for your years of work on this project and for freely providing it to the ant-plant community!!!
  15. Derrick Rowe has completed the revision of his epic resource "2. Epiphytic Myrmecophytes. Bizarre Wonders of Nature, 2019" and he has very graciously given me permission to make it available here to all of us! The amount of information and photos he has assembled in this work is absolutely amazing! This is such a valuable resource that it has to be kept available on the internet and I am very happy that we have it available to us all, here and now. There is something here for each of us. To a newbie to ant-plants this will seem overwhelming - maybe at first the best resources here for you will be the fantastic photos. More experienced ant-planters will find it very useful that Derrick has done the hard work when it comes to researching a specific species. He has done all the background work and provided all the links you need to fully understand any of these species to the best degree possible at this time. The work is composed of 17 Word files within Dropbox software. I did not have to download Dropbox before downloading the files. They are compressed files and my download placed the files as a "zipped" file in my "downloads" folder. Disk spaced used was 730 MB. The link I used to download the files is: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/4t43iclly4gn326/AABi4SH-atDda3dd4pd4TuSaa?dl=0
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