how to make old man's beard (usnea) grow?

james_va(z6/7 VA)August 15, 2010

Hi, Everyone,

I have some Usnea lichen (I figured this was the closest forum) from up north (I'm in North America). It is currently bonded to a small Picea glauca branch (White spruce).

It has held up OK throughout the year I've had it, but is shrinking slightly. I mist it, but I'm in a warmer area with -- importantly -- more air pollution.

As well, it is bonded to just a tiny piece of branch that I'd presume is gradually becoming "used up." I've tried to get it to affix to a freshly cut Picea abies (Norway/European spruce), but with no luck thus far. I can try some native White spruce next, if that would make a difference.

I can't control the air pollution, but any thoughts on how to otherwise optimize growing conditions for my little Old Man's Beard?

Many thanks for your input,

-James

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
terrestrial_man(9)

Changing its mount to another species of wood will make no difference in its growth. What matters is the quality of the air and the temperature of the air.
To these ends I would move the plant to the north side of your home or wherever it is the coldest at night. If it has cold nights (into the 50sF) it should handle the warmer day temps.
For it air pollution can only be mitigated by the amount of wind that the plant is exposed to. The more breeze it gets the better for it. When there is more breeze or wind blowing across this plant I would definitely increase misting as well though letting it dry between mistings. It can handle dryness if it is kept cool.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 3:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
james_va(z6/7 VA)

Great -- thanks a bunch! That was helpful.

Not to press my luck, but in case you're a sage on these matters, I'll toss out a few things I'm curious about. If not, or if you're busy, no worries.

1. Does the wood have to be in a certain state of decay before usnea can affix? (Side note: I put it on my living Dwarf Alberta spruce earlier in the year, wedging it in here and there whenever it would get knocked down. Months later, I noticed brown patches on said spruce. I'm not sure it's related, but could this be from the usnea?)

2. Does usnea grow at certain temperatures/times of year, and not during others?

3. I'm assuming that re: wind and pollution, the offender is sulfur dioxide, which must come in "batches?" In other words, if pollution were ever-present in equal amounts, wind might actually bring more airborne nasties in contact with the plant (a la wind chill/wind heat effects). Just curious. Also, is misting with chlorinated tap water a concern?

4. Does usnea have a sunlight preference?

Again, if this is too much, no need to reply -- these are just curiosities. Your first answer should get me on the right track, action-wise.

Thanks again,

James

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 1:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
terrestrial_man(9)

1. Does the wood have to be in a certain state of decay before usnea can affix? (Side note: I put it on my living Dwarf Alberta spruce earlier in the year, wedging it in here and there whenever it would get knocked down. Months later, I noticed brown patches on said spruce. I'm not sure it's related, but could this be from the usnea?)
I DO NOT THINK that it is a matter of a state of decay but
rather the condition of roughness, probably tied to some \
degree of humidity and coolness, that allows spores to nest onto the bark and to germinate successfully. I am not too sure that simply trying to transplant would even be
effective at all. I would opt for tying a branch with the
lichen on it onto a branch without the lichen but with
comparable surface features and see what happens.
2. Does usnea grow at certain temperatures/times of year, and not during others?
IT IS A FUNGUS AND AN ALGAE. Perhaps if it gets too cold or too hot the plant does not grow, discounting air pollution.

3. I'm assuming that re: wind and pollution, the offender is sulfur dioxide, which must come in "batches?" In other words, if pollution were ever-present in equal amounts, wind might actually bring more airborne nasties in contact with the plant (a la wind chill/wind heat effects). Just curious. Also, is misting with chlorinated tap water a concern?
THINK THIS WAY. Wind that is blowing into your yard is coming from somewhere else. Would it not seem possible that that wind would be blowing in from an area that is not polluted?
Also is rain water chlorinated? Use distilled water. I am not too sure if R/O water is safe for lichens. I have one
lichen species but have not really monitored its growth. I really like the thalloid ones but was sad to discover that slugs LOVE tholloid lichens! Had a nice looking plant that seemed to be doing well with r/o water until it got munched out in one night of revelry by those narly gastropods!
4. Does usnea have a sunlight preference?
GOOD QUESTION. DON'T KNOW. but I would think that a northern exposure with indirect light is preferable unless you live where they occur naturally.

Here is a link that might be useful: Usnea

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 11:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
james_va(z6/7 VA)

Thanks, terrestrial man -- that was helpful. (I'm actually retyping this b/c a Gardenweb pop-up ad locked up my computer during the first try.)

I'll give my usnea a few different branch options, to see which one it likes best.

I'm sorry to hear that the slugs liked your thalloid lichens even more than you do... I'm sure they appreciated it, at least. Hopefully, you can get a replacement.

Thanks again for your help and best of luck,

James

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 12:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
terrestrial_man(9)

I checked on my last remaining lichen and it seems to be dying out. As it is in a mat of mosses I may be keeping it just too wet for it. Tough love!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 2:04AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Volunteer ID
I had this volunteer in a pot and I'd like to put it...
Biinaboo, Zone 10, Naples, Gulf Coast
Tips on growing ferns from spores? Have prothallia!
This year I decided I'd try my hand at growing ferns...
candogal
Reviving sphagnum
I've been trying to revive my sphagnum moss using dried...
David146
Decidedly Unhappy Moss
Hey all I live in Cape Town, South Africa. Here, we...
JasonFourie514
Asplenum nidus with new fronds or new stems?
Two years ago they gave me two small Asplenium nidus...
Baobab
Sponsored Products
New Silver Washed Ivory & Green Oushak 6'x9' Hand Knotted Turkish Wool Rug H3552
BH Sun Inc
Mia Satin Nickel Three-Light Bath Fixture with Halva Glass
$391.50 | Bellacor
Olde Bronze Chandelier 9-Light
PLFixtures
Uttermost Fascination 3-Light Chandelier
Lamps Plus
Design House 61W x 22D in. Granite Double Sink Vanity Top - 553289
$624.90 | Hayneedle
Franklin Corner Sectional (2 piece) - Key Largo Grape Purple
Joybird Furniture
Monogram Double Old-Fashioned - O
$26.00 | Horchow
Hand-hooked Teal Stencil Malachite Blue Indoor/Outdoor Rug (2'6 x 8')
Overstock.com
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™