Noob Mistakes (You made when you first started growing Hoyas)

greedygh0stMay 19, 2014

In another thread I casually brought up the fact that I made a lot of mistakes when I first started collecting Hoyas and GT asked me to elaborate.

I guarantee you I've made more mistakes than anyone else here, but I thought I'd start a brand new thread in case anyone else wants to chime in and keep me company with their own beginner fiascos. ;D

Mistake 1: Taking your eye off the ball too fast

When you are just starting out, the following are easy to do:

1. Buying a group of Hoyas
2. Rooting a group of Hoyas
3. Finding room for a group of Hoyas

You know what's not easy?

Keeping young plants with newly established roots happy. I kind of think there are a finite number of "newborn" plants that any one person can really do a good job nurturing. This number expands if you are used to having "newborns" in your care, and as you become more seasoned with Hoyas in general. It is a mistake to take a plant off this "delicates" roster until it's a year or more old. This includes most rooted plants you receive from vendors. Even EA plants.

Mistake 2: Not focusing on rare but easy plants

Here's the thing. When you are a frothing-at-the-mouth new collector like I was, aside from wanting as many plants as humanly possible, you also want rare and interesting plants. Since you are a noob, you often mistake plants that people talk about a lot, for being the most interesting and desirable plants. It also happens that advanced members talk a lot about plants that are hard to grow because these are harder to get cuttings of and harder to keep alive once you get them. So, noob-ghost tended to buy a lot of plants she had no business buying.

Yeah, sure, I'm not a black thumb and I would have had a good enough shot at keeping those plants alive if I were collecting at the rate of 10/yr, but oh boy I was on a wild ride, so there was no way I was focused enough to give them the attention they required.

And this is really annoying in retrospect because there are a gajillion Hoyas that are rare AND easy as pie. If every time I bought a campanulata, I instead invested in an illagiarum, I would have had sooooo much nicer a time and so much less guilt and wasted money.

Seriously guys, don't start with campanulata, don't start with flagelatta, don't start with chinghungensis and greenii. Leave them alone until you've slowed your roll. And then, pick them up and you'll enjoy them instead of hating them.

Mistake 3: Trading too early

Trading is so awesome and everyone should do it. Because traders rarely cut their plants, and often grow in conditions similar to yours, their cuttings are so so easy-peasy to root and grow. And so many people in the community are a lot easier to get to know via email and phone than on the forum. You have no idea how much more you will love everyone on GW once you start to trade them, because they are all freaking sweethearts, and you'd never know it because most of them don't talk.

Okay, problem one is you are a trading dummy when you first start out. That part is okay because people will be nice and let you make dumb mistakes with them. The REAL beginner mistake is cutting your plants down too small. You do this because you are so eager to make new friends and get new plants. (For me it was mainly about making friends)

The thing is, you are not just a trading dummy. You are also a growing dummy. And all your plants are newborns. So you are much more likely to lose the plant you just cut down to a sprig once winter comes. Idk how many plants I lost because when they started to go downhill, there wasn't much of them to start with, so by the time I realized there was a problem and then figured out what to do, they had diminished to a shriveled node. And I know I'm not alone because I know a lot of the other little noobies I traded with would go through the same thing. So, my advice to past-me is: Just chill out! Spend a few years growing and then you can trade to your heart's content! Unfortunately, past-me knew this and totally did it anyway, because past-me is an impatient idiot.

Mistake 4: Not honoring the value of the plant

I think a lot of people do this. You get a new plant and you're all excited and you put it on the shelf and then you are on to the next thing. Even if you paid $30 for that cutting (my first big-dollar plant was megalantha - boy did that feel fancy at the time) chances are it too will be subject to the old-news treatment. The thing you will eventually get pounded into your skull is that a plant isn't just valued by its price tag. It's also valuable because it is difficult to come across. And some of the plants that you take your eye off, you will never be able to acquire again, and you will spend years looking to replace, and if you had just done a proper job of taking care of them to begin with… /cue mom's voice here...

The thing is, the list of plants in your Graveyard (yes, I have a subdirectory of my database called the Graveyard) will grow every year no matter how dutiful you are or experienced you are. Don't start it out with a huge influx during your first few years, because those names will always weigh heavy on your stupid stupid heart, no matter how much you try to forget them.

Mistake 5: Experimenting too much/Overcomplicating things

When you are new you have so many experienced people throwing so many interesting looking ideas and strategies at you, and you just want to try them all. So, you try every different medium mixture and then a bunch of your plants end up on different watering schedules. Or every time you get a batch of plants to root, you try a different method - then instead of learning from the mistakes you made last time you are making a whole new set of mistakes. Or you put a bunch of plants in semi-hydro or terra cotta pots or mounted on bark or in shells… but never really commit to the method so they just end up as a weird section of your collection you're always forgetting to maintain.

I guess I'm just saying, calm down. Give yourself time to absorb the results of each experiment before setting up the next one. Maybe create a book of ideas for the future instead of trying each one right this second, all at the same time.

Mistake 6: Overestimating the power of organization

I was convinced that organizing my plants the right way was going to solve so many problems. So, first I organized them according to temperature preference, so that when my place got cold in the winter, I'd know which group to worry about. (Bzzzt - it turns out my home doesn't, in fact, get too cold for Hoyas, so this was a waste of time.)

Then I organized them according to watering preference, and potted the ones that needed more water and the ones that needed less water in different mediums. (Bzzzt - I ended up mixing the different-medium plants in with the others, and consistently under/over-watering them.)

Then I organized them according to maturity, so that all the big plants were on the big shelves and all the little plants were on short shelves where I could (in theory) keep an eye on them better. (Bzzzt - not all vulnerable plants are short and not all short plants are vulnerable, and I put all my lacunosas in one flat on this shelf and it took me A WHOLE DAY a couple weekends ago to untangle them again)

Mostly I think no amount of strategic organization is going to make up for just spending time with the plants. BUT most of the methods I tried were obviously very silly. What has worked for me is grouping like kinds together. Plants with similar types of leaves tend to have similar needs. And as you become aware of their needs, you can adjust for the whole flat. It also makes it easier to see the differences among plants of the same or similar species. And it keeps all the mealie-tasty plants together so if I have an outbreak, I know exactly where to focus my eradication efforts.

Mistake 7: Experimenting with labels and pens

Ugggggggggggggg. While I've never lost a label, I have spent countless frustrated hours trying to work out a blurred label while agonizingly checking every other plant against my master list to see which one wasn't accounted for. I've also spent a lot of time rewriting labels because when the plants came in I'd use whatever random tags I had lying around and whatever pen hadn't run dry.

Save yourself some trouble and get a good stock of UV-resistant gardening pens, decide on your favorite labels and always keep a TON of them in stock. And while we're talking about keeping things in stock, never run out of dragonfly clips or hoops. I wish I could put those on a monthly delivery subscription or something. Nobody ever runs out of pots, but I swear, the size of hoop I need is always the size of hoop I am out of.

Mistake 8: Trying to keep too-detailed records

Honestly, what people decide to track in their database is up to them. I am not recommending anything in particular. I'm just saying if you make it too complicated, you're going to start putting off updating your database because it's so much work, and before you know it, it's the end of the year and you don't know what plants you have anymore and have to go through a million emails to remember what came from who and when.

Mistake 9: Not having a plant map

This bit of advice is only for people who are likely to end up with several hundred plants. Seriously, make yourself a plant map. I like doing it in excel AND pen and paper. I love my plant map almost more than I love my database. I can't even believe there was a time when I didn't have a plant map - that's how much more I use it than my database, which I never look at except when I update it.

Aside from telling you EXACTLY where everything is, it's a great help in keeping your inventory straight, because when a hole appears, you know what used to be there. And if a label fades, you have a backup record of what the plant is. And if you are doing a trade, it takes 2 seconds to find the plants you are looking for. And you don't have to go muscling in and fiddling to see what a plant label says because it's all on your handy clipboard. You can confirm the plant ID from across the room. Plant map plant map plant maaaaap.

Mistake 10: Reroot reroot reroot

The number one reason noobs lose plants is because they overwater them. The number two reason noobs lose plants is because they don't want to re-root because it seems too extreme. Welllllll, you can run around repotting the plant, switching its medium, putting it in a different window, but if it's got that tell-tale shriveled look, that's going to be about as effective as giving a starving man a locked refrigerator. Man up and reroot as soon as you see the signs. Do not drag your feet like a chump.

That is not nearly all I have to say on this subject, but I am pretty sure if I make this any longer GardenWeb is going to give me posting error that just says TL;DR

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GG, that was a most wonderful post that was a delight to read, and should be made a sticky so that it is always available to anyone and everyone. Thank you for writing it!


    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 6:52PM
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Great post! I was terrible about going on sprees where I would get new plants and cuttings and then be like, "Oh, but there are MORE out there, and I must have ALL THE PLANTS!!!" and so on the shelf the new ones would go and I would be going on quests to get the next thing I thought was the next big thing. And then came the era of organizing ALL THE PLANTS. If I only figured out where they liked to be and how to best arrange them, they would bloom and be happy forever and ever. Yes.

I guess I have done all of these at some point or another! Thankfully this time around, I know it's best to contain my enthusiasm and get new plants in an orderly fashion, and to keep records, and to actually pay attention to what they are telling me! I'm experienced enough now to know at least a little plant language, and to know that sometimes the best thing you can do for a plant is 'forget' about it for a little while as it acclimates/roots/whatever. Mothering a Hoya too much has been my biggest mistake- I tend to fiddle and fuss over them too much sometimes so I have to take a step back every now and then. Good to know I'm not the only one with noobie mistakes hiding in my plant graveyard!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 12:07PM
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So, who here thinks GG is talking DIRECTLY to and about them? I do for sure. :-)

Good stuff, GG! I wish I'd read that before placing the order for that first hoya. A carnosa. Online. 2 barely-rooted cuttings for like $15 delivered. I separated the plants (two plants is better than one, duh!) and repotted into moisture control mix (hey, "It Takes The Guesswork Out Of Watering", ok?), placed it in a cold never-sunny window in October and started waiting for blooms. Three days, 2 weeks, a month even I waited! WTH! Where are the blooms!? I'd water more - because that's what plants want, right? Then I'd give it more water - because... still, there were no blooms, and water is what plants want!

Fast forward 18 months. I think one or two new leaves had grown, and amazingly, the poor thing still looked ok above ground. I got to googling stuff and repotted it at that time into a better draining mix. Roots were visibly half the original already-small size, and I did not even know to check if they were alive at all - they were black, but I thought nothing of it and just stuck it into the pot. Then later I put it under lights. Three months later it finally started growing above ground - it was probably too busy regrowing roots in the three months. The plant is alive and kicking, has not flowered yet, which is not surprising with only less than a year of normal life after that horrible prison I'd put it into. So, how many mistakes is that? It hurts too much to count.

> Mistake 2: Not focusing on rare but easy plants

Funny you should say. Just less than an hour ago I was going though a list of what somebody grows and image searching the hell out of it, when I saw the AMAZING dinosaur-era-looking H. villosa leaves (globulosa is similar, as I learned). Why doesn't EVERYone grow this one? Or at least talk about it? It's not too easy or fast-growing (so does not exactly match this mistake), but those leaves are to die for!

The previous time I thought about this mistake was when I got the cuttings in a semi-blind trade with you, GG. I gave a list of what characteristics I like in leaves and flowers, and you sent me cuttings of plants large enough to cut that matched, and that I did not yet grow. As I mentioned then, this was the best idea ever, because I tend to be affected by familiar (=often-discussed) or cool-sounding names, so names like "sp. Philippines #10" or "sp. 97005" invokes zero desire to google things - even though I would have totally discovered very interesting things if I did. I also remember looking at the label that said "Hoya NOT macgregorii" and thinking, "why did I not get the real macgregorii?" lol.

Now when I am looking at what to get, I try to compensate and to be drawn to plant names I've never heard of.

> Mistake 6: Overestimating the power of organization
(or "how to organize plants in real life")

I am at the stage where I've just recently started getting a very vague recognition of the fact that grouping plants by SOME factor(s) is a need. No idea how to do that, and I've thought of watering needs, temperature preferences, light preferences, height and even the need for nightly temp drop that some hoyas apparently need to flower. This quickly becomes the puzzle of epic proportions, sort of like imagining things in multi-dimensional world - 2d boring, 3d understandable, 4d very complicated, 5d requires Einstein level of intelligence. So, understanding your experience is priceless here, GG! I wonder also how other people with significant collections organize their plants, especially indoors (Doug?)

> Mistake 8: Trying to keep too-detailed records

Oh yeah, I am an expert at that! Very early in my log making process it was clear that I can't keep this up as my collection grows. But some things are absolutely non-negotiable must haves: when/where I got the plant from, what its full name is to the best of my knowledge, culture notes, all repotting dates and blooming dates get an entry for sure. I also try to enter problems and what I tried to do to solve them and if it helped - this helps tremendously with understanding the plant and learning what it (and by extension, many hoyas) need. If I do not have time for at least that, then I do not have time for as many plants, which means a full stop on further acquisitions till I can get it all under control. (I am saying this, but I'll see how I can stick to it with my recent acquisition binge.)

> Mistake 10: Reroot reroot reroot
> The number one reason noobs lose plants is because they overwater them. The number two reason noobs lose plants is because they don't want to re-root because it seems too extreme.


It only happened to me once - rot set in within days after watering barely-rooted cuttings when it was cold and accidentally setting the rooting container a bit off the heating mat on the cold tile floor. Cold+wet=rot, and that is exactly what happened to three species in there. Luckily, I quickly noticed and knew I needed to act right away. I lost much of the material, but fortunately not a single species was lost completely.

I am not entirely sure of my ability to recognize when to reroot the next time it's needed, so it'll be helpful if someone with experience can talk a bit about that one.

But yeah, the resistance to restart a plant on the part of many newbies is palpable but understandable - it just seems like you are hurting the plant much more than you are helping, which of course if wrong, for plants moving 60 miles an hour into a ditch.

Overall, this list is absolutely great. If I created one, it would be full of important but boring technical things, sort of mistakes in a different dimension, like:

* "Fast draining mix" likely means MORE fast draining than what you probably have.

* "Low light" means higher light than what indoor growers without direct sun exposure often have.

* Know you watering personality (overwaterer vs underwaterer), and discipline yourself to adjust for the plants you grow. Also, use a mix that is appropriate not just for your plants and growing conditions, but also for the type of waterer you are.

* "Let's wait and see if it pulls through" is probably not a good thing when seeing a plant displaying signs of trouble. This is sort of a variation on your "reroot reroot reroot" advice. Act right away - UNELSS you are a hypochondriac when it comes to the health of your plants and tend to see trouble where there is none (like an occasional yellowing bottom leaf, say, or plants slowing down for winter).

* Learn how your plants grow in nature, quickly realize you very often cannot recreate those conditions - but realize also what it is exactly that plants like about those conditions and how you can actually recreate those little things and keep the plant happy. For me, this often boils down to the medium again. For epiphytes, ready moisture AND air availability at all times, even air right after watering, is important. So, the mix that does not compact (air!) but retains some water is key. Then my pretty little hoyas may just be fooled that they are growing in a tree crotch in Borneo somewhere, if the air and moisture are both there, and the rest of the conditions are hopefully not horrible.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 12:54PM
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> I was terrible about going on sprees where I would get new plants and cuttings and then be like, "Oh, but there are MORE out there, and I must have ALL THE PLANTS!!!"

Damn it, you people with your reasonableness and cool-headedness and... perfect logic! :-)

After growing 36 species and getting 40 more this spring, AND finding mealies and having to deal with them AND after looking at a long and delicious list of what yet another seller grows - are you telling me to slow down, not to place another order and deal with actually what I already had, and what I just got???? Is that what you are telling me?!?! 'Cause that's NOT what I want to hear! (Sigh. I guess I'll back-track on that order.)

> If I only figured out where they liked to be and how to best arrange them, they would bloom and be happy forever and ever. Yes.

hahaha. You too, huh, TABA? :-)

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 1:38PM
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GT- Don't think it gets easier to resist the sprees! I'm still terrible about "NEEDING" ALL THE PLANTS, but I have learned exactly how many new babies I can deal with at once(and I feel terribly guilty about killing them lately!). Having an anorexic wallet doesn't hurt, either- it makes every purchase feel like a big one. ;)

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 4:51PM
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GT- you asked how I organize my plants. There is no organization other than to try to fit them in the best way that I can. People think that I have far more Hoyas than I actually have. I've never counted them, but there are far less than 100.

If you were to count plant mass however, I probably have more Hoyas than most. Most Hoyas get BIG! I cannot fathom how people can fit in hundreds of plants. They must not realize how quickly they grow into behemoths. Lets take Hoya kerrii as an example. I have three clones that are four years old. Each is over four feet tall now. I like these plants, but what do I do with them now? I have a Hoya lobbii shrub; I say shrub because its 31/2 feet high and 20 inches in diameter. I finally gave away my imperialis that was over six feet high. I could go on and on about the number of large plants that I have, and how quickly these things turn into monster plants.

I grow these plants intensively, and even the small ones grow quickly. I do get a lot of blooms from growing like I do, but the plants get out of control fast. I think all Newbies need to slow down just a little bit and work with what they have because they do grow fast, and then what do you do with them.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 9:42AM
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I'm so glad you guys have enjoyed my confessional and have found it relatable. Thank you for your nice comments, and camaraderie, which made me glow.

GT, I know you're joking, but no it wasn't aimed at you. Although you do remind me a lot of myself, sometimes. ^_^

Re: Carnosa

If you think waiting a couple of years for a carnosa to bloom is bad, you are being too hard on yourself. I had my grandmother carnosa for a good 8 years without even realizing that it was capable of blooming. (We won't get into how many levels of dumb that was.) I moved it about 4' closer to a window and it bloomed the following spring.

Re: Villosa

I had the same reaction when I saw this plant. It is so under-discussed. "Dinosaur-era" is a great description.

Re: Organization

It cracks me up to see how not-alone I am in this type of thinking. I particularly enjoyed the way T&BA put it, "If I only figured out where they liked to be and how to best arrange them, they would bloom and be happy forever and ever. Yes." You just basically want to outsmart your own limitations. You know you're an intelligent person and a hardworking person and you just want to skip right over the period where you learn expertise slowly through practice. Oh, Neo, I hope you downloaded the "Greenthumb.dat" file while you were hooked up.

Re: Databases

Here are the things that I have found useful:
-name (learning accession numbers and/or original source, where possible)
-date acquired
-BRIEF mention of previous names, syns and ID disputes

Here are the things I don't track that I wish I did (and maybe should start)
-blooming details (enough to know how old it was when it bloomed and season/frequency/duration/fragrance of blooms)

Here are things I used to track that I now find pointless
-plant description, photographs, growing tips, temperature preferences, publication information, etc. etc. etc, ETC!

I just don't find databases to be the right vehicle for organizing research notes and documents. You should have all these materials read, highlighted, and filed away, but It's too complex and probably needs to be tracked in a program more like Scrivener versus Bento. Actually, hey ho, Scrivener, I just found another purpose for you! See, I think better when I write it out loud.

Re: Knowing you should slow down and not doing it

Well, I honestly think that there are individual differences at play here. Having a collecting compulsion is not something that all people experience, but it's something a certain percentage of the population will relate to very keenly. It's not like you don't realize you are being crazy. You just try your best to justify yourself. Happily, eventually logic catches up with you and you don't actually get volunteered for an episode of Hoarders. Although I did watch one episode where the lady started out saying "I'm a plant hoarder" and inside my head I went: omg omg omg please don't let this episode be about me. (It wasn't)

Re: Plant quantity vs. plant mass

I think what avid young hobbiests don't want to admit is that there is a distinct fork in the road. You are either going to choose to invest in a lot of plants or you are going to choose to invest in an optimal growing habitat. Few people are able to do both.

The key words Doug uses are "I grow these plants intensively." Although I do use grow lights, good fertilizer, quality medium, and offer my plants a good 8-10 hours of care a week, I would not describe them as grown intensively. My plants grow and bloom at a respectable rate, but only a minority of them grow like weeds. And I know most of them are capable of doing so. They are medium-happy plants, I would say.

I certainly have seen people post results of their intensive growing setups that blew my little socks off. I really admire this camp of people. Every year I try to invest more in upgrades for my growing setup and less in actual plants. In the long run, I'd like to meet at a happy medium of a lot of plants growing in spiffy conditions. It's a transition I need to make in stages.

If I had it all to do over again, I think I would be weighted towards too-many-plants every time. I would just reach a slightly lower maximum over a slightly greater number years. It's my personality to learn a subject by sampling it like a bee collecting pollen from a field of flowers. I almost never order the same beer twice in a bar.

I don't really regret that it will take me longer to bloom plants and grow magnificent specimens. I can live vicariously through others until my day comes. But I do not like that any Hoya, let alone multiple Hoyas, might have suffered pain as a result of my headlong momentum. I only have one pet because I know that is as many pets as I can really take EXCELLENT care of, given my other obligations and interests. I think people should think of plants in the same way. It's okay if your plants are progressing slower than others, but they should have a happy life.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 5:50PM
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> GT- you asked how I organize my plants. There is no organization other than to try to fit them in the best way that I can.

Wow, so what about all the temp preferences and light intensity and such? Hogwash? Combined with GG finding recording growing tips pointless, this is highly surprising for me. Obviously, relatively quickly into this hobby you learn what hoyas prefer generally, but many species prefer slightly different conditions - I do research and record those variations for quick reference later. Can that possibly be useless?

> People think that I have far more Hoyas than I actually have. I've never counted them, but there are far less than 100.

I am actually not too surprised. Every plant you show is big, much bigger than your typical average indoor-grown (most of the year) plant, even a well-maintained and beautifully-flowering one.

> I cannot fathom how people can fit in hundreds of plants.

Here's how lol:

Do not learn from me though - I love your BIG plants.

> They must not realize how quickly they grow into behemoths.

You make it sound like it happens on its own. Florida and Hawaii apart, I have an impression it doesn't. GG puts it well:
> there is a distinct fork in the road. You are either going to choose to invest in a lot of plants or you are going to choose to invest in an optimal growing habitat.

I also noted your saying you "grow intensively", and I am curious. I am assuming that means strong light and relatively high fertilizer doses relatively often? What else? Can you do into the details?

> I certainly have seen people post results of their intensive growing setups that blew my little socks off.

Any links to examples that you can easily find, GG? I remember seeing marijuana growing indoor setups online, and those were quite impressive because marijuana is a very high light plant.

Grow tents that Doug uses for some plants also look very impressive. How many plants can fit into those, Doug? (Obviously, depending on the size.) Are there shelves inside and multiple fixtures?

> I really admire this camp of people.

Me too! It helps to think in terms of that fork in the road, GG, but the thought, this clearly expressed, is new to me, so I do not know which camp I want to belong to. I would love to hear from the "investors in setups before plants" group in addition to Doug - what do you do and how do you grow? And how do you think about that choice? (perhaps another thread? - it's too interesting and important to be buried here.) I have known for months that there is a list of plants I want to completely get rid of, so I guess I am at that fork in the road. None of these plants are hoyas - for now - but there is a bunch I feel "meh" about, so that day may come for hoyas as well (probably after they flower, if the flowers do not raise my pulse either).

> Re: Villosa - "Dinosaur-era" is a great description.

These "prehistoric" looking plants are at the absolute TOP of my wish list these days. Caudata, clemensiorum, erythrina, IML 1398 all belong to the group, to my eye. Tough, rough, coarse sandpapery, veins popping, gritty, splotchy, "don't mess with me", "East Village, NYC, circa 1976" kinds of leaves. (another idea for a new thread.)

> Re: Databases

> Here are the things that I have found useful:
> [...]
> -BRIEF mention of previous names, syns and ID disputes

I log these too, and I also note if a species is very similar to what I grow - and I found both very helpful. When a species name rings a bell, but I am not sure why, one of the first things I do is search the name in my own file - it includes both what I grow (with the synonyms, as you say) and my wish list - and will include what I used to grow, as soon as I start killing or getting rid of species for some reason. That way I can quickly see what the deal is - and a couple of times I realized "I already grow this", or "never mind, it's too similar to what I already grow".

> Here are the things I don't track that I wish I did (and maybe should start) -blooming details (enough to know how old it was when it bloomed and season/frequency/duration/fragrance of blooms)

I find logging this helpful.

With my one plant that flowered repeatedly on multiple peduncles, I went as far as numbering the peduncles. It is definitely one of the things I'll have to stop logging when there are more plants, or when they hopefully flower more often. It looks ugly, but gives me interesting info about:

* how often peduncles reflower,
* if one vine is more floriferous than another,
* if a peduncle or buds blast - if that will seemingly affect what other peduncles do on the same vine.
* if younger peduncles tend to blast buds more often than more mature peduncles etc.

I find all this very interesting/educational, even though it's time-consuming and unsustainable in the long run.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 12:41PM
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GG, I LOVE this thread!!!

Like other members/growers, I can completely relate to your list.

As I have said before, I have lost quite a few plants, not just Hoyas, this past winter due to a lack of underwatering. The mealies are back again, but I gave the affected plants a good spray when I had them outside last week. Even Nikki, my carnosa, had them :(.

Speaking of Nikki, many of you know she is the plant I started my passion for Hoyas with. The first cutting I got that started it all was in May of '08 from my home-ec teacher's plant. It's still thriving, along with the cuttings that were my first trades. Last year or the year before, I had to reroot her as her leaves were yellowing and turning brown for some strange reason. She's doing great now and I miss the plants I have lost.

I thoroughly enjoy trading with you all, although I haven't done so in quite a while. The only trades I have done lately are for flower and herb seeds for outdoors.

I remember how happy I was seeing a plant bloom for the first time after getting it. Even established ones from EA like nummularoides and lacunosa (oh how I miss that fragrance!!!).

My biggest issue is space. I had to accept that when I got into gardening. *sigh* Why is it that all the hobbies I enjoy take up physical space? Lol.

OT: I was happy when I found something I needed for my Halloween costume this year on rollback at Wal-Mart :). I think you all will just LOVE it this year.

Brad AKA Moonwolf

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 1:01PM
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Re: Databases & Applying Research

Well, it's not that I find researching Hoyas worthless (lol) it's that my initial strategies didn't work on two levels:

(1) Organizing Research

When I started out, in my head, I was thinking something along these lines: whenever I find out that a specific species likes to be kept wet or likes high light or doesn't tolerate being moved, I will record this information in my database.

For me, this didn't work out because it's really rare that someone says something like "Plant ____ likes ____" and everyone nods their head in agreement. And when that moment DOES occur, it's really isn't anything I have difficulty remembering without writing it down. It's like your brain's ability to remember detailed information about each plant's needs increases at the same rate as your eyes ability to notice plant signs and behavior, which increases at the same rate as your ability to get everything executed in a timely manner. Writing plant care stuff down just didn't help me, personally.

There are PLENTY of notes that I do keep about plants, but because they refer to more than one species more often than they refer to single species - and because I have multiple exemplars of a number of species, the database just wasn't the right place to take the kinds of notes that I actually use. I mean try imagining keeping notes for a biology class in an Excel spreadsheet. That's what it ended up feeling like to me - an illogical exercise.

But I agree with you that you have to write down everything that interests you in the beginning and then adapt your database to fit who you become over the longterm.

(2) Applying Research

As far as customizing the care of individual Hoyas goes, this discussion reminds me of the theory of "good enough parenting" espoused by psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott. It's all about how parents don't need to be perfectly responsive, just ordinarily devoted, or "good enough" to protect their baby from experiencing extreme discomfort and distress. Now, I am not trying to go too broad and deep with this comparison. I guess what I'm saying is that, while you do need to be attuned to the individual needs of Hoya species, and that may involve dividing them into very rough subgroups like "needs more water" or "needs more light" it's easier to cause problems by getting too complicated, than by providing consistent conditions and forcing some of the outliers to adapt slightly. The more individualized-care scenarios you create for yourself, the worse you become at doing it all correctly. Thus, it might be more effective to set the goal of providing quite high light for most of your shelves versus trying to divide your Hoyas into 'high' and 'more high' groups. Similarly, I've found it more effective to stick religiously to a watering schedule and avoid putting it off too long, than to try and water some plants more frequently.

What I think most people do is they give their Hoyas standard "good enough" care UNTIL they have a problem with the Hoya (failure to thrive, failure to bloom, etc.) Then they try to make adjustments for that individual. Like the way most are cogs in the educational system, but some outliers need special tutoring, advanced classes, etc. Yeah, it might seem like you should be able to do enough research to anticipate which plants are the outliers, but it's harder than it seems. Sometimes you read all about the habitat of a plant, try to implement effective changes, and it just acts the same as before. Or you're just not good at mimicing its native environment because you're trying to do too much at once. Or you get advice from someone in Florida and eventually determine that Florida is the upside-down/inside-out counterpart of a indoor-growing northern climate person's conditions. I'm not trying to be fatalistic - experience has just taught me what ambitions are unrealistic for me.

Re: "Growing Intensively"

Here is one thread I was thinking of.
And another one is found here.

Obviously there are a lot of people on here who have amazing results - but these two do a nice job of providing threads that show their setups and progression timelines. Those aren't the only threads they've contributed like that.

Re: Fork-in-the-road

Yeah, when I got serious about Hoyas, most of my other plants got the boot. Some I gave away and others just perished because I wasn't able to juggle plants with very different needs from Hoyas.

Re: prehistoric plants

Yeah, whichever group of Hoyas I'm thinking about at the moment is my favorite, but this group is a little more favorite than others. ;) It helps that they are so low maintenance, too.

@ Brad

I don't think you'll ever lose Nikki. She knows you love her.

All my hobbies take up too much space. D: I go over to my sister's place and am just astonished by closets that just have coats in them. Imagine that! A closet just for guests to hang their coats! My guests have to throw them over a chair because 50 board games, 5 bags of perlite, and 200 plastic saucers would fall down on them if they opened my hall closet.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 2:27PM
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> What I think most people do is they give their Hoyas standard "good enough" care UNTIL they have a problem with the Hoya (failure to thrive, failure to bloom, etc.)

Come to think of it, as I am reading what you wrote, GG, I an having hard time recalling when the last time was when I actually looked into those growing notes. I have done that, for sure - but I think that happens when a problem manifests itself - just like you are saying.

> Yeah, it might seem like you should be able to do enough research to anticipate which plants are the outliers, but it's harder than it seems.

I noticed that too! And along slightly different lines, whenever somebody says X is an "easy" or "difficult" to grow hoya (or plant in general), I've learned not to trust that, or at least not to take that for granted or to be intimidated, because what's easy for one person may not at all be easy for another, and in other growing conditions.

> Re: "Growing Intensively"
> Here is one thread I was thinking of.
> And another one is found here.

Wow, nice. I've seen one of those, but not the other, and it was interesting to read both.

This post was edited by greentoe357 on Wed, May 28, 14 at 15:08

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 12:29AM
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By, the way, on the topic of how best to organize plants - I just recalled how Joni was talking in her blog that when they were unloading the hoya truck when moving, it took longer because she insisted on arranging hoyas on the benches alphabetically. So, there you have it - not by temp preferences or watering needs or height or anything else - by name alphabetically. :-)

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 12:15PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

For me, logging & databasing were pointless exercises. As a former professional legal word processor, the last thing I wanted to do is muck around w/ computer files (after typing complex legal docs for 8-12 hr. shifts) on my downtime when I'm wanting to garden. These became projects unto themselves & felt like stressful things I needed to keep up w/; not my idea of relaxing.

I did keep a RIP list for a while, but no more.

I keep relevant info. on my plant tags, white tags in pencil (doesn't smudge or wipe off). Botanical name, source, date I planted or potted up, maybe first flowing& date of change of mix. If treated for insects (Marathon, last applied a few yrs ago), I stick a post-it note w/ date & dosage on the pot.

Our friend Norma (of the Sans Forum & of Crassula expertise) made a GREAT suggestion. Make TWO plant tags, bury one in bottom of pot. When one repots or pots up, there's the remaining tag. Wish I'd started that habit yrs.a go.

I was here from the very beginning of this Forum (for anyone else the same, remember Lesli/GA, who I believe started this Forum). I don't think I saw any mention of IML #s for at least 10 yrs.

I think they really only matter (to me) for purchasing &/or collecting purposes, or maybe distinguishing btwn several varieties of the same thing (like Denise & I w/ our varied Kerris & her several Australises).

I dated a fellow plantsman for a while, met some of his friends, saw how others collect & label in other parts of America. Gotta say, keeping it simpler works for me. Then again, when dating the plantsman, there was a time I was up to abt 180 plants in my studio apmt (large but still), so simplicity became utmost. I probably cut back to maybe 60 plants or so guessing 80 max, (including small ones too) .

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 1:04PM
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lol Yeah I was amused by that when I visited her. It never occurred to me to organize them that way. Idk if she still does it this way, but in Florida she'd have the mother plants in the center of the table, alphabetically ordered, and then their baby plants radiating outward towards the edge of the table, like the rays of a sun. It was all very sensible and clever.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 1:05PM
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Now that she does not sell rooted plants anymore, I am guessing all of her plants are "mother plants" (with some backups, perhaps) and the organization must be more straight-forward. But I chuckled at her alphabetical organization. For active vendors like her, I see how that is very important.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 9:09AM
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I would say the biggest mistake I ever made with these plants is,

Assuming all like growing them all under the same conditions..

I lost many in the same room that most most others thrived..
It seems that the thinner leaf ones I had could not handle the ccol temps I keep my root at verses the much thicker leaf ones such as..
For instance, I lost almost every Lacunso Hoya this past winter because of cool growing conditions.

I should of kept them growing in much warmer temps..


    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 2:59PM
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Getting too many too soon. Also, getting the Hoyas people were talking about on the forum and decided that some I didn't like at all.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 11:20AM
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