Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

Slime mold (Fuligo septica)




Slime mold

Slime mold

Yellow plasmodium, more commonly known as dog vomit slime mold is actually a fungus.

Grows on decaying wood and leaves, in the shade. Most of its life is spent as a single cell. When warm and humid the cells creep together to form a single unit. The cells lock into each other like keys in a lock. The unit then follows light sources and moves in search of bacteria, yeasts and other fungi to eat. By pulsing it can send the food throughout itself.

Slime molds leave a trail of slime behind which acts as memory. When they find the slime they move to explore a new area rather than re-search an area they’ve cleaned.

Reproduces by breaking back apart into multiple cells that are moved by the wind to begin new units when the weather conditions are right.

Slime molds have been placed in mazes with various food sources, they connect together and hunt out the food which is then fed to the entire unit through the tube network it creates in itself. If the food is placed on a map in large cities a highway system develops to transport the food that looks spooky similar to our own highways. Slime molds can find the most efficient routes through a maze.

Slime molds have been with us about 600 million years and were the inspiration for the movie ‘The Blob’.


Dodder vine (Cuscuta pentagona)




Dodder vine is an amazing plant, it is orange rather than green due to its lack of chlorophyl, it can’t make its own food.

Instead the dodder vine hatches in the spring from a seed and very slowly moves in a circle searching the air for beta-myrcene a volatile chemical emitted into the air by tomatoes and other plants. When it picks up the scent of beta-myrcene it grows in the direction of the odor until it finds the plant emitting it.

Once it reaches the plant it tightly winds itself around the plant, sinking roots into the host plant. The roots then suck up the juices in the host plant to feed itself. The host plant will then wilt and die.

Dodder vine also appears to exchange RNA with the host plant. Whether this is a way of exchanging information with the host plant or a way to reprogram it, much the way viruses reprogram our DNA is unknown.

Dodder is a member of the Morning Glory family.

It has very tiny leaves that are more like scales than leaves and tiny white flowers.

It is considered an invasive plant and a threat to the local ecology in Texas.

A new method of plant communication?
Genomic-scale exchange of mRNA between a parasitic plant and its host
YouTube video of dodder vine locating and reaching for a tomato plant
Cuscuta spp
Dodder management guide lines


Giant Crinum Lily ( Crinum asiaticum )




What the crinium looks like when not in bloom 9/17/07

What the crinium looks like when not in bloom 9/17/07

Crinium in bloom 7/16/14

Crinium in bloom 7/16/14

Criniums blooming at Mercer summer 2007

I first heard about these plants at a talk I attended on ‘Recommended Tropical Plants for Houston’. I knew I had to have some even before I laid eyes on them. At the Mercer March Mart I was able to score two of them. Despite a bit of deer damage they are settling in very well and I fully expect blooms next May.

The Crinum lilies are part of the amaryllis family. The leaves reach 3′-4′ in length. The plant will have a 5′ spread after it has had some time to grow. ( I did read a report online of one reaching 8′ across ) Blooms are impressive. You should have several blooms per plant. If in an unprotected location they may need staking but in full sun in a sheltered location they do just fine on their own.

Crinum lilies prefer sun, but will grow happily in dappled shade. Watering needs are average to above average but they are drought tolerant once established. Fertilize regularly to encourage more blooms. Once established you may get as many as 7 bloom cycles a year.

Foliage may brown a bit in the winter here depending on how cold winter is, but they should stay green and leafed out year round. If they lose leaves in the winter they will bounce back come the warm weather.

Divide the bulbs as needed. Plant is poisonous ( what isn’t down here? ).

One of the two crinums I planted grew huge and is thriving but hasn’t yet flowered. The other didn’t put forth a single leaf, but gave me some short lived blooms. Go figure. The deer do not seem to like this plant.

12/13 I saw a beautiful collection of these blooming away down in Galveston last week. There was a row of several of the plants alongside a drainage gully. All were white and all had a half dozen to a dozen flowers in bloom.

I have two of these 6′ apart, one is thriving, the other meh.

These died back during some hard frosts. Much of the plant turned to mush. I cut off the mushy parts and once the weather warmed it started putting out new leaves so it looks to be fine.

Survived and bloomed during the extreme heat and drought of summer 2011

More information:
Crinum asiaticum
Crinum.org


Nature’s Way Resources




Nature's Way Resources
I’ve heard John talk about soil, everything you ever wanted to know about soil he knows and if you get a chance to hear one of his talks don’t miss it.

Nature’s Way sells composts, soils, and every thing you could want for your garden and as of this season plants.

Today is the first chance I had to wander up and check out his nursery. It’s at 1488 and 45, on the east side of 45. 1488 is much easier than 45 if you’re coming from The Woodlands.

If you are looking for shrubs or roses it’s the best and largest collection I’ve seen in any of the local nurseries. While they also have a selection of perennials and annuals, it’s the shrubs and roses that make it worth the trip.

I’ve not run across a better source of information on soil and organic plant growing than the company website.