Long time no see, everyone. I’ve been away for a while to focus on my studies, but I’m back with a short update. I’ve recently made some changes to my collection, and those changes aren’t 100% congruent with my approach in the past, so in this post, I’m going to be going through the changes I’ve made and basically backtrack on some of talking points I’ve brought up on this blog in the past.
1. I think variegated monsteras are overpriced and not worth the money
I’ve said in the past that the aesthetic appeal of variegated monsteras isn’t proportionate to the hefty price tag attached to them. For the most part, I still think this is a matter of personal taste and opinion, and I’d be willing to bet that at their current price (here in Australia at least), most people would find them rather overpriced for what is really being offered. That being said, I recently got a juvenile Thai Constellation at an acceptable discounted price which I was happy with, even knowing that the Thai Constellation has a stable mutation causing its variegation (making it possible to eventually mass produce through tissue culture). This actually brings me to my next point: If you want a Thai Constellation and you can’t find it for a good price, just wait until they hit the market after being mass produced through tissue culture. They’re already currently being produced via tissue culture, and I’m not 100% sure about this, but I believe there are companies which probably have them ready to go at this point, and are still holding off on selling them en masse to inflate prices.
2. Peaceful coexistence with fungus gnats
Remember when I idealistically said that I didn’t see the point in killing fungus gnats because they don’t do that much harm to our plants and they’re kind of just nuisances? Well, that holds true for the winter time, since there aren’t as many around. Besides, I decided there was nothing I could really do about them, since everyone with a significant amount of plants has fungus gnats in their homes.
However, because my room is so warm and humid in the spring, the population of fungus gnats just completely ballooned. It was an infestation — I couldn’t go a few seconds without seeing one or more flitting through the air around me. They landed on my laptop screen when I was watching lectures, they’d land on me, flit around me all day and make that irritating buzzing sound as they flew past my ears. It was an absolute nightmare. I ended up enacting fungus gnat genocide using Yates’ Fungus Gnat Barrier. It’s basically like less intimidating diatomaceous earth that you put a layer of on top of soil: it’s just really fine, abrasive pieces of pumice (a kind of rock that is also a fairly standard component of potting soil) so small that fungus gnats can’t burrow through it because it’s basically like coarse sand. That way, they can’t lay eggs in the moist soil below.
After about three weeks of use, I’ve already noticed that there are so much fewer fungus gnats in my room, so I’m well on my way to enacting complete fungus gnat genocide 🙂
On a similar (but irrelevant) note, I’ve now gotten rid of those pesky spider mites. Luckily, I was able to control the outbreak by spotting it early. There are no more on my leaves or stems, and they won’t be making their way out of the soil thanks to the abrasive pumice.
3. I don’t need moisture metres to tell when to water
Thanks to the pumice layer (roughly 2-3cm or 1 inch) thick, it’s been harder to tell when to water just by using my finger to feel the soil. It’s annoying, but I’ve been determining when to water by looking at the leaves of my plants, picking up the pot to feel its weight and looking at the soil at the bottom of the pot through the drainage holes. Luckily, I know my plants well enough to get away with it.
The only concession I’m taking is with my variegated Syngonium. I’ve stuck a little Scindapsus pictus in the pot too, so that it acts as a kind of moisture metre, since its leaves curl whenever the pot gets dry.