dweller by the river

sojourner of earth attempting to understand the journey home

Tag: T. streptophylla

T. streptophylla

This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been procrastinating, I don’t know why! It can’t be due to reluctance to feature this species, because T. streptophylla is way up there on my list of all-time favourite tillandsias.

There are three of these sweet little plants in my collection, picked up at different times. They seem to exhibit slight differences in appearance, probably due to slightly different genes as well as initial growing conditions – I’m currently aware of two main types of T. streptophylla, the ones from Guatemala and the ones from Mexico. I haven’t paid enough attention to which type is from where. It doesn’t matter to me, you see. I just love the look that T. streptophylla has, no matter which variety or gene pool a particular plant came from.

After all, what’s got me intrigued by this species is the smooth roundness of its pseudobulb base and its long, wide, gracefully curling leaves. So beautiful. Just so beautiful. Their genes also tend to be strong in hybrids, which makes T. streptophylla crosses very popular. I certainly love them (and have several)!

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Another Round…

…of battling with spider mites (it looks something like this). And once again, it’s the oft-beleaguered T. bulbosa and T. streptophylla (yes, that original piece from FEF that went through a miraculous revival).

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Above: T. bulbosa (with 3 pups) and T. streptophylla, when healthy and bug-free.

For a few minutes, while I was filling yet another tub with soap solution (not breaking out the poison yet because the infestation isn’t that horrible), I considered letting myself get angry and depressed about the situation. Why is it that time and again, it’s the plants that hold the most sentimental value for me that get affected by pests? Why is it that it’s the little ones that always get attacked? Why is it that the plants that have fought for recovery from the brink are brought down again and again, requiring repeat after repeat of the same old nursed-back-to-health story? Why is it that I generally give all my plants the same amount of care (I water them every one to two days, and look them over at least once every four to five days), and some are perfectly happy with that while others seem to scream for attention every now and then even though nobody is being neglected, damn it?

Then I realised a few things. And figured that there really isn’t any point in getting upset. Just deal with it and move on. God is (once again) using Creation to deliver warnings and lessons pertaining to the spiritual realm.

Bugs are opportunistic. It’s their nature. They’re predators, in a way, and just as big cats on the savannah watch for the youngest and weakest animals in a gazelle or zebra herd and demons prowl around looking for handholds on unsuspecting Christian psyches, them bugs are going to be on the lookout for the smallest and weakest plants in any garden or collection. Plants that are small (more surface area to volume) or have survived previous attacks are easier pickings than big, untouched specimens. The recent weather isn’t helping, because it’s searingly hot most of the time and too-dry plants attract spider mites. I just need to step up the watering schedule and stop worrying about whether there will or will not be rain, because the intense heat is clearly posing a bigger problem than the possibility of overwatering, right now.

The Enemy attacks the young and the weak of the Kingdom, too. And those of us who have struggled with certain strongholds and personal issues know all too well how these hot buttons can be targeted again and again and again, even though we’ve picked ourselves up and gotten patched up and soldiered on countless times. It’s never-ending; we’ll have respite when we’re dead or Raptured.

And about the non-neglect that still causes (or leads to) health problems? Some plants, coming from different climes and with different constitutions (xeric VS mesic, etc.), need different levels of care, just as some people are a little more fragile and need a little more care than others. It’s an important point to keep in mind, when you have children or mentees or members of a ministry group under your care.

Prophetic Bug-Busting

So tonight I was staring at the plants as usual, and I invited E to come over and take a look, also as usual, and he suddenly said, “Hey, is that FEF strep doing OK?”

E never asks specific questions about particular plants. Well, once in a while he does if I’ve been talking about one quite a bit, but it’s not normal. And this particular plant is special to us:

strep progression

I checked, holding our brave little survivor of a T. streptophylla up in the deepening dark, silhouetted against the orange glow of a streetlamp… and saw webs.

We immediately did a full round of inspections, and as it turns out, two other plants (T. seleriana and T. xerographica x exserta) had tiny black bugs running around on them, which is minor compared to the white bug-infested webbing on the T. streptophylla. No other plant seemed to have a problem.

The way I see it, E’s long-unused prophetic gift is reawakening. He’s already seen some signs of that at work, and now it’s creeping back into the home. I’m so happy!

Not so happy about the bugs or the major stink caused by the bug poison (I broke out the poison this time because I’m so done with chilli padi), but I’m glad the problem was caught before it got too bad. I guess it’s an ongoing fight when you’re dealing with living things, and an environment that you can’t fully control.

Pests will take every possible opportunity to eat your plants, no matter what you do to prevent it. And my growing area is probably as sterile as it gets – they’re dangling on wire coils outside my window, freely swinging in every touch of breeze. Their only neighbours are one another, the nearest plant life are the HDB estate ti plants and grass one floor below on ground level. I doubt that bugs can easily jump from the “wild” plants to my domesticated ones but it’s not impossible – wind and birds are a factor, as are larger insects like moths, beetles, butterflies, cockroaches (ugh)…

I’m not the best gardener. But I do spend time carefully looking after my plants and doing my best to protect and rescue them from bugs. I wonder how much more our heavenly Gardener scrutinises our lives. It makes me feel kinda warm and fuzzy inside to think about it.

Plant Sitting

A couple of close friends are heading overseas for about two weeks, and their small collection of tillandsias is now with me for safekeeping until they are home from their trip.

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I’m confident that most of them will be fine, in fact might even flourish better, except for the two that are of species I’ve killed before: T. andreana and T. fuchsii var. gracilis.

Lord, help me keep them all healthy!

Am also set to thinking about the human tendency to take care of our own things more carefully than others’. Some of us (a minority) do the opposite and care for others’ property much better than our own. Wonder what makes us do that? Really, especially when it comes to things that God made and not man-made, we should stop thinking of them as “ours” or “theirs” but as God’s. And realise that we ought to do the best we can all the time because we’re just stewarding them for Him.