Raising a Bat Flower

Black Friday: Welcome Home

For a start I have placed it next to the fern and given it a good soaking, choosing to stare awkwardly at it like the new plant parent that I am and mostly ignore the fact that big decisions still need to be made.

The batflower grows naturally in tropical regions and in a steamy greenhouse at the botanical garden. Is the batflower going to be the plant that finally gets me to build that greenhouse I’ve always wanted to build? Is there going to be tech involved for said greenhouse now that I’m 3/4 of the way through engineering? Is the flower going to live? We shall soon see.

Oscar Weekend: We have a name

I firmly believe all plants of considerable interest should have names, and after much deliberation I think I have finally arrived at one for the Tacca. As previously mentioned, the plant reminds me of old Hollywood; after considering a bunch of classic films and a long list of famous actors and actresses, I have decided to name the plant Yzma Olivia, after Yzma from The Emperor’s New Groove and Olivia de Havilland. The flower’s shape resembles Yzma’s throne room outfit (she’s also my favorite film character), so Yzma was an obvious choice. Olivia was chosen because I consider “Olivia de Havilland” one of the coolest names to have ever existed in Hollywood. Also the actress is still living at 103, and longevity is something I’m going for with the batflower.

That being said, Tacca is now named Yzma Olivia. Welcome home, Yo.

Easter Weekend: Covid Lockdown

I’ve spent a lot of quality time with Yzma Olivia given her place in my office. She attended the week-long services with me, during which I used a decent amount of time to look at the mountain of lilies in the back of the church during the live-stream. Given the empty church the lilies were the majority in attendance, which kind of made it feel like the service was for them and I was the lily. Anyway, she enjoyed several hours of Gregorian chant. As plants reactions to music is one of the most common school science projects, I’m going to go out on a limb and say she enjoyed it.

Yzma Olivia’s also been given compost and a dish of water to increase humidity. I played around with circuits in between studying for most of the week, and while I developed a few projects in my head that I’d like to see realized, other things are taking priority at the moment. So a tech-y greenhouse is quite far down the list. Though all the time did make me realize how large the plant has actually become since November, with leaves bigger than my hand now. I’ve decided to start documenting her progress, starting this week as hopefully a lead up to blooming. I followed a botanic garden did that for a corpse flower. The measurements added quite a lot of excitement to the live stream, which I checked frequently. Side note: they also named the flower, and gave it a cute parasol under which to sit (plus the said live stream), so I’m not that crazy.

Mother’s Day: Emergency Social Media Debut

We interrupt my usual Instagram offering to make the point that I am occasionally a really horrible plant mom and am now in need of thoughts and prayers for Yzma Olivia the bat flower. Three weeks ago she was accidentally given saltwater, and after being washed, repotted and thoroughly composted (though the soil is not ideal) she is still struggling, having lost seven leaves since then with no new sign of growth. I am really worried about over or under-reacting to the current situation.

Leaves Worsening

Final Exams Aftermath: Yzma Olivia moves to ICU

So I have built the rough beginnings of a greenhouse, with loose flaps of plastic serving as the walls. The thought is that they might keep the humidity up and the day to night temperature more stable without completely enclosing the plant, much like a shower curtain in a warm bathroom. Louis the parrot donated the frame, which used to be a stand for his climbing branches. Possible plans to tech out the inside are still being considered, though skripsie (the final project for engineering undergrad) currently has priority.

The greenhouse has since been named Florence Nightingale’s Intensive Care Unit for Photosynthetic Eukaryotes. Given the founder of modern nursing has a name that means “blossoming,” it seemed appropriate. The first patient card: Yzma Olivia. Whether the plant is dying or improving is difficult to say.

Women’s Day: Domestic protests erupt over location of ICU

An epic battle rages over the location of Florence Nightengale’s Intensive Care Unit for Photosynthetic Eurkaryotes. Olivia has sprouted the first signs of a recovery leaf and Mr Omar has since evicted her from her window seat in favor of more desk space for my studies. ICU yet to be returned. Unsure if she will survive the move.

Black Friday Again: One Year Later

It’s now a year since I’ve had Yzma Olivia. She’s sporting two big, deep green leaves, and I’ve since read that the browning tips I was seeing earlier may have been the result of low humidity, or the salt poisoning. She has four petri dishes of water in her pot now and seems to be doing well. Also, engineering is complete (Whooh!). I know what would make the perfect graduation flower…