Good luck Fillmore! Attempting a mini durian plantation

Fillmore wrote to me some time ago asking if I could send him some durian seeds for his garden. It took a while due to my own dry spell of good durians. Either the seeds had been frozen before (and therefore no longer reliable), or they just didn’t look like good seeds to grow (see this previous post if you need to know what this means).

Anyway on a recent trip back to durian motherland, I managed nothing short of a heist to bring this back for personal enjoyment. It was only one box but soooo delightful. It was a Mao Shan Wang (Musang king), which had large and little seeds. I selected six of the largest, packaged them and sent them off to Fillmore in the Philippines by registered parcel post.

The durians. MSW's from Malaysia.

The durians. MSW’s from Malaysia.

Here’s what Fillmore had to say…..

Hi Stinky Spikes!. . . . I am so happy to let you know that just received yesterday afternoon September 9, 2014 all six (6) durian seeds you sent me via Hong Kong. At that time i just recovered from a fever and colds, but upon seeing the durian seeds, the fever just disappeared. I now planted it in some pots filled with top soil to grow. Are those seeds of the precious Musang King variety? Again, a million thanks to you for those seeds, I will pray that you will always have good health and more blessings to come. Again, thank you.

He got them on the day of the mid Autumn festival, how auspicious! I hope that you’ll invite me for fruit if they grow into trees 🙂

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Durian Seeds for Brett

Ok, I finally summoned up the bravado to put up this post. Brett had asked me to send him some seeds and I did. I took the liberty of ascertaining if they were good to grow by cleaning them and placing them in water to see if they would yield viable sprouts, which you can see that they did from the photo below. I put them in a neat little tupperware, packed it with wet cotton wool and sealed it twice over with cling film. Put in a nice packaged envelope and sent them by the express mail to him in California.

Sadly, Brett tells me that the seeds did arrive, but were completely destroyed in the shipping process. I wonder if it was intentional by Mr. Postman who maybe didn’t want any durians crossing the border. Brett wrote that he ended up eating them so as not to waste them, but they had arrived in splinters and were of no use to him.

Anyway, I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed, but I guess the only way to know is to try again. Brett, you can see the seeds in their original state before they left me and I had written this brief post but hadn’t posted it yet and was hoping in some part that you might have a little plant to show me.

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Dear Brett,

These wonderful highland D24 durian seeds are in the post to you and if all is well, you should be receiving them in another day or two. I hope that they survive the journey and have a new and happy home with you in America.

Durian seeds for Brett

2 Durian Saplings are Thriving in Bristol

Durian Sapling in Bristol

3 year old Durian Sapling in a Bristol Flat

Thank you Chris for sending us a photo of your durian sapling (btw, definition: sapling = young tree) which is absolutely beautiful.

Notice that its grown very tall (would you say 1 ft a year Chris?) and the leaves are very well formed and lush green.

A note from Chris on his Stinky Spike:

“This Durian sapling is about 3 years old. I planted the seeds from a fruit I bought in China Town, London. Because I am in the UK and winters here are cold, I germinated the seeds on a heated pad, like the ones they use for reptiles and amphibians. I now keep the growing tree near a radiator (which other plants seem to hate because it dries them out!), but I water it often with luke warm water from the kettle. I also planted it in ericaeous compost (I think normal potting compost is too rich for durian plants). All in all, it seems to tolerate my drafty flat in Bristol much better than expected!”

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Chris, I have a few questions for you (hope you don’t mind!):

1. Did you start off growing this tree in the same pot as you have now or did you transplant it from a smaller pot?

2. I notice that the leaf tips turn brown, mine does too, any idea why? (is it natural?)

3. When your plant grew, did it lose any of its initial leaves along the way?

4. Did your plant grow from the base and is there a rough-ish texture along the initial stem?

5. Why is there a mirror beside the pot? Is this to reflect more light onto the leaves?

6. How long do you intend to keep it in your flat before you think it needs to be planted outdoors?

7. Do you intend to attempt at making a durian bonsai?

8. Do you love Durian fruit?

I am really looking forward to seeing Chris’s photos on his Durian Sapling’s sibling, which he donated to the botanic gardens of Bristol. Apparently, it is thriving in a heated greenhouse and is in better shape!

It would be pretty amazing if suddenly Bristol could become a European durian hub. But its going to be tough to beat the variety we have here in Malaysia 🙂

No more Tauwa for SW

SS No. 1 Brown Tips

SS No. 1 Brown Tips

Oh dear, Oh dear. There I was telling you how healthy SS No. 1 is and how well its doing. SS No. 1 has still got many challenging stages to get through to survive. It all started with my observation of the tips of the leaves turning brown, an indication to me that something was going wrong with this little plant. First it was one leaf, then in a span of a few days, I noticed that several leaves started having their tips turn brown too. Concern turned into alarm as I realised that I might have either a spreading infection in this plant or that something was killing it. Turning to my book “What’s wrong with my plant” for advice, I read that in many plants, leaves turning brown gradually but not due to bugs consuming it or sun burn is an indication that there is a remote problem, usually the roots.

Oh no! The roots! How would I be able to tell if it is a root infection or perhaps my own folly of over-watering? I spent a dreamless Saturday night mulling over my possible actions and its consequences. On Sunday morning, I had made my decision and broke the news to SW.

“You’re going to have to help me today,” I said ” the little Tauwa durian plant looks rather ill and we have to dig it up and check its roots.” Before SW could protest, I added ” Go look at it, it really doesn’t look well and I’m not sure what’s wrong”. With that, SW went to have a look at the little durian plant and indeed solemnly agreed that perhaps it wasn’t looking its best. What shall we do about it, he asked.

SS. No. 1 in Troubled Waters

“Hmm, perhaps we could attempt a change of soil environment, I suspect that something’s up with the soil, maybe fungal or bugs or perhaps it is just too wet and the soil isn’t able to drain because of the fancy pot we put it in…”

Well we shook the soil off and attempted a round in water but I think you can tell that it’s going to be a futile rescue. Well SS No. 1 has already had its first near death experience an this is the second so let’ see how it goes.

Stinky Spike Family Update

I would like to introduce you to the Stinky Spikes Family. In photos!

Stinky Durian Plant

Stinky Spikes No. 2

Stinky Spikes Durian Plantlet No. 3

Stinky Spikes No. 3

Stinky Durian Plant No. 4

Stinky Spikes No. 4

Durian Plant no. 5

Stinky Spikes No. 5

Stinky Durian Plantlet No. 6

Stinky Spikes No. 6

Stinky Spikes Durian Plant No. 7

Stinky Spikes No. 7

I have to tell you, these D24 seeds really germinated well. The size of the seed was a direct correlation to the size of the initial stem and plant, so do pick the largest seeds for the best chance of strong early growth.

Stinky Spikes Durian Family

Stinky Spikes Durian Family

All the D24s are beating the Tauwa now. But I suspect a greater system problem there… will share the investigations with you soon.

These D24s doubled the height in half the time.

Updates on Baby Durian Plant Stinky Spikes No. 1

Stinky Spikes Durian Plant No. 1

Stinky Spikes Durian Plant No. 1 (SS No.1)

It’s been a while since I updated you on the progress of the durian plant named Stinky Spikes No. 1 (or SS No. 1 for short).

SS N0. 1 has grown somewhat but not quite at the rate which I would think befitting for a tree. Then again, it might just the the species of our little plant, it is a rare Tauwa, otherwise known as a “old tree” in local speak, ot a tree which has been cloned and hybridized by farmers for optimal growth and fruiting. This little durian plant is sure taking its time. To be fair, it has grown somewhat, the crown of it has exceeded the height of its pot, but it still looks quite fragile and tentative to me. Not sure if I ought to be doing anything else right to make it speed up.

This little plant already gets a fair amount of water, you can see that the soil is rather wet and soggy. At first I was concerned that perhaps the roots didn’t like a too wet environment. These rainforest plants do need well drained soils, but then again, SW rationalized with me that the forest floor is shaded and does get heavy monsoon showers which makes it soggy and often waterlogged. Don’t durian plants survive there too? Yes, I suppose they do. So, my watering hasn’t stopped, and SS No. 1 gets watered just like all the others.

You can see that it’s leaves are nice and green, and there are some new fresh leaves that are about to open up at the top. I have it on the balcony but not directly exposed to the sun, it is still somewhat shaded although I’ve been thinking about whether it ought to get at least a few hours of blazing light a day just to dry up the surface of the soil.

The reason why I haven’t been putting it out in the sun, if you recall, is because the last time I did that, I accidentally fried the baby leaves, which turned a complete brown and died. The dried up dead leaves are still present (although you can’t see them in this phot0) on the inside, which serves as a reminder to me that you can’t expose anything that young to too much of anything or it’s going to get killed before you know it.

One of the problems I’ve been having is with the little black flies which look like gnats. They’ve taken up residence in the soil and flit around the plant in the daytime, night time I think they reside in the loose soil. I’m not sure how to get rid of them, I’ve been trying to kill them (manually) and also attempting to scare them away by using citronella, none of which have been successful. Am now thinking of new ideas to get rid of them, including the use of fire (candles, not anything larger) and see if the flies may also be attracted to water (death by drowning). I apologize to any of the buddhists reading this site, but I would like to keep the plants bug free and in as much of a controlled environment as possible.