Archive for March, 2010

Blooms aplenty in the greenhouse this week. The Phal. tetraspis has never had this many blossoms at once. It’s one of the species from which, even after the blooms drop, I’ll not cut off the inflorescences because they will provide more blooms next time.

Early spring always brings a  burst in flower production — it’s also a time that brings a burst in ant production.

Last weekend (March 20-21), I attended an orchid conference in Omaha. Just before I left on the trip, I quickly hosed down the greenhouse plants, hoping that foregoing my “examine each plant once a week” policy wouldn’t have any dire consequences.

Well, it did.

This weekend when I picked up my Laelia anceps’ pot , I discovered a large colony of ants and  a small mountain of their white eggs. In moments, the entire bench was swarming with ants — as was my arm that held the pot.

I spent the next 45 minutes dumping out the Laelia’s potting mix, cleaning the plant (its pseudobulbs and its roots),  and spraying the bench (and neighboring benches and pots) with my 409 insecticide mix. [See November 18, 2009 post: “Tips – Fighting the Vermin.”]

It’s possible that an ant colony could have formed in just a week. Two weeks of neglect, however, provided ample time for the problem to become a greenhouse owner’s nightmare.

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One of the great advantages of attending orchid conferences is learning new and promising growing techniques from experts like Chuck Hanson of Ecuagenera. He raises his Gongora plants in 3/8 inch pumice stone. Among other things, his technique insures that the media is appropriate to the species’ need for a dry season. 

Hanson keeps his Gongora plants dry during the winter and starts watering (lightly) in March,  increasing the amount as the spring/summer progresses.  

I don’t know if this method would work with other members of the Stanhopea subtribe, but it might be worth experimenting. I’ll start by repotting my Gongora tricolor, which is presently languishing in a sphagnum moss and bark mix.

Right now I raise my Cycnoches in aquarium gravel, but think that I’ll switch a couple of them over to the pumice. The gravel has worked fine so far but maybe the pumice could achieve even better results. There’s always something new to learn and try!

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Blc. (Fair Catherine – Love Sound) var. ‘Hakucho’

Two new blooms: Blc. (Fair Catherine – Love Sound) var. ‘Hakucho’ and Phal. bastianii [see Photo page]

A few years ago I attended the Southwest Regional Orchid Growers Association Meeting and Show. William Rogerson, one of the speakers, gave an outstanding presentation on Cattleyas.

 A key element of his talk was repotting. Only repot when new roots (an inch or so long), Rogerson said, are beginning to grow. To anticipate the timing of root growth, you’ll need to know if your plant has a pattern of “Roots-Before-Bloom” or “Roots-After-Bloom.” For the former, you’ll repot as new growths emerge, and for the latter, you’ll repot immediately after blooming. Water thoroughly before repotting for two reasons: roots cling to pots and new roots don’t regenerate from pseudobulbs whose roots are damaged.

 Knowing the parental species of your hybrid Catt can help you learn about its root pattern. Rogerson offered a helpful list of favorite species and their patterns:

1. Roots-After-Bloom-bifoliates: schilleriana (very sensitive to repotting); aclandiae, leopoldii and velutina.

2. Roots-Before-Bloom-bifoliates: Amethystoglossa, aurantianca, and skinneri

3. Roots-Before-Bloom-unifoliates: percivaliana, quadricolor, trianaei and schroderae

4. Roots-After-Bloom-unifoliates: leuddemanniana, warscewiczii, dowiana and aurea

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