Archive for April, 2010

A great little species bloomed last week: Bulbophyllum frostii. (See the three blooms on the Photo page.) Blossoms look like tiny elves’ slippers. The only downside is that, like many bulbophyllum, frostii’s blooms are a little stinky – not bad, though, because the flowers are so small. In fact, to get even a slight whiff of the carrion odor, you have to put your nose almost in the shoe.

The photo at the left shows my greenhouse pump spray bottles. They each have a specific use – watering, fertilizing, bug spraying, etc. Sometimes the pumps on these bottles get clogged, especially the one that holds the neem oil solution I use for combatting scale. [See November 18, 2009 post for the ingredients in this effective insecticide solution.]

For a long time, I’ve tried unsuccessfully to unclog the pumps using various techniques like running hot water over the pump and/or inserting needles into the spray hole. Rarely did I have success. Last weekend, I found the solution. Most people have already figured this out, but for those few who haven’t…pump very warm tap water through the bottle. Clears the clog in seconds!

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Maxillaria tenufolia

Not as many bloomers in the greenhouse this week as in previous weeks. But the ones that are showing their colors are quite lovely…and one has a famous and fabulous scent: Maxillaria tenuifolia. The red flowers on this orchid, with its grass-thin leaves, make the greenhouse smell like a cocktail lounge serving only piña coladas. The sweet coconut scent is very tropical.

Three years ago during winter, I set the plant too close to the furnace and burned half the leaves on one side. It had taken me years to raise such a large plant and for the first time I had more than 30 buds ready to open. The intense heat also destroyed those 30 potential blooms. The maxillaria spent the next two years recovering. It’s still not up to its former glory, but this spring produced about half a dozen flowers.

The second photo from this week is Phalaenopsis lueddemanniana. (See photo page. Note the difference between it and the Phal. bastianii from March 19.) Phal.  lueddemanniana is another plant that has been a long time in producing its first blossom. The plant grows in a mesh pouch filled with loose sphagnum moss — its third home. For years it languished, first in a plastic pot and then on a cork mount. The aerated, always moist pouch seems to work.

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Hats off to the folks who skillfully create and display bouquets of cut orchids. It’s not an easy skill to learn. This weekend, I made each of the women in my family an orchid corsage. While the project was fun, the results were mediocre. [The photo on the left shows one of the four corsages, this one using Rth. Hsinying Catherine.]

Pleurothallis tribuloides

The photo on the right is my blooming Pleur. tribuloides. A few years ago, this orchid was displayed in a local orchid society’s exhibit. I heard one of the exhibit’s visitors point to the plant and comment to a friend, “Why would anyone want to raise an orchid with such insignificant blooms?”

I’ve thought about that remark many times. I’m not sure that I have an answer. Certainly, orchids with big blossoms (I’ve referred to them in earlier posts as In-Your-Face giants) are hugely satisfying to raise.

The little ones are another matter. I’ve held a magnifying glass up to a tiny orchid and have seen a bloom with all the parts of a giant catt, only in miniature. Could be that’s the answer… these are blooms you have to go looking for. These are the ones that are easily overlooked.  And maybe that’s why, in their own way, they’re so satisfying, too.

Bulbophyllum echinolabium (inforescense)

Almost five years ago, I bought a Bulb. echinolabium seedling. This spring, for the first time, I spotted an inflorescence on the plant. I don’t usually take photos of bloomless inflorescence…but I’m making an exception here. [See February 6 post.] Talk about satisfying!

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