Archive for July, 2010

More than 15 years ago, I bought a little time-saving device for fertilizing my flower and water garden. At some point, I stopped using it. I don’t know why. Probably laziness.

At any rate, last winter I noticed that, as the number of orchids in my collection grew, the time I spent trying to feed, clothe and discipline them was also growing – and growing and growing. Most weekends, I would spend an entire day toiling over each plant – fertilizing, watering, examining, staking, repotting (occasionally), pruning and repositioning for optimal light/temp/moisture/breeze conditions.

Hard to have a life when 50% — or more — of your time off is spent as a slave to orchids.

Now don’t get me wrong. I adore futzing with my orchids. But I also adore doing other things – or I might, if I had time.

What I needed was some serious time management assessment…And then I remembered that little siphon. (more…)


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Epi. parkinsonianum

Epi. parkinsonianum — aka Epi. Once-in-a-Blue-Moon — has condescended to bloom again. The last time it sent out its creamy and white blossom, with a texture almost as dense as a hoya flower, was a little more than two years ago.

Not sure what the trick is. Last winter was relentlessly cold. Although the Escabe furnace fought the brave fight keeping the greenhouse’s temperature up, the thermostat sometimes dipped down into the upper 40s at night. Was that the trick? I always position the long, thick-leafed Epi. up high for maximum exposure to light, and I mist it every morning, as I do all the mounted plants. Was that the trick?

Who knows.

Since early May the plant has lived outside in the summer house, again hanging high up for optimum brightness. This year, summer heat came early to our midwest strip of Zone 5. Even back in late June, the temperatures sometimes remained in the 90s for several days. By July, the 90s became common — occasionally hitting 100. Lately, the heat index often goes above 100.

Was that the trick?

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 This summer, we’ve been renovating the greenhouse.

  • Extra shelving was added in early June.
  • Last winter the large, framed hardware cloth used to hang many of the mounted orchids had partly broken loose from the wall. We reattached it.
  • The legs on one of the benches had begun to sag. They were rebuilt and reinforced.

Moldy old walls

And then we tackled the walls…


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Stanhopea florida bloom close up

Newly bloomed Stanhopea florida

Some folks tell me that a Stanhopea bud pops like a little firecracker on the Fourth of July when it opens. I missed the pop, but on Friday morning I discovered that my long awaited Stanhopea florida had at last opened! 

It’s two blooms were a creamy, pale yellow accented with white and red spots. The larger flower was 5 1/2 inches across; the second was a 1/4 inch smaller. The blooms lasted three and a half days.

While its longevity is brief, the fact that it bloomed at all has renewed my hope and confidence that I might be able to encourage blooms from other plants in my collection in that wonderful, pendulous genus.

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