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.


Phal. equestris 'Riverbend'

My little Phal. equestris ‘Riverbend’ is blooming. It’s a young plant, just one inflorescence rather than the multi-inflorescences that I’ve seen on older
Riverbends…but oh my, this little orchid is a workhorse . It blooms two or three times a year.  A couple of years ago, I had another equestris, which was pest and disease prone. Not so ‘Riverbend.” This equestris has an iron-tough constitution. If you’re looking for a little Phal and the colors of this one appeal to you, contact Tom Larkin at Whippoorwill Orchids. Tom is the breeder: 9720 Larkin Lane Rogers, Arkansas 72756. Phone: (501) 925-1885. Fax: (501)925-2428.

Stanhopea florida bud gets bigger

This week’s blog posting is delayed while I wait for the final unfurling of the long-awaited Stanhopea florida blossoms. Photo shows progress –excruciatingly slow progress — of its unfurling. [Note ants — those ubiquitous ants!]

I bought Bulbophyllum echinolabium as a small seedling about five years ago after I saw its fabulous bloom on a large plant exhibited by Windy Hills Orchids at a Southwest Regional Orchid Growers Conference in Arkansas. I was lulled into orchid-junky admiration (a familiar affliction among newbies to the hobby) by the flower’s size, coloring and graceful lines – all of which could be appreciated from a distance.

Distance. Now that’s the operative word here. Because at six feet, the Bulb. echinolabium is as deceptively charming as it is hideously repulsive at six inches.

Yesterday, I took the plant out of the greenhouse and set it in the backyard. By the time I returned three minutes later, its pouched lip – a beet-red proboscis that swings in the breeze – was covered in flies. Continue Reading »

I’m trying something different this summer with the seven Vandas in my collection. Rather than hanging them either in the Shade House or on poles outside the greenhouse, I’m putting them together above the garden pond. The photo at the left shows them hanging from a rod stretched between two trees.

In this position, the Seven Vestal Vandas enjoy early morning light and late afternoon light, with intermittent light throughout the day. I may discover that this location isn’t bright enough for light-hungry Vandas, but I’ve tended to overdo sun exposure during the last two years (burning the leaves of two plants) – so it’s Vanda-experiment time!

The big galvanized bucket on the right shows the Vandas floating in water with orchid fertilizer. I know I’m breaking all the rules when it comes to letting the seven sisters share the same food trough, but…well, it’s just plain simpler this way than dipping each Vanda in a freshly prepared bucket of water.

I don’t throw out the water in the bucket. After letting the plants soak for a while, I use the water to fertilize the flower pots in the pond garden and in the front yard.

Several in-spike orchids remain in the greenhouse, delaying their backyard summer vacation in anticipation of impending blooms. Three have now hatched. See the photo page for images.

With 75% of the collection currently outdoors, there’s room to launch a few greenhouse clean-up and renovation projects.

New greenhouse shelving over the sink

My first project was washing down the Lexan panels, which were streaked with algea. With the green coat of algea scrubbed away, more sunlight filters into the greenhouse. So far the 70% shadecloth has only been lowered over the Lexan ceiling. It won’t be long, however, before spring temperatures will reach constant highs, and the dark cloth will need to be rolled down over the freshly washed wall panels.  

My second greenhouse project is the installation of shelving over the sink.

That was my goal last weekend during the orchid sale [See the May 17th post] — to earn enough money to buy do-it-yourself wire shelving at the local hardware store.

But last weekend turned out to be a lucky time — lucky for me and my other orchid-selling friends. Across the street, a neighbor was also participating in the Neighborhood Garage Sale weekend. When my friends and I visited his sale, we noticed that he was selling wire shelving. He had a huge selection, including wall mounts, shelf brackets and various lengths of shelving. Each piece cost 50 cents. It was a bonanza for all the orchid growers!

I was able to purchase everything I needed to complete project #2 for $6!

A big percentage of the rest of our orchid sale dollars also went to good use. At the close of the last day, we headed off to Mezzaluna’s, a neighborhood restaurant, where we ate a delicious dinner and raised a few wine toasts to the fun of raising orchids.


Catt the Garden Girl stands under the cattleyas hanging in the apple tree.

During the last two weeks, the orchids were moved outside – their long-awaited vacation.

The cattleyas were the first to leave. Most of them are now hanging from the apple tree. Several were divided into much smaller plants. (Divisions went to the Orchids and Garden Plants Sale, held May 21 and 22.)

Yesterday I cleaned the orchid shadehouse, an 8 ft x 8ft x 8ft, screened-in box that I built in 2003. It’s the vacation cottage for the slippers, small cattleyas, bulbophylum and misc. (See the photo page for an image of the house.) I built this strange little house as a way to keep the squirrels from digging in the pots and tearing up the plants. The two top panels of the house are detachable. I remove them each fall to protect the framed screens from the thick layers of winter snow. (I learned that lesson the hard way.)

My seven vandaceous plants are hanging from a pine tree over the pond in the big flower garden. This is new. In the past, I’ve had them with the catts in the apple tree. I’m hoping that the new location will increase the humidity and provide enough sunlight for these tropicals.

Not all of the plants are outside. Several catts and two slippers are in spike. I’ll wait until they bloom before turning them out. Plants such as cycnoches, phalaenopsis and pleurothallis will remain within the protection of greenhouse.