Posts Tagged ‘Cattleya’

The orchids, especially the Catts, are budding up and blooming. Since leaving the greenhouse this spring, they’ve shed the doldrums of confinement and become lush and vigorous – well, at least most of them have. Even the ones that aren’t actually in bloom have developed numerous sheaths, harbingers of beauty for the fall and winter.

Several of the current bloomers are pictured on the Photos page:


C. maxima

Cattleya maxima is a particular favorite. I bought it several years ago on the final day of the OSGKC show when the vendors were breaking down their booths. A desiccated, bare-root C. maxima had been tossed in a heap with some other plants by the Ecuagenera salesman. The plant had a withered flower so I was hopeful that, despite my lack of experience with bare-root purchases, this plant was a viable bloomer – which it has been, every year since I bought it. I grow it in a shallow, clay pot with a medium bark, charcoal and inorganic pellets mix

The Catasetum ochraceum is also a reliable and fragrant bloomer. This year it produced a record number (for me) of inflorescences . In addition this is the first year that I’ve had a female flower on this multi-sex plant. (That’s the flower pictured on the Photos page.] (more…)

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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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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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Several nice blooms this week. See the Photos page for Laelia anceps, Slc. Livingston Sunset Fire ‘Flame’, Lc. Gold Digger ‘Orglades’ and  Pleur. platystames.

Lc. Drumbeat has been blooming for about two weeks. The larger of the two plants has seven fully opened blossoms and three more inflorescences swelling in their sheaths. The second pot of Drumbeat, a division of the specimen plant, has five blooms.

That’s the oh-joy-oh-rapture news. The bad news, which isn’t really news at all, but a couple of everlasting aggravations in the form of Epi. Parkinsonianum and Bulb. echinolabium, otherwise known collectively as feed-us-water-us-but-we-will-never-bloom plants. A couple of free-loaders.

I’m not talking unhealthy plants. These are two exquisitely robust orchids, full of strong, pest-free leaves. I bought the Epi. parkinsonianum in 2004 and the Bulb. echinolabium in 2005. The Epidendrum toyed with me in 2007, putting out two lovely blossoms and then lapsing into leaf-creating but bloomless mania.

Phal. leaf with problems

On a more serious note…something is attacking a few of my phals. The photo here of an affected leaf shows the type of damage being done. Anyone know what’s happening?

Closing on some upbeat news…Several weeks ago I mentioned that I’d caught one of the long inflorescences of Pychopsis Mendenhall on a wire in the greenhouse, snapping off the bud head. I decided to leave the truncated inflorescence to see what would happen. This post’s second photo shows the newly sprouting branch, with a second bud head – now that’s an aggravation turned to rapture.

New flower stem for broken Psychosis inflorescence

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Slc. Jewel Box 'Dark Waters'

Slc. Jewel Box ‘Dark Waters’ is blooming this week. Despite its miniature size, the heavy blossoms tend to droop unless secured. One of the best, and least damaging, methods I’ve found to lift blooms and hold up psuedobulbs is Velcro tape, which can be purchased as a thin strip on a role.

 I believe the tape, which is strong and reusable, is mainly used by gardeners to tie up tomato vines, and is sold at most complete gardening centers. Home Depot carries the tape. Images of Slc. Jewel Box, with a close up of the secured blooms and of my roll of Velcro tape, appear on the “Photos” page.

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Winter took its toll last week.

Kansas City’s temperatures hit the single digits, with wind chills in the minus range. Snow fall approached blizzard conditions. When the greenhouse’s night temp dipped to 49 degrees, I opted to turn on the auxiliary heater, a Kenwood Electric Oil Filled Heater, with programmable clock timer and thermostat (Model # TRN0812TK), purchased at Home Depot about two years ago. (As it turns out, the Eskabe might have managed without the extra help. I thought that I’d turned the non-electric furnace to its highest setting (5), but discovered on Friday that the temperature gauge also has a “High” setting.)

Actually, a worse problem is snow drifts and ice around the door. In order to unfreeze the door latch, I thump it with a hammer. (I’ve tried hot water, which only exacerbates the problem in the long run.) Ice and snow also build up along the threshold and have to be chiseled and swept away. Small ice chunks and snow drifts around the door frame consistently prevent the door from closing properly. Consequently, I keep a 1×2 inch board wedged between the ground and the door handle.

These are all problems on the outside, created in large part by the temperature difference between the warm greenhouse and the frigid world of Zone 5. But problems can also occur on the inside: On two wintry occasions, I’ve tried to walk out of the greenhouse, after working in it for several hours, only to discover that the door had re-frozen and sealed me inside.

In one way, the steep dip in night temperatures is an advantage. Some of my orchids thrive in this type of temp differential. Lc Drumbeat ‘Heritage’ HCC/AOS, one of the bloomers from this week (see Photos), has six giant blossoms and more coming on. Howara Lava Burst ‘Puanari’ is also in full bloom.

Even so, I fear that the 40 degree drop may have taken its toll on at least one of my Phalaenopses. Several buds on the little Phal. lobbii have turned yellow.

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Nine new blooms appear on the “Photos” page…eight from the greenhouse and one from a friend, Mark Prout.

The greenhouse Pleurothallis ornata (formerly shiedei) is one of the oldest Pleurothallid Alliance plants still in my collection. Often in spring the plant is covered with the thin-as-hair inflorescences and the tiny, spotted flowers. 

A long branching inflorescence of Phal. stuartiana blooms is shown. These are the first blooms on the young plant.

Paphina Majestic is a workhorse. It has rarely been out of bloom since I bought it about two years ago. Last summer it had as many as eight pendent inflorescences. The trick, I think, is maintaining a moist medium.

My Ludisia discolor sits on a pedestal in the coolest part of the greenhouse — next to the door. In the photo’s background, note the louvered window that is covered on the outside with a sheet of ice. The green towel, seen in the lower left corner of the photo, protects the plant from blasts of frigid air when the door opens.

The Mexipedium xerophyticum oaxaca CBR/AOS bloom is a wonderful, diminutive slipper orchid. In a few months, I’ll repot this plant and will post a video with more information about its culture.

This Cyc. JEM Black Dragon is a troubled plant. Its first inflorescence rotted, and most of its leaves turned yellow and dropped off. I thought the entire plant was a goner. But a few weeks ago, I noticed the nub of another inflorescence. Although the leaf loss subsided, the nub only produced one blossom…shown in the photo.

Catasetum ochraceum is my Star Trek orchid. It’s weird and other-worldly. The thick walls of the cup-shaped blooms never open more than the photo reveals. If you back light the bloom and peer inside the greenish cup, you’ll see a lovely brown and yellow striped interior.

Cattleya Forbador is a reliable bloomer with interesting coloring: yellow petals/sepals, often splattered in purple, with a striped and tubular purple lip.

Mark Prout sent a photo of one his December blooms, the gorgeous Lyc. Eightysixth Kiss, also included on the “Photos” page.

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Two orchids are posted to the Photos page: Rlc. Iroquois Trail ‘Midfarm’ FCC/AOS and Phal. tetraspis. The velvety Rhyncholaeliocattleya flower, with its 6.5 inch wingspan, is a deeper red than the photo reveals.  The phalaenopsis photo shows the plant’s first bloom of the season – always a white background with quirky red markings.  

About pruning…Years ago someone told me never to remove the inflorescence on my Psychopsis Mendenhall. It’s good advice…even when you accidentally snap off a perfectly good flower. That happened to me about four months ago when I picked up the tall plant and its flower tangled in overhanging wires. I was tempted to remove the inflorescence – figuring that such a pruning would force a new inflorescence. I’m glad I didn’t because 10 days ago I noticed a new shoot sprouting along the truncated inflorescence about two inches below the severed flower. I don’t know if a new bud will develop…but I’ll keep you posted.

More about pruning…Many growers peel away the sheaths covering healthy, swelling cattleya buds. I did that, too, until I noticed that a strong sheath, which opens naturally at the tip to allow the flower’s unfurling, can provide needed support for a slender stem holding up a giant flower like Rlc. Iroquois Trail.

 And more…Think twice about cutting off a phal’s inflorescence, especially on species phals. My Phal. tetraspis, for example, remains dormant through the summer and then blooms on its old inflorescences during the winter. My tetraspis has five inflorescences (new ones are produced each autumn). You’ll know when to prune because the inflorescence will die and turn yellow/brown.

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Blooms a-plenty in the greenhouse this weekend.

Diminutive in size, the Acampe papillosa has a powerfully sweet scent. A recent purchase, this miniature vandaceous orchid was blooming when I bought it.

Sophrocattleya “Crystella Smith” is a vigorous little plant and a reliable bloomer – blooming several times a year.

I bought Brassia Rex for $5 on the scratch-n-dent table shortly after I joined the Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City. It’s a giant plant, with one or two bloom cycles a year. At least one of those bloom cycles produces from 3 to 6 spikes.

Cyc. ‘Wine Delight’ Cyc.’‘JEM’ FCC/AOS is one of the largest cycnoches in my collection. This year and last it has produced two inflorescences, thickly covered in dark red flowers, which fill the greenhouse with their sweet scent.

Pleurothalis platystamas is a small plant with an annual explosion of inflorescenses and tiny lemon-colored flowers. It was a gift from an OSGKC friend, who is an expert pleurothallid grower.

Laelia rubescens is a delicate little catt. The early flower is the palest of lavenders, fading into white as the blossom ages.

Laeliocattleya Everett Dirksen is one of the big catts – a reliable and fragrant bloomer.

Mediacalcar decoratum is a trailing plant with tiny, trumpet-shaped blooms. It’s not an easy bloomer for me. While it generally flowers once a year, it doesn’t bloom profusely. Its succulent leaves spread like a vine, and it prefers a cooler, shadier environment than most of my orchids.

Nothing quite stops traffic like the scent of Oncidium Sharry Baby. Some people describe it as a chocolate smell; others believe it smells like a cake fresh from the oven. When grown as a specimen plant, this easily flowered plant can be quite large.

My Cattleya Chocolate Drop NOK is a division from the Missouri Botanical Gardens. I first saw this wonderful plant at the entryway to the MBG spring show. Its huge spray of blood-red petals and sepals glistened in the multi-flashes of visitors’ cameras.

Cyc. cholorochilon ‘Jumbo’ x Cycd. Jumbo Mickey is a big plant with bright yellow blooms. Even with its two inflorescenses, this cycnoches isn’t as floriferous – or as fragrant – as Cyc. Wine Delight.

Phrag. Ecua-Bess (Ecuadorence ‘Birchwood’ HCC/AOS x Besseae ‘Whippoorwill’) is a great plant. I struggle with the slipper orchids, but this one is a reliable bloomer, providing reccurring blossoms from the same inflorescense for several weeks – sometimes for several months.

Bc Maikai ‘Louise’ was a gift from an orchid friend. It was a division from her specimen plant, which I received about four months ago! Note the spots are as prominent on the back of the plant as on the front.

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Laelia purpurata

Of the 32 Top Favorite orchids in my 118-plant collection, these four orchids earned five out of five points. (See the Nov. 3 post for the ranking criteria).

  • C. maxima*
  • Cyc. ‘Wine Delight’ ‘JEM’ FCC/AOS
  • Laelia purpurata
  • Lc. Drumbeat ‘Heritage’ HCC/AOS *

When listing these top 32 over the last four posts, I’ve put asterisks next to 14 of them. [They are also highlighted in bold.]

If I were ever forced to pare down my collection to a handful of orchids, these are the orchids that would survive the cut. For reasons that are sometimes as emotional as they are objective – a five-point evaluation system, for example, is very objective – these are the plants that have won my heart. Note that asterisks appear on four orchids that received only three points – but oh my, how they exploit those three points!

[BTW, a great Web site for looking at images of all the species listed among the Top 32 is OrchidSpecies.com.]

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