Posts Tagged ‘Phalaenopsis’

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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Last weekend I attended the Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City’s exhibit at the KC Lawn and Garden Show. The OSGKC invited several regional societies and national orchid vendors to join our local group for this big event.

Attending a show like this is a great opportunity to learn from some of the best growers in the country. Here are three tips I learned about raising Phragmipediums. The first tip is from Russ Vernon of New Vision Orchids in Indiana and the last two are from Sandy Wells of Hilltop Orchids, also in Indiana.

1. To enhance the brightness of the red blossoms on a besseae phrag, keep the spiking plant cool – around 50 degrees.

2. For more vigorous and blooming phrags, add Epsom Salts once a month when watering: two tablespoons of Epsom Salts per one gallon of water.

3. Also, work a dolomite lime dressing into phrags’ growing medium every four months.

I received a comment on the last post about the damaged phal leaves. A member of the St. Augustine Orchid Society mentions using a regime that calls for Phyton. [Read about Tom Nassar’s suggestions in the SAOS newsletter.]

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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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Remounting the Bulb. jersey was on the agenda this weekend.

I bought the plant four years ago as a one-year-old seedling, and when it languished in a plastic pot, almost dying during one winter, I decided to mount it, since I’d had luck by mounting my other bulbophyllum. Although my mounted Bulb. jersey has now grown into a strong adult plant, it has never bloomed.

Remounting the plant consisted of applying a thick layer of sphagnum moss over the bare roots. Images of the process are on the Photos page.

This week’s photos also show Phal. schillariana in bloom. [I have two Phal. schillariana. One is potted, which is blooming, and one is mounted. I bought the latter Phal. two years ago as a young plant in order to see if I could get it to bloom on a mount. It’s still too young to flower, but I’ve included a photo of it to show the netting that I often use to secure moss on a mount. The netting came from a bag of onions. I keep that type of netting on hand to use on mounts and for lining baskets.]

Phal. stuartiana closeup

 The photograph shown here is a closeup of my Phal. stuartiana and its tiny butterfly-shaped callus just below the column. It’s just this type of easily-overlooked flourish that adds such joy to orchid growing.

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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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Still using the five-point system mentioned in the last post to rank the 32 Top Favorites in my Collection, these 13 orchids received three points (Note the ones with an asterisk *. In a few days, I’ll do a special post about these.): 

  • Aerides houlletiana (durable plant, scented and profuse bloomer)
  • Barkeria “Cherry moon” (reliable and profuse bloomer, durable plant)
  • Brassavola nodosa (reliable and profuse bloomer, durable plant – some nodosa owners have scented plants – mine isn’t one)
  • Dendrobium discolor (knockout and profuse bloomer, durable plant)
  • Encyclia tampensis ‘alba’ * (reliable and profuse bloomer, durable plant)
  • Enc. bractescens (reliable and profuse bloomer, durable plant)
  • Epi. porpax (reliable and profuse bloomer, durable plant)

    phal Freds Precocious

    Phal. Fred's Precocious

  • Howeara Lava Burst ‘Puanani’ AM/AOS (reliable and profuse bloomer, durable plant)
  • Ludisia discolor (reliable and profuse bloomer, durable plant)
  • Phal Be Tris (reliable and profuse bloomer, durable plant)
  • Phal Fred’s Precocious * (reliable and profuse bloomer, durable plant)
  • Phrag. Ecua-Bess * (reliable and profuse bloomer, durable plant)
  • Sc. “Crystella Smith” * (reliable and profuse bloomer, durable plant)

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The Collection list is complete (see The Collection tab above). The number of my orchids is down considerably from a year ago. In an effort to trim the collection to a more manageable size , I’ve sold plants and discarded the sickly and incorrigible ones.

Of the 118 orchids that remain, a dozen or so are little more than seedlings. Many others haven’t been around long enough for me to know very much about them.

Thirty two of those 118, however, qualify as my Top Favorites. Selection is based on five criteria: reliable bloomer, knockout bloom, profuse bloomer,  fabulous scent and durable plant.

Epi parkinsonianum #2

Epi. parkinsonianum

I decided to rank these 32 favorites using a fairly objective point system. For example, a plant that is  durable and a reliable bloomer, with a knockout bloom – BUT has no scent and isn’t a particularly profuse bloomer – would earn three points.

With that system in mind, here are the last four orchids on the 32 list. Each earned two points (none of the 32 only received one point):

  • Bulb. lasiochilum (reliable and durable – and a very interesting but not a knockout bloom)
  • Epidendrum parkinsonianum (durable and knockout)
  • Phal. bellina (reliable and fabulous scent)
  • Phal. tetraspis (reliable and durable)

Next post will talk about the orchids among the Top 32 that received three points — the largest group in the rankings.

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