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Posts Tagged ‘tools of the trade’

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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One of the great advantages of attending orchid conferences is learning new and promising growing techniques from experts like Chuck Hanson of Ecuagenera. He raises his Gongora plants in 3/8 inch pumice stone. Among other things, his technique insures that the media is appropriate to the species’ need for a dry season. 

Hanson keeps his Gongora plants dry during the winter and starts watering (lightly) in March,  increasing the amount as the spring/summer progresses.  

I don’t know if this method would work with other members of the Stanhopea subtribe, but it might be worth experimenting. I’ll start by repotting my Gongora tricolor, which is presently languishing in a sphagnum moss and bark mix.

Right now I raise my Cycnoches in aquarium gravel, but think that I’ll switch a couple of them over to the pumice. The gravel has worked fine so far but maybe the pumice could achieve even better results. There’s always something new to learn and try!

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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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