Sunday, April 27, 2008

In Bloom: Paph. armeniacum

Paph. armeniacumThis is my plant of Paph. armeniacum. Please note I am VERY prideful about blooming this.

I bought this plant a little over a year ago from someone at the local orchid society. He had several pots of it, all from the same origin, and complained that it grew well for him but he'd had it 10 or 15 years and not once piece had ever bloomed. I got a sweet deal. If I'd had more cash I would have snapped up all of them, but since I never carry cash I borrowed some money and bought the biggest one. For $15 (about $1.25 per growth!).

The species is not hard to grow, but in cultivation people often complain that it never blooms. I once heard someone from a large nursery comment that in a population of 100 plants you were doing well to bloom 5 per year. I suspect this is because of incomplete habitat information for the species, and many people grow most if not all paphs warm. I recently found an article about this species here.

I have a few armeniacum primary hybrids, and one thing I've learned is that it seems they prefer to bloom on 2-3 year past maturity growths. Also, I've noticed that they bloom better as they get bigger, so I advocate not dividing until they're really big, and making sure to keep big pieces. Last, I suspect, and the article mentioned above also suggests, that armeniacum requires a cool winter. After all, parts of China where this is most likely native have both high elevation and pretty chilly winters, and not allowing for a chill could easily be a reason noone blooms the darn things. Fortunately, most of my paphs live in the basement where it easily averages 50F in the winter.

And look at that! It bloomed for me! Pardon me while I do a happy dance.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In Bloom: Cirr. picturatum

Cirr. picturatumThis is Cirrhopetalum (or Bulbophyllum, depending on who you ask) picturatum. Its one of those that smells like old mushrooms. I've had this plant for around 6 years and I find that it grows easily, if somewhat slowly. It also blooms faithfully every spring, and puts up quite nicely with my tendency to underwater. I grow it intermediate to slightly cool, but it is supposedly a warm growing species. I love plants that aren't picky!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

In Bloom: Masd. wagneriana var. pteroglossa

Masd. wagneriana var. pteroglossaThis is Masd. wagneriana var. pteroglossa. Its a miniature Masdevallia. Its growing in a 2 inch pot of sphagnum and I keep it in my basement under fluorescent light. The basement is cool and mildly humid, so the Masdevallias do OK down there, although admittedly they'd probably do better if I watered more often.
Masd. citrinella
When this opened I was confused because I thought I'd never bloomed the plant before but it looked very familiar. After checking my images I find that I have a Masd. citrinella (second photo) that looks very similar, although the plant is slightly larger and it doesn't have the red racing stripe in the dorsal sepal.

Monday, April 7, 2008

How to Mount an Orchid

Mounting an orchid is a very easy process. What follows is a simple pictorial of the steps.

Why mount your plants? Its a fairly natural way for (most) orchids to grow, and it allows those species that can photosynthesize through their roots to take advantage of that ability. Plus, it looks cool.

First, supplies. You need:
* Epiphytic plant
* Moist long fiber sphagnum
* Cork bark or other suitable substrate
* Cheap acrylic yarn or ordinary twine or fishing line
* Piece of heavy wire, ~4 inches
* Assorted tools

The first step is to water the plant(s), then unpot the and remove all the media. Damp roots are more flexible. Take the opportunity to check the roots and remove any damaged tissue which will be brown and squishy.

In this example I am using a community pot of Phal. braceana seedlings. Most times people mount a single plant per plaque, but what you setup is up to you! Make a test arrangement on the plaque and decide how you want it to look. Keep in mind that the plant will send roots in all directions on the mount, and over time the new leaves will often begin to develop forward and downward for a phalaenopsis, which will change the look a little. Incidentally, this helps water drain away from the crown of the plant which reduces the chance of crown rot diseases.

Place a small pad of sphagnum around or under the roots of the plant and place it back on the mount. The object is not to completely cover the roots, but to provide a reservoir for moisture to help them get established. Depending on your conditions and choice of plants you may even elect to skip the sphagnum and just tie the plant directly to the mount.

Wrap the yarn firmly several times around the root ball and sphagnum to hold it in place. Remember to look out for young roots starting so they don't get broken off. Tie the yarn firmly when done.

Finally, you'll need a hanger. Drill a hole in the top of the plaque. Then bend a small loop in the wire, push it through the plaque and snugly against it.

Bend the other end flush against the back of the mount. Pulling it tight will keep it from flopping around. Bend a hook in the top and thread your tag over it for safe keeping.

Ta-da! Done.

Newly mounted plants may require a little more attention until they get established. For a phal, water when the sphagnum dries out, which will be every 1-3 days depending on how much you used and what your temperature/humidity conditions are at home. Over time, the need for water will be reduced, and while the plant will appreciate continued multiple waterings per week it will not be offended if it doesn't get them. In a year or two when the plant starts looking like this one, with roots all over the place, yarn can be removed.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

In Bloom: Phalaenopsis chibae and a Paph cross

Phal. chibaeWe're having a yellow themed "In Bloom" today. First off, one of my Phal. chibae seedlings has finally opened its cute little flowers. Observe their cuteness. It also has sort of a dusty fragrance like Phal. lobbii.

I'm waiting for my Phal lueddemanniana to open up then we'll have some fun with pollen. I've chosen that because I've seen photos of (tetraspis x chibae) = Donna Craig, and they're pretty cute. P. lueddemanniana and tetraspis are both in section zebrinae, so that suggests that genetics should be similar, but luedde. might offer more pink & heavier markings. We'll see!

Paph. Pine Glow x armeniacumThis one is Paph. (Pine Glow x armeniacum). It has sort of that odd shape that comes from crossing a parvisepalum type pouch with other pouch types, but that has an odd charm too. Plus, it looks like its going to be sequentially blooming like the Pine Glow parent.