Friday, November 28, 2008

In Bloom: Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica

Phal. hieroglyphica, first bloom. The flower is a good size, maybe 3" across with nice heavy substance. The species was considered a variety of lueddemanniana at one point, and may still be by some folks. I can't tell if this one is actually a hieroglyphica or if it is actually a lueddemanniana. Its markings look more like luedde., as hieroglyphica generally has faint markings that do not extend all the way to the edges of the petals, but actually color and markings have little, if anything, to do with species identification. For times like these, it would be great to have a copy of Christenson's book, Phalaenopsis: A Monograph, which has a compilation of technical descriptions. Why does it matter, you ask? Well, if I breed a plant its important to know what it is so that the hybrids are correctly identified, and all recipients of seedlings get what they're expecting. I don't want to slap just any name on a plant.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Success! I think.

These are new protocorms of Paph (Puck's Apple x gardineri). And so many! I have 4 plates like this. It's a little odd that they're not green, but maybe this is normal for paph protocorms. At least I hope it is. I had not checked them for a while, so I hope they weren't green to start with then turned brown because they're going to die!! This is actually my first experience with Paph protocorms - any words of wisdom out there? I suspect they're fine.

For comparison, (although not easy to see) the second photo shows a more advanced stage of Phal (Newberry Snowdrops x (Neon Spots x Soroa Wild Thing)). Germination rate was low on these, but they were harvested as a split pod and perhaps the bleach killed some. They looked like the paph protocorms to start with, but green, then they expand and start producing a first leaf. These are at the stage of having their first proto-leaf, and will soon have wee little roots starting.

The real test, of course, is to see if any survive to other stages of growth - no contamination in the replate flasks where they'll get bigger, survive through the community pot transition, then grow to flowering size. Let's hope for a real success of fun and exciting flowers down the road! :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How do I know if my orchid is in spike?

If you're new to orchids or just don't have too many, you might not yet know the early signs of flowers to come. Let me give you a short pictorial of how to tell if you Phalaenopsis is in spike with promises of blooms to come.

When the inflorescences ("spikes" in orchid geek slang) first emerge on a Phal they look like the top photo. Usually one, sometimes two protrusions, somewhat flattened on the apex and a bit upwards facing. Here you are looking at a Phal. mannii v. flava with two spikes just starting to emerge. They are marked by the red arrows. At such an early stage, it will still be a couple months before there are flowers.

Spikes of this age can easily be mistaken for young roots. In this second picture, an emerging root is circled. Notice the difference in shape and orientation. The emerging root is rounded along the length, and points slightly downward. You may also notice a difference in surface texture. Please note, however, not all emerging roots are purple. Many are green. By the same token, not all emerging spikes will be green - some are purple.

Soon enough the spike will show above the leaves. Generally it will grow in the direction of the best light source. The young tissue is pliable, so if you plan on staking it to train the spike straight now is the best time to start, adding new ties as it grows up. This is not a necessary action for most plants, and is in fact impractical for some species and hybrids that have naturally short, horizontal spikes (like Phal. bellina or violacea and some other waxy star types).

After what will seem like a FOREVER wait, you will finally see wee little flower buds start to emerge from the bracts (joints) on the inflorescence. It is very exciting. :) There's still a bit of wait for flowers, but it is SO worth it!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

In Bloom: Paph wardii ...and seeds!

Paph. wardiiThis is the first of a group of Paph wardii seedlings to bloom. They're cute little guys. The flower has a natural spread of around 3 inches and great dark color on the petals and clear stripes on the dorsal sepal. Also has great foliage. I think it looks sorta like a Muppet though. I don't know what it is, just needs a couple eyeballs and it's all set.

Also today I did time at the table separating seeds from fluff. When you're in the right mood its not bad work. Just space out a little and it can be quite satisfying.

I cleaned seeds of Passiflora capsularis, edible chrysanthemum, and Thai basil. There are already P. capsularis seeds listed in the shop, but I'm deciding if I should keep the others or share. Have a little hair-brained idea of broadcasting assorted herb and wildflower seeds in a section of my yard to make a meadow.

Also, Fritz got half a haircut. Notice how much hair there is vs. how much rabbit there is. He looks kinda like a sea slug doesn't he?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

In Bloom: Dendrobium gonzalesii

Dendrobium gonzalesiiI recently picked up this nifty little guy from Al Pickerel. It is a miniature species named Dendrobium gonzalesii. Its a skinny plant about 6 or 7 inches tall with nobby stems (photo below). My plant is a seedling blooming for the first time on a leafless cane, so it may actually get little taller in the coming years.
Dendrobium gonzalesiiFor more info, check out the ISOPE page.

Monday, November 10, 2008

In Bloom: Dendrobium tetragonum v. giganteum

Dendrobium tetragonum var. giganteumIn the past year or so I've developed an obsession with dendrobium species that is gaining in momentum. Toward the beginning of this phase I purchased several seedlings of Dendrobium tetragonum var. giganteum. This is the first of them to bloom. The flowers are maybe 4-5 inches tall and vaguely fragrant, but not in a sweet and yummy way.

Dendrobium tetragonum var. giganteum

The plants are about 8 inches long - semi pendant in a pot. Possibly their coolest feature is the square pseudobulbs. The flowers are neat too.

I grow this species along with Phalaenopsis plants in small pots with a mix that is essentially the same as my paph mix. It would also be an appropriate choice for mounted culture since the canes want to grow in a pendant fashion.

Several dendrobium species and hybrids with thinner leaves seem susceptible to mites, so keep an eye out for the little buggers. I actually believe that mites come as a result of having African Violets around, as my infestations always seem to begin in the areas where I'm keeping AV's. So I now suggest preventative spraying of the violets to avoid mites.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Meet Fritz, our new German Angora rabbit! And before you say, "he's huge!!", please keep in mind that he is covered with several inches of poufy hair. He's just a giant cotton ball. His favorite activities are rearranging the bowls in his cage and freaking out the cat by sniffing it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Featured Seller: Dottyral

Buy Handmade

Dotty is a fellow Marylander who makes adorable pincushions in often fanciful shapes. Look for her peapod cushion both in her etsy shop (above) and her very easy to use website! She is also an active member of the Capitol Region Etsy Street Team, and is participating in their team sale. But that sale ends today, so check out what she has and maybe buy some gifts!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

In Bloom: Phalaenopsis equestris 'Keiki Monster'

Phal equestrisSorry I've been a bit incommunicado folks, busy busy! Thought I'd take a moment to pop up an 'in bloom' for you, so you'd know I was still alive. This is Phal. equestris 'Keiki Monster', one of Al Pickerel's clones. Its a typical form of equestris. You may also recall the equestris alba of a few weeks back. Why 'Keiki Monster'? Because equestris is a notorious weed that produces lots of keikis. There's one listed in my shop here, that is in spike!