Sunday, November 23, 2008
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!