Wednesday, April 14, 2010

2010 SEPOS Show, Tiny Things

Omoea philippinensisToday's selections are all miniature plants, defined as less than 6" tall, though many are well below that. Among miniature orchid species you will find a microcosm of delight, though you may require a magnifying glass to truly appreciate some.

This first selection, labeled Gehis. japonicus, has sprays of wee flowers of no more than 5mm in height. I take the label to indicate Gastrochilus japonicus, and the flowers do look similar to gastrochilus, but the foliage is all wrong and the flowers and plant are too small even for the species Gastrochilus japonicus. Perhaps I have misunderstood the abbreviation Gehis?

***UPDATE: Orchid Eric wrote to tell me that this plant is actually Omoea philippinensis. Thanks for the identification, Eric!***

Den. toressaeNext we have a nearly microscopic Dendrobium, Den. toressae. Again with this, flowers (and also leaves!) are up to a whopping 5mm. I have to assume based on the plant habit and flower type and bearing that it is related to Den. lichenastrum. It may even have some odor associated with it, if you care to risk inhaling the entire flower.

Masd. ferrusiiPleurothallis asaroides 'Walter'This Masdevallia ferrusii was nestled into Andy's Orchids wardian case display, along with today's last selection Pleurothallis asaroides 'Walter'. Both of these had flowers in the 3/4 to 1 inch range, and as you can see, both with unusual forms. I really can't tell you much else about either species. Masdevallias are typically from new world Alpine cloud forest areas, meaning cool, damp, and buoyant air. Pleuros have a range of environments, especially in temperature, so it pays to do your research and ask questions when buying one of these guys.

Monday, April 12, 2010

In Bloom: Miniature Dendrobiums

Dendrobium pugioniformeToday I'd like to share two recent acquisitions, purchased from Andy's Orchids at the SEPOS show. First is Den. pugioniforme, a species with a curious chain like habit, and fragrant, apple-green flowers. According to the Andy's folks, the chains of leaves, which seem to grow in the fashion "stem, leaf, branch from leaf axil -> new stem, leaf...", can reach several feet in length.

Dendrobium lichenastrum v. prenticeiDendrobium lichenastrum v. prenticei, sometimes just Den. prenticei, is another of those nifty succulent-type species. This one has 1-2 inch long, fleshy leaves. Flowers are typically cream to yellow, though once I had a very nice one that was white with pink stripes. Their fragrance falls into the category I like to refer to as 'little dead things', as they typically smell like fish, but it isn't terribly strong, so its Ok. Even with, its a very cute little species, best grown mounted with phals or a bit brighter.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

In Bloom: A jungle cactus

Today we have something a little different - a jungle cactus. A few years ago I talked a cutting out of a friend of mine. I rather liked this one because of that really neat purple-pink outline on all the segments. They are easy to root, you just break off a an oval segment or two, let the broken end dry a couple days, then pot it in damp media such that the lower third of the segment is in the media. I have used both sphagnum moss and regular potting soil for this. Eventually it will just root.

Succulents of this type are typically referred to as Christmas or Easter cacti, as they tend to bloom at those times of year. Blooming is induced by a short day. This is an important point. If you are keeping them under artificial light for 12 hrs a day, they will NOT bloom. This guy lives in an East facing window on a lower shelf, so is 'shaded' from any overhead lighting. My mother used to induce blooming in her Christmas cactus by moving it to the North-facing basement window for several weeks during winter to induce blooming. Other than these points, I pretty much grow it like a Phalaenopsis.

The problem I'm having with this plant is that I stupidly set it on top of a basket containing a Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis seedling, and it promptly rooted into the media. I have two choices: Leave it, which will most likely result in it slowly overtaking the entirety of the basket, or wait until flowering is over and rip its pot off the surface of the basket. I will most likely do the second, and it will recover. The probability of damage long-term to that Bubophyllum is too high, and replacing a seedling of that age is not an option. They're too hard to find. But in the mean time, the cactus is pretty to look at!

Monday, April 5, 2010

2010 SEPOS Show, Nifty Dendrobiums

Den. kingianum 'Karl Marx'Den. kingianum 'Big Foot' AM/AOSToday I'll show you a few of the Dendrobium selections at SEPOS this year. First off, we have two color varieties of a very cute, compact species: Den. kingianum 'Karl Marx' and Den. kingianum 'Big Foot' AM/AOS. Den. kingianum is typically fragrant and the plant compact in stature, but with spikes height is up to about 15 or 18 inches perhaps, and they can form large clumps. A large clump is of course rather impressive when in bloom. These two guys were exceptionally lovely. As much as this is often considered a 'common' species, not many people seem to grow it around here. Perhaps the appearance of these two at the show professes a coming increase in popularity.

Den. lingueformeDen. lingueforme foliageNext, a most interesting small species, Den. lingueforme displayed by Andy's Orchids. By the flowers I wouldn't be surprised if this one has been moved between genus' a few times. It was displayed in one of his trademark Wardian cases, stuffed to the gills with interesting little bits. Leaves on this guy are about an inch long, succulent and multicolored with the tactile characteristic of very fine grit sandpaper. He had a couple for sale. I snatched one up - couldn't resist such a weird looking thing.

Den. johannisWe'll finish out today with a Den. johannis. This is a rather tall plant topped by a spray of twisty, earthy flowers.

Friday, April 2, 2010

In Bloom: Phal (braceana x venosa) 'Beef Jerky'

I just love spring. So many things in bloom and glorious, warm and sunny weather make a fantastic combination. This seedling of Phal (braceana x venosa), one of Al's crosses, started opening flowers a few weeks ago and now has several on it. They're cute, round, glossy and deeply colored, held on a spunky stem from a very compact, dark-leafed plant. However they've inherited the venosa fragrance, rather than braceana's fruity-sweet scent. For those of you who don't know, Phal. venosa doesn't have a very appealing scent, but it isn't altogether offensive either. Suspicious, might be a better descriptor. I often describe it as 'not very good bacon.' This seedling, I've decided, smells exactly like beef jerky. Its about the right color as well. Regardless, I think its fantastic and have already distributed its pollen around the house. I hope something takes and gives us something fun!