Sunday, January 31, 2010

Oncidium splendidum spike

I've tried growing a few Oncidium species.  I killed two O. lanceanum (which has been moved to a new genus), two O. ornithorhynchum (and two related hybrids) which I may try yet again mounted or in a basket, and O. leucochilum (which was a terrific plant I would like to try again). 

I finally have an Oncidium doing well, O. splendidum, that I've been growing in a basket.  The first new growth grew over the summer.  It was much larger than the previous growth (always a good sign) and I was pleasantly surprised to see this spike the other day.  Looking forward to the flowers.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Checking plants on a sunny Saturday

This is the first sunny day we've had for some time on a weekend, so I took the opportunity to check on how the plants are doing.  Not as well as I'd like, but not bad considering the conditions.  Plants winter on my patio in a small temporary greenhouse I heat at night with a small electric heater.  There are seams that leak when it rains, and condensation drips onto the plants, too.  Still, all in all, it isn't bad.  I am looking forward to Spring.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Encyclia cordigera alba

This is last year's blooming of the plant pictured in a previous post on growing in marginal conditions.  There are two common forms of E. cordigera besides the alba.  The rosea form has a solid red lip, and the semi-alba form has a white lip with a red mark.  They all smell great.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Charles Darwin liked orchids

Darwin's immortality derives from his book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, which changed the world forever.  However, he had diverse interests and was a tireless investigator.  He was an enthusiastic gardener and had a greenhouse at Down House, his home.  One of his other books was, On the Various Contrivances by Which British and Foreign Orchids are Fertilised by Insects.  Now, thanks to the an amazing amount of work by many people, you can find this book along with all of Darwin's writings online at a single place - and all for free.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cattleya Dalaginding

This is one of the first orchids I acquired - a cross between C. Angelwalker and C. Old Whitey.  It doesn't seem common - I haven't seen one for sale since.  Like most large white cattleyas, it is very fragrant.  This blooming is from a couple of years ago.  The plant is not doing well, but I hope to bring it back into good condition this year.  In spite of its poor condition, it wanted to bloom off its last growth.  I removed the buds so the plant could allocate more of its resources to growth.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cattleya Landate

C. Landate is a primary hybrid between C. aclandiae and C. guttata that I got a few years ago from Oak Hill Gardens.  This has flowered in late summer for me.  The flower is nice, but this plant is on my list of plants to sell or trade.  The problem is that has only flowered once per year and only one flower.  Yes, it is easier to grow than C. aclandiae and is much smaller than C. guttata.  But if you want to focus on growing species, a hybrid has to give you a good reason to grow it.  With one flower/year, this one doesn't pass that test for me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cattleya intermedia

Flowers of most Cattleya species have a large number of forms.  Several forms are regularly found in nature, while others are probably very rare types that would not be able to persist in the wild.  An impressive collection of Cattleya intermedia forms is pictured at Brazilian Orchids.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Phylogeny of Cattleyas

Orchid systematics/taxonomy has been unstable over the last few years as old hypotheses on evolutionary relationships based on morphology have been re-examined using molecular data.  Both kinds of data can either provide poorly supported answers or misleading answers about which species are most closely related to which other species.  This has led to all kinds of naming wars as botanists propose new, sometimes conflicting evolutionary trees, often based on small datasets, that upset horticulturists because they are asked by some organizations in the orchid world to change the names of their plants.  And then new trees are proposed and orchid growers are asked to change their plant names again. And again.  Here I show one of the newest evolutionary trees for Cattleya from a 2009 paper by van den Berg published in Annals of Botany, addressing the phylogeny of the Laelinae tribe, which includes Cattleya, Epidendrum, Encyclia, and several other neotropical genera. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sedirea japonica spike

Sedirea japonica is a nice, small species, with beautiful fragrant flowers.  I got this about 2.5 years ago in bloom and it hasn't bloomed since.  It was potted in a small bark-perlite mix in a plastic pot.  It limped along for awhile.  I decided it wasn't liking its home and so moved it to a small basket with sphagnum, which it seems to like.  I'll post the flowers when they open.  I grow this indoors with my phals.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Growing in marginal conditions

During winter my plants go into a temporary greenhouse.  Controlling moisture and temperature is  challenging.  Cool, moist conditions may lead to rot.  Here are two examples of unfortunate bud loss.   The first is an Encyclia cordigera alba that I was looking forward to, while the second is a potentially high-quality Cattleya loddigesii seedling I acquired from Cal-Orchid.  Delayed gratification is a general feature of orchid growing, especially for those of us that are not first-rate growers.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lc. Canhamiana

This is a primary hybrid between Laelia purpurata and Cattleya intermedia.  Since Laelia purpurata should be placed in the genus Cattleya, I suppose one of these days this plant will be known as C. Canhamiana.  This mericlone, 'Azure Skies', was made with the coerulea form of both species. It has fragrance similar to the purpurata parent.  This is a first blooming; this vigorous plant looks like it will bloom on each new growth.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cattleya Lulu x Cattleya Mark Jones

My collection is trending towards more species and fewer hybrids over time.  To limit the size of the collection, I decided that I would stop acquiring hybrids some time ago.  But this is a nice one I acquired from Sunset Valley Orchids a few years ago.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cattleya leopoldii

This a bifoliate species from Brazil. Is has a closely related species, C. guttata. C. leopoldii gets fairly large, but it is worth the space. The flowers last a long time, and they have a great, spicy fragrance. I acquired this plant from Santa Barbara Orchid Estates.

Francisco Miranda's site has lots of good information about Cattleya species,
including C. leopoldii.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another Cattleya mossiae

This is the alba form of the species, acquired from Santa Barbara Orchid Estate.

New orchid pollinator discovered

The link below reports on an interesting case of a novel pollinator shift in orchids. Apparently, this is the first case of a cricket acting as a pollinator. Ain't evolution grand!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Starting a blog

This is Cattleya mossiae, one of my favorite orchids. The semi-alba form is particularly nice, and of course, the fragrance is terrific. This is a first-blooming, from last Spring. Hoping for better and more flowers this coming Spring.