Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala

James Bateman was an influential orchidist.  I knew of this book, published in 1843, and I came across it in the Kindle Store at Amazon for only 10 bucks, so I thought I would read it.  It was a quick and fun read - historically interesting.  I especially enjoyed the Introduction, in which he praised the orchid and justified his orchid obsession as well as provided six rules of orchid growing, which of course are as true today as they were then.

Here is a passage extolling the joy of orchid growing.

The six rules of orchid growing are:
1) "The plants can scarcely have too much light or too little sun."
2) "Take care of the roots."
3) "Beware of noxious insects."
4) "Give the plants a season of rest."
5) "Attend to the condition of the air."
6) "Do not over-water."

To this he added the unwritten seventh rule: "Do not aim at having too large a collection, but rather strive to grow a few good kinds in the best style."

To which I can only say, Amen.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cattleya labiata 'Tipo' buds

I got this plant about two years ago - Tropical Orchid Farm via Orchidmania.  This will be the first bloom - 6 flowers on two spikes.  Looks like it will be pretty dark.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter growing - Cattleya crispa

I have been growing a C. crispa (also known as Laelia crispa) for a couple of years.  This year it put up a big fat pseudo-bulb (biggest one so far), so I was feeling optimistic that the next growths would bloom.  Now I'm not so sure.  The new growths look pretty good, but it sure seems that this most recent p-bulb, which was really round this past summer, has been significantly depleted to foster the new growth.  I wonder if in spite of my efforts to be careful with water this winter, the plant has been too wet and many roots have rotted (I may try to assess tomorrow).  Alternatively, maybe I am not watering enough.  Finally, it may be that this is the normal growth pattern.  Maybe in nature the old bulbs MUST be used to supplement the new growths because water is scarce at that time of year - then later in the year the old bulbs re-hydrate.

It blooms in the summer in its natural habitat in Brazil.  Doing a bit of searching (thank you Wikipedia), I found that in a location typical of its natural distribution, the city of Rio de Janeiro, summers are wetter and winters are drier (I should have known this...).  I'm going to make the possibly erroneous assumption that the inland climate is not extremely different in terms of rainfall.  If this assumption is OK, then new growths are generated at the driest time of the year (winter), and then they bloom in the summer.  So this makes me lean toward the third hypothesis - new growth is generated in dry times and I should expect the older bulbs to look like this.  However, if I can determine that the roots are in good shape, perhaps I should give it a bit more water. 

Obviously I don't really know what I'm doing.

My purpuratas show a similar, though less extreme growth pattern - however, they differ dramatically in that they are putting out new roots, while this species is not.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Another C. maxima

This is the last of my maximas for the year.  This one is the result of a cross between a coerulea and a coerulescens form.  It has a beautiful, delicate coloration.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cattleya maxima

A first bloom seedling.  Interesting that it is blooming so much later than two others posted earlier this year.

The color is difficult to get right.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Coerulea catts

The coerulea (blue) forms of Cattleya are rare in nature and this has given them some desirability among collectors - they are often more expensive than other color forms (and often less vigorous).  I'm not into them myself, but I stumbled across this set of articles summarizing one man's decades long scholarship and investigation on this topic.  Impressive. 

One interesting point is that in Cattleya breeding crosses between highly diverged species often produce hybrids having the same coloration as the parents.  This suggests that the genetics are simple and that the same genes are often responsible for a given color form in many species.  This is an interesting evolutionary phenomenon.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Grow area update

Well, the temporary greenhouse is approaching steady state.  I don't think I'll have time to add more rods for hanging plants.  The major recent change is the addition of a bunch of CFLs to up the light level.  They also add a bit of heat during the day.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

C. labiata + bonus!

This is a 1st bloom seedling acquired from Cal-Orchid in 2007.  And much more important, here is Hannah, the newest member of our family, born on Monday afternoon.  We think she's perfect.