Saturday, January 22, 2011

Neostylis Lou Sneary 'Bluebird'

Been thinking about getting one of these for a while - finally saw one for 9 bucks so I couldn't pass it up.  I don't have many Vandaceous plants - humidity is a bit low - but what the heck, we'll see.  This plant is a mericlone of a primary hybrid between Neofinetia falcata and Rhynostylis coelestis.  It generally meets all the conditions for making it into my collection.  1) Heat tolerant, 2) Species or primary hybrid, 3) fragrant.

This plant also stays very small, which is nice, though I don't pay much attention to that criterion with my Cattleyas.

It came in a pot - these plants are usually grown in baskets, often with no medium.  I will move it to a 4 inch wood basket when new roots start.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dealing with rot

This is a C. mossiae coerulea that dropped a few leaves due to the evil known as propane.  Today I noticed some rot below the abscission point on one of the bulbs - whether this is connected to a dying leaf is hard to say.  In any case, to avoid the spread of these infections and death of the plant one has to undertake radical surgery.  I took a clean razor blade, sliced off the bulb well below the brown part, and then sprinkled cinnamon on the wound.  Cinnamon is known to have effective anti-microbial activity.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Video blog entry

I saw no reason to not start posting short video entries - and with that, here is the first in what I hope to maintain as a regular feature.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The state of the collection

Below are a few photos of plants experiencing significant amounts of leaf abscission - this is FAR in excess of what I ever seen (at least half my plants have yellowing leaves) and I strongly suspect at this point that I am seeing the delayed consequences of ethlylene production associated with the use of propane - the same thing I suspect caused the recent bud blast.

At this point, I am hoping that the damage doesn't become any worse - it would really hurt to lose a significant part of my collection.
C. purpurata

C. Quinquecolor

Two Laelia anceps

L. anceps (left) and L. gouldiana (right)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy blog anniversary to me!

Well, I started this blog a year ago today.  More than 1000 of you scattered across more than 60 countries have visited.  Thanks, and good growing to all of you.  Feel free to leave comments - it's fun!

Monday, January 10, 2011

More evidence of problems

OK, here is another C. labiata.  This is a seedling I bought from Miranda Orchids a couple of years ago.  Two problems.  First, the bud blasted.  Second, older leaves are yellowing.  Though it is not abnormal for older leaves to yellow and drop off, I don't usually see it on such young plants.  Furthermore, I think there is more yellowing/leaf drop occurring overall in the collection this winter compared to last winter.  Low temps can precipitate leaf drop, but since temps have been maintained at a higher level this winter compared to last, I'm inferring that burning propane is the explanation.

Below is a pic of the first bloom from last year.  I think this year would have been considerably better, though still with only one flower.
Live and learn, I guess...and be patient!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Heating problem solved - and maybe a new problem

I bought a Mr. Buddy propane heater for the temporary greenhouse this year - it runs off a 20lb tank of propane.   It has a low-oxygen sensor, because it was designed to be used indoors, though not in tightly sealed rooms.  From looking at the design, I'm pretty sure the shutoff mechanism uses a thermocouple.  If the O2 concentration falls below a certain value, something like a pilot light flame becomes smaller and this shrinking cools a nearby thermocouple, which triggers shutoff.

The reason I'm trying propane is that my electric utility heater is very expensive to run.  My problem has been that the heater has been running for 4 hours or so, after which the heater is going to auto shut-off mode.  I speculated that there was local low O2 concentration near the mechanism because air flow was too low.  To test this hypothesis I bought a small fan and placed it near the heater.  Last night the heater ran for 12 hours, so maybe the problem is licked.

But I am a bit worried about bud blast from unburned propane or perhaps a byproduct of burning?  The buds on that C. labiata 'Tipo' don't look right to me.  They're paler and stippled, though that is hard to see.  But its a bad sign.

I think I'm looking at a total loss here - always tough to stomach when a plant blooms only once per year.

I am reading conflicting reports of the effects of burning propane.  Some sources say "no problem" while others say with great certainty that burning propane will blast your buds!  Thing is, this heater burns with nearly 100% efficiency and the auto shutoff should have disallowed unburned propane from entering the greenhouse.

Alternatively, it is possible that bud blast results from temps on the low side - but I've been good about maintaining the greenhouse temp.

I favor the propane explanation.  If that is correct, I'll have to deal with the cost of electric heat and just keep the propane heater for emergencies.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Solar powered orchid nursery

All greenhouses are solar powered, but Sunset Valley Orchids is now off the electrical grid and running off photovoltaic cells - totally awesome, Fred!