Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Restrepia trichoglossa in bloom

Recently, I've been a bit worried about one of my early birthday presents, a Restrepia trichoglossa. The plant has been looking a bit under the weather (see this thread on Orchid Board). However, I think I have "New Parent Syndrome" and might be unduly worried at every sign of slight upset-ness my precious plants display! In fact, the plant seems happy enough to be throwing out both keikis and now flowers (although these might just be an ailing plant's last, best hope for life after death...!).

I really like these little plants and could definitely see myself owning more... They don't take up much room and have very nifty flowers. This one has a pimpin' pinstripe suit (in funky disco colours), and I bet those "antennae" could get great reception!

Enough words for now - here are some pictures! :)

Restrepia trichoglossa
Bloom on 04 April 2011
Restrepia trichoglossa
Keiki with developing flower
Restrepia trichoglossa
Another keiki.
If my scientific Latin/latinised Greek doesn't fail me, trichoglossa means "hairy tongue"! If you click on the first picture and look at the macro full screen, you'll see that there is indeed a "hairy tongue" on this flower. I might get around to a 2:1 macro of it at some stage See below! I'm not quite sure why the keiki roots seem to be growing upwards - this seems rather odd to me! Once they get a bit longer, I might consider taking them off the mother plant and giving them each their own pot (or perhaps trying one out on some EcoWeb); for now, they get a daily mist to hopefully keep them happy and moist.
Restrepia trichoglossa
2:1 macro of the "hairy tongue"

Given my current concerns over the health of this plant, I'm probably not best placed to give cultural advice, but here are some generalised "tips" for growing Restrepia, culled from my reading here and there.

Restrepia, like most (all?) "pleurothallid alliance" plants, like to be kept fairly damp ("not wet!") and cool - but without suffocating the roots with too much water. Fairly high humidity is usually good for them too, particularly coupled with some airflow from a fan. They will tolerate fairly low light levels; their "ideal" light (the high end) will make the leaves turn slightly reddish (plant sunscreen!). Andy's Orchids recommends 500-1500 foot candles for this species, with Restrepia in general ranging from 500-3000 foot candles. Restrepia can either be grown in pots or mounted; I suspect mounting will only be successful if you're very vigilant with your watering regime and have fairly high (>70% RH) humidity in your growing area. Air movement is apparently important, although not quite as widely mentioned as in Masdevallia culture. I water mine daily with RO water; it's potted in sphagnum moss. Like most pleurothallids, it probably does best with very weak but regular fertiliser doses. I imagine these do very well in humid, cool orchidaria (something I'm contemplating building, but don't know where it would fit!).

An interesting thing about Restrepia is that they'll happily root from leaf cuttings, much like an African Violet - usually in the node where you can see keikis developing in the photos above. With the notable exception of the fairly rare and challenging R. chacoensis, apparently. If you'd like to see how a fellow blotanical blogger M3ma1d does this with African Violets, have a look at the Fuzzy Foliage post on Starting African Violets from Leaves with its embedded step-by-step video. Obviously, Restrepia aren't African Violets, so you might want to choose a slightly different potting medium (Sphagnum moss is probably good)!

I'll leave you with this backlit picture of the flower; when I had it in a beam of sunlight whilst taking the 2:1 macros quickly this morning, there was an amazing crystalline look to the flowers as the light shone through it; hopefully this picture captures some of that!

Backlit Restrepia trichoglossa
Make sure you look at the larger version
(click on it)