Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Paphiopedilum Onyx

Our Paphiopedilum Onyx is in bloom again. Clearly we're doing something right! The plant has loads of new growth and was repotted a few months ago (most paphs enjoy annual repotting). The flower spike is surprisingly tall. Paph. spikes seem to be quite easy to "bruise", although it did have a rough time in the car on the way to the EPOS meeting last week, falling over several times before I found that it fit quite happily in the cup holder. Fortunately nothing broke! Strangely, I have another plant of this type that shows no sign of flowering, yet is cared for essentially identically.
Paphiopedilum Onyx
Paph. Onyx, detail of staminode
Paph. Onyx, Staminode and pollinium
Paph. Onyx, Leaf Detail
The guest speaker, Hendrelien Peters (who coincidentally saw this plant last year in February too), noted that the staking could be improved by holding the flower by the ovary at the back (rather than lower down as I had it); this would pull the flower more upright; the ideal paph to an orchid judge would pretty much be a perfectly vertical round circle with a pouch on it! 

This plant not only has great flowers, but is one of my favourite orchids out of bloom too, thanks to its blocky variegated leaves. Paphs make quite good windowsill houseplants (these so called "Maudiae-type" [like this Onyx] paphs particularly so), as long as they don't get direct sunlight or get too dry. If you want something a bit different to a phalaenopsis for a fairly forgiving plant, try a paph!  If you're short on space, many of them are quite compact growers (unlike Phragmipedium). I'd quite like to get a so-called "vinicolor" paph, which has burgundy red-ish blooms, and often purpleish leaves at some stage in the near future.