Friday, May 24, 2013

Annual EPOS Orchid Display 2013

Some publicity for our Orchid Society's Annual Orchid Display this weekend, 24-26 May 2013, at the Sherwood Garden Centre in Port Elizabeth. Entry is just R5 and there are orchid potting demonstrations, as well as corsages and orchid plant sales together with various orchid growing sundries like potting mix and fertilisers, along with a tea room to quench that inevitable thirst! If you're in the area or within driving distance, drop in for your fix of orchid-y greatness. :) If you're not sure where Sherwood is, here's a handy map

I'm not sure if we'll make it as our weekend schedule is looking pretty full, but if we do, expect a follow-up post with pictures.

As always, if you live in or around PE and like orchids, I can only encourage you to join the Eastern Province Orchid Society!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dendrobium harveyanum

This is another one of my Dendrobiums that flowered for the first time in 2012 - again, it needed a dry winter "rest" period to trigger the flowering. After seeing the crazy fringed flower edges of Dendrobium harveyanum in flower, I knew I had to have one, which was one of my earlier acquisitions. The flowers were worth the wait, I think you'll agree.

Dendrobium harveyanum
3 October 2012
Dendrobium harveyanum
Dendrobium harveyanum
showing why people wash the leaves of their orchids
prior to shows and serious photo-sessions!
Dendrobium harveyanum
Dendrobium harveyanum
detail of flower edge, 2:1 macro
Dendrobium harveyanum
detail of flower lip, 2:1 macro

Take a moment to click on some of the photos to see the detail full screen.

For more information on this species, refer to the IOSPE page.

NB I should point out that several of these shots are quite underexposed; the colour is actually more yellow than orange. 

Some Angraecoid "first blooms"

Some time back, I decided to finally use the coir (coconut husk fibre) planting mats Senior Management bought me for Christmas in 2011 (from a shop called Gady Gady in Krakow, Poland of all places) to mount some plants on. These nifty products are intended as backgrounds in terrariums. One ended up covered in Tillandsia, but the second I decided to make into an angraecoid mount. I ended up using a hot melt glue gun to fasten it onto a plastic chopping board, as I didn't think the wall would greatly enjoy the moisture that would permeate the mount. Plants were secured to the mount with nylon fishing line, using a curved upholstery needle to go through the coir. I was somewhat anxious that the Aerangis luteoalba var. rhodosticta (which was in spike at the time) would resent the move, but I needn't have worried. It put on a good show, with three spikes:
Aerangis luteoalba var. rhodosticta
1 March 2013
Aerangis luteoalba var. rhodosticta

Pictures from my phone, so sorry if they're a little bit on the rough side.

If my botanical Latin isn't too off, the name and variety mean something along the lines of "yellowish-white with red spots", which is a fairly accurate description. These flowers are quite rewarding; they have only now (in May) died off; they've been going strong since February. Aside from the coir background, the planting pockets are filled with hydroton brand LECA, and a little bit of sphagnum moss is covering most of the roots for a little added moisture. I can't see any reason someone wouldn't want one of these charming little plants! We've had this plant since October 2011, and this is the first time it's bloomed. It will be interesting to see how the mount develops, but given the glacial pace at which angraecoids grow, I imagine it will be a long process!

Our Angraecum distichum, which also arrived in October 2011, was mounted on a small piece of Ecoweb, and has been limping along since then. I eventually decided it was perhaps a little on the dry side and added some sphagnum moss to the mount, and since then, it's perked up a lot - to the point of flowering. The flowers are very small, but I quite like them, and the unusual growth form of the plant, with its overlapping leaves, is pretty cool. They have a crystalline texture to the flowers which comes out quite well in flash photos. When I water these plants, I water the entire thing, including the leaves, as roots seem to occasionally emerge from between the leaf "nodes" so it makes sense to me to encourage that. The plant is pretty waxy, so water doesn't sit on it for very long.

Angraecum distichum
16 April 2013
Angraecum distichum

Again, photos from by phone, so apologies that they are not the most accomplished of macros!

More sadly, our quite large Angraecum sesquipedale was developing very two promising looking buds which just decided to turn brown and die one day. I'm not too sure why, but I suspect they didn't enjoy the slightly colder weather that blew in as they were developing in late spring.

Even more sadly, our little Sobennikoffia humbertiana dropped all its leaves and died shortly thereafter. I suspect it got too much water and decided that a life of excess was not for it. Sobennikoffia are supposed to be quite hard to grow, and come from some of the drier regions of Madagascar (one account suggests they get much of their water from dew, which isn't exactly a deluge of water!). Again, these are plants that are supposed to have a winter dry rest, which this did not really have, although I watered it quite lightly, I guess this watering wasn't nearly light enough...

It's pretty crazy to think I haven't actually bought a new orchid since October 2011. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Dendrobium hercoglossum

Dendrobium hercoglossum27/12/2012

After a proper winter drought, this plant finally decided to flower (I've had it since Feb 2011 - it's grown quite a bit since then). It seems that it's cruel to be kind to many Dendrobiums, which really require a full on winter drought before they'll even think about flowering. Under this new treatment regime, several of my more recalcitrant dendrobiums decided it was time to flower.

I've recently moved this plant from its location right into a window, where I think it will enjoy the additional light. It's getting close to the time I ought to start reducing watering those winter rest plants too. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Vanda Manuvadee 'Blue'

After a long time (we got this way back in Feb 2011), our Vanda Manuvadee 'Blue' decided to flower (it aborted a spike the previous year). This plant gets a disproportionate amount of love (in terms of the amount of time spent watering all those massive roots) compared to the other OOAB denizens. I guess it finally paid off!

Vanda Manuvadee 'Blue'
21 Dec 2012
Vanda Manuvadee 'Blue'
26 Dec 2012
Vanda Manuvadee 'Blue'
Vanda Manuvadee 'Blue'
Vanda Manuvadee 'Blue'
Note the masses of roots!
Pictures from my phone, so apologies if they're not quite up to spec :)

Vanda Manuvadee has a strong "dose" of Vanda coerulea in its ancestry, so it should be pretty cold tolerant (handy during OOAB winters). The hybrid Manuvadee was first registered in 1985, and is a cross of V. Pompinol with V. coerulea.

It doesn't have any medium in the tiny basket it is in, so its roots get a pretty thorough daily soaking (via pressure sprayer); twice daily in summer. "Pretty thorough" means the roots get sprayed once, the water is allowed to soak in while I do the potted plants than need it, and then thoroughly sprayed again. Like most vandaceous orchids (which include Phalaenopsis) the roots take a little while to have water soak into them - when the root covering layer (velamen) is dry and whitish in colour, it takes a little while to hydrate. So, to really water such roots effectively, you need to soak them so the entire root is green and glistening wet. Places where these orchids naturally grow get a lot of water on a regular basis, but then dries out before the next drenching, so these plants appreciate replicating this. At least, that is the case where the leaves are strap shaped. Round/cylindrical leaves (terete) generally come from drier climates. Vandas also seem to appreciate being fed; mine is probably under-fed as I tend to fertilise based on the requirements of the more sensitive species in the collection.

I suspect it would do better with a daily soak for 10-20 minutes in a large bucket/tub, but OOAB's floorspace has nowhere large enough to accommodate such an object. Beside the floorspace issue, given my trepidation about transferring "nasties" between plants, I am loathe to install a communal "dunk bucket" into which plants are plunged. It would be a lot easier, but the risk is too great. Before I learned about the risks of transferring plant pathogens (particularly fungi, viruses and bacteria) in this manner, I used to give plants a soak in communal baths (either the kitchen sink or a large cooler box) every so often. No more!

Having seen some of the absolute monster Vandas other EPOS members bring in to plant tables, this still has a lot of growing to do!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lycaste aromatica

I have been extremely quiet of late; there are quite a few pictures lurking around waiting to be uploaded, so there should be a flurry of activity just as things are quietening down on the balcony as we head into winter. 

Lycaste aromatica is a very rewarding orchid to grow, as it has interesting yellow/slightly green flowers - but the main pay-off is in the interesting cinnamon scent its flowers produce. If you'd like to experience this smell, find the nearest packet of artificially flavoured cinnamon confectionery/chewing gum and give it a sniff - bingo! Of course, a better bet to really experience it is to own a plant of this species...
Lycaste aromatica. 21 Dec 2012

Late last year (Dec 2012), I finally abandoned Nokia/Symbian and moved to Samsung/Android with a Galaxy S3, which has a fairly decent camera, which is what took this image. As I always have this to hand (unlike my SLR, which is usually packed away) expect to see more images from this device!

Most Lycaste orchids are deciduous, including aromatica. This means they lose their leaves during the dry season (which roughly corresponds with winter). During this time, you can basically ignore them, particularly with regard to water. They only need to be watered (thoroughly) once they are in active growth. The first sign of activity will be the flower buds emerging, shortly after this, the new pseudobulb(s) will sprout leaves, which is a fairly good indication the plant might be getting thirsty after a dry winter rest! Old pseudobulbs don't seem to regrow leaves. I quite like the leaves, but they can get pretty large for a small growing area. The psuedobulbs are protected (once the leaves are gone) with some surprisingly vicious thorns, which I commented on and illustrated in a previous post.

There are several good pages about Lycaste online if you'd like to learn more:
As always, the AOS culture sheets give you a good basic overview
A good overview of the entire genus
Some more information about Lycaste culture