Sunday, May 5, 2013

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.