Monday, December 31, 2012

New Leaf on Angraecum leonis

Angraecum leonis

     There's a new leaf starting on my Angraecum leonis.  For this slow growing orchid, that's a big development. Even better, the orchid shows no sign of shedding any of its lower leaves--it might actually be growing bigger!

New leaf closeup

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Guest Post

Tom from Angraecums has very graciously invited me to write a guest post for his blog, where I describe how I first got into the hobby and how I set up my growing area.  Check out the post, and Tom's wonderfully informative blog at

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Second growth point on Rlc. (Port Royal Sound x Chia Lin) ?

Rlc. (Port Royal Sound 'Big Red' X Chia Lin 'Shinsu #1')

     At the beginning of this month I posted about a new growth starting on my Rlc hybrid.  Now there seems to be a second growth, starting next to the oldest pseudobulb.  This growth is much smaller, and already opening into small leaves.  Is this the start of a second growth point?

Newest growth

Older growth from Dec 4

What's going on here?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Preparing orchids for a 3 week holiday

     I am going away for three weeks over the holidays (actually, I've already left).  Which means, that my orchids will have to survive quite a while without watering.  For a few more days, my boyfriend will be around to water the seedlings and the mounted plants, but after that the plants will be left alone.

     I've taken a few steps to help my orchids survive this drought.  I purchased a "standup shower caddy" from a Home Goods store, which makes a wonderful plant stand (at a fraction of the cost of an actual plant shelf).  The shelf adds vertical space to the terrarium, helping me fit more orchids inside.

     When my boyfriend leaves for the holidays, I've asked him to fit all the little seedlings into the terrarium, where they will benefit from higher humidity.

     Finally, I've taken advantage of this terrarium's "waterproof bottom" and filled it with about 3" of water.  This should really bump up the humidity in the terrarium, and help the smallest of the orchids fare better during this dry spell.

     Note: Although I am away from home, I will still be updating the blog every few days.  I've taken a bunch of photos before leaving, so there are plenty of updates I still need to write about.

     Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2012

One Year Orchid Anniversary

     Today marks one full year since I started this blog. It was my first venture into blogging, and the first time I started to seriously get into the whole orchid hobby. 

     Over the past year, my orchid collection has tripled in size. My lighting setup has evolved, and I most recently added a terrarium to my grow area.  Meanwhile last winter, I purchased my first DSLR camera (after a few months of posting pictures from my cellphone), and learned how to work with the RAW image format.

Here are a few highlights from the past year:
  • Posts: 150
  • Pageviews: 23,372
  • Unique visitors: 6,119
  • New orchids acquired: 21
  • Orchids killed: 2 (two failed attempts at growing Den. victoria reginae)
  • Orchids flowered: 4 (with many more spikes to come in 2013!)
     Thank you to those who followed this blog over the past year.  Your comments have helped me grow my orchids better, and it's been a wonderful experience sharing observations with others who grow these beautiful plants.

Evolution of an orchid hobby

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tolumnia Red Berry in spike

Tolumnia Red Berry

     Less than a year since I purchased it in bloom last March, my Tolumnia Red Berry is in spike again.  There were two spikes last Spring, but this year I think I'm getting just one.  

9 day old tolumnia spike

     I actually first noticed the spike 9 days ago. It was growing out of the back of the plant, where I could barely see it, and taking a photo would have been near impossible.  Today was the first day that the spike became visible from the front.  It's a couple inches long now.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Leaf loss on Dendrobium Burana Sundae

Leaf loss on Dendrobium Burana Sundae

     Two months ago, my Dendrobium Burana Sundae arrived as a deceptive mess. It had many thick, tall canes promising a vigorous and fast growing plant, but the roots were a broken, rotten mess.  I ended up trimming most of them away, which is why I needed to add a stake to the pot just so the canes wouldn't topple over.

     In the past two months, the orchid has shed all of the leaves from its older two canes.  Since the dendrobium arrived with 3 generations of canes bearing leaves, I highly doubt that this is normal for this hybrid. Some dens are deciduous and regularly shed their leaves in the winter season as part of their growth cycle, but I don't think this is one such.

     In addition, all the older canes have developed shriveling, and the oldest cane has taken on a ghastly orange-yellow color. I have no way of seeing what's going on with the roots right now (I don't want to disturb the plant yet), but I suspect that the rest of the old roots have died off in the last two months.  It's likely that only the cluster of newish 2-3" long roots from the newest cane remain.  I'll probably check up on them in a few more months.

     In the meantime, the orchid lives in my terrarium, where it's hopefully benefiting from raised humidity.  I water it whenever the humidity tray on the bottom of the pot dries out, which is about every 2 weeks.  I've also been giving it followup treatments with systemic fungicide, because its roots were in such a damaged state, and because I am generally so suspicious about the orchid's health.

     The orchid is currently planted in "dendrobium" mix from, but I'm wondering if maybe I should move it to coarser bark to help it dry faster.  Regardless, I won't be changing anything until after I return from the holidays.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Phals grow side spikes

Phal Memoria Audrey Meldman 'Mendenhal' (left), Phal Gold Tris 'Desk Pot' (right)

     Two of my spiking phals already had old spikes from blooming last Spring, which until recently have been inactive.  Now both are starting a side spike from the topmost bract below the ones which had already produced flowers.

Phal Memoria Audrey Meldman 'Mendenhal' (left), Phal Gold Tris 'Desk Pot' (right)

     Looks like I'll have double the flowers to look forward to.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Noid phal in spike

Noid phal (spotted white)

     Amid a spurt of new root growth, I noticed the start of a new spike on my old phal, a spotted white noid.  This orchid has come a very long way in its recovery since last year, when it only had two small roots to support itself.  

     Now every single one of my phals that is big enough to bloom, is in spike!  The only phals not spiking for me currently, are the two newly potted keikis, and the Phal gigantea seedling.  

Phalaenopsis root vs spike

     One cool thing about this picture, is how the spike is growing right next to a new root tip, highlighting the difference between them.  The root (on left) is uniformly round.  Meanwhile, the flower spike (on right) has a vertical ridge, and a horizontal segmentation line.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Psychopsis Mendehnall 'Hildos' in bud

Psychopsis Mendenhall 'Hildos'

     This orchid has been slowly growing a flower spike since June, when I purchased it. The spike survived two cat attacks, and a bout of root rot.  It is now about 25" tall, and would be even taller if I had it staked upright.  (For purposes of fitting this orchid in my terrarium without scorching the flowers, I am letting the spike curve naturally downward).

Psychopsis flower bud

     The spike has finally stopped growing vertically, and has formed a flower bud. It's about 1/2" long.  Since the flowers can be as big as 4x6", this little bud still has a long time left to grow.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Propping up drooped phalaenopsis leaves

Dtps. Jungo City

     While I was away during Thanksgiving weekend, someone (there are only two posible suspects) knocked my Dtps. Jungo City partly out of its pot.  The orchid dried out, and its leaves wilted as a result.  I righted the poor plant as soon as I came home, and its leaves soon regained their firmness... but they remained flopped over.  I was worried about the leaves developing breaks at the flex points, so I'm trying to right them by propping them up with wooden stakes.  
     In particular, I want to protect the leaves from breaking while I'm away again for the holiday season.  All my orchids will experience a "drought" of at least 2 weeks with no watering.
     The flower spike is now 5 inches tall, and growing fast.  I'll probably stake it up as well if it gets past 10" or so in height.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Second spike starting on Dtps. Yu Pin Burgundy

Dtps. Yu Pin Burgundy

     I was very excited to notice a second spike starting on Dtps. Yu Pin Burgundy.  This a healthy orchid with many leaves and a strong root system.  It should put on quite a show once the spikes mature.

Start of new spike on left, first spike quickly growing on right

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rlc (Port Royal Sound x Chia Lin) matures one pseudobulb, starts growing another

Rlc (Port Royal Sound 'Big Red' x Chia Lin 'Shinsu') 

     This rhyncholaeliocattleya hybrid is just about done growing a new pseudobulb (I expect the leaf to flatten out some more over the next few months).  The new leaf is 7" long, making it two inches longer than the last leaf, albeit somewhat narrower. The new pseudobulb is about the same size as the older ones.

New growth starting on Rhyncholaeliocattleya 

     Now there's a new pseudobulb starting at the base of the old one.  It's actually been visible for over a month now, and is about 1/2" long.  I'm not sure when this seedling will reach blooming size, but until then, it seems to be growing well.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Aliceara Matthias 'Glamour' shedding leaves

Yellowing leaves on Aliceara Matthias

     My Aliceara Matthias did not arrive to me in great condition, and has only worsened since then.  Between the lackluster health of this orchid, and the Den Burana Sundae, which I also ordered from them, I am quite disappointed with this vendor.  I will not be ordering from them again. 
     The Aliceara Matthias had only a few roots, which had some breaks in them, possibly from being shipped bare root.  Those few roots died off fairly soon after I potted the plant, and the orchid has yet to produce new root growth.  The orchid is likely shedding leaves now because it no longer has the root system necessary to support them.  I cut off the yellowing roots, partly because they took up valuable space in the terrarium, and partly because I didn't want decaying plant matter around to encourage bacterial and fungal growth.

Aliceara Matthias 'Glamour' after trimming dead leaves

     The orchid still looks nice with its remaining leaves, and my Oncostele Pacific Perspective has recovered from a worse state.  However, I am annoyed that instead of a healthy thriving orchid, I received another rescue case.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Two more phals in spike

Phal Gold Tris 'Desk Pot' and Phal Memoria Audrey Meldman 'Mendenhall'

     About 3 weeks ago I posted about some phals growing spikes, as well as some growths I wasn't certain about.  Both of those have since turned out to be spikes.  While the old spikes on these two phals remain green but inactive, both orchids are now growing new spikes.

Closeup on Phal Gold Tris spike

Closeup on Phal Memoria Audrey Meldman spike

     Both orchids are growing in the terrarium, safe from kitty attacks.  For both of these flowers, I look forward to seeing if the colors come out different in my care than when I purchased them in bloom last spring.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Setting up a terrarium for orchids

That's his menacing face

     Frustrated with my inability to protect my orchids from my cat, I decided on a more drastic change that would permanently keep my flowers out of harm's reach.  Over Thanksgiving break, I ordered a 24 by 18 by 36-inch terrarium off Amazon.  
     The package arrived earlier this week.  Its width is exactly right for it to fit into the bottom area of my growth shelves, but it is just a few inches too tall.  To fix that discrepancy, I purchased 4 planks of wood (at horribly extortionate Manhattan prices) which I used to prop up the growth shelves.

Orchid grow area set-up

     Between the wood props, and the removed connector shelves, the entire setup is a little unsteady. Fortunately, the terrarium fits well into the space, and I don't expect it to get jostled very much.

     I arranged the orchids back into the terrarium.  The terrarium's 3 feet of height left enough space for even the tall spike on my Psychopsis Mendenhall. A few of the orchids didn't fit inside the enclosure, but since they're not in spike, they should be safe from the cat anyway.  Anything with growing buds is now closed off behind glass.


     I'll probably rearrange the orchids in the terrarium. For one, I would like to try and take better advantage of the vertical space. I am also considering adding a fan to boost the air circulation.  For now the top of the terrarium is open, which should provide some air movement. I guess I'll find out over time if it's enough.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Repotting Phalaenopsis keikis into finer media

Recently potted phalaenopsis keikis

     The media I originally used for my Phal keikis was very coarse, and would dry out within a day.  I liked this as a way of helping transition the roots from being in open air to being potted, but the daily watering was bothersome.

     In addition I am going away for 5 days for Thanksgiving, and while my dear boyfriend will be around to water a few of my orchids, I would rather not hassle him with caring for the entire collection.  So the fewer of my plant that need daily watering, the better.

     As a result, I switched out the original media for the finer grained material that I use on my oncidiums.  This should retain moisture for a longer time than the coarse bark mix.  The roots look healthy, and the older keiki is already growing a third new root.

And since I am going away, and leaving my computer behind in an attempt to avoid working over the break, I probably won't be posting until the weekend.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cat kills tolumnia spike

It happened again.  This time it took less that a minute.  Barely seconds after I put the Tolumnia Pink Panther into the water bucket for watering, the cat bit off the tip of the spike.  Only the lowest side spike branch remains.  It will regrow, but it will take longer time, and I don't know if I'll get as big of a flowering now that the bulk of the original buds are destroyed.

How can I stop this from happening again?  I try to be vigilant, to keep the cat away while I'm watering, but this time my back was turned for barely a few seconds.  He went straight for the flower spike.  I am at a loss.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tolumnia Pink Panther spike update

Tolumnia Pink Panther spike at 1 month

     Today marks one month since I first noticed a flower spike starting on my Tolumnia Pink Panther. The spike is now about a foot tall, and starting to show buds and side branches.  It's developing at about the same rate as my Tolumnia Genting Orange did last spring.  This means that I can expect the orchid to enter full bloom around December 18, just before I leave town for the holidays.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Paphiopedilum Sanderianum exactly the same size as one year ago

A young Paphiopedilum sanderianum plant

     My Paph sanderianum recently shed a leaf, revealing that the bulge I had noticed last month was simply a root nub.  With the loss of this leaf, the orchid returns to exactly the same size it was when I first received it over a year ago.  Since last September, it has shed two leaves, and completed growing two new ones. I'm not sure if this is what to expect from the species, but at this rate, I don't know how it will ever reach blooming size.  Maybe the calcium supplements I added last month will kick in and help the newest leaf grow longer than the previous leaves.  Otherwise, this orchid is growing new leaves just fast enough to make up for shedding the old ones. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Spike or root?

Dtps Yu Pin Burgundy on left, Phal Gold Tris 'Desk Pot' on right

     It's a question we often ask ourselves, as amateur orchid growers, when our precious orchids start growing auspicious protrusions of uncertain origin.  With phals, roots and spikes can look very similar in the earliest stages, so when I first noted the two nubs in the picture above, I wasn't quite ready to decide what they were.

The same growths, one week later

     One week later, the growth on Dtps. Yu Pin Burgundy has clearly revealed itself to be a spike.  The Phal. Gold Tris, on the other hand, remains mysterious.  I think I see three faint lines, indicating segmentation, but I can't be sure.  It could just be a weirdly shaped root. In one more week, the answer should be clear.

Dtps Yu Pin Burgundy

Phal Gold Tris 'Desk Pot'

     Both orchids are healthy, and have grown new leaves and roots since I've last written about them.  The old spike on Phal Gold Tris remains green, but otherwise inactive.

Growth on Phal Memoria Audrey Meldman 'Mendenhall'

     In addition, there's a promising new growth on Phal Memoria Audrey Meldman. In this case it is far too early to even hope to guess whether this is a spike or not.  It's in the right place for a spike, and many of my other phals are now spiking, but otherwise, I'm just being overly optimistic.  A few more weeks will show what this is with more certainty.

Phal Memoria Audrey Meldman 'Mendenhall'

     The phal has been growing well, and its root system overshadows the size of the plant.  

Phalaenopsis side spike

     And finally, the growths on my Phal noid have revealed themselves to be side spikes, rather than more keikis.  There is one such side spike growing from each of the three main spikes.  Exciting!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Repotting Dtps Jungo City

Doritaenopsis Jungo City

     Dtps Jungo City shed one of its leaves, resulting in a very unbalanced plant. Its long leaves and relative lack of root mass were causing it to flop over precariously. I wanted to reposition the orchid so that it wouldn't have as much of a tilt, and that meant I needed to repot.

Mix of rotten and healthy roots

     When I took the orchid out of its media, I found that while it had grown several new healthy roots, many of its old roots had continued to die off.  Overall, I think the roots still look better than when I first repotted this orchid in August, but that's only because of the new roots that have grown in.  All the old roots look like they are on their way out.  I cut off the rotten material, and potted the orchid back into its original media, trying to position it more upright.  The orchid is so top heavy, that it made the task rather difficult.

     I also gave the repotted orchid a 30 minute soak in physan solution, as will be my standard practice from now on when repotting anything.  

More balanced now
Flower spike on Dtps Jungo City: 25 days

     The flower spike has grown since I first spotted it in late October, but rather slowly.  Perhaps the same cold that helped initiate all these flowerings has also slowed growth rate.  This spike still has a very long way to grow.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rescue oncidium makes two new growths, still no roots

A sad looking oncidium

     At this point, I am continuing with this plant more out of morbid curiosity to see if it will pull through, rather than any great interest in the plant itself.  I can't bring myself to throw away a living orchid, so it sits near the corner of my collection, helping barricade my more precious orchids from the cat's whims.

     While the fungicide treatment in late September, helped spur a sharp recovery of my Oncostele Pacific Perspective, this rootless oncidium noid has continued to languish.

New growth

     It lost a few more leaves, and today I cut of a backbulb which had rotted.  The orchid has started two new growths, but has no signs of roots.  In addition, there are two mysterious white growths in the dead stem of the orchid.

What is this?: a new growth

     It looks like the start of a new pseudobulb, but completely devoid of any pigment.  I thought new growths only appeared from the growing end of the orchid, not from the middle of the rhizome where the oldest pseudobulbs are located.  

     I gave the poor oncidium a 30 minute soak in systemic fungicide, then potted it into fresh sphagnum moss, and soaked the whole pot in physan.  That should hopefully nuke any kind of leftover rots.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cymbidium Kusuda Shining x Douglas Dillon: New pseudobulbs grow, old growths wither

Cymbidium Kusuda Shining x Douglas Dillon

     In early August, I posted about new growths appearing on my cymbidium.  These new pseudobulbs are now 6 inches tall, and growing fast. 

     The cymbidium has 4 "ages" of pseudobulbs currently.  There are the leafless backbulbs, the pseudobulbs that were mature when I purchased the orchid last year, the 2 newly matured growths, and the 2 newest growths from August.  

New cymbidium growth

     While all the newer growths have been adding leaves and getting bigger, the backbulbs have withered into nothing, and the bulbs that were mature last winter have been slowly but continually shedding leaves.  Since the new growths have been vigorous, and the roots seem healthy (if not showing much new growth), I am for now concluding that this must be the normal growth habit for this orchid.