Saturday, June 30, 2012

Side spikes growing on Tolumnia Genting Orange

Start of new side-spikes towards the end of a bloom cycle

     One of the nice things I just learned about tolumnias, is that the blooming season is not necessarily over once the first round of flowers fades.  Although after two weeks in full bloom, most of the flowers quickly wilted, the orchid has started three new side spikes.  This means that there will likely be only a very brief interim (if any) between the last of the old flowers falling, and the first of the new flowers opening.

     Another interesting thing to note will be whether the subsequent blooms have as much variation in color and form as the first set.  I have not used any Superthrive on my orchids since coming home from Europe (adding only minimal fertilizer to the water), so I will be interested to see if removing the Superthrive will yield more uniform flowers.

Growing a new fan

     In addition to the activity on the spike, the tolumnia has started growing one new fan, and is also growing many new roots.

     All in all, I am thrilled with how this orchid is growing for me.

Friday, June 29, 2012

growing noid phal

A healthy noid phalaenopsis

     It's almost hard to imagine that a year ago, this little phal noid was clinging to survival, with only 2 good roots and ever diminishing leaf size.  Now, this phal is a picture of good orchid health.  It's grown 7 new roots since spring.  The new leaf maxed out at a respectable 5.5 inches (still shorter than the old long leaf on the right), and the orchid immediately started growing another leaf.

     I have the phal growing on my top shelf, very close to the lights.  However, unlike my Phal M.A.M (name too long to write out in its entirety), this noid has not produced any leaf color change in response to the high light.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Aborted spike on psychopsis mariposa

A very dehydrated looking psychopsis

     It was bound to happen eventually; my psychopsis mariposa was far too dry and rootless to sustain a flower spike.  Once I noticed that the spike tip was dry and dead, I cut the entire spike off.  I also repotted the orchid into sphagnum moss, in hopes of maintaining a more even humidity around the orchid's base.  None of the old roots remain, so if this orchid has any hope for survival, it will have to grow new roots.

Drying spike on sick psychopsis

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Are cats safe for orchids?

What trouble will he cause?

     Little Shkoda (Ukrainian for 'trouble') came home with us last week.  For now the 3-month old kitten seems more interested in pestering people than orchids, but he also gets new ideas for mischief pretty much daily.

    Some online searching indicates that all orchids are safe and nonpoisonous for cats.  But what about the safety of my orchids?  

     I've found enough decapitated spider-plant blooms around the apartment to see what fate awaits my precious flowers, should the cat ever take interest in them.  However, the only interest that he's shown in the orchids so far, is to lightly swat at the cymbidium's long leaves while I'm watering.  

     Generally I shoo him away from the orchids, if he ever starts making his way into the shelves.  And I have a pot of cat wheat grass growing for him, should he ever decide he needs extra greenery in his diet.  

     If I'm lucky, I won't be posting any future mugshots of his guileless face next to a traumatized orchid plant... but following murphy's law, accidents will happen.  I think I'm okay with that, though. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Final bloom opens on Cattlianthe Jewel Box 'Scheherazade' inflorescence

Ctt Jewel Box 'Scheherazade'

     The third bud opened yesterday.  It's significantly smaller than the first two flowers: width is 3 inches.  However, it's well formed and a deeper red than the others were (moving the orchid to a windowsill while the bud was developing seems to have helped enrich the color).

     I took a few photos in different light conditions, but getting the color to accurately show through was a challenge. (The top picture is about the most accurate)

     There is still a second sheath that hasn't bloomed, but I don't know if or when those buds will start developing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Replacement Orchids

My new dendrobium victoria reginae as it arrived in the mail

     Faced with the decline of two of my orchids, namely the den victoria reginae and the psychopsis mariposa, I went and ordered two replacements.  I purposefully chose a different vendor for the replacement plants.

One flower bud on the old cane

     The new den victoria reginae is larger, and hopefully hardier.  The largest cane is 1 foot tall, with eleven 2.5-inch leaves.  There is one flower bud on the old cane, but I am keeping my expectations low in regards to flowers.  First, I need this cool-growing orchid to survive the 100F heat wave that is currently heralding the start of summer in NYC (my orchids and I live without air-conditioning).

Dendrobium victoria reginae roots

     I hesitated for a while in deciding how to grow my new dendrobium.  The last one had 'died' (the canes are leafless, but I am still watering periodically in hopes of encouraging some new growth), and I didn't want to repeat my past mistakes.  In the end I decided to go with the mounting route.  My previous den originally declined while I had it potted, and (except for the mishap while I was away on vacation) it seemed to be recovering well while growing on a mount.

     The roots on this den are of decent quality.  There was some ancient sphagnum near the base of the plant (which I removed) and I trimmed off many rotten roots.  However, there are many new roots tips, which which hopefully help the orchid adjust to its new setting.  These tips are an odd bright orange color, for some reason.

mounted dendrobium victoria reginae

    I mounted the orchid on a piece of aquarium wood, and perched it somewhat precariusly against the side of my shelf.  Here's hoping it grows well, because if it doesn't, then I'll sadly have to give up on this beautiful species.

Psychopsis Mendenhall 'Hildos' as it arrived in the mail

     As a travel companion for the dendrobium, I also ordered a replacement psychopsis.  For a mere $10 more in price, this beautiful new plant puts my sickly old psychopsis 'mariposa' to shame.  I absolutely love the deep green mottling on the thick waxy leaves.  There are 5 pseudobulbs, and the largest leaf is 10 inches long.  And as an added bonus, the orchid is in spike.

Healthy Psychopsis mendenhall roots?  Maybe not

     I tipped the orchid out of its pot to check on the roots, and was happy with what I saw.  These roots are healthy and firm, with several growing tips.  Since the media would not fit nicely back into the old pot, I up-potted the orchid into a slightly larger plastic pot, adding some extra media around the sides.  I tried to minimize any disruption to the roots as much as possible.

     If the flowers come out as beautiful as the leaves, then this just may become my new favorite orchid.    

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tolumnia Genting Orange variation in blooms

Tolumnia Genting Orange

     I posted some earlier photos of my Tolumnia Genting Orange, but this is a more detailed description of the flowers.  

     The miniature orchid bloomed with a foot-long flower spike, and 26 one-inch flowers. The blooms are very faintly scented.  The flowers open a solid yellow color (with the brown centers) and develop an orange hue around the skirt after about a week.  The flowers also develop brown spots in the back.  I found the flower spike very difficult to photographs because the blooms opened facing every which way.

     It's now been 3 weeks since the first flowers opened, and a few of the oldest blooms have wilted.  Most of the spike is still blooming profusely, though.

Variation in Tolumnia Genting Orange flower color and shape

    One interesting aspect of this blooming, is how different many of the flowers are from each other.  The picture above shows the variation of individual flowers on the spike.  The one on the top middle is clearly deformed (and there were a few blooms which looked like that), while the other flowers all look "normal". 
      I expect that the deformed flowers resulted from my recent Superthrive use, since others have reported too-high dosage leading flower aberrations.  I had only been using 1 drop into over a gallon of water, but since both this tolumnia, and my cattlianthe jewel box have recently produce some misformed flowers, I am concluding that even that tiny dosage was too high.  For now, I'm watering my orchids with pure water, and I will be diluting the superthrive much more in the future (most likely, 1 drop into a cup of water, and then a tablespoon of that water into a gallon of the final solution)

     However, even if the Superthrive explains the odd flowers, I think that the rest of the variation may be natural to this hybrid--which is really cool!  The pictures I found online tend to show only one type of flower per spike, but there is a lot of variation among the different photos:

Photo from Orchids by Hausermann (vendor)

Photo from Oak Hill Gardens (vendor)

    Judging by the difference among these pictures, it seems like most of my flowers fall within the common variation for this hybrid.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Assessing the damage: coming home after two weeks away

The orchids were somewhat rearranged when I came back

     I left my orchids in the care of my bf during the two weeks that I was away, with the instruction to water all the mounted orchids every other day, and the potted ones whenever the wooden skewers tried out.  On my return, I found that most of my orchids were happy, a few had thrived, and only one suffered drastic damage.

     The first thing I noticed when I got home was that my orchids were all in different places than where I had left them. Most of this was not a problem, but the wilsonara at the top shelf had its leaves directly up against the lamp, which resulted in some lamp burn.

Sunburn damage on oncidium leaf

    A number of my oncidium and cymbidium plants lost a leaf or two over the last few weeks, but are otherwise fine.  In fact, the only 'casualty' from my two weeks away was my dendrobium victoria reginae.  It lost the one leaf it had, and the new cane growth dried up and died.  It roots are fine, and the canes aren't dehydrated, but I don't know if this particular den will successfully recover.  I ordered a replacement plant for in case it doesn't.

Wrinkling on psychopsis leaf shows dehydration

     The psychopsis looked very dehydrated.  I think in part, it's because I told bf to water it every other day (for simplicity of instructions and to avoid risk of overwatering) and in this case that wasn't often enough.  However, when I checked it's roots, I found that they were all hollow.  This would be no fault of bf's care, but rather the consequence of this plants poor health from the very beginning.  It's spike is still growing, but I don't know whether to expect it to bloom, or if it will survive or not.  In any case, I ordered another psychopsis as a travel companion for the new den victoria reginae.

Cattlianthe Jewel Box 'Scheherazade' flowers going out of bloom

     My cattlianthe flowers were already wilted looking by the time I got home.  They were also far less red than the earlier photos suggested.  Since the orchid was already getting the maximal amount of light it could handle, it must be the temperature which adulterated the blooms' color.  There is a third flower forming on the spike, and I moved the orchid to a windowsill, in hopes that the cooler air would help it develop a deeper red.  I'm not sure how successful my attempt will be however, since the weather is only getting warmer, and the flower bud is already pretty well developed.

New cattlianthe pseudobulb

     The new pseudobulb has nearly tripled in size over the last two weeks. Here is how the growth looked just two weeks ago.

Tolumnia Genting Orange

     Fortunately, my Tolumnia Genting Orange is in full bloom and going strong.  The flowers opened facing every which way, making the blooms hard to photograph.  I'll do a more detailed post on the orchid later.

New roots on Phal Memoria Audrey Meldman 'Mendenhall'

     My phals seemed to thrive under my bf's care, producing tremendous root growth.  For the rest of the orchids that I didn't mention--there were no notable changes.  They had neither grown nor suffered in my two weeks' absence.

     The bottom line seems to be that phals really are good beginner orchids, as they seemed to be the happiest under my bf's care.  My paphs probably come in as a close second, since none showed any signs of stress when I came back.  And finally, the only one of my orchids that really deteriorated, was one that was sickly to begin with.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tolumnia Genting Orange now in full bloom

Tolumnia Genting Orange: June 4

     Here is a series of photographs showing the maturation of the Tolumnia Genting Orange buds. The spike was very small when I received the plant in April, no more than 2 weeks old.  The first flowers opened on May 29, setting the spike maturation time at about 9 weeks.  Since I've not yet had the opportunity to see these flower in person, I'll save the descriptions until when I get back home.  It does seem as if the flowers open yellow, and acquire an orange hue as they age.  In the meantime, here is a series of photos depicting the growth of the flower spike.

April 3

May 19

May 26

May 28

May 30

May 31

June 3

June 4

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Did my cattlianthe jewel box 'scheherazade' bloom peloric?

A possibly peloric Cattlianthe Jewel Box 'Scheherazade' bloom

     My boyfriend sent me today a set of photos from the last week.  My tolumnia genting orange is in full bloom (post forthcoming) and the first flower on my ctt jewel box has finally opened.  The timestamp on the photo above dates to May 31.  As I had suspected before leaving (when the flower was only partially open) this bloom is rather messed up.  
     I think the flower is peloric, which refers to blooms that have extra petals in the color and/or shape of the lip.  In this case, the bottom two petals on the flower seem to have the orange markings typically limited to the lip of the ctt Jewel Box, while the wide petal on top (left picture) is a solid red color.

Partially open cattlianthe jewel box flower

   I don't know why the first flower turned out as twisted as it did, but the second bloom seems to be developing a lot more symmetrically, as seen in the picture above.

     Cattleyas are not known for long-lasting blooms, but hopefully the first flower will still be open when I get home in a week, so I can see it to judge with my own eyes.