Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Twice-daily watering on vase-grown Angraecum leonis produced spurt of root growth

Angraecum leonis growing in vase

     About 1.5 months ago, I increased my watering of the Angcm leonis to twice daily in an attempt to simulate the monsoon season that this orchid experiences during the warm months.  My hope was that extra watering would encourage some faster growth from this very slow orchid.

New root tips on Angraecum leonis

     Within a couple weeks of the increased watering regime, the orchid activated new root growth, producing the branching seen in the picture above.  These new root branches now measure between 1/4"-1/2" long after 1.5 months growth.  I cannot conclude whether it was the extra water, or the additional exposure to Superthrive which directly caused this root growth.  

     I haven't notice any other changes in response to the twice daily watering.  Now that the weather has cooled down (and because watering an orchid twice a day is a pain the neck) I scaled my watering regimen back to once daily.

Angraecum growth progress over 1 year

     Although I complain about this orchid being the slow-poke of my collection, a comparison to my oldest photo of the plants does show a rather significant amount of root growth in the past year.  In fact, most of the roots in the December picture are themselves newly grown (they are a light green, in contrast to the darker tone of the old roots).  The truth of the matter is that the orchid arrived to me in poor health, and needs to regrow its root system before it can really start growing impressive leaves or buds.


  1. I applaud you and your blog. I admire anyone willing to document the progress they achieve or don't while growing orchids. I firmly believe that you learn by experience and believe me when I say I've gone through the school of hard knocks. My first collection committed suicide. The second was caught up in a custody battle. However the last 9 years I've built a collection that even the professional grower is envious of. I wanted to know how your Angraecum leonis in a vase project is progressing. I have been working with several hobbyists in other parts of the country and they seem to be getting the hang of it and the understanding of the genera. I certainly DO NOT want to step on any toes; but I see an issue developing once the root system has grown more. Looking forward to hearing from you!

    1. Thanks for the kind words! What is the issue you are foreseeing?

    2. There are two varieties of Angcm. leonis. One coming from the Comoro Islands where the rain fall is MUCH greater than the Madagascar variety gets (where it is much drier). The Comoro var. has leaves that are twice as long if not more but not near as thick or fleshy. The need to hold moisture is not as great compare to the Madagascar var. This plant is half the size or smaller yet the leaves are much thicker due to the amount of water they hold. I see in your photo (October 2012) that the leaves of the plant are wrinkled or have withered more-so than the leaves in the photo taken December 2011. I truly believe that the plant should be in either a clay pot with GREAT drainage or a basket so that the roots have constant access to the mositure but still get air to prevent root rot. I had a batch of leonis shipped from California and almost all of the plants had very little root system left because of the plastic pots they were in (no air was able to reach the roots and they rotted). As soon as I placed the plants on mounts with moss or potted them in baskets with a medium sized potting material, they thrived. Using a systemic fungicide every 3 - 4 weeks was a big help also. Again, I say I'm not trying to step on your toes; I'm just trying to help. Thank you for listing my blog on this one. I'd also like to do a post of what you're doing with this blog to get more people to share their habits and growing tips on their own sites or at least blogs like ours. Hope to chat with you soon. Tomk10 from Angraecums.blogspot.com

    3. Oh no worries about stepping on toes! I've been doing this hobby for barely over a year, and keeping this blog for even less. If I thought I had it all figured out, I wouldn't get anywhere.

      I'll keep in mind the option of going back to a clay pot, even as I continue with my 'vase culture' experiment for now.

      My angcm leonis arrived in much the state you describe your batch: negligible root system, packed with rock hard sphagnum moss in a plastic pot. The only roots that were alive were the areal ones outside the pot. And there weren't too many of those.

      That's why I'm not surprised that the leaves have wrinkled as much as they have. (Also, up until mid January, I was watering the orchid only every 2-3 days) Lesson learned there! The newest leaf remains wrinkle-free, and I am keeping a close eye on that.

      Now while I still have the attention of the 'local' angraecum expert :-), what is a good-size root system for an angraecum leonis like this? Am I there yet? And In reference to the varieties, am I right in thinking that mine is the smaller Madagascar type?

      I always welcome constructive criticism, especially from someone with as much experience as yourself. The Angraecums blog is a great resource, and I look forward to each new post.

    4. My first guess is that it is the smaller variety from Madagascar. The plant diesn't appear to be wider than 6, maybe 7 inches. If the upper leaves grow beyond 4 inches, it is probably the larger. It is hard to tell without seeing the thickness of the leaves themselves. Very fleshy leaves would point towards the smaller var. The root system on both varieties can grow long. I have both in baskets and the roots extend out more than 12 - 16 inches (growing out of the baskets from the bottom and the sides. I have a couple of the Madagascar var. in pots and the aerial roots are just starting to make their way over the sides of the pots. All of the smaller varieties I have are also starting to put out kekeis in just the last 4 weeks or so. The VERY LARGE amount of rain this summer has helped them a great deal.

      Keep doing what you're doing; you're going in the right direction. The key is asking questions and HOPING you're getting the right answers. If you're on facebook, go to www.facebook.com/tkangraecums and hit the like button. You'll get the posts that go through there, updates to the blog and I am starting to put my photo albums of the yearly blooms of other genera that I grow.

      Whether you call this hobby a passion, obsession or even an addiction, it is fun and relaxing. I use the excuse that my plants are my subjects for the fine art photography that I create.

      A professional grower once told me "You can grow orchids successfully only after you learn how to kill them"! Sad but true!

      Keep in touch.