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.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Second phal keiki removed from mother plant

Phalaenopsis with keiki ready to be removed

     About a month ago, I removed the largest of the keikis from my noid phal. Today I removed and potted the second keiki, which I'll be logging as "Phal noid 'keiki 2'. 

Phalaenopsis noid 'keiki 2'

     After 13 months of growth, the keiki is ready to be potted on its own.  The main trigger for removing it was that the spike started drying up above the keiki, and would soon no longer provide it nutrients.

Phalaenopsis keiki ready for potting

     With two roots that are 3.5" long, and two leaves, this keiki is ready to support itself.  Just like last time, I soaked the roots in water+superthrive, and curled them into a 3" slotted plastic pot with phal bark media. 

Newly potted phalaenopsis keiki

     The loosely packed coarse media dries very quickly in a small pot like this one, so I will be watering it every 1-2 days.  My thought is that this should allow me to both water frequently, but still let the roots acclimate to being buried in media without having them stay moist for extended periods of time.  I don't know if this is necessary, but the first keiki is doing fine one month after potting, so I see no harm in using potting conditions that don't maintain much moisture.

     The phalaenopsis mother plant now has only one keiki left.  This one is much smaller than the others, and its roots (1-2") are still much too short to support it on its own.  The mother plant is looking quite drained now; it shed another of its long leaves, and the remaining ones have taken on a withered and leathery appearance.  There is new root growth, and the old roots seem to be healthy, but the newest leaves have been coming in short and stunted.  Hopefully once all the keikis are removed, then this phal will be able to recover.

New growths on phalaenopsis spikes

     On the other hand, the spikes have recently activated two new growths.  It's too soon to tell whether these are spike branches, or the starts of even more keikis.  The keikis looked very similar to this when they first appeared, before the leaves unfurled.  I'm really hoping that these are spike branches though, that will lead to flowers.  In part because I don't know what I'd do with even more white noid phals.  But also, because another year of growing keikis might be terminally draining on the mother phal (even more so than blooming).  

     Time will tell.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Oncostele finally grows long healthy roots

Oncostele Pacific Perspective

     Its foliage is blemished and its pseudobulbs reduced, but my Oncostele Pacific Perspective is finally showing a definitive sign of recovery.  After over a year of false starts, this orchid has grown roots that are long and healthy, and reaching the bottom of the pot.  

healthy oncidium roots

     The turning point was when I treated the orchid with a systemic fungicide back in late September, following a helpful tip from an anonymous commenter.  Within a couple weeks, I noticed new growing roots through the clear plastic.  Since then, they've grown longer and more numerous, and show no signs of dying back. 

small new healthy oncidium pseudobulb

     In addition, one of the new growths has matured, revealing a small new pseudobulb.  Although it is but a fraction of the size of the bulbs that this orchid lost a few months ago, its the first pseudobulb to appear which is completely unwrinkled.  With continuing vigorous root growth, I hope to keep it this way. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cattleya cernua blooms

Blooming Cattleya cernua on mount

     My Cattleya cernua (also known as Sophronitis cernua) bloomed exactly 4 weeks after the bud first appeared.  The spike produced one single flower that is exactly 1" across.  The color is a reddish red-orange that is quite accurately represented in the picture above (or at least it is on my monitor).  There is no scent.

Closeup of Cattleya cernua flower

     My flower bloomed redder than many images I've seen online.  I expect that the recent cold temperatures (my orchid shelves are situated next to an always open window) as well as its close proximity to the light source have combined to intensify the red color.  
     The lip has a bright yellow near the center of the bloom, which fades into an orange-red of the rest of the petals.  The tips of the column are intensely purple.

     Below, is a series of photographs showing the bud maturation during the past month.  I found it interesting how the bud color changed from green, to a nearly black purple, before acquiring the reddish hue of the eventual flower.

Week 0

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Cattleya cernua bud 2 days before opening

Mounted Cattleya cernua in bloom