Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tolumnia Pink Panther bloomed for three weeks

The flowers faded to a more pastel tone two weeks ago.  Then over the last two days, they all wilted and dropped off.  I'm keeping the spike in case there are any secondary branches that develop later.  For now, I'm not seeing any.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Two new growths on Oncostele Pacific Perspective

Oncostele Pacific Perspective

     The two newest pseudobulbs on this oncidium have matured and have now produced two growths of their own.  This probably means that the orchid won't be blooming for me this season.  However, I am perfectly happy with that if it means a larger show next year.

New growth next to newly matured pseudobulb

     The roots have grown quite aggressively since the last repotting in September.  At that point, the orchid was losing pseudobulbs to rot and had hardly any roots at all. Fungicide treatment appears to have fixed the rot issues, and now the orchid looks like it needs another repotting to a larger pot already.  How much longer should I wait?

Another new growth

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tolumnia Red Berry spike progress

Tolumnia Red Berry

     This orchid started its spike on December 5th. In general, my tolumnias have taken about two months to bloom after first starting a spike.  This one seems to be on the same schedule, and will probably be opening its first flowers in another week or so.  

     The spike is only 6" tall--half the height of the spike this orchid had when I purchased it.  This is probably because this tolumnia doesn't have very many roots.  The dry period over the holidays likely didn't help either.  I expect that the smaller spike will also have fewer flowers.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Psychopsis Mendenhall 'Hildos' finishes blooming

Psychopsis Mendenhall 'Hildos'

     The flower lasted about a month.  Since psychopsis are sequential bloomers, there is already a new bud forming.

Psychopsis Mendenhall 'Hildos' flower bud

     I should have the orchid blooming again within the next three weeks.  I'm curious to see how much, if any, variation there would be between the flowers.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Final action plan for Psychopsis Mariposa 'Mountain'

Psychopsis Mariposa 'Mountain'

     After my Psychopsis Mariposa lost its new growth last week, I wasn't sure where I wanted to go with this sick orchid. I'm tired of fussing with an orchid that doesn't seem to be getting better, and yet not willing to toss away a plant which may yet live.

     I gave the orchid a long bath in systemic fungicide.  Then I repotted the orchid one more time, into a larger pot with 'oncidium/seedling' mix.  The new 3" pot is slotted so it should still dry out reasonably fast, but not so quickly as the previous 2.5" net pot.  I don't want to be watering this orchid daily.  Also, the larger pot size allowed me to bury the orchid more steadily in the media.

    I'll now just water this orchid as the pot dries out, and wait to see if it gets better or not.  I have no intention of fussing with it any further.

Terrarium ventilation

Supplies needed to set up computer fan for terrarium

     When I left town for the holidays last month, I filled the bottom of my terrarium tank with water to help raise humidity while I was away.  It helped.  Some of the water evaporated, and my orchids tolerated my absense quite well.

     But some of the water remained, and I only got around to cleaning it up today.  While I procrastinated, that standing water had turned into a viscous, moldy, algal scum, which gave off a rather nauseating fruity odor.  As I was cleaning up this mess and wiping the tank with a generous serving of Physan, I decided it was time to install some proper ventilation.

     Every orchid terrarium advice article/thread I've seen strongly recommends having a ventilation system.  Most people suggest using a computer fan as a compact and energy-efficient option.  I actually ordered such a computer fan back in November, but put off setting it up until now because I was hesitant about having to splice wires. 

     Turns out, it was much simpler than I had feared.  There are dozens of articles online describing how to connect a computer fan to a USB cord.  The one I found most helpful, was this youtube video, which clearly showed everything in under 2.5 minutes.

matching red and black wires from computer fan and USB charger

     I sacrificed a USB charger from an old phone that no longer worked.  The only other tools I needed were some wire cutters, scissors, and duct tape.  I cut the fan's wire at the end of the red and black wiring, and I cut the USB cord right before it got to the end that plugs into a cellphone.  When I peeled back all the layers of insulation around the USB cord, there were 4 wires inside (black, red, white, green).  I cut back everything except the red and black wires.

red to red, black to black, and all taped closed

     At this point, all I had to do was peel back the plastic insulation around the black and red wires (this was actually the hardest part).  I curled the metal parts from the two red wires together, and taped everything closed with duct tape.  Then I did the same thing for the black wires.

computer fan ventilation for terrarium

     I've got the fan hanging from the top corner of the tank, where it can blow air diagonally across the entire length of the terrarium.  The fan is fairly weak, but I can definitely feel a breeze from a couple feet away.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Paphiopedilum noid vinicolor in bud

Vinicolor noid paph

     This one caught me completely by surprise.  After the paph failed to produce a bud last summer, I had mostly forgotten about it. Today I was moving the paph around during watering, when I had a moment of 'what is THAT?' as I glanced inside the newest leaf.  'That' happened to be a rather large flower bud that I might have noticed much sooner had I been on a lookout for such.  

     The flower bud is starting from a growth that appeared almost 1.5 years ago (Aug 2012).

Flower bud on paphiopedilum

     Since I've never flowered a paph before, I'm not really sure how long to expect before this one blooms. Judging by how fast its leaves grew, I'm hoping not too long.

     I moved the paph into the terrarium, now that it's spiking, to protect it from the cat.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Phalaenopsis flower spikes update

Phalaenopsis Orchids in spike

     Six of my phalaenopsis orchids went into spike earlier this fall.  The spikes are maturing at various rates and all seem to be growing well. 

Noid Phalaenopsis
     The tallest of these belongs to my noid phal, which started opening its flowers around the first week of January.  I first noticed the side spikes on Nov 5, meaning that the spikes took about 2 months to start blooming. 
     The orchid blasted two buds while I was away, but has opened more flowers successfully since then.  There are relatively few buds on each side spike, possibly because these are reblooms from old spikes, rather than new ones.  I'll do a full post on the orchid once it reaches full bloom, which may take as much as a month longer.

Dtps. Jungo City

     Dtps. Jungo City started growing its spike on October 15.  Over three months have now passed, and the spike is still growing.  The spike is 14" tall. Its terminal nodes are developing into buds, so I can hope to see the first flowers open within a month.
Dtps. Yu Pin Burgundy

     Dtps. Yu Pin Burgundy started growing its first spike on Nov 6, and its second spike on Dec 4. The spikes are 9.5" and 4" tall, respectively, and have much more growth to do before they mature.

Phal. Gold Tris 'Desk Pot'

     Phalaenopsis Gold Tris started growing its new spike around Nov 13. The side spike started growing about a month later.  The main spike is now about 5" tall, and starting to form buds.
Closeup on Phal. Gold Tris spike

     I'm excited by the darkening tone around the buds, in case that means that more red color will show through in the flowers when it blooms.  The orchid arrive in bloom last spring with flowers that were mostly yellow and white. I'll be curious to see if blooming in colder temperatures will cause more red color to be visible.

Phalaenopsis Memoria Audrey Meldman 'Mendenhall'

     Phal. Memoria Audrey Meldman started growing a spike about two months ago, on Nov 13.  The spike has grown very slowly; it's quite thin, and only a few inches tall.  The side spike, which first appeared a month ago, is so small that I'm wondering if it will turn out to be just a single flower.  This is another orchid that I'm very curious to see if it will bloom redder for me, than the flowers it arrived with last Spring. However, at this rate, the weather might very well warm up all over again before the flowers are ready to open.

Noid Phalaenopsis in spike

     The final of my spiking phals is the spotted noid, whose spike started growing last month.  It's growing at a good rate, though it will be a few months more before these flowers are ready to open.

And that's all of them!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Psychopsis Mariposa loses new growth

Dried out new growth on Psychopsis Mariposa 'Mountain'

     Turns out there was one victim from my 3-week absence after all.  The new growth on my Psychopsis Mariposa looked a little dryish on the edges when I first got home, and it completely dried out within a few days later.  When I unpotted the orchid, I saw that none of the new roots have taken--very few short roots remained, and their tips are blackened.  This is not the look of a plant in recovery.

     I'm almost ready to just chuck the plant.  After all, my Psychopsis Mendenhall is growing and blooming beautifully.  Do I need two Psychopsis plants in my limited space? Perhaps a final fungicide treatment is in order.  Otherwise, I think I'll just water the plant as usual, with no special treatment (and let it either die or recover on its own).

Monday, January 14, 2013

A rearrangement of the top shelf

Top shelf: only seedlings will fit

     I was at a dilemma with the top shelf of my growing area.  I have a perfectly good lamp set up for it, and any nonflowering orchids would be just fine growing outside the terrarium... but the only plants I could put on this top shelf are seedlings, and maybe one larger plant on the side.  The lamp is too close to the plants otherwise, resulting in leaf burn on anything taller.

More space after raising lamp fixture

     Today, I fiddled with the fixture setup to raise it about 4 inches higher.  Before, I had the lamp hanging by its original hooks off a bungee cord I had strung across the shelf.  I removed those metal hooks, and am now hanging the lamp directly from the cord. I'm hoping the extra 4" of distance will allow me to keep my cattleyas on the top shelf, leaving more space in the terrarium.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Repotting Aliceara Matthias 'Glamour'

Aerial roots on Aliceara Matthias 'Glamour'

     I repotted my Aliceara Matthias 'Glamour' yesterday, from it's original 3"  pot to a 4.5" clear plastic pot.  I did not do this because the orchid was ready for a repotting, but because I was worried that its only visible growing roots were sticking straight up into the air, with no way to reach into the media.

New roots on Aliceara Matthias 'Glamour'

     Turns out, I needn't have worried too much.  When I removed the orchid from its pot, I found many new root tips working their way through the media.  This is a great improvement from early December, when all the orchid's old roots seemed to be dying off. Best of all, the new roots all look very healthy!  The tips are a bright green, and the roots are smooth, with a solid white color, and no black markings or other signs of rot.

An up-potted Aliceara Matthias 'Glamour'

     I ended up going through with the repotting anyway, because I did not like how much the youngest pseudobulb would stick out from the smaller pot.  Hopefully this wasn't a mistake. Instead of doing a full repot, I up-potted the plant (I did not remove the old media from the root mass, or do anything to disturb the roots).

     To help mitigate the potential overpotting problem, I only filled the new pot 3/4 of the way.  Instead, I tried to take advantage of the wider circumference to angle the newest growth such that the roots coming out from it could reach into the media.  Additionally, I filled the bottom half of the pot with coarse bark pieces  and sprinkled the finer oncidium media on top of that.  The idea is to have the media be very loosely packed, so that it can get plenty of air circulation and still dry out quickly.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tolumnia Pink Panther in bloom

Tolumnia Pink Panther

     My Tolumnia Pink Panther came into full bloom  during the Holidays, about a week ago by my estimate.  These flowers have far exceeded my expectations.  Rather than the pastel cotton pink I've seen elsewhere online, my Tolumnia has deep purple flowers.  I had a very difficult time getting the true color to show up on these photographs, which tended to make it seem lighter and pinker than in real life.  The flowers are intensely saturated.

Tolumnia Pink Panther closeup

     And best of all, the flowers are scented!  The orchid has a very pleasant floral scent during the day--it smells just like a flower shop. The scent is fairly strong in the mornings and daytime, but disappears by evening.

   There are 14 flowers, each of which measures about an inch in height and width.  I wonder if there could have been more if the cat hadn't bitten off the original spike. Either way, the flowers make a nice display, and there are side spikes already growing for subsequent rounds of blooming.

Tolumnia Pink Panther flower closeup

    This is my favorite of the flowers, because of the string of spots on the skirt.  The spotting seems to be randomly distributed on the flowers, ranging from none to as many as six.  

Variation in Tolumnia Pink Panther flowers

     Generally, the flowers show much less variation than my Tolumnia Genting Orange did last summer.  The depth of color and the pattern of spotting differs on each flower, but the shape of the petals is fairly consistent.  Part of the reason may be that I've reduced my usage of Superthrive.  However this may also be a difference in the hybrids themselves.  I'll be curious to see how both plants flower in the future.

    Given that Tolumnia Genting Orange bloomed for 3 months (and would have gone even longer had my cat not demolished the spike), I am very much looking forward to enjoying these flowers for the next few months.   

Psychopsis Mendenhall 'Hildos' in bloom

Psychopsis Mendenhall 'Hildos' in bloom

     Orchids of the "Psychopsis" genus are aptly called the "Butterfly Orchids."  They bloom with large singular flowers on tall arching stems, which really do look like some exotic insect in flight.  

Psychopsis Mendenhall 'Hildos'

     I posted about my Psychopsis Mendenhall 'Hildos' forming a bud back in early December. The orchid was in spike when I purchased it last June, meaning that the flower spike took over 7 months to mature.  Fortunately, these orchids are known to reflower off the same spike for many years, so the subsequent waits should not be this long.

     The flower opened about two weeks ago, and is still going strong.  The bloom is 5 inches tall and 4 inches wide--a little less than the 6" I've seen reported elsewhere online.  The flower is colored orange on yellow.  I was expecting a redder orange, as seen in photo here.  There does seem to be variation in the depth of the color, which may be caused by differences in growing conditions. I did not notice any scent.

Psychopsis Mendenhall 'Hildos'

     One outstanding feature of the bloom is that the flower is very three-dimensional.  The petals flex backwards, and the 'skirt' curls into a circle, creating a challenge for a would-be-photographer. None of these pictures look quite right if I were to compare them against the original, and I think the problem lies with the fact that the photos flatten the flower.

     I also really liked the many textures on the flower.  The lip is shiny like hard plastic.  The skirt has an iridescent quality to it.  Meanwhile the two lateral petals have a more velvety texture.  All around, a very interesting flower!

New roots on Psychopsis Mendenhall 'Hildos'

Surprisingly, the orchid itself has thrived during the 3 weeks I was away.  Its pot was on the bottom of the terrarium, submerged in about 2 inches of water, which created a constant source of moisture for the orchid via capillary action.  I think semihydroponic culture is based on a similar premise.  The media was moist when I came back home, and I found many fresh green roots growing throughout the pot.  This makes a great improvement over the root rot last October.

Some more photos just for fun:

Psychopsis Mendenhall 'Hildos' lip closeup

Psychopsis Mendenhall 'Hildos' skirt closeup

Psychopsis Mendenhall 'Hildos' head on view

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I'm back home, and my orchids are doing great

Colorful terrarium

     I came home today to an exciting burst of color in my terrarium.  My worries that I would miss the blooming of my orchids turned out to be unfounded, and  I look forward to updating on the blooms over the next few days.

     In general, my orchids fared quite well over the 2.5 weeks without watering.  As I expected, the mounted ones and the smaller seedlings were the most sensitive.  They show signs of dehydration, and many have lost a leaf.  However, I expect all to recover quickly. In contrast the potted herbs in my kitchen are all just dead dried husks.

     For the rest of my orchids, the wet terrarium seems to have worked wonderfully.  None of the larger orchids looked particularly parched.  A few pseudobulbs added some wrinkles, but that was about it.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Phalaenopsis gigantea growing roots

Phalaenopsis gigantea seedling

     When I last updated about my Phal gigantea in September, it had just finished growing a new leaf.  In the 3+ months since, not much new has happened above the surface.  Instead, the phal has put out a number of new roots.  Two are aerial roots growing out side the put, but it also looks like there are a number of new roots under the media as well.

     Hopefully these new roots will have helped the orchid survive these last 2.5 weeks without any watering.  I return home tomorrow, so my next update will show how my orchids fared.  I hope everything is ok.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Psychopsis Mariposa 'Mountain' hanging on to life

A sick Psychopsis Mariposa 'Mountain'

     I last wrote about my struggling little Psychopsis Mariposa 'Mountain' back in late September, when I first treated all my orchids with systemic fungicide.  In the 3+ months since, the orchid's recovery has been slow and questionable.  

     Nearly rootless, the orchid shows severe dehydration in its leaves.  It shed most of its old leaves, and now only has the two large ones left.  Of these, the smaller one is wrinkling, and may quite possibly be gone by the time I return from my holiday trip.  

     The suspicious black spotting on the leaves increased since September, but has mostly held steady over the last two months.  While I'd normally consider cutting the affected leaves off, I really don't want to do that when there are no other leaves left on the plant.  The orchid has received a few more fungicide treatments since September, so hopefully whatever was causing these spots will be held in check.  They don't seem to be growing anymore.

New growth on Psychopsis Mariposa 'Mountain'

     The roots seem to have grown a little since September, but less than I could have hoped.  I did not wish to disturb the media to find out for certain.  The orchid is in loosely packed sphagnum moss in a net plastic pot, which lets it dry out every 2-3 days.

     The new growth has gotten larger since September, but only slightly.  Still, as long as it is growing, there is hope for this orchid's survival.