Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Coelogyne rochussenii de Vriese 1854. Beautiful and with a powerful fragrance

I brought this plant about five years ago.   Initially it didn’t do well.  For reasons that I could not decipher the new growths kept dying from rot.  This is a very unusual thing to happen to a Coelogyne in my garden.   None of the other Coelogynes I grow, Burfordiense, mayeriana, parishii and an unknown one similar to schielleriana, has ever lost a new growth from black rot.   After the plant had initiated, and lost several new growths I decided that it was just not doing well in my growing area in the mountains of Puerto Rico.  I took the plant to my other growing area, which is in the lowlands near the northwest coast of the island.  It is warmer and drier that the other location.  Since the plant didn’t have that many roots and no new growths, I put it over a pond, where it would be in a humid environment but without the constant wetness of the other area in the mountains.

The plant slowly began producing new growths and thankfully they didn’t rot.  I was not paying too much attention to it since I worried that I might have been killing it with kindness.  The plant spent years over the pond, including staying there during two hurricanes, which didn’t have the slightest effect on it.

Last week as I was walking in the garden, I noticed that it had some green growths, I initially thought they were young pseudobulbs, but on closer inspection I found out they were inflorescences.  I was delighted.  The plant produced an inflorescence las year, but it was short and not impressive.

I took the plant with me to the mountains so I could enjoy the flowers.  The flowers opened today, the 22 of October.   Initially the fragrance was slight.  But by 10 am the fragrance was powerful, in fact so much so that it was cloying.   It is a nice fragrance, but as I stood close to the two inflorescences, it was so strong I could almost taste it.   In the afternoon, the flowers started to close and the fragrance abated considerably, by night fall I could detect no smell.  Many of the photos I have seen in the internet show flowers that are partly closed.
I plan to grow this orchid into a specimen plant.  It grows well with little special care.  My suspicion is that I was watering it too much.   It seems to like environmental humidity but not being wet all the time.  I plan to use a flat plate to grow it to allow it to ramble at will, the conical pseudobulbs are separated by stolon that is a few inches long.  This means that this orchid will escape from a typical pot in one or two years at most.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Tolumnia variegata (Sw.) Braem 1986, with flowers that appear to lack anthocyanin, these flowers are unlike any I have ever seen in the wild.

Photograph with flash

Photograph with natural light

Tolumnia variegata is one of the most common orchids in Puerto Rico.  It is often found in association with coffee plants, so its common name is "little angel of the coffee plantation".  Over the years I have seen, hundreds, maybe thousands of flowers of this species, in inflorescences of plants growing in the forest in Rio Abajo and in other types of habitats, from dry coastal scrub to moist karst forest.   The flowers usually have the same colors although they vary in size and number of flowers in the inflorescence.   A friend showed me this plant.  The flowers seem to lack anthocyanin, the pigment that produces purple and red color in the flowers.  My friend, who has seen even more Tolumnia flowers than me agrees that this plant is unique.  Sadly because it has been raining copiously in the last two weeks, only one of the flowers was in good condition.  The others were spotted or had sooty mold over them.  I am not sure what is the way to describe this variant of the species.  But it reminds me of an alba type flower.  There will be an effort to self the flowers so that seed might be collected.  Hopefully it will be successful so that the genetics of this variant might be preserved.

Typical Tolumnia variegata from the locality this plant was seen

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Den. Ueang Pheung (Den. jenkinsii x Den. aggregatum) cultural notes

This hybrid is the product of the cross of two similar especies.  The species are so similar that some consider them the same species.  Dendrobium (aggregatum) lyndleyi produces long inflorescences of yellow flowers.  Dendrobium jenkinsii produces one or two flowered inflorescences of relatively large flowers that can rival the size of the cane that produced them.  The culture for both species is identical.   I decided to grow this plant in a wire basket instead of the usual tree fern trunk due to the fact that the warm and wet weather of my locality tends to speed the bacterial decay tree fern to such an extent that in a few years. if it is subjected to a steady stream of fertilizer, it becomes soft and begins to break down.  

The only differences I have noted between the hybrid and the species Dendrobium lydleyi is that the species needs a stronger, longer exposure to the sun to bloom well.  And that the species will sometimes bloom poorly if it is watered during the coldest driest part of the year.


Light: Bright light, a few hours of full sun in the morning, but the plants are protected from the midday sun.  The rest of the day it is shaded by trees. 

Temperature:  In my climate, the temperatures are the lowest in February when they go down to 14 C.  From June to October the high temperatures are 32 C.  The plant grows well in this range.

Watering: The plant is watered every three to two days, when the basket is approaching dryness.  It is only watered in the dry season, the rest of the year the local rain pattern gives it enough water to sustain growth.

Fertilizer:  It is given a 20-20-20 fertilizer but only if it is showing new growths.  When the plant starts a growth cycle, a small quantity of manure is put over the potting material.

Potting:  In a wire basket, in medium bark.