Friday, August 23, 2013
Neobenthamia gracilis "Arps Snowball"
This unusual looking orchid comes from Africa. Specifically from the Nguru and Uluguru mountain ranges in Tanzania¹. I got my plant from the United States, not from a business but from a friend. I planted this orchid in medium sized bark. At first sight a group of canes of this orchid looks like a patch grassy growths, not the type of plant form most of us associate with orchids. The plant started growing well but not particularly fast. To my puzzlement the plant didn’t develop long canes right away, it spent a few years producing a number of relatively short canes before it produced some that were adult sized. In this case adult sized means between three and six feet long (90 to 180 cm).
Because I was unsatisfied by the plant relatively slow growth, I added a top dressing of manure to the pot. The result was not what I expected. Rather than producing longer canes, the plant produced several short ones and became an untidy mat of growths. Happily it did eventually got around to producing large growths, one of them bloomed in August 2013.
My plant is growing in a six inch pot and frankly looks ridiculously underpotted. The canes are floppy and are growing drapped over some other orchids and the houseplants that are around it. Some canes hang more than a foot under the shelf that is holding the pot.
This particular plant comes from a keiki of an awarded clone, Arps Snowball CHM. This plant can be seen in Ed Merkle’s web site. Ed’s orchid photography is truly outstanding, I recommend looking through his galleries. Occasionally you can see plants of this species in local collections.