Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Peristeria elata, Holy Ghost orchid, observations on flower size.

Fully opened flower from the 2007 blooming
Flower from August 2007 blooming opening
 Flower of August 2007 blooming opening
Flower September 2013
The plant as it was in 2007
In the Puerto Rican orchid society show of 2007 I was looking at the plants on sale when I spotted a large Peristeria elata plant.  The plant had particularly large pseudobulbs, however it had no sign of having recently bloomed.  I was a bit unsure of whether to buy the plant because I had the experience of having Peristeria elata plants that grew to a large size, with huge bulbs and beautiful leaves but that never bloomed.  The vendor seeing that I was vacillating about buying the plant, offered to sell it to me for $20.  At this price this orchid was an incredible bargain, I snapped the plant up before the vendor could change his mind.  I brought this plant around February.

The plant stayed inactive for a few months.  In May I was overjoyed to find that the plant had not one but two inflorescences on the way.  The inflorescences grew slowly and seemed to take forever to open.  The first flower opened after the middle of August.  The flowers were the biggest I had ever seen.  The flowers not only were huge but opened fully, this was unlike the other Peristeria flowers I have seen which were always cupped.
For a few months I enjoyed these unusual flowers.  When the plant bloomed again the next year the flowers were noticeably smaller and remained cupped.  This has been the norm after that first glorious blooming.  My theory is that the plant was in prime condition when I brought it but something, don’t ask me what, had inhibited it from flowering for several years previously.  My suspicion is that the plant used its ample reserves to produce the large flowers of its first blooming.

Since its first blooming in 2007 plant has continued to bloom every year, but it has never again produced the massive flowers of that first year.  I suspect that if I prevented the plant from blooming for a year, it may again produce flowers like that of its first blooming.  It is already too late in the year to try this in 2013 since my plants already have inflorescences that are opening its flowers, but it would be something interesting to try next year.

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