Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bulbophyllum biflorum Teijsmann & Binnendijk (1853)

This orchid has been reported from Thailand, Sumatra, Java, Malaya, Bali, Borneo and the Philippines.¹  My experience with this plant was very positive, it grew very well under the climatic conditions in my locality in the Rio Abajo forest in Puerto Rico.  This orchid bloomed in its season and give me no problems.    Sadly, I lost this plant, for the same embarrassing reason I lost a few other Bulbophyllum over the year, but more about this later.

I planted this orchid on medium bark, in shallow dish, so it would have ample space to roam as it grew.  And grew did, it filled the dish with its growths and started spilling out of the sides.  Since the plants seemed to be all right, I was not concerned.  Much to my distress the pieces that grew out of the sides failed to grow once detached from their old stems.    I found out that all the pseudobulbs and stems in the dish were old and would not produce new growths. 

Although I could not perceive any fragrance, it was clear the orchid was producing something that attracted flies.  The flies would perch on the flowers and stay there for long spells of time.  One surprising thing was that the flies would fight over the flowers and some flies would fiercely defend the flowers they were sitting on from other flies.   The flowers were successful in attracting flies, but the flies were apparently the wrong size and shape to pollinize the flowers since I never found any seedpods.

What is the lesson here?  It is that you need to keep a sharp eye on where your plant is producing new growths so that you don’t end with a mass of old growths incapable of regenerating.   It is also important to make divisions of the plants so you have more than just a single one.   Sharing a few pieces with friends can also be a good strategy.

¹Siegerist, Emly S. 2001. Bulbophyllums and their allies: A grower’s guide

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