Thursday, January 29, 2015

Epidendrum ackermanii Hágsater 2004, in Maricao, the inflorescence of a plant growing under the shade of a Clusia rosea

Most flowers of this species are a pale lilac color, this inflorescence had unusually deep colored flowers.  I saw this plant in the Maricao forest in an area where a rockslide had obliterated all plants in its path.  This orchid is growing under the shade of a Clusia rosea tree.

This is the most common color of these orchids.

Calanthe Vintage Wine 'Mendenhall' x Calanthe Rozel 'Red Velvet, first blooming

This is the first blooming of this hybrid for me.  The flowers are a lovely shade of red.  For some reason the plants have not grown as well as I had hoped.  However I plan to move them to a sunnier spot and see what happens.

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Erythrodes sp. possibly hirtella, growing in the Maricao forest.

This is a relatively common, but fairly inconspicuous species.  The tiny tubular flowers are what horticulturists dismiss as "unshowy".  It is the only species of native orchid that has germinated in my orchid pots.  The plants of this species in my orchid pots are larger, with lustruous green leaves and produce many more flowers than the same species growing in the wild.  I attribute this to the abundance of nutrients in my orchid pots due to regular fertilizing. 

Epidendrum anceps Jacq. 1763, The flowers of 2015 in comparison with those I found in the same place in 2011

January 2015
January 2015
February 2011
February 2011
A few years ago I found a clump of stems of Epidendrum anceps growing in the crest of a hill in the Maricao forest. Since then, I visit these plants once a year to check how they are doing and to photograph the flowers.  In 2011 the clump had an inflorescence with green flowers.  In 2015, only one of the inflorescences had not suffered damage.  It was not clear what had damaged the inflorescences before they had finished their growth.  The only one with flowers had a distinct purple color in the edge of the lip.  Apparently, rather than all the stems being a single plant, the clump is composed of two plants growing very close together.  Hopefully next year I will be able to photograph both colors of flowers side by side.

Prescottia oligantha [Sw.] Lindley 1840, in the Maricao Forest

Prescottia oligantha is a tiny terrestrial orchid that is native of Puerto Rico.  Previously I had only seen a single plant.  In January 27, 2015 I found a small colony of about half a dozen plants near the Torre de Piedra.  The plants are easy to miss.  I found them because I had a good search image of what I was looking for.   It is not a rare plant however very few people notice them due to the small size of the plant and tiny flowers. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A rare sight, a Tetramica specimen plant

I saw this Tetramica specimen plant in 2007 at a meeting of the Mayaguez orchid society.  At that time I didn't fully appreciate this achievement.  This Tetramica plants don't look lie the local Tetramica species in their body form, the local species has leaves that are terete.  However the flowers do look like those of Tetramica elegans, a species native of PR.  I have never again seen a specimen plant of this species.  In my experience Tetramica plants are intolerant of media that is too water retentive.  The also are vulnerable to scales, which means that you have to check your plants periodically for these pests.

Ludisia discolor [Ker-Gawl.] A. Rich. 1825, a specimen plant

I saw this plant of Ludisia discolor in 2007 at a meeting of the Mayaguez Orchid Society.  It was a beautiful plant with many growing points.  This orchid is very easy to grow if you give it the humidity it needs.  My own plant grows very well with the same care I give my houseplants.  The flowers are a nice bonus.

Encyclia bractescens (Lindl.) Hoehne 1952

I brought this small Encyclia decades ago.  I has not failed to bloom every year between April and May.  I have two plants, both attached to pieces of tree fern.  This plant grows well in the hot, sunny conditions of coastal Puerto Rico.  I have it just under the shadecloth where it gets the brightest light possible without exposing it to direct sun.

The only problem that I have had with this orchid is that it loathes media that is too water retentive.  I had a wonderful specimen plant that would produce hundreds of flowers at a time.  I lost most of the plant because the tree fern plaque in which it was growing decayed so much that it started retaining water to the extent that it would dry very, very slowly.  This caused rot in the center of the specimen plant, I had to cut it in pieces in the process of removing the decayed and rotting parts.

This orchid needs frequent fertilizer applications when it is producing its new pseudobulbs.  If this is not done the pseudobulbs might not reach their full potential.  Given that this plant do best in small mounts that don't retain much water, you have to work out on your own which schedule of watering will produce the best growth.  I have seen plants of this species being grown on terracota mounts with absolutely no media.

Two types of Arundina graminifolia [D Don] Hochr. 1910

Tall type
Tall type
dwarf type
dwarf type
tall type

In Puerto Rico you can commonly find on sale two types of Arundina gramminifolia.  One is a tall plant whose stems can easily reach six feet tall or more under good care.  The other is a much smaller plant that rarely seems to reach over three feet tall.  The tall type is a wonderful garden plant as the tall canes produce inflorescences that can stay in bloom for weeks or months.  If given particularly good care, the tall plant can form large clumps with many inflorescences blooming simultaneously.    The sheer size of the tall form means that it is too big for people with limited space on which to grow its orchids.  The dwarf form takes much less space and blooms at a much smaller size.  I have seen plants under two feet tall blooming.  It used to be that the tall form was the only one available but on recent years the dwarf form has become more common.  

The flowers of the two types can be easily told apart.   The flower of the dwarf form is smaller that the flowers of the tall type, although small plants of the tall type can produce smallish flowers.  The form and colors of the lip of the two types are different.  The lip of the tall form is larger and longer in relation to the rest of the flower.  The lip of the dwarf form had more purple lines in the yellow patch of the lip.   In the photos you can see the difference in the lips.

I only have experience cultivating the tall form, which is a tolerant plant that even people that know little about orchids can cultivate successfully.  The dwarf form seems to be equally hardy.   Both plants grow and bloom better when grown in full sun.  The plants I have that are in shadier spots don't bloom as well as those in full sun.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dendrobium polyanthum Wall. ex Lindl. 1830 a rewarding species to grow

In 2007 it produced five flowers

By 2011 it had improved a little
The first time I saw the flowers of this orchid I was absolutely entranced by their beauty.  The plant I took home with me had a single adult cane and the first time it bloomed it produced only five flowers.  But the beauty of the flowers was such that even those few were well worth the effort.  In time, as you can see, it eventually produced a few more flowers.  You can read more about my experience with this species here:

Dendrobium Star Sapphire and Dendrobium nobile

Dendrobium Star Sapphire

Dendrobium nobile

Dendrobium Star Sapphire is a wonderful example of the hybridizer's art.  As you can see. all the characteristics that make Den. nobile a worthwhile species to keep, have been enhaced.  The flowers or the hybrid are larger, the color is deeper and the form of the flower and its presentation are much better.  Unfortunately, a few years ago, my only plant of Den, Star Sapphire departed for the great happy terracota pot in the sky.  This was very surprising as all the other Den, nobile hybrids I have have been very resilient and grow without any problems. 

Pomatocalpa bicolor (Lindl.) J.J.Sm.1912

I saw this species a few years back.  It is a species from the Phillippine Islands.  The grower of this plant is Eli Santiago.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Two chicks of the common ground dove, Columbigallina passerina, in an orchid growing in a hanging basket

In 2012 I was away from my garden for a few weeks.  When I went to check the shadehouse I saw a common ground dove fleeing in panic from inside the shade house.  I didn't gave any thought to it.  But as I was checking my plants I discovered two dove chicks on the pot of a nobile dendrobium.  The chicks remained utterly still as I moved around the pot.  They were in a shallow nest made out of a few pieces of Tillandsia usneoides.   I severely limited my visits to the shadehouse so that the mother would not abandon the chicks.  The chicks fledged in less than two weeks after I took this photo.  The orchid sustained no harm from having served as a nest.

Stenosarcos Vanguard 'Fireball'

I brought this plant about a decade ago.  It grows well with the same care one gives a houseplant.   The leaves are green with a white pattern.  This orchid is terrestrial I usually repot it roughly every two years, after it has finished blooming.  I take care not to harm the flesht roots.

Coelogyne parishii Hook. f. 1862, a specimen plant

In the Puerto Rico orchid society show in San Juan in 2010, this plant won best specimen plant and also was awarded a CCM/AOS of 86 points.  This award recognizes the superior culture of an orchid.  I gave it the clonal name "Juan A, Rivero".   Professor Juan A. Rivero, or the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez,  gave me a two pseudobulb piece of this orchid the first time I visited his garden, in 1984.  This plant has been thriving under my care since that time.  This orchid tendency to produce two leads in each new growth allows it to become a large specimen plant in a relatively short time.  At the moment it was awarded it had 254 flower.  In 2011 it also produced a large quantity of flowers but I had to cut the leaves since they were in a lamentable state, probably due to unusually sunny and dry conditions in my garden.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Laelia marginata also known as Schomburgkia crispa Lindley 1838

I brought this plant as a large seedling a few years ago.  I can’t say I gave it any particular attention.  It was just there in the bench with all the other orchids.   The only thing that I made sure was that the media in which it was growing was composed of good quality bark and that the mix allowed plenty of air to reach the roots.  This is very, very important in these orchids as the roots will rot if the media becomes anoxic which can happen if it becomes waterlogged.  I speak this out of sad experience, I have lost plants because I neglected to repot them timely and the media decomposed and killed all the roots.

This plant is growing in my garden in the north coast of Puerto Rico.   Temperatures in the area can soar into the nineties during the hottest part of the day, nighttime lows are around 75F but at the cusp of summer sometimes they barely go under 80 degrees.  Between the months of May and December it rains regularly, sometimes abundantly but in winter and early spring the weather can be very dry.  The trade winds are good for the plants most of the year but during the dry season they can desiccate the plants pretty fast.

This plant gets fertilized when it is in its growth phase, it gets no fertilized when it is not growing.  It is growing under shade cloth, but one that allows for plenty of light to get through, this is not a plant that loves shade.  So far I have had no problems with pests with this species, although some other Laelias in my garden have had to be treated for scale insects.

So far I have had no problems with this plant except that it grew relatively slowly, but perhaps that is partly my fault for not giving it particular attention when it was in the growth phase of its yearly cycle.   The only complaint that I can make is that it will be a pretty large plant when it reaches full adult size, this is clearly not a plant for the grower with limited space.  On the other hand it will make an impressive garden plant in places where the climate allows for growing this plant outside.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Calanthe (Vintage Wine 'Mendenhall' x Rozel 'Red Velvet) frist bloom

First bloom to open in my garden of this Calanthe hybrid.  I like the color.  The plants are very easy to cultivate but few people in Puerto Rico culture them.