Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cattleya lueddemanniana Rchb. f. 1858, a really big flower

I have seen flowers of Cattleya gaskelliana in shows and in private collections, but this one is the largest I have ever seen by far.  Sadly I didn't have a ruler with me, so I can't give an exact measure,  but the flower was easily over nine inches wide.

Blc. Majestic Light 'Glory'

Doritaenopsis Chian Xen Piano 'CX 339' FCC/AOS, ' WOW!!!

Sometimes you see an orchid that just blows you away.  This is one of those orchids.  The color pattern, the richness of the contrasting colors and the uniformity of the flowers is outstanding.    The photos speak for themselves.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Odontonema cuspidatum (Nees) Kuntze, a veritable plague in parts of the Rio Abajo fores but also a hummingbird magnet

Very common in certain parts of the Rio Abajo forest.  I have seen it mainly growing in roadsides.  Hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers, when a patch of this plant has many inflorescences open it almost sure that you will see hummingbird visit the flowers. 

Gesneria cuneifolia (DC.) Fritsch, yerba parrera, a gesneriad endemic of Puerto Rico, seen at the Rio Abajo forest.

When I hike in the forest of Rio Abajo, I always take the camera with me, because every time I find something new and interesting to photograph.  This gesneriad is endemic of Puerto Rico.  It grows litophytically on the limestone rocks in the forest of Rio Abajo.  Its distribution is patchy, you can walk a long time without seen a single plant and then find a boulder or a road cut filled with them.  It is pollinized by hummingbirds.

Galeottia negrensis Schltr. 1925

Photographed at the Christmas party of the Orquidistas de Puerto Rico group.  A nice species with wonderful flowers.  I might give it a try someday.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Oncidium Heaven Scent 'Sweet Baby', a fragrant Oncidium

This hybrid is similar to Oncidium Sharry Baby "Sweet Fragrance'.  However the inflorescences are shorter, and more densely flowered, at least in the plants I have seen.  The flowers have the same  fragrance, the main difference is in the color of the flowers.

Marcgravia sintenisii Urb. in El Yunque forest, a native vine,

A vine, very common in certain parts of El Yunque forest.  The first photo shows the inflorescence in its normal position, the second photo is from the bottom up.  Given the orientation of the inflorescences, few people notice this vine's flowers.

Coelia bella (Lem.) Rchb. f. 1861, delightfully fragrant

I brought this plant a bit over a year ago.  When I brought it the orchid was already a good sized plant so I was sure it was going to bloom in 2013. I had read in the Internet that it was a summer blooming species.   When new growths appeared, in spring, I took special care of this plant to make sure it had the optimum regime of watering and fertilizing for this species.  The pseudobulbs the plant produced in spring were much bigger than any previous ones.  But summer came and went and the plant remained without flowers.  I was disappointed, but being patient I knew that sometimes plant took some time to bloom.   In autumn the plant produced a single growth, which I didn’t fertilize or water, and as a result it produced a small pseudobulb.    I didn’t fertilize the plant because I wondered whether giving it too much fertilizer could short circuit the blooming cycle and send it into a new round of vegetative growth.

To my surprise, in the second week of December I noticed emerging inflorescences.  The plant produced four inflorescences.  The first flower opened on the day of the winter solstice.   The flowers are delightful but I have been unable, due to a stubborn cold, to enjoy the fragrance, which is reputed to be quite pleasant.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bulbophyllum lasiochilum Parish & Rchb.f 1874, culture

Octubre 2005

October 2013
I have had this plant of the red form of Bulbophyllum lasiochilum (also known as Bulb. breviscaphum) for about ten years.  When I received it, the plant was composed of a just three pseudobulbs in a tiny clay pot filled with sphagnum moss.  Since I had a number of Bulbophyllum growing in a variety of pots and mounts, I decided to experiment with this one. 

I mounted the orchid on a piece of a branch of teak.  Teak wood is known for its strong resistance to decay and its great density and weight.  The teak branch I used had been cut the previous year to be used in a parrot cage.   The parrot meticulously removed every bit of the outer bark but the branch itself remained untouched.    I tied the clay pot to the branch with a metal wire and positioned it in such a way that when the pseudobulb produced its new growths, they would easily reach the mount.  Given the length of the internodes of this species, the plant started colonizing the branch with its very first growths.

By the end of 2005, as you can see in the first photo, the plant already had several pseudobulbs attached to the branch.  Note that the pseudobulbs are attaching to the bare branch.  Eventually the clay pot was removed, I gave it to a friend since it still had living pseudobulbs in it and they were still producing new growths.

In the photo taken in 2013 you can see that the pseudobulbs have migrated all the way to the top pf the plant.  The lower pseudobulbs were alive for many years but eventually died.  Only the pseudobulbs in the top third of the branch are alive.  The orchid roots rambled all over the branch.   Even though teak wood is very hard, years of rain and fertilizing has taken their toll and parts of the branch have decayed.  However it has to be noted that it has survived mostly intact for an impressively long time in an environment where most wood decays or is turned into mush by insects in a few years.  

What is my verdict about using a teak branch as a substrate?  It is clear the plant grew well, but it didn’t grow as well as other Bulb. lasiochilum that were attached to tree fern plaques.    Plants on tree fern grew larger and produced more pseudobulbs.  My impression is that the teak branch, because it retained little by the way of moisture and fertilizer, offered few resources that the plant could use to grow. 

Media:  A piece of a branch of teak wood.

Potting:   In the future as the plant overgrows the branch, pieces will be removed and mounted in fern post and small plastic pots with sphagnum moss.

Fertilizing:  A high nitrogen fertilizer is used when the plant is growing.  None is given outside the growing season.

Light:  Full morning sun from 8:00 am to 11:00 am light shade the rest of the day.

Watering:  The local rain is enough to cover this plant needs outside the rainy season.  In the dry season, a whole month can pass with no measurable rain, during this time the plant is thoroughly drenched once a week.


                         J       F      M       A       M       J       J       A       S      O      N      D
Rainfall (mm)   99    76     84     165    283    155   141   216    237  233  176   135
(inches)            3.9   3.0    3.3    6.5     11.1    6.1   5.5    8.5     9.3   9.1   6.9     5.3


                 J     F    M    A     M    J     J   A     S     O    N    D
High        28   29   30   30   31   32   32  32    32   31   30   29
Low          19   20   20   21   21   22   24  23    22   21   20   19

Friday, December 20, 2013

Epi. Snow Fantasy x Encyclia alata, a week after the first flower opened.

its been a week now since the inflorescence of the hybrid Epilaelia Snow Fantasy x Encyclia alata  started opening its flowers and now almost all are open.  The segments of the first flower to open have become more elongated than when the flower opened and the lip side edges have curled downwards as it ocurrs on the lip of the Enc. alata parent.  Considering the flowers have had to endure almost daily showers and some wind, they are in very good shape.   

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Coelogyne Burfordiense, cultural note, growing it on a wire column

My plant of Coelogyne Burfordiense (Coe. asperata x Coe. pandurata) gives me very little problems except for the fact that it has a very vexing trait.  It will escape, sometimes in less than a year, from most pots.  Planting it in a large pot is a problem due to the large quantity of media that has to be used and the almost sureity that the big mass of media will become anoxic and kill the roots.  So I decided to grow this plant attached to a column of wire, this would allow me to train the growth ups and keep the plant tidy, or as tidy as it could be.  I made a 36 inches tall wire column, I used the sturdiest, strongest wire I could find.  Then I attached the column to the side of a 12" pot.  I attached the column using wires threaded through holes in the pot.  I made sure that the column was very firmly attached to the pot, this is essential as I often move the pot by pulling the column.  I started growing this plant this way in October 2007.  My plan was to keep adding media as the plant climbed up the column.

By May 2010, the plant was producing impressive bloomings with several inflorescences opening at the same time.  Most of the growths were close to the column, but some has grown out toward the sides, those were cut out when they had two pseudobulbs or more, only those pseudobulbs that kept close to the column were allowed to remain.  However it is important to keep a close watch when the plant is producing new growths so that they don't become tangled in the wire or try to grow into the column. 

This is the plant as it is now December 2013.  It has a considerable weight and had to be moved to a location where it gets full sun for part of the day because it had so many leaves it was self shading.  The growths have reached the top of the column.  The plant stands about four feet and a half tall at the tip of its top leaves.  Last year it produced nine inflorescences during a several months blooming season.  Next year I will probably have to cut the top growths which by then may be jutting out into space.  But I expect that by then I will have another pot and column ready for them, and who knows, I might even try to make an even larger one.

As you can see the plant can send inflorescences every which way, not ony toward the side that gets the strongest light.  To the left you ca  n see a string of pseudobulbs growing away from the column with their roots all exposed.  Note that the inflrescences are at several stages of development, from just emerging to losing their flowers.

Rainfall supplies the water needs of this plant, only at the height of the dry season is there a need to water it.  Here are approximate values for rainfall in the Rio Abajo area.

                             J       F      M       A       M       J       J       A       S      O      N      D
Rainfall (mm)      99    76     84      165    283    155   141   216    237   233  176   135

(inches)               3.9   3.0    3.3    6.5    11.1    6.1    5.5   8.5      9.3    9.1     6.9   5.3

Dendrobium wardianum, culture notes

I had always been curious about Dendrobium wardianum but I had never had the opportunity to grow this plant because I could not find sources for it.  But in 2012 I found a source that would ship plants to Puerto Rico.  I ordered two plants.  When they arrived I found that they were tight;y wrapped in sphagnum moss against a flat piece of wood.  I never bury the stems of my plants in sphagnum moss, so I decided to remove one plant from the mount.  The other one I left untouched, just in case.

The plant I removed from the mount turned out to be three seedlings planted so close to each other as to appear to be parts of a single plant.  I carefully extricated their roots from the sphagnum.  It was clear they had not spent any appreciable time in the sphagnum as the roots came out easily.

The strongest seedling was given its own basket.  It had a nice fat, two inch cane.  I was very careful to keep the stem away from the media and to leave all the roots exposed.  I prefer to leave the roots of the Dendrobium seedlings and keikis exposed.  But the stem was close enough to the basket that the new roots would have to travel only a short distance to reach the media

The smaller, weaker seedlings were put in a basket together.  Note that the basket has a layer of medium sized bark, sphagnum moss and then another layer of medium bark.

A year after they were planted the seedling have grown in various ways.  The strongest seedling started growing in the spring and eventually produced a seven inch cane.  But it didn't pause for the year, instead it initiated another cane, this cane topped out at eighteen inches, a near adult cane.  The two smaller seedlings have grown much slower, one is still quite small.   I never watered these plants, they got all their water from rainfall.  They were fertilized but only when they were growing, the fertilizer was one high in nitrogen.  The other plant, the one I left in the sphagnum moss, rotted away completely, during the start of the rainy season. At first the leaves turned black and then pseudobulbs  also turned black and collapsed.

Here is the largest plant with its nearly mature eighteen inch cane.  It is still too early to determine if this plant will bloom under my climate conditions but is is clear it can grow well in my garden,  I will not subject this plant to a rest period until it has at least two full sized mature canes.  The two smaller plants will be moved to a sunnier location since they now have an established root system.  Hopefully this will help them grow larger and stronger.  If the larger plant produces another large cane in 2014, it will be given a rest period of decreased watering and more sun exposure.  Whether this will be enough to make it bloom, remains to be seen.

These are the approximate values for rainfall in my location in Rio Abajo

                             J       F      M       A       M       J       J       A       S      O      N      D
Rainfall (mm)       99   76     84     165     283    155   141   216    237   233  176  135

(inches)                3.9   3.0    3.3    6.5    11.1    6.1    5.5   8.5      9.3    9.1   6.9   5.3

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A different clone of Epi, Snow Fantasy x Encyclia alata

This clone has larger flowers

The first bloom flower of my plant.

In the Christmas meeting of the Orquidistas de Puerto Rico, I saw in bloom a clone of this orchid that is different from mine.  The flowers are larger, the segments elongated and it has a slight yellow tint.  The plant however was larger than mine, so it may be that my plant still has some growing to do before it can produce bigger flowers.

Wilsonara Aloha Sparks 'Ruby eyes'

Ancistrochilus rothschildianus O'Brien 1907, some cultural notes.

I have grew this species in my house in the forest in Rio Abajo, Puerto Rico.  Here are some notes on the way I cultured it.

Media: Bark, I used fine bark of the finest quality so it would not decay too fast

Potting: I grew it on a four inch deep plastic pot, excellent drainage is a must.

Fertilizing: High nitrogen fertilizer when it was producing new pseudobulbs, after the pseudobulb matured, no fertilizer was given until it started a new growth.

Light: Full morning sun until about 10 am, sunlight filtered through the tree canopy after midday, It gets this regime because it is what is available on the only spot that I had to put this plant.

Temperature: From 95F high during the day in summer to 60F during the night in winter. 

Watering:  Since it usually was growing during the rainy season, no additional water was given to it.  It was not watered at all during the dry season.

I never really repotted this plant in the traditional sense, I would carefully take it aout of the pot, shake the media that looked too decayed and then put the plant back in the same pot with as much fresh media to replace what had decayed.

My plant grew very well and eventually filled the pot where it was growing and started growing down the sides.  I lost this plant after a spell of extremely wet weather late in the year caused it to contract rot.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Brassolaeliocattleya Koa's Delight 'Sparky'

A cute "mini" Cattleya.  These plants are called "mini cattleya" because they are much smaller in plant and flower size than the "classical" Cattleya, the corsage orchid, which are larger.  You can grow several of these hybrids in the space that would take a single plant of a standard or classical Cattleya hybrid.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Orchid hybrid, Miltassia Charles M, Fitch x Odontocidium Black Beauty

Photographed at the Christmass meeting of the Orquidistas de Puerto Rico group.  I found this plant interesting for its vivid colors and for the fact that no two of the lips of its flowers were patterned in exactly the same way.  The plant is the property of Fong Cing Li Objio.

Dendrobium Burana Jade

This Dendrobium is ubiquitous in places that sell orchids in the island of Puerto Rico.  I find the colors too muted for my taste, but some like the green color.  Photographed at the Christmas meeting of the Orquidistas de Puerto Rico group.

Dendrobium Tuang Pink x Dendrobium Burana Stripe

Normally I am not a fan of backswept petals in Dendrobiums, but the colors in this hybrid,  and their delightful definition, make up for this.  The flowers have a good size, something that is becoming incresingly rare in these times of shrinking orchids directed toward the home market.  Photographed at the Christmas meeting or the Orquidistas de Puerto Rico group.  It was on the raffle table.

Potinara Free Love "Sunburst'

A hybrid of the Cattleya group.  Photographed at the Christmas meeting of the Orquidistas de Puerto Rico.  Lovely colors.  The plant is owned by Edwin Alberto Perez of E. Orchids.

Bifrenaria aureo-fulva [Hooker] Lindley 1843, also known as Stenocoryne aureofulva [Hooker]Kraenzl

A small epiphytic orchid from southern Brazil. Photographed at the Christmass meeting of the Orquidistas de Puerto Rico group.  The plant is grown by Fong Cing Lee Objio of Planet Orchid.  I was charmed by the orange flowers.