Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Cyclopogon cranichoides (Griseb.) Schltr. a terrestrial orchid with very dark leaves in the Rio Abajo forest in Puerto Rico
I have passed through the part of the Rio Abajo forest where this orchid grows literally thousands of times. I had never noticed than an orchid was growing in the place where this orchid lives. The main reason is that is is a muddy shallow ditch that is normally covered with dead leaves unless a particularly strong rain shower washes them away. The color of the leaves of this orchid is a good mimicry of the color of the dead and decaying leaves that cover the area most of the time.
I probably would have never stopped to look at the spot if I had not noticed the inflorescence. The color of the leaves hide them from sight but apparently some animal found them tasty and took out a few bites from them. The flowers are nodding and tiny so getting a good photo was a bit of a challenge. This is the only plant of this species I have been able to find in this location. Nearby there are plants of Erythrodes, Ponthieva, Cranichis and Oeceoclades orchids growing on the ground.
Friday, February 20, 2015
I saw this hybrid on the December meeting of the Orquidistas de Puerto Rico. These types of hybrids are not that common in the island of Puerto Rico. However recently these hybrids have become available locally. I am looking forward to see these plants show in local orchid shows.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
For the last seven years my plant of this species grew vigorously and bloomed well. Unfortunately, I moved it to a shadier, wetter spot than what it was used to because I wanted to put some other plants there. As a result the base of the plant stayed sopping wet for weeks during the rainy season and it died. Fortunately the plant has four large keikis that will be repotted to individual baskets as soon as they finish blooming. Although the mother plant base died, the keikis are so large, all of them bloomed.
Here is a link to how I cultivate this plant.
This small Renanthera is a very slow grower under my conditions. Thankfully it will bloom at a size that is positively microscopic when compared with its relatives such as Ren. coccinea and Ren storiei. The bright colored flowers are a veritable plague magnet, I had to spray mine regularly with a mild insecticidal dilution just to be able to enjoy a full inflorescence. Even the something bit off the dorsal petal of the first flower to open.
The flowers open slowly over the course of weeks. The first flower opened on February 8 and it took until the 19 for the inflorescence to open its 10 th flower. The inflorescence still has a bit to go until all the flowers are open. I recommend this plant for people with limited space and endless patience.
Ceraia pseudoequitans' (Fessel & Lückel) M.A.Clem 2004, it is doing well in my garden, it has grow much in the last year.
The plant is potted in stones. I did this because it is a material that will not decay under the combination a hot rainy summer season with daily rain showers and regular nitrogen fertilization that can turn other media to slush in a single season. This plant has not been bothered by the usual culprit, which are slugs and scales. I like the fact that it produces many stems during the growing season.
An unexpected problem is that since the plant is exposed to full sun during the morning, all the stems point to the side of the pot that gets the strongest light. I will move the plant to a spot where it gets a lights from all sides during the day. Also the stems are beginning to become crowded in the pot which means that I will have to repot them, something I dread to do to large specimen plants because some resent when you damage their roots and might sulk for a while or die even if you are extremely careful not to damage the roots during the repotting.
Friday, February 13, 2015
|This is Psychilis x raganii, sometimes shown as Psy. kraenzlinii Note the different coloring|
These are the first flowers of Psychilis kraenzlinii I have been able to see in its native habitat. These flowers are from the north coast, near the town of Isabela in Puerto Rico. It is not easy to see these plants in the wild, the habitat they favor, near the coast, is also a favorite of humans, which means where there were strand of native vegetation there are now vacation homes near the beach. Also people will collect these plants from the wild, which means that if you are in a place where humans have easy access the probability of seeing these plants in the wild is essentially nil.
I had seen these plants previously in orchid shows but never in their natural haunts. Unfortunately these plants almost always die in captivity, due to the lack of knowledge of their cultural needs buy the people that collected them. Paradoxically, all the ones I have seen that survived in captivity where in the hands of people that just tied them to a tree and essentially ignored them.
There are exceptions to this rule as I have seen one or two large specimen plants in local exhibitions. However I have been unable to talk with the owners of the large plants, so perhaps they way they cultivated the plants was to give them careful neglect.
Psychilis kraenzlinii is sometimes confused with Psy. x raganii. The two orchids are similar, their main difference is their color and in technical details of the callus of the lip. Psy, raganii has a reddish color as you can see in the photo.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Today I visited a shaded ravine deep inside the Rio Abajo forest, near the center of the island of Puerto Rico. This plant was growing near a tiny creek that flowed between the haystack hills. I almost missed seeing it due to its small stature and dull colored flowers. But because it was early morning, sun rays were coming at an angle and one of them hit the inflorescence and made it stand out from the rest of the vegetation. The area has very tall trees which means the forest floor is quite gloomy. There is a population of manaca palms, Calyptronoma rivalis in the place. The palms are still young, they were planted there by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources. The place had many interesting plants but I was there only briefly and barely had time to see a small patch of the ravine. The place is quite safe from visitors as it can only be reached after an strenuous walk through rugged terrain.
Monday, February 9, 2015
This orchid grows without problem in the hot coastal regions of Puerto Rico. For me this plant has proven tolerant of neglect and less than ideal watering, but it does much better with regular watering and fertilizing. This plant is owned by a friend. His house is close to the seashore so humidity levels are not a problem. His plant has grown large with many pseudobulbs. A plant that is doing well can produce inflorescences sporadically for several months. My own plant, which I brought under the name Bulbophyllum lepidum, produces inflorescences for three months between November and January.
Unfortunately, my own plant is of lesser quality than the one on these photos. However it is an easy, undemanding grower and I have given away many pieces to friends and beginners. This species is sometimes confused with hybrids, such as Bulb, Daisy Chain (Bulbophyllum makoyanum x Bulb. amesianum).
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Schomburgkia lueddemanniana, it was sold to me with this identification. The Schomburkia genus is defunct so this plant is now a Laelia.
The easiest by far to cultivate and bloom of all the Laelia (formely Schomburgkias) that I have. It is tolerant of drought, wind and high temperatures. With a modest amount of fertilizing and watering it has done very well. However there is one thing it won't tolerate, a potting media that doesn't allow for good ventilation to the roots. So I have mine potted in media that is coarse and I don't add much of it, just enough to give some weight and stability to the pot. This is this plant second blooming.
Monday, February 2, 2015
I found this plant in the roadside during one of my hikes in the Rio Abajo forest, Puerto Rico. This plant can be found in the roadsides in certain parts of the Yunque forest, in the east of the island, where I had photographed it previously but this is the first time I have seen it in the Rio Abajo forest. The plant itself is inconspicuous out of the blooming season.
Because the flowers are oriented with the lip uppermost the green marking of the lip are not easily noticeable. I found only three plants near a patch of Ponthieva racemosa. The plants were growing in a small stretch of roadside that for some reason has not been overrun by exotic invasive plants.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
Adult plants of tropical ladyslippers are not easy or cheap to get in Puerto Rico. That means that you have to buy small seedlings by mail and then wait until they achieve blooming size. For some plants you can wait quite a bit for them to reach adult size. This was the first blooming of this plant. A snail ate a hole in the stem of the inflorescence. When I moved the plant, the inflorescence broke. You can imagine how mad I was. Hopefully it will bloom next year and I will be able to enjoy an inflorescence with all its flowers open.