Thursday, 8 December 2016

Bloom Event - Phalaenopsis mannii 'dark' x speciosa and Phalaenopsis corningiana

I'm really falling for Phalaenopsis species and primary hybrids. This one is another cracker that I got from Schwerter back in March. It was the only plant in that batch to be in bloom, and the flower spike had been trained up a cane, presumably to save bench space and make packing easier. For this blooming, I decided not to support the flower spikes but to allow them to arch naturally, and I think the flowers are much better displayed as a result.


The flowers are very like P. mannii in shape and patterning, but the flower spikes are much shorter and bear fewer flowers (P. manii can flower for months on end). P. speciosa is the opposite; it has short flower spikes with flowers borne one or two at a time from the tip. The spikes can live for years.  It is a bit of a pity that the flower count of P. mannii hasn't made it into the hybrid, but you can't have everything. I guess its another case of not really thinking through what the parents are expected to bring to the hybrid.


I am growing this hybrid hanging from a wire. This is partly to prevent it standing in water in my trays so the roots stay a bit drier but also so the flower spikes can hang naturally, and I think they look better for it.


Also in flower is Phalaenopsis corningiana. This plant is a recent acquisition from a show about two months ago, although I forgot to do a new plants post regarding it. It is from a UK supplier but the original grower/importer was Schwerter. It has produced a flower which is pictured below. I'll do a proper blog post about it once it has settled in properly and put out fresh spikes under my conditions.


Its another one with short spikes producing a couple of flowers at a time over a period of several years. I love the markings and the shaving brush lip. There is a nice scent to it, too.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Bloom Event - Phalaenopsis micholitzii x tetraspis

It feels like ages since I've sat in front of my computer and written blog posts (well, let's face it, it has been) so it's nice to be back at least for now. Hopefully you'll follow my Facebook page and Instagram account so you'll realise I've not been quite as lazy as it may appear.

Phalaenopsis micholitzii x tetraspis was given to me quite some time ago (three or four years, probably) by a friend who said it wouldn't flower. It was sold to him as 'flowering size' (I know, we've all fallen into that trap) by a dealer who had a 'reputation', lets say. I can't comment on my own behalf as I've never dealt with them and they are now out of business as far as i'm aware. The plant was very healthy, but nowhere near flowering size.

With parents like P. micholitzii and P. tetraspis I would expect the plant to be on the small side, but I would probably describe them both as small rather than miniature (there are some truly tiny Phalaenopsis species), and a fairly small hybrid would be expected. They are in fact fairly similar species and are related (google the species and note the little shaving brush lip they both have). P. micholitzii is a nice enough species but rather plain coloured while P. tetraspis is white with varying red markings. I'm not sure what the purpose behind the hybrid is (except to see what we get) as only one of the parents might be regarded as showy.

At any rate, by this time last year, I figured the plant must be reaching flowering size and, lo and behold,  it promptly put out two flower spikes, which didn't produce any buds. This isn't unusual and as a bonus the spikes have stayed green. This year, the plant put out a third spike while the two original spikes have produced buds, two of which are now open.


As you can see, it isn't the easiest to get a decent photo of. The slightly muddy colour of P. micholitzii has carried through (I actually rather like that ivory colour), as have the reddish markings of P. tetraspis (though they could be a bit bolder if I'm being super picky).


You can make out the quirky shaving brush lip in the above slightly older photo (I'm rather impatient, so the flower isn't fully open). I'm aware that the Phalaenopsis I grow are mostly not the showy, floriferous (gaudy, some might say) hybrids of the garden centre and supermarket, I choose to focus instead on the species and more simple hybrids because I find them more interesting and 'orchid like'.

The plant itself is well behaved, as you'd expect any Phalaenopsis to be, and appears to produce flower spikes during the autumn for winter blooming as is usually the case for Phalaenopsis under my conditions, so you can expect quite a few Phalaenopsis posts over the coming few months.


The above is really blurry for which I apologise. The growroom is so humid that as soon as I take my phone out to take a photo the lens steams up. Great for the plants, not so good for my already dubious photography. Unfortunately, the flowers are facing backwards for some reason, and there is another bud lurking behind that leaf sticking up at the back. I would expect them to sit just on top of the foliage. Possibly this is hybrid confusion or just due to it being a first blooming. The other thing about many Phalaenopsis species, of course, is that while they grow and flower perfectly well in pots, this is not a normal orientation for the plant to grow, and it would much rather be sat at 45 degrees with its leaves dangling down (this is the reason crown rot can such a problem for cultivated plants). The flower spikes then display the flowers just below the crown. I am experimenting with hanging them in their pots so that they are tilted to an angle more natural for the plant (I don't want to mount them because I don't have the time to keep up with the watering of essentially bare root plants).

The flowers will never be produced in great quantities with this hybrid, only a couple at a time on short spikes, but the spikes will stay green for years and as the plant grows, more new spikes will be produced so it is capable of quite a few flowers on older plants. I haven't detected a fragrance, though I'm not sure whether I was really expecting one or not. I just always think its a bonus, you know?

Bloom Event - Coelia bella

After returning from a very pleasant few days away earlier in November, I found the flowers I had been watching develop on Coelia bella open at last. I have been growing this plant for a while and it has finally reached flowering size. This species seems to need to reach quite a size before blooming, but now it has got there I'm hoping it will bloom regularly.  It originates from Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala and can be found at a range of elevations, giving the plant good temperature tolerance. I grow it at warm temperatures (such as might be appropriate for Phalaenopsis species and hybrids) with good results. Regardless of temperature, the plant takes a brief rest between maturing its pseudobulbs and starting new ones, at which time it blooms.

I give plenty of water to this plant, treating it much like a Coelogyne species (a genus to which it is related). It does not like to dry out at all, even while it is resting and seems to enjoy quite wet conditions, at least under warm temperatures. It is possible it would appreciate being kept a little drier under cooler conditions, but I haven’t tried that.

It was interesting watching the flower spike develop because it starts out rather like a new growth emerging from a mature pseudobulb, but quickly becomes much fatter though I can’t call its development fast, with buds only becoming visible right before they are about to open and remaining partially hidden between their protecting bracts even after opening.



The flowers are produced on short racemes with long bracts, the flowers remaining tubular and opening fully only at the tip. There are around 5 flowers per raceme, and are quite large but due to their habit of not opening fully they are much longer than they are wide, and they barely escape from their surrounding bracts.  They have a heavy almost crystalline texture and are mostly white with pinkish purple tips and a narrow yellow pointed lip. This species is reported as being marzipan scented, but I can only assume that whoever wrote that has never smelled marzipan. The scent is very pleasant indeed but is (at least to me) more reminiscent of species such as Dendrochilum glumaceum, but slightly spicier.  The flowers lasted just over a week though they may last longer under cooler conditions.



The flowering racemes sit well below the foliage and cluster among the pseudobulbs. The leaves are long and strap-like with each pseudobulb bearing around five leaves, emerging erect from the apex of the pseudobulbs and arching over gracefully. The plant itself puts me in mind of one of the narrower leafed Aspidistra species. Pseudobulbs are rounded and ovoid, pale green. On my plant they are around 5cm or more in diameter, but may increase further as the plant grows.


I suppose the next challenge will be to see whether potting on upsets it or not. I've no reason to assume it would, but you never know. It really needed doing as soon as I got it, but I still haven't got round to it. The plant doesn't seem to mind, though.

Coelia bella is one of those unfortunate plants that has had taxonomic tennis played with it quite a lot in the past, Being part of genera such as Bothrochilus and Bifrenaria before finding a home as Coelia. Wherever it finds itself in the future, I think this is a lovely species and well worth a place in any mixed collection.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Bloom Event - Trichopilia turialbae

That I'm managing to write a post about this plant in bloom is something of a miracle. It is not that the plant doesn't bloom (fairly) regularly so much as that (a) the blooms are so short lived that I keep missing them and (b) the plant looks such a mess that I'm embarrassed to show it to you. At the time of writing, the flowers have already gone over but I did manage to get a decent photo of a flower this time round so I guess I'll have to show you - warts and all.

The plant is not ostensibly a difficult grower and should be adaptable to warm temperatures, hailing as it does from Costa Rica. It grows steadily and blooms occasionally so I should be happy, shouldn't I? Unfortunately, I have never seen such a 'dirty grower' as this, and its foliage is covered in black marks. It doesn't seem to make any difference to the health of the plant but it looks terrible. I am all the more bemused because I have a second Trichopilia species, T. hennisiana, that is definitely a cool grower but which grows well and which has nice and clean foliage. Go figure.

The flower on Trichopilia turialbae however, is lovely. It might not be the showiest of the species in the genus, but it is rather charming.

Flowers do not open fully, but retain a tubular appearance with the lip flaring out. Note the delicate yellow colouring at the centre. I have read that they are fragrant, but I haven't been able to detect any fragrance; presumably this varies from plant to plant. There were three flowers on the spike. One is open, one yet to open and one blasted.

And now for the embarrassing bit....I suppose I should show you what the plant looks like.


I know, it could be worse, but then again, it could be better. I'm intending to turn this out of its pot in the near future to replace the growing medium which must be getting old by now as I've had the plant for three years or more and I haven't had the nerve to change it yet. The other issue here is I'm not sure I'v ever seen a new root emerge on this plant. As it never shows signs of dehydration and the new growths do appear to be increasing in size I have no real reason to worry.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Bloom Event - Cattleya (Potinara) Young Min Orange

This is probably the strongest orange orchid I have ever grown. An odd opener I know, but it's true. A nice miniature, too, so it doesn't take up much space. One thing it is missing (as do many orange flowers) is a scent, which is a shame as it has a strong influence of Cattleya aurantiaca (from which it gets its colour, its size and its excellent heat tolerance).


The colour is quite spectacular, I'm sure you'll agree.

This plant, along with the rest of my Cattleya, had a bit of a crisis earlier in the year with scale insect which resulted in my scrapping quite a lot of them because I couldn't get the plants clean (persistent little critters, they are). This one was far from being the worst affected and seems to be clean now, though I am watching it (and the others) like a hawk.

There are two growing points on this plant. The largest of them is the largest the plant has ever produced by quite a long way and it is this one that is in bloom with the tallest flower spike of its career and bearing the most flowers (7). The second growth, which has just matured, will probably not produce flowers because I foolishly made a back-cut (which doesn't seem to have worked) and only left two pseudobulbs (plus the new one just matured). The next growth should flower, though.


Notice the blooming growth is much larger than any other on the plant. I really have no idea why this should be, but I'm not complaining. Possibly the particular species in this hybrid's parentage have contributed to its heat tolerance, specifically Cattleya aurantiaca, as mentioned earlier.


Last time this plant bloomed, I'm sure the flowers were more crowded on the stem. This time they have nice spacing and don't interfere with each other (a common complaint with Cattleya). Also, the flowers didn't last very long at all, seeming to go over within a few days of opening. Not so this time, and I'm fairly confident that the first flower will still be in good condition when the last flower has opened.

There are a couple more Cattleya coming up to bloom in the near future (must be because I threatened them), so I will be posting on them in due course.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Bloom Event - Coelogyne speciosa 'Burnham'

As even a casual reader of this blog will realise, I love growing Coelogyne, especially Coelogyne speciosa in all its lovely colour forms. I picked up this particular plant on one of my fairly frequent visits to Burnham Nurseries (my Orchid Nirvana). It was in with all the other (presumably regular form) Coelogyne speciosa, but as it happened, this plant had a flower which was obviously different so I couldn't help but purchase it.

There is a lot of taxanomic confusion (surprise) around this colour form of C. speciosa, with many authorities calling it C. speciosa var. salmonicolor. From what I was told at Burnham Nurseries at the time, it can't be called var. salmonicolor because there is already a species of Coelogyne called salmonicolor, so they put the name 'Burnham' to it to differentiate it from the straight colour form of C. speciosa. In fact, modern taxonomy doesn't allow for different varieties of a species at all, so we are essentially free to call the various colour forms what we like. This will clearly lead to confusion and I have already seen several arguments over this on various online forums. Quite why one persons labelling of plants should be so offensive to someone else I can't really fathom. As far as I'm concerned, as long as the plant is well grown, I couldn't care less if their label reads differently to mine and the nomenclature changes so regularly that both labels are likely to be correct at some point in the future. Just chill out, OK?


As you can see, its very pale, even for the 'Burnham' form. This could be due to light levels or some other variation in growing conditions as compared to other people's plants of this variety, but it is rather lovely. While I spend some time looking at, comparing and appreciating the subtle nuances of these flowers, my better half probably sums it up best with "Not another brown flower, surely!?" Philistine.


In the above photo I have tried to show a bit more of the lip detail to illustrate how pale this flower is. The nodding nature of this species makes it rather difficult to get a natural looking photo of the inside of the flower but since it is intended more for scientific curiosity than for aesthetic value it serves its purpose well enough. Note that there are no brown markings at all inside the flower. The 'regular' form of the species has decided brown marks on the keels (those slightly furry looking ridges on the lip), and quite often on the rest of the lip too and in some forms the markings or the entire lip are almost black.

The plant was in desperate need of re-potting when I got it, with more roots above the potting medium than in it, so I didn't even wait for the flower to go over before de-potting it and replacing the potting medium. It seems to have grown away just fine (Coelogyne generally do) and is now re-flowering in its new potting medium.



As you can see, the plant is still relatively young but is growing nicely and is almost at the size where it will begin to produce multiple growths both from the lead and from backbulbs so I'm hoping for a nice clump with multiple flower spikes before too long. As a point of interest, my original Coelogyne speciosa plant began to produce multiple growths a while back, but I ended up having to divide it because the flowers at the back of the plant were of a different colour form to the flowers at the front of the plant, with the flowers at the back resembling the plant in this article with the front of the plant being the 'regular' colour form. Now I have divided it up so I should have plants of two colour forms. Why did this happen? I originally assumed that there were just two plants in the pot. This proved not to be the case as I had to cut rhizome to separate the two. I can only assume that I have a 'sport' on my hands. I will have to wait for it to bloom again before I can be sure what it actually is but at least now I have some decent photos of both colour forms to compare it against when it does bloom.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

New Plants - Two Angraecum hybrids

I have always wanted to grow more Angraecum, but have been rather afraid to. They seem to have an unjustified reputation of being difficult to grow. This may be true for some species, though I haven't tried but Angraecum sesquipedale and its hybrids seem to be easy growers. This is certainly borne out by my plants. I got my Angraecum sesquipedale from Burnham nurseries back in January and it has grown a lot since, though it is still only just approaching flowering size and I suspect it really needs another twelve months

I think the reputation of Angraecum as difficult comes from the fact that they really don't like having their roots disturbed. This doesn't seem to kill them but does prevent flowering, possibly for several seasons. I'm not sure how sensitive they are to know whether even the 'dropping on' method of potting on might prevent this, but I guess I'll find out in the future.

I have been keeping half an eye out for other Angraecum for quite a while and found Angraecum sesquipedale var. angustifolium at the Orchid Festival at the National Botanic Garden of wales back in September. It looks like it has flower spikes emerging. We shall see.

Then, last week, I found two nice looking Angraecum hybrids on eBay of all places, so I decided to make a purchase. The first is Angraecum Crestwood 'Tomorrow Star'. I have to say I'm impressed. The plant is much bigger than I was expecting, and has a flower spike.


Impressive, I'm sure you'll agree it's a nice plant. The pot is full of roots, too. Angraecum Crestwood is a hybrid between Angraecum veitchii and Angraecum sesquipedale. Angraecum veitchii is itself a hybrid between A. sesquipedale and A. eburneum. This back cross onto A. sesquipedale might be an attempt to compensate for the fact that because A. veitchii is a hybrid between species with resupinate (sesquipedale) and non-resupinate (eburneum), the flowers don't necessarily open the 'right way up' according to how we think they should look. The back cross resulting in A. Crestwood corrects this and the flowers are displayed in a similar form to A. sesquipedale. Angraecum Crestwood 'Tomorrow Star' is well known to be a clumper, and you can easily see in the above photo that there are two decent sized secondary fans developing already, as well as a third small fan that is not so obvious. Obviously, the more fans the plant has, the greater its flowering potential. It also appears relatively compact, taking more after A. sesquipedale. That is not to say it won't get big, of course.

The second plant is one of the parents of A. Crestwood, Angraecum veitchii. I will be very interested see this one flower, and it doesn't look like I will have too long to wait, as it has five flower spikes emerging.


This plant is truly huge. I am assuming the large size of this plant is inherited from Angraecum eburneum which is known to be very large indeed.  It has quite a bit of growing still to do to reach its full potential, but it is large already, far larger than A. Crestwood. I look forward to seeing blooms on both of these plants and will, of course, post again with photos when they do.