Saturday, June 19, 2010


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Updated 19 Jun 2010:17,240 visits
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Minicattleya. Epicattleya "Landwoods"

I've been looking for a green/white flowered Minicattleya hybrid, and here it is. Another Trader Joe's orchid. Downside, when I repotted, the roots looked very bad. Instead of off-white and plump, they were light brown and brittle. That may indicate dead roots. Other possibility is brown stain from the growth medium, and just dried out. In addition, there is some irregularity to a blossom. That may indicate viral infection.

I probably shouldn't keep it. We'll see how it does. If there is new growth that appears healthy, it may be worth trying to rebloom. I'll have to be careful to avoid any kind of cross-contamination if there is a possibility of virus.

Orchids starting new growth

Still at a stage where I don't know if orchids will grow for me at not. I've noticed that novices like myself look for signs of life frequently. Is it planning to bloom? Is it growing? They grow slowly, so it's easy to feel like they are almost inert. A sign of life is very rewarding.

A few buds are starting to appear at bases of cattleya-type plants. New pseudobulb, but at this stage just buds. Still, they were not there before, so itlooks like this is a positive sign.

A few more buds. Iwanagaara Appleblossom, a Potinara, and and a Brasolaeliocattleya are all showing some new growth buds.

The next step, of course, is to nurture them into full size pseudobulbs, then to bloom.

Also an interesting and positive sign. When I repotted a purchased Cattleya walkeriana, there was a second tiny plant, with one leaf and a few tiny pseudobulbs. I repotted it separately. Here it is, now with a new bud. The leaf fell off - I think it was ready to go anyway. We'll see if this bud grows into a larger pseudobulb than the existing ones.

Iwanagaara Appleblossom "Fantastic". Still blooming. I'm impressed at how long the flower lasts.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Kitchen Garden. A mess but there is hope.

This is Petite negri fig. Quite a few brebas, plumping up. This is another tree that attracts birds, so is covered with a net. Net on top, and the tanglefoot on the trunk for ants. There are lots of brebas on Lattarula, a few on Desert King, a few on Vancouver / Brunswick, and quite a few on Petite negri. Hardy Chicago lost its brebas but if last year is any indication, could be the most productive main crop.

I have 'pinched' all of the new growth at 3 to 5 nodes. Some area already producing embryonic main crop at the nodes.

I wondered if this mulberry would really start to grow. Maybe with the onset of sunny weather, it will take off. We'll see.

Sad looking peppers. Very sad. Rain and rain and rain and rain. They are blooming. Will they perk up?

Tomatoes, looking sad but now we are into sunny days again. I still hope they will perk up. Some have flowers. I've added stakes and started to tie them into place. I removed a few suckers.

The potatoes are lush and green in their barrels.

Some of the peas took off and grew. I better harvest a few tonite.

Peaches. The thinning worked well! Some are affected by leaf curl due to the extended rains, but overall they look good.

Lettuce looking nice in the barrel.

Cherries. Not in such great shape, but we should get some. They had a fantastic start, but those rains! Now covered with a net to keep out the birds.

It all looks quite messy. No time for weeding. Next weekend I guess.

Orchid starts & progress. Oncidium and Vappodes phalaenopsis (Cooktown Orchid)

Today was another homework day. No time for yard work. I did take some photos.

I've been wanting to write up on Dendrobium bigibbum, except it's now called Vappodes phalaenopsis. My friend gave me a start from her plant, so I don't have photos of the blooming plant. I identified it from web pictures, which look exactly like her plant.

(This drawing from wikimedia commons under Dendrobium bigibbum. Illustrator is Vera Scarth Johnson)

Here is the start, I imagine it was a keikei. That was about 3 months ago. It sat for 2 months, then started to grow from the point where the aerial roots are seen. So it's about doubled in size now. I take that as a message that I'm not killing it. Now it's responding with a small shoot from the base - cool! Currently the leaves look a lot like Epidendron leaves, but the botanical drawings of Dendrobium bigibbum also show similar leaves and stems. I had potted up the keikei in the same bark/perlite/peat medium that I use for other orchids, and it's been getting the same weekly/weakly fertilizer regimen as well. I will guess, it's 1 to 2 years from blooming.

The color is a bit darker purple, compared to this drawing. Source is Swiss Orchid Foundation, with drawing originally from Lucien Linden & Emile,
Lindenia Iconographie des Orchidées 1892 I edited the pic with a little color enhancement and cropped a little. Given over a century of fading, this editing may have brought the drawing back toward its original color.

Also from the same source and with a little electronic color enhancement. This was such a handsome print, I wanted to include it even though my plant won't be this color.

Dendrobium bigibbum is also called "the Cooktown orchid" and originates in NE Australia. Let's make it really confusing. D. biggibum was conflated with Dendrobium phalaenopsis, which has flowers somewhat similar to Phalaenopsis but is really distant from that genus. Since then this species has been renamed Vappodes phalaenopsis. So I shouldn't call it dendrobium after all, but that still appears to be the commonly known name. Unless you just call it "Cooktown Orchid." Per Wikipedia, "It lives in a wide variety of habitats ranging from coastal scrub on trees and rocks, to mangroves, riverine vegetation, rainforest, vine thickets, gullies in open forest and even swamps. It used to be prolific around Cooktown but is now rare in the wild, due to over-collecting by commercial collectors."

It's hard to find specific culture information - from the Cooktown orchids website, are a couple of items - "where they grow naturally they have monsoon downpours in the summer and can have no rain at all for 2 - 3 months in the winter." and "fertilise weekly and weakly (1 gram/litre) in the growing season, September to December [in Australia - so here probably March to June?], with a low level nitrogen fertiliser... change to higher level phosphorous and potassium fertiliser... in flowering season, January [in Australia] till the flowers drop. The plants make new growths, flower from those growths and set seedpods between September to April [in Australia] so frequent feeding is almost mandatory for best results."

This is the Oncidium that got it all started for me. No ID, my wild guess is "Gower Ramsey" but that may change if I can get a picture showing the pseudobulbs. I'm hoping a current tiny bud at the base of the newest pseudobulb on the original plant is a bloom spike. However, the last "bloom spike" turned out to be a new growth instead, which matured into a nice plump pseudobulb.
This may be due to my enhanced interest in orchids. It seemed to bloom fine with neglect, but now it's getting water and is in a brighter window, and getting weekly/weakly plant food, and the resultant pseudobulbs and leaves are shiny and lush. Maybe it needs neglect in order to bloom. We'll see.
OK, so this is the first of the starts to take off and grow. I've blogged on these Oncidium backbulbs before. They continue to grow, and are all producing lots of aerial roots that then find their way into the medium and become nonaerial roots, just like the parent plant. I think now they have progressed beyond being called "backbulb" and can now be considered actual orchid plants. If the parent plant blooms, then these might bloom in a year or two.

Here are the 2 smaller ones. One is in a clear plastic pot, so I can see roots as they develop. The other is in a clay pot. I can compare notes on how they grow in the 2 pot types. The plant in plastic is smaller but started much later as well.
Not pictured here are some "sort-of starts" of Cattleya. One is a piece of the Cattleya walkeriana alba, it has no leaves but is starting to grow a new growth. very gradual. The other is a group of 3 tiny, tiny plants that came with Jewelbox orange. When that plant arrived, I repotted it. There were 3 pieces that must have been in the same community pot when it was cloned, but didn't take off and grow. Those are in a sphagnum baggie. If they grow, I'll be impressed at the plant's resilience. If not, nothing really lost.

Dendrobium nobile hybrids, continued

I think this is the limit for my hyrid Dendrobium nobile collection. They require enough window space, I need to limit them. The current conundrum is: To promote growth of new canes (pseudobulbs) that will produce next year's flowers, they should be in full sun. To lengthen the life of the current flowers, they should be out of the sun, and kept cool. So which is it, warm in the sun, or cool in the shade?

I figure, they are all about the flowers. Even if not 100% optimal for next year's flowers, I'm keeping them in a bright space but not direct sun, until the flowers are done. Then they'll gradually go into full sun. I think they'll have enough cane growth for at least a few flowers, and mine don't need to look like the lush, massive bouquets on the Yamamoto dendrobium site. Just be bright and cheerful in the gloomy late winter / early spring here in the US Pacific Northwest.

Tentatively identified as Fancy Angel "Lycee" although I can't say for certain. Two unbloomed canes are already mature and plump, so it probably won't suffer from lack of full sun while blooming. I like the appearance of the pseudobulbs, they look exotic and Dr. Seussian. That's one reason that I like to show the entire plant, it adds to the exptic appearance.

Blossom closeup. I hate to say it, but I'm less crazy about these blossoms than some of the others. Even so, with the smaller number of flowers, it's possible to concentrate on the Cattleya-like shape of the flower.

Tentatively identified as Love Memory "Fizz". Coloration is bolder and the lip marking is more prominant. I like this one a lot. It has 2 new canes that are not nearly as plump as the mature canes. It will be interesting if they plump up like the original canes. I hope so.

I'm 99% sure this is Oriental Smile "Fantasy" from Yamamoto. Nothing else looks similar. I picked it up at Trader Joe's 2 weeks ago. Potted into the standard bark/perlite/peat mix, same as the others, in the slotted container for aeration. Yamamoto states this is a later bloomer than most.

View of entire plant, Dendrobium Oriental Smile "Fantasy". Nice glowing warm coloration. It has that strange ultra-thin lower part of the cane, widening into a fatter cane above, typical for Dendrobium nobile.

New aquisition, Dendrobium Yellow Song "Canary". Mail order from Hauserman. I didn't expect for it to be in bloom. The flowers are a bit crushed, otherwise they are bright and sunny. Being without defining lip markings, I think that the flowers may benefit from thinning to set them off. We'll see if it blooms next year.

The original pot was only about 2 inches across. I didn't want to overpot, since Dendrobium nobile is known to require limitation of root space, but the original pot was so small . I went up about 2 inches in diameter. The original medium was coconut husk, so tight that I couldn't get it out without damaging the roots, so I left most of the old medium in place.