Sunday, June 13, 2010

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.

1 comment:

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