Monday, July 04, 2011

Orchid Progress Report.

Here are some lessons I have learned from experience with orchids, so far:
1. If you buy one in bloom, at least you get the pleasure of having it bloom once. If it has a number of unbloomed spikes, that may be a few months of blooming, depending on the variety. See the Burrageara photo, a fine example.

2. Sometimes you just have to try a few varieties of a genus or species. I've had great success with Dendrobium nobile, mostly Yamamoto hybrids. I've had no success with Dendrobium phaelenopsis, multiple varieties. I think the nobiles like it cooler, and the phaelenopsis like it warmer, and just can't adapt to my environment. Similarly, I've rebloomed a couple of Oncidium intergenerics that are extravagant in their flower production, but can't seem to get a standard yellow Oncidium to bloom no matter what I do. The Cymbidiums I've collected all looked pretty much the same out of bloom, but some are growing rapidly, while the one next to them sits and sulks.

3.  I'm not sure how much the container type matters.  I have some in glazed orchid pots, with lattice sides that allow drying of medium quickly.  Others in clay pots.  The clay does seem to build up salts.  The references recommend occasional drenching with rain water to prevent salt buildup.  I've been bad about doing that.  Some are in plastic pots.  I think Cymbidiums do well in plastic.  I've been going to clay for the Oncidium intergenerics lately.  Still trying to decide what's best, or if it matters.

The Yamamoto Dendrobiums are on the south deck under the grape arbor. For much of the day, they are in full sun. The young starts are growing quickly. I am feeding them high nitrogen 30:10:10 except for Apollon Spring Dream, which has the start of buds, looking a bit floral - so it's gettin 10:20:20.

A Miltoniopsis hybrid that, according to my label I bought and repotted in late 2010. After reading they can be difficult, I didn't expect much but never got around to throwing it away. Now producing a flower spike. There you go. That's why I salvaged another Miltoniopsis that I almost threw away - time will tell if that "dormancy" actually killed it.

Burrageara Nellie Isler. As I recall, this is Stefan Isler with some additional Miltoniopsis, hence the larger skirt. Quite fragrant. There are 3 unbloomed spikes, so I expect it to bloom for a long time. I repotted it into a squat 6" clay pot to give it a chance for growth, as well as better wet/dry pattern than the miniscule plastic pot it was in originally. These are labeled as "azalea pots".    I haven't seen that repotting, even in full bloom, is a set back for most orchids.  Leaving them in their original pots can be a challenge, because they are often packed very tightly and in a medium that might have worked in a greenhouse but not necessarily in my hands.

Here are the Cymbidiums. These are North of the house, but get full sun for several hours daily, as can be seen here. They will have to move when the contractor comes next week to tear out the old kitchen - not sure where I'll put them. I just up-potted one that I thought dried out too fast, not a big deal just pulled it out and put into a larger pot with as little disturbance as possible. The medium was recent, from this winter, so it did not need an aggressive replacement. Also here is an oncidium, now unfortunately sunburned. Doesn't like the sun that the Cymbidiums and Dendrobiums love, but it also hasn't bloomed in about 5 years, so maybe this will help it bloom. The new growth are pale green which is said to be a good thing.


  1. Such a pleasure to visit your blog, and see how green you're making your corner of the earth. Your photos, as always, are beautiful. Some months ago, inspired by your site, I re-potted an orchid using your words and photos as a guide, and it's about to bloom! Thank you. Happy summer, L.A.

  2. Thank you so much! Your comment is very appreciated. I love knowing that people enjoy coming along with me as I putter and plant! Glad your orchid is blooming!