Thursday, December 15, 2016

Make Orchid Growing Great Again

2016 Was a pretty good year for my orchids. I know this because many bloomed, many need to be divided or go into larger pots. However, I didn't do much to deserve the growth or flowers I got. I maybe fertilized them twice the whole year. I turned the hose on them when it hadn't rained for a few weeks. They got too much sun when some trees came down in the back yard. One Vanda (I forgot I had,) I left hanging on a fence in full sun and basically never watered or fertilized it. It's leaves are a bit sunbleached, but it's roots look fabulous and it's still putting out a new leaf.

I've been doing a million other things and was much more focused on my bromeliads and Nepenthes. All it took was one new Phalaenopsis and we're back in the game. I know, a Phalaenopsis?! The grocery store orchid for the masses? Gets marked down to $1 when it drops it's flowers? Get's thrown in the trash when it's done blooming? How plebian, Ick.

Yeah, but it's Phalaenopsis gigantea. I haven't been this excited about a purchase in a long time. Do yourself a favor and look this one up if you haven't seen one before. I was at my local garden center buying some soil amendments and did my usual browse through the plant section when there she was:

Large seedling?

I'm really, really invested in this Phalaenopsis gigantea in particular. I need it to be a monster one day, so whatever happens I cannot kill it. I even bought some larger clear pots to repot this guy out of moss. It's a slow grower, but has definitely grown between the times these pictures were taken.

That set off a slight binge in buying some species and higher end hybrid Phalaenopsis. I don't regret it. My cheap hybrid mini-Phals bloom every winter. My Phal 'Purple Martin', (a violacea hybrid) blooms on and off, all summer, every summer, since I bought it.

New Phal species from a variety of sources
That's a spike. And yeah that's dust/dirt/debris on slightly dehydrated leaves.

Spikes in various stages of growth

So here's to Phalaenopsis. The generic, cheap first orchid many of us killed. For me, the majority of my 2016 orchid purchases. The orchids that are the nicest to me despite me neglecting them for nearly a year, so it appears I do owe them.

Thanks to that Phal. gigantea in particular for renewing my interest in orchids. Does a new purchase ever do that for you all as well?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sorry for the lack of updates this year...

I took a long break from posting, here and elsewhere in the plant growing communities. I needed to take some time away for a variety of reasons.

I was considering deleting this blog the other day, but I miss the positive aspects of sharing photos, ideas, and the meaningful conversations I've had with people from all over the world with similar interests due to having it around. I'm choosing to focus on the positive things. Like the fact that some of you emailed or sent me messages on Instagram and I truly appreciate everyone who kept in touch. I think I've caught up on all the comments on here as well.

I've some damage to a few of my plants, and some didn't make it due to Hurricane Matthew. So I'm working on growing really happy plants while a construction crew fixes the more important things damaged, such as the roof of our house, ceiling of the bedroom, etc.

New posts coming shortly..

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sarracenia Flowers for 2016

First to bloom this year, S. leucophylla 'Tarnok'

 S. Black Widow x flava rubricorpora

S. rosea Clone K, Mobile Co., AL

S. 'Royal Ruby'

S. rosea var. luteola

S. rosea 'Fat Chance' (L) & S. rosea, Liberty Co., FL (R)

S. rubra

S. flava var. rubricorpora "Red Tube" Botanique clone

S. minor (anthocyanin free)

S. minor, Orange County FL.

S. rubra ssp. gulfensis (anthocyanin free)

S. rubra ssp. gulfensis, Green, Yellow River, FL (MK-RG1)

S. purpurea ss. venosa, Tattnal Co., Georgia

S/ purpurea ssp. venosa, Botanical Wonders a.k.a Death Cube Clone

There are a ton more buds coming up and of course pitchers!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Bromeliads Are Pretty Cool Too

Bromeliads are considered a "keystone species," meaning they're important to the survival of a variety of living organisms in their environment. The "tank" that the leaves form gets filled with water that not only does the plant use, it creates a habitat with food and shelter for animals, insects, microorganisms and even other plants. I won't get started on here into the estimates of how many gallons of water an acre of a forest containing bromeliads can hold, estimates on how many organisms they support. The point being is they help and in some cases exclusively support life around and in them through some complex co-evolution.

Now here in my tiny corner of the world, they aren't so important, but they appear to be of value anyway. Quesnelia marmorata 'Tim Plowman' has been home to this particular frog since I moved it outside for the summer.

This Anole lizard was hiding in and about them catching bugs the other day. He blends in pretty well with this green Hohenbergia too.

I've developed a bit of a collection, and recently moved them all outside for the summer again. I love that animals are enjoying having them here too.

The genus Hohenbergia might just be my favorite.

Left to Right: Hohenbergia leopoldo-horstii, Hoh. edmundoi Chapada Diamantina clone, unnamed Hoh. hybrid 

View from above, l love the long tubular shapes these make.
Hohenbergia species #357 (an unnamed Brazilian species,) with two Neoregelia in front
Hohenbergia 'Karla', a variegated sport that was produced by a Hoh. magnispina
One of my favorite features in any genus is spines. The more careful you have to be when repotting the bigger a fan I am of the plant.

Billbergia sanderiana
Androlepis skinneri
This one murdered my arms trying to get it from the store to my car and back out to the yard again. It was meant to be.
Aechmea orlandiana 'Ensign'
This Aechmea nudicaulis 'Parati' is a new one I recently potted up. Aside from features like spiked leaves, one of the best parts about growing bromeliads is how easily they can be shared and shipped. After the main plant flowers, it'll make offsets, or "pups" to propagate itself and the mother plant will eventually die. Some mother plants make pups before flowering, like this one, and should make a nice clump of plants over time.

By now you've probably noticed the chopsticks throughout these photos. The ones that had arrived without roots are staked in place with them. It works perfectly to keep them stable while they root, as you can't bury the base of the plant without risking rotting epiphytic bromeliads like this one.

There are some bromeliads that make pups often and form nice looking clumps more easily than others.

Neoregelia 'Zoe' & Neoregelia Fireball
If you have the patience, starting with one single pup can be a super cheap way to start what will be a nice clump of plants like the above eventually.

Neoregelia punctatissima 'Yellow Banded' and Neoregelia ampullacia red form (putting out it's 1st offset on a long stolon.)
With such easy maintenance and many being cold tolerant enough to stay outside all year here, (seriously, my Home Depot Vriesea hybrid tolerates the occasional frost,) it's hard not to wind up with a serious collection over time.

Side note: As an FYI, my Catopsis berternoniana from California Carnivores is actually (99% sure, sent in for ID) a Catopsis morreniana. So if you've purchased one from CC last summer as well, you've likely got a morreniana too. Why am I so sure? Mines making 3 pups, berteroniana only makes one. The flowers and overall size at maturity are different as well if that wasn't enough. Back on the hunt for a legit C. berternoniana :( 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Some More Booming Orchids

Lets start with the mini Phalaenopsis.

Dtps. Sogo Vivien variegated. The plastic pot broke, probably due to the heat and sun of growing it outdoors, so it needs repotting so bad it isn't funny.

Dtps. Sogo Vieker 'Taida Little Monkey', flowers got a bit bunched up and wacky. Unfortunately had to move it in from outdoors when the temps started to get too low at night, after it had already started blooming so now it looks a mess.

Dtps. Sogo Yenlin 'Coffee' variegated. As you can see, moving the plant after it already started blooming kind of messed up the flowers and shapeliness of the spike this year too. (P.S. I also still have a few of these left for sale.)

NoID mini Phal. Same problem, oh well.

On to the Cattleyas!

Cattleya lawrenceana 'El Hatillo' x 'Manantial' decided to push out some more flowers. Also that's definitely not an old store display rack I use to grow some of my orchids on.

Cattleya Caribbean x lawrenceana. I've been patiently waiting on this one to bloom since I bought it in 2014. It's an H&R cross according to an older sales list. This also may be the 1st photo on the internet of the bloom as I can't find a single other.

Cattleya nobilior var. amaliae 'Miss Blue' x 'Select'

Last but certainly not least, Dendrobium.

Dendobium moniliforme 'Himeginsetsu'. This one's been blooming since fall, same as last year, what a great mini.

Lots more in spike, including my one of my favorite Cattleya species, so it should be a good year for orchid blooms!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Quesnelia marmorata 'Tim Plowman'

Any of you that have ever looked over my "want" list have seen Quesnelia marmorata cv. 'Tim Plowman' has been there since forever. As a purchaser of mostly Nepenthes, bromeliads are not often at the top of my list but after cruising eBay (terrible habit) one of the better looking ones I've seen listed had me finally pulling the trigger.

Quesnelia marmorata 'Tim Plowman'
Not only did I pay well under retail but the seller threw in an extra, a decent sized Quesnelia marmorata. How cool is that?! Rarely do many vendors do this anymore, so I certainly didn't expect it from an eBay purchase.

Quesnelia marmorata
Now, I'm no bromeliad expert so I read a lot about this species and ended up changing how I had originally potted it up. According to what few sources sounded like they had a clue about growing Quesnelia, they like it on the dry side. Normally I'd pot epiphytic bromeliads like Neoregelia in a mix with orchid bark or mulch, perlite, and regular garden soil. So I'm trying this one with orchid bark, perlite, and hydroton. Seeing as how these are epiphytes, you could just mount them and be done with it too for any epiphytic bromeliad. Mounted typically require watering more often than potted though, and I don't always have time for that so we'll see how my potting mix works out.

Quesnelia marmorata (left) & Quesnelia marmorata cv. 'Tim Plowman' (right)

There seems to be some conflicting information regarding the curliness of  'Tim Plowman.' I've read that the true cultivar will retain it's curly leaves despite cultural conditions, and then I've read that watering too much or various otherwise worse than ideal cultural conditions can cause it to lose it's curliness. I certainly have no plans on growing this any other way than you're supposed to, (dry and in the sunlight,) so it shouldn't be an issue for me. It does make me wonder if there are other curly leaved forms that maybe resemble the 'Tim Plowman' cultivar that people have either accidentally assumed are that cultivar or purposefully passed off as such to make plants more valuable. Seeing as how the 'Rafael Oliveira' cultivar was also found in the wild and also has curly leaves, I'd bet there's not only more out there, but many intermediate forms as well that maybe do react to cultural conditions more so than others.

In other news, I really need to create a black background to take plant photos in front of, one of these days.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Few Nepenthes Photos

Nepenthes ventricosa. This species slows growth through the hottest part of summer here, so now that it's been cooler, all of my ventricosa have been doing better.

A free plant Bruce Bednar (of Lee's Botanical Gardens) had put in with an order I made from him last summer, Nepenthes "Winged Grabilis" (N. mirabilis winged x N. gracilis nigropurpurea.) Was a little cutting that is starting to do very well now that it's had a few months to settle in.

Nepenthes trichocarpa (ampullaria x gracilis) x "viking." I like the yellow and red color combo on this one. It will unfortunately always have small pitchers due to the species that make up this hybrid, but it does keep it's pitchers a long time which is always a plus.

Nepenthes truncata, lowland variety. Starting to gain some size and more color in the pitchers.

Nepenthes mirabilis var. globosa x (ampullaria x rafflesiana)

Nepenthes mirabilis winged x [maxima x (maxima x mixta)]. This one's into one of my favorites. Besides the winged tendril, it's very pretty in it's simplicity.

N. bicalcarata Orange Blush. Still one of my favorite species.

Nepenthes veitchii "pink," newly opened pitcher

Nepenthes trichocarpa "green" x viking. Another compact hybrid that I just really like how pink it always is.

Nepenthes rafflesiana BE clone #99, older pitcher looking a little rough from living outside.

Nepenthes ampullaria x ??? It's grows quickly and makes tons of basals or such a young plant. So whatever it is, this should be a really nice looking plant when it gets larger.

N. albomarginata, Red, Gunung Jerai. A slow grower for me, most likely keeping a bit warm for it's tastes but it's growing larger finally.

Now that the outdoor temps have started to dip into the 40's at night, I set up the indoor grow tent and moved everybody that was outdoors either into the Florida room, or into the tent. It was a good 2 day project to move all the plants, clean up, trim, or repot, and reorganize everything. However, I still have room for more plants though, even with everything moved inside, so that was nice to find out.