Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pleurothallis excelsa rescue

The genus Pleurothallis contains more than 1000 species growing in all parts of the subtropical and tropical Americas. There are very diverse plant forms and culture requirements from moss-like plants to large ranging plants of several feet in height. I have ten species in my collection.

Pleurothallis excelsa grows in Colombia and Ecuador above 5000'. It is cool growing, blooming in winter and spring on spikes arching as much as 2' long.

I have had my plant about six months. This is what it looked like when I got it. There were no roots, just a rhizome with four really bad looking leaves. Need I mention that it was free?

The picture was taken after the dead roots were cleaned off and the plant was in a 3-inch pot. There are a few pieces of limestone in the bottom and sphagnum moss very loosely packed around the plant.

I was just guessing about how to treat this plant. Here was a case where looking up where the plant grew was very helpful. I put it with my other Pleurothallis plants and hoped for the best. Once having made the decision, I resisted the urge to change anything. Orchids don't like changes.

It has worked out well. Four beautiful new leaves have grown, each larger than the last. I am going to leave it alone through the blooming season. I don't know if it has the strength to bloom but I am going to allow at least one spike so that I can get a flower picture.

I will re-evaluate the plant in spring. I may leave it in this pot for another year. Maybe not. I REALLY want a look at the roots and to get rid of the last two old leaves.

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