Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spring-cleaning continues through nice weather

With nights in the upper 40s this week when many plants can be left out of the greenhouse over night, spring-cleaning is in full swing. A major aspect of spring-cleaning is finding any bugs and taking care of them. This is the best time because all the surfaces can be cleaned and sprayed.

I am not finding many visible bugs but there could be small groups of plants with an infestation, so every plant gets looked at. For an individual plant the first step is removing anything brown and inspection. If I see any bugs, I spray them with an alcohol-soap-water mix. I have added red coloring to the soap so that I know for sure that the spray bottle contains the alcohol, not water.

The next step is washing off all the bug bodies. When I re-inspect a plant in a couple of days, I know any bugs I see are new bugs. I use a spray bottle with a pretty strong stream of water.

Whether I have seen bugs or not I spray the whole plant with Bayer insect killer. Young bugs are small and can be on a plant without being seen. If I am re-potting, I spray the roots as well. This gives about a month of protection according to the label, but there is a lot of water spraying in my greenhouse and it probably is gone in a week.

What has been effective for bug control is the Bayer systemic. I mix it weaker than label directions and add a quarter-teaspoon of 20-20-20 fertilizer to my gallon pump sprayer. Since I started using it I have not seen any meally or aphids at all. Scale is not gone but definitely under control.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pholidota chinensis in bloom

Pholidota chinensis - Photo by Richard LindbergThe genus Pholidota contains 30 species growing from India to South China, Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea into the Pacific Islands and south to Australia.

Pholidota chinensis grows in Vietnam, Burma, Hong Kong and southern China. It is warm to hot growing, fragrant and thrives in a variety of light levels.

I got this plant three years ago from a raffle table. It has been a reliable bloomer. I like the picture and remember the effort to get it. I may try again, though. I think it would show the flower better without the water drops and small, white flowers are always a challenge.

There are four spikes this year. One is done, one is open and two more just developing. They are all on one side and the basket is packed full. Time to repot, I think, and I'll do it next month.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Time to put up shade cloth

Cattleya My Special Angel - Photo by Richard LindbergI got a three-foot section moved out of the greenhouse into the temporary work area. One of the things I found was this cattleya just starting to get sunburn. I think it is only pigment but that remains to be seen.

Cattleya My Special Angel is Cattleya luteola x Cattleya iricolor and is a fairly high light orchid. If the light is too much for it, a lot of the others will get burned or bleached if I don't put up shade cloth.

The north wall of the greenhouse is glass and has most of the shade cloth removed during winter to let maximum light in. As the sun moves north it starts to come in during the late afternoon. Two saw horses in the shadeThis Catt was the first plant to get full sun through glass. I have the shade cloth all cut and so I tacked it up where it will stay until autumn.

For spring cleaning I get out a pair of saw horses and some boards to make a place where a bunch of plants can be out of the greenhouse for several hours. Normally I work with only one plant at a time, but spring-cleaning is as much about cleaning the greenhouse as it is about plant maintenance.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mounting securely with minimum visibility

Even though I don't like to see fishing line on a mount, I am not a form over function kind of guy. The most important thing is that the plant not move on the mount. They get easily confused when they shift around.

There are two pieces to be mounted this time. Each must be attached in at least two spots. I lay out the plants on the cork. When I like the placement I take a red marker and mark the attach points, two holes for each. I have tried a black marker, but the black dots are harder to pick out on the cork surface.

After I drill all eight holes I feed a long piece of fishing line through each pair of holes using a bamboo skewer. I tie each pair of ends together so they won't come back out during handling and so I can easily know what are the pairs.

Now comes the sphagnum pad. This is not a clump but rather two strands of sphagnum running under the fishing line loops right where the rhizome will be on the cork.

The plant pieces are placed on the moss. A tiny piece of sphagnum is on top of the rhizome under the fishing line to protect the rhizome. The line should be firm without cutting. If there is any movement at all, redo that tie.

These are the two small pieces I got on Tuesday. During the day of soaking some of the roots greened up so I know there are live roots. It should re-hydrate nicely.

Bulbophyllum Doris Dukes AQ/AOS is Bulbophyllum fascinator x Bulbophyllum rothschildianum. I referred to it as a Cirrhopetalum a couple of days ago but it is a Bulbophyllum, at least for a month or two while the classification tug-of-war goes on around us.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dendrobium kingianum blooming

Dendrobium kingianum - Photo by Richard Lindberg

Lighter blue Dendrobium kingianum - Photo by Richard LindbergThe genus Dendrobium (Den) contains 1200 species from all parts of Asia and the Pacific. Some like a dry winter rest, all like to dry out between watering. Flowers are long lasting.

Dendrobium kingianum grows in eastern Australia. It is fragrant, needs bright light and needs a dry winter rest.

I have two Dendrobium kingianum plants with different shades of blue. The other is in a 12-inch basket and is quite a sight. I will wait until there are more flowers open to show that one to you.

Dendrobium Ellen 'Zonks' x den Ku-Ring-Gai 'Bobin' - Photo by Richard LindbergDendrobiums in general and the Australian Dendrobiums in particular have been a challenge for me. This is primarily due to how wet my greenhouse stays all summer with the overhead foggers.

I have killed a couple of these and am finally feeling as if I know them better. I have a dry area in the greenhouse that is only hand watered. Dendrobiums are in that area, high up where the light is brightest, about 4000 foot candles.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A mounting tip - feeding nylon line through a hole

I don't like to see fishing line on a mount. I just don't. If I am mounting or re-mounting I will go to some extra effort to feed the line through holes instead of wrapping the line around the wood.

With thin cork bark and a really clean hole it is not too terrible to thread the line through, but if the cork is thick or the mount is on other wood it can be very frustrating. I do a lot of mounts so the annoyance level builds up over time.

Here's the trick. Take a bamboo skewer and tie the fishing line to the tip so that it can't slide up. I use a single knot where I go through twice instead of once. That holds fine for this purpose. Now push the skewer through the hole and there you are, all threaded.

(Mouse-over the picture below to see "before" picture)

Bulbophyllum Purple Slippers - Removed some sphagnum and re-attachedThis plant was mounted on a pretty piece of wood, but you couldn't see it for all the sphagnum. And the sphagnum was so thick that the plant was not attached to the wood at all.

Much better, don't you think? There are two places where the plant is tied down. It is stable and you see nothing from the front. New roots will be very close to the wood and will have no trouble attaching.

Bulbophyllum Purple Slippers is Bulb frostii x Bulb guttulatum

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AQ/AOS - An Award of Quality

I have never seen (or at least never noticed) a tag with AQ/AOS before today. While I was doing my Tuesday maintenance at my friend's greenhouse I ran into Cirr Doris Dukes AQ/AOS.

More information about this AOS award can be found on the internet. And the internet tells me that "An Award of Quality (AQ/AOS) is given when at least 12 different varieties of the same cross are presented. At least one in the group must also receive a flower award or have previously been awarded. This award is given to both the grower of the plants and to the breeder, providing they are not the same person."

The plant is a fairly large mount. It didn't need much work but there was growth off the mount and a few dead pseudobulbs. I made the adjustments and replaced the wire hanger. One of the side benefits of doing maintenance on other peoples orchid collections is being able to take home leftovers, in this case two small pieces of this primary hybrid (Bulbophyllum fascinator x Bulbophyllum rothschildianum).

The pieces are soaking right now. That will make the roots more pliable. Later today I will mount them together on a piece of cork.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dendrobium Stephen Batchelor

Dendrobium Stephen Batchelor - Photo by Richard LindbergDendrobium (Den) contains 1200 species from all parts of Asia and the Pacific. Some like a dry winter rest, all like to dry out between watering. Flowers are long lasting.

This is the cross Dendrobium alexandrae x Dendrobium johnsoniae. Both of these are from Papua and New Guinea blooming in fall and winter.

They both are members of the Latouria group. I found this great article about them in the Dean Street Orchids blog. There are several other interesting articles there too.

I got this about 18 months ago along with several other plants from a friend who was down sizing her orchid collection. I repotted in rock, put it in a bright spot and hoped for the best. I am happy that it bloomed, although from my reading I know that there should be many more flowers.

You can see a defining characteristic in the plant picture. The pseudobulb has a thin bottom much like a club or a baseball bat.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Epicattleya Rene Marquez 'Flame Thrower' HCC/AOS in bloom

Epicattleya Rene Marquez 'Flame Thrower' HCC/AOS - Photo by Richard LindbergI have had this Epicattleya (Epc) Rene Marquez 'Flame Thrower' HCC/AOS a little over a year. The parentage of this cross is Epidendron pseudepidendrum x (Cattleya intermedia) x (Cattleya loddigesii). I looked at pictures of all of them and I didn't see much to predict the resulting hybrid. But you can certainly see where the clonal name 'Flame Thrower' comes from.

This is the first time it has bloomed and it produced only one flower. I am actually quite happy with its progress since the new growth much taller than any previous growth. I am sure there will be even taller canes next year along with a lot more flowers.

I have the plant in a 2 1/2-inch pot in pea gravel. The plant has room for a couple more years growth on top but there has been plenty of new root growth, so I am going to at least un-pot it when new growth starts to see how crowded it has become.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Restrepia sanguinea in bloom today

Restrepia sanguinea - Photo by Richard LindbergThe genus Restrepia (Rstp) contains 30 or 40 found from Mexico to Northern Argentina. Their culture is similar to small Pleurothallis species and grow well with small pots, high humidity and shady conditions.

Restrepia sanguinea grows in Ecuador and Venezuela. It is cold to cool growing.

This particular plant was a freebie that was a little rough around the edges but is growing well and is ready to divide. It has been growing in pea gravel for over a year. The new leaves are clean and I should be able to get a good looking division or two.

A nice thing about Restrepia sanguinea is that it re-blooms off of the same leaf and continues blooming throughout the spring.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Maxillaria variabilis in bloom today

Maxillaria variabilis - Photo by Richard LindbergThe genus Maxillaria (Max) contains 650 some species spread throughout the tropical and sub-tropical Americas. They have a single flower. Generally warm to hot growing.

Maxillaria variabilis grows in Mexico south to Ecuador. It is cool to hot growing and blooms throughout the year.

This is a cute little flower that stands out mostly due to its color. As the name implies there are color variations, most often seen is a red form.

I have had this plant for a few years and have divided it a couple of times. It doesn't look as if it will get divided this year.

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The foggers came on yesterday and the day before. Those are only the second and third times the foggers have come on this year. The nights are above 40 and the days are getting into the 70s. Spring cleaning continues today.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sphagnum moss going out of style?

It seems so, the way I am going through it right now. Normally I use some, particularly for Masdevallia and their relatives, but not the amounts I am using just now.

The reason is simple enough. I am potting up Laelia anceps divisions in 4-inch and 5-inch pots and that takes quite a bit of moss. For these plants I pack it in pretty tight.

I work from a 5-gallon bucket. I put half of a brick in the bucket and add water. After a few minutes I flip the brick so that the bottom is at the top. Before long there is plenty of moss ready to fluff.

I buy the New Zealand because that is what is readily avaiable. I am not fussy about it. I get the 500g size for $15 which is a substantial saving over getting the 150g size for $7.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More about re-mounting orchids

I got a few more plants to re-mount from the greenhouse where I do weekly maintenance. On the way home I picked up 100 feet of 14 gauge wire.

I bought some 12 gauge wire a couple of months ago. I use on many mounts, especially the larger ones. But for some smaller mounts 12 gauge is overkill and so I use 14 gauge for those. I am just about out of the last roll and 100 feet goes faster than you would think.

I don't re-wire a mount unless it needs other work. In this case I have four mounts that have such a big pad of sphagnum that the plant has not attached to the cork bark. (Mouse-over the picture below)

Wire hook replaced and plant attached betterBesides replacing the hook I moved the plant lower, removed half of the sphagnum and fastened it so that the new growth was in contact with the cork.

This plant is Oncidium onustum. One thing to be aware of is that new growth is higher than the previous generation in Oncidiums generally speaking.

Sometimes it seems as though the top half of the cork is empty, but I am thinking two or more years ahead. With the proper placement, the mount will only get better looking with time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Baptistonia echinata in bloom today

Baptistonia echinata - Photo by Richard LindbergThe genus Baptistonia (Bapt) grows in Brazil and now contains only one species. All the others have been moved back to Oncidium.

Baptistonia echinata grows in Brazil in low mountain rainforests. It is cool to hot growing with water all year.

I picked this up on a whim SCOS member sale table. I like to say that I am a logical collector, but the truth is that some orchids call my name and I answer.

I took this flower picture yesterday. In fact I took 15 pictures in three sessions. It is on the small side and I had waited too long to take the pictures because I was waiting for the flowers to open fully. I finally checked the reference material and realized that that was as open as they get.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Brassia caudata alba update

This picture of Brassia caudata alba is one of my favorite orchid pictures. Run the mouse over the small picture to see a larger version. It is the basis for the blog graphic above.

Brassia caudata alba - Photo by Richard LindbergThe genus Brassia (Brs) contains 29 species spread throughout tropical America. They are very prone to pleating if not watered enough during growth spurts.

Brassia caudata grows all the way from Florida to northern South America. It is warm to hot growing and is quite fragrant. This Brassia is a good indoor plant for you if you can grow Dendrobiums.

I got this from a friend as a salvage orchid when it had finished blooming. It was in reasonable shape except that the most recent new growth had pleated.

Pleats form in Brassia when the new growth isn't getting enough water. These pleats are ugly and permanent.

Over the years I have been removing leads and leaving the backbulbs here. It looks as if it has simply run out of strength.

I am going to take the two pseudobulbs with the two new growths are down pot. I will take the keiki and hope that it can survive on its own. It has entirely used up the energy available from the mother plant.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Progress of Miltonia spectabilis rescue

Miltonia spectabilis

The genus Miltonia (Milt) contains 10 species from Brazil and Peru. They grow in bright warm conditions.

Miltonia spectabilis grows in Brazil. It is cool to hot growing and blooms in summer.

I have seen some pretty spectacular Miltonia spectabilis plants. When I got this as a rescue four years ago I decided that I wanted to try it too.

After the plant had recovered for a year I split it in two pieces. I then got one of my larger pieces of bark and mounted the two pieces near the bottom. They looked very lonely that first year as a mount.

This is the third year on the cork. Of course I won't be entering it for a ribbon when it does bloom, it needs to be a single plant for that. I am going for effect at show and tell.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Laelia anceps repotting

Laelia anceps 'Boulder Valley' HCC/AOS - Photo by Richard Lindberg

The genus Laelia (L) About 60 species from Mexico through South America. They are highly varied.

Laelia anceps grows well and blooms well here in northern California. It comes from in Mexico and Honduras. It is warm to hot growing and needs a dry winter rest and bright light. If it is dry it can winter outside if there is no hard freeze.

I have several varieties of Laelia anceps and more individual plants than anyone who isn't a grower should have. This is mostly because they grow really well here and there are new divisions every year.

Right now the weather is very good and I am in the spring cleaning process. Over the next two weeks every plant in the greenhouse will come out. Then I will spray, repot, photograph and verify my inventory list. I plan to list my first plants for the year on eBay on March 28.

This is a particularly good time to repot Laelia anceps since the new growth is just getting started. Since I have the new greenhouse space I am changing the medium from rock to sphagnum. They will be much dryer this year and should do even better.