Sunday, March 21, 2010

Phal 'Ember'-- First Bloom

I present phal 'Ember'-- a smaller rich purple flower with a wax-like petal that is common among orchids that retain their blooms for extended periods of time-- anywhere from a month to several (even up to six!). Ember is an interesting plant not only because of its beautiful flower but because of the interesting floppy leaves it develops over time. The leaves start off as small, shiny/waxed leaves from the center and elongate to this impressive pale-green leaf that colors to a reddish purple colors near the tips. By itself, its quite impressive. This plant was bought from Logee's Greenhouse in Connecticut. A word about these guys-- impressive selection and excellent customer service. I cannot say enough about how awesome these guys are. Anyway, this plant began its spike in September 2009. If you're looking for a fast-growing, fast-flowering plant, this is not it. The spike is short, not long and arching like many phals are. I believe this is simply because of its lineage, of which I'm not sure, but the plant in general looks decidedly different from most other orchids and seems to relate in terms of leaf shape and look to those of violecea coerulea family-- these are found in hot and very tropical environments prone to a lot of rain-- hence the waxy look and feel of the plant.

Anyway, the spike is in fact short but full of blooms and is exhibiting several branches. None are growing much like the main spike but its likely they will continue on after the main spike subsides or stops growing. Again, this plant spiked in September 2009 and it bloomed on the first day of Spring! March 20 2010!

Without further delay... the bloom of phal 'Ember'-- a rich purple with an intense yet mouth-watering scent exhibited only in the morning (and if you're lucky, at sunset!).

Friday, March 19, 2010

A case for semi-hydroponics in orchid cultivation

All of my gardening friends know that I not only grow but preach to high heaven the wonders of growing plants- all of them- hydroponically. I use a material called hydroton that not only is able to hold water but wicks moisture quickly and provides a beneficial humidity to new and existing roots that may not be actually in the water. The stuff has really allowed me to take out the guess work of growing my phals in bark or moss and by giving my plants an inorganic medium, I need not worry about rot and other bad things that come about as a result of using material in over time breaks down and releases toxins.

However, I inadvertently did a small study-- one group of phals grown in hydroton and another that were grow in other material due to their delicate health as a result of root-rot in bark. Now granted, the plants I'm focusing on here were not in the best of health, but to be fair, neither was one of their counterparts that has come to be known as my Monster Phal, because, well, its a monster.

So to the results-- three of my phals that had difficulty with their roots were placed in hydroton at a later date than the rest of my plants and therefore did not have a chance to grow as much as the others. And one might say-- well duh-- if they didn't grow as much of course they're not doing as well. However, these plants were all in bark. Something that most people use to grow these plants-- and many to great success. However, I've had no success with bark. And every plant that I have planted in hydroton last Spring or Summer has bloomed for me this year. So the appeal of hydroponics only increased for me. But the real vote was cast when I placed one of those ailing phals into a larger pot of hydroton as its roots were confused and were not doing well with growing into the water or medium. About three weeks after I planted it in a deeper pot and putting those roots into the medium, a spike appeared, the leaves are now full and shiny and it has grow new roots (as well as new parts to existing ones) into the medium.

I'm sold and convinced-- hydroponics rocks.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Busy busy...

Things have been crazy busy lately but I figured that while I have a moment of quite here late at night, I might as well take a chance to chronicle the goings on here.

The orchids are in full bloom and really putting on quite the display. Here is the first in the line-up-- Sogo Vivien x Dtps Taisuco Jewel, which has been really impressive this year. I'm looking forward watching this one get older-- some day it'll be an amazing display.

The next one is my Monster phal...or as I now have it labeled Phal 'Monster'-- because this thing grows like a weed and now has a spike that is only two inches shy of 3 feet. It's gatta have weed genes!

And the last of the orchid updates is my Kaleidescope. This is the first time this phal is blooming and has not disappointed at all.

The next photo is of a new plant to the collection-- Sedum 'Burrito'-- which I scored at my local garden center at a serious awesome price. I plan on growing it in a hanging pot so the 'burritos' can hang down. I think I found a new plant to collect-- sedums rock.

I also have one more addition to add and that is my hoya-- a hindu rope. Its pretty awesome but is planted in a soil I do not think is very good at all, though I hesitate to move it until I see some new growth suggesting the roots may be active, which will make the transition to hydroton much easier on the plant.

In preparation of moving my hindu rope to hydroton I decided to test the move on another hoya that is actively growing. I put it in a water catcher/pot slip because it gives a nice openness to the pot and I think will balance out the water vs air ration well for this hoya. The trick is to keep the soil roots happy long enough and until it gets water roots.

Well thats it for now... its bed time for this peep!