A few weeks back I drove up to Franschhoek to visit Mike Tibbs' greenhouses at Moreson wine estate and bought a few Phalaenopsis species and hybrids. He had some really good looking P. amabilis available for a steal so I took two that were just finishing with flowering. I also took home a lovely large yellow hybrid and a large pink. The yellow hybrid will form part of my initial experimentation hopefully later on this weekend when I attempt my first stem propagations. I have been eyeing out a few of the dormant nodes on the flowering spike and might just get a few of these to grow... But, in the mean time I have also purchased two plants from Van Rooyen's Orchids, a Doritaenopsis hybrid and P. pulchra, a species native to the Philippines. The former is a blue hybrid from P. equastris parentage so the flowers are small, but should hopefully be numerous.
Ansellia africana pod (1 month after pollination)
On 4 July this year I self-pollinated my large Ansellia africana, a monotypic epiphytic species (non Phalaenopsis) that is native to Africa and is found in South Africa in the North East and down the coast probably North of Durban. I was fortunate to get some plants from Zimbabwe a few years back which did very well down in the Cape. I have produced two seed pods which I will attempt to get some viable seed from. However, I have no idea how long the pods take to ripen and mature but I assume it to be several months. It is still early days but I have attached a picture of one of these pods which is now about 2 months old.
I have begun with my preparations to clone a few of my plants. To date I have constructed a sterile transfer chamber from Plexiglass (perspex) and installed a germicidal UV tube (20 watt) into the ceiling for sterilisation. Finding a suitable pressure cooker here in Cape Town was more difficult and I learned that not all pressure cookers being sold are rated to 15 psi. In fact, most offer a maximum rating of only 12.6 psi which is just not good enough for media sterilisation. After much searching I managed to find a Fagor pressure cooker, which is made of stainless steel and is rated to 16 psi. I bought it from Makro in Montague Gardens. Next I had an incubator built to my specifications by a colleague out of wood and glass and installed an extraction fan and a thermostatically controlled heater cable. The incubator has two glass shelves to allow adequate light from a fluorescent tube inside to penetrate to 2 levels of flasks. Buying orchid media for cloning and/or seed culture can be expensive. To my best knowledge no media are commercially available here in South Africa for orchid culture although most local breeders probably have their own international contacts or personal recipes. I had to purchase my culture kit including various media directly from Phytotechnology Laboratories in the USA. As a result, the courier charge was more than the cost of the contents but everything arrived safely to my door within a week after placing the order. There is an African distributor based in Kenya who I originally dealt with but I had a terrible experience with them and their lack of professionalism and poor customer service so I opted to place my order directly with the producer (Phytotech) who were extremely efficient.
So, now I await the time (hopefully on the weekend) to get stuck in and test everything out.