Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Coelogyne tomentosa (syn: C. massangeana) and a red Cattleya

After the spider experience I have been cautiously inspecting my Coelogyne tomentosa (previously C. massangeana) for flowers. The flower spike grew very rapidly. In fact I could see a difference in its length from the morning to the evening in the same day! The spike carried about 20 buds which opened recently. The flowers are pleasantly fragrant in the morning and in the evening but during the middle of the day they seem to lose their fragrance. I keep my plant next to my Phalaenopsis plants and it gets misted automatically 3 times during the day. Temperatures range from 18 Degrees C at night to 30 during the day with a high humidity and good air movement. Light is the same for my Phalaenopsis - semi-shade (about 60%).

At the same time that the C. tomentosa flowered I spied some maturing buds from a very old Cattleya hybrid that I purchased along with the greenhouse earlier this year. Unfortunately the tag is missing from this specimen but I am hoping to get it identified from the image of the flowers I recently took. The flowers are a deep velvet red. It is probably the most intense red I have ever seen before in an orchid. The camera which captured the image below did not do justice to the colour unfortunately but it does give an idea of its beauty.
unidentified red Cattleya hybrid

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beauty and the beast!

I have always been wary of surprise encounters with temporary visitors to the greenhouse. I have witnessed the odd snake in the greenhouse as well as various lizards and of course the multitude of resident spiders. There is even a mystery resident who has made a home in the ceiling exhaust fan ducting. Whatever it is it must have wings to have got in there from the outside in the first place and I suspect it is a bat. This evening I went into the greenhouse to make sure all was happy and to admire the flowers in the dimming light. I began to straighten out a spray of pendulous Coelogyne massengeana buds that are about to open. The spray of buds drapes over a large Phalaenopsis plant and as I straightened it out, focusing on the many flower buds, I noticed that the Phalaenopsis leaf colouration just centimetres from my hand was not green at all but a shiny black... I leaned forward to get a closer look but this time a cold shiver ran the length of my spine as I realised that I was beeing stared back at! I had never seen such a large baboon spider so close up before, not to mention right next to my hand! She was a beauty. A perfect and shiny black voluptuous specimen - a true greenhouse guardian. She had obviously been starting her evening roam or hunt or maybe my entrance startled her but she seemed quite intent on keeping a beady eye on me. She never showed any sign of aggression towards me even as I must have fumbled over her while staightening the flower spray. It suddenly made me wonder what else may be calling the greenhouse home. What on Earth is she eating in there!? I am by no means a fan of spiders but this African lady had an air of grace about her. I wonder who else I might discover in time to come? Here is a pic - enjoy.

The visitor...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Some November blooms

Hello everyone

I have been very busy flasking many more different species from various parts of the world as well as some of our local species. I will post some flask pics soon when I have a moment to remove some to photograph. I harvested my Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica pod after 7 months on the mother plant. It was still green but I decided to remove it because the plant was stressing a bit. The pod was full of ripe seeds and I hope they germinate well in the weeks to come.

I have included a few images of a very large white Cattleya, C. quicksilver, an old hybrid registered in 1963 from seed parent C. Dorothy Mackaill and pollen parent C. White blossom. I have since crossed this one with my flowering Rhyncholaelia hybrid so it will be interesting to see if it works.

Two new Phalaenopsis species arrived last week from Nollie, P. lindenii and P. lowii. I mounted both plants onto cork rafts and have placed them with some of the other more demanding species on the mounts wall in the greenhouse. The P. lowii originated from Europe and as a result it is in a state of dormancy. In fact this is one of the only species of Phalaeanopsis that will actually undergo a state of dormancy and lose its leaves. My plant has a single leaf which remains so I do hope that it recovers. I am looking forward to some flowers of both species in the years to come.

Cattleya quicksliver dorsal view
C. quicksilver
Phalaenopsis lindenii
P. lowii (dormant)