Thursday, May 3, 2012

Winter's contrasts

Well, Winter is officially here now after the last week of cold fronts and some good rain in the Western Cape. I had my first low-level temperature alarm the other night in the greenhouse signalling the coldest night so far this year. I have been taking advantage of the cold clear nights after the cold fronts to shock my Dendrobium nobile and D. tortile into flowering. They have been hung outside the greenhouse at night to appreciate the chilly weather and have responded with some good leaf drop. I also quite by acccident noticed that my D. goldschmidtianum was budding as a result of the cooler conditions. I am looking forward to these blooms!
Dendrobium nobile
Dendrobium tortile

Dendrobium goldschmidtiaum buds
D. goldschmidtianum close up
So, while some plants are getting ready for their winter rest period, others are just beginning to send out new flower spikes. I have been keeping a close eye on my Holcoglossum wangii which has pushed out a single spike (its first ever). The buds are developing well. This species is particularly beautiful and is also a relatively recent discovery having been described as late as 1998. It is found in China and North Vietnam. Just South (literally) of my H. wangii on my mount wall is my Phalaenopsis lowii which has been indecisive it seems over the last few months. Finally it has settled in I think and has produced a new leaf or two as well as a short, developing flower spike. The plant is still really small so I am skeptical if it will flower properly - we will see.
Holcoglossum wangii budding
Phalaenopsis lowii spike
The Dendrochilum that Bradley gave me is flowering now too. The flowers are very delicate and look like they have been made out of ice. I am still unsure of whether I like or dislike the powerful fragrance that the flowers give off during the day. It is a mix of sickly-sweet and spices, an odd mix and a bit overpowering if you get too close. I am struggling to identify the species. I initially thought that it could be Dendrochilum magnum but after reading some facts about their taxonomy it appears as though this is not as easy as it seems. I will wait until more flowers open and I may then send some photos around to get a consensus. Other flowers that are just beginning to open now are Polystachya titan and Prosthechea cochleata (Anacheilium cochleatum).

Dendrochilum sp.
Prostechea cochleata
Polystachya titan