Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cymbidium insigne

Cymbidium insigne alba
About two years ago now I purchased a young plant of this species from Duckitt's at one of their monthly open days. The breeding was of Richard King so the quality of the plant is particularly high. It flowered for me once not too long after I purchased it at Duckitt's and I fell in love with the presentation of its humble and yet elegant flowers. I have kept many hybrid Cymbidiums before as I guess many of us do when we first become interested in the hobby, especially here in the Cape where the climate is particularly suitable for keeping them. I enjoyed my Cymbidiums thoroughly but then I had to give them up sadly when I moved to Durban several years ago to take up a job at uShaka Sea World. They were just too large to relocate and I had to select the few plants which I could relocate that would do best in the climatic conditions of Durban. This is when my fondness for Phalaenopsis really took off... but anyway, back to the Cymbidiums.
Cymbidium insigne originates from Thailand, Vietnam and China according to the IOSPE website. It grows in primary cloud forests at the base of large trees or bushes in shalow sandy soils as a true terrestrial (oops, mine is potted in bark chips but is doing just fine). The plants can grow large with age but the leaves are narrower than the common hybrids and even a small plant like mine gives off an impressive fountain of leaves. Mind you, the leaves are not as tough as those of the hybrids and my plant suffers chronically somewhat with browning leaf tips (maybe deficient in something because it is in bark chips?). That said, the plant is growing very well and is curently shooting new growths and has significantly fat little pseudobulbs to support them.
The Spike took quite a few weeks to develop and it measures about 90cm tall from the base of the plant, exceeding the upper limits of the leaves. The spike has 6 buds which are all similarly developed. The first two flowers opened yesterday and the others should follow suite in the next few days. My plant is the alba form. A special addition to my species collection. I just wish I had more of them!

Monday, May 20, 2013

May babies

This time of the year is particularly sparse regarding my plants but there have been a few interesting things happening over the last few days. I have noticed that my Bletillas are beginning to wake up now which is quite early and my other terrestrials are all growing like crazy. I am hoping that this Spring I will have enough variety in my flowering Satyriums to do some hybridising. Speaking of hybridising I was pleasantly surprised this afternoon to see some green protocorms forming in the flask of seeds I sowed 38 days ago of Eulophia streptopetala X Ansellia africana. This is quite unusually fast for the Eulophia parentage. Eulophias are notoriously slow. It must be the Ansellia africana in the mix. I also recently had some germination of some pure yellow Ansellia africana from a large wild plant that lives in a tree on the WBOS chairman's farm up North somewhere. I wasn't sure how mature the pods were when I sowed them but they seemed to be fine. It will be good to raise some more of these non-cultivar and purely wild representatives for collections. It's not easy to get the purely wild form anymore with the markets full of various selected cultivars!
Germinating Ansellia africana
My Bonateas (B. speciosa) are also doing well although I only have a few. I will be fine-tuning the mix later this year to produce a far more successful yield. I am hoping to raise an army of these for planting out as a flower bed in the garden. I have also focussed a significant time this year on raising Satyrium species in vitro. They are particularly difficult but I have managed to do it before and this time I will be pushing for significant numbers. Currently I am hoping that my test batch of Satyrium carneum using a modified medium with chloramphenicol will germinate. Then, at least half the battle is over. My aim this year is to work hard on the South African terrestrials! A good challenge.
Bonatea speciosa seedling
For those who are keeping an eye on the development of my Dendrobium crystallinum I have included two pictures, one on the day of replate on 6 April 2013 and today, 20 May 2013.