Friday, May 30, 2014

Phalaenopsis schilleriana

Phalaenopsis schilleriana
Phalaenopsis schilleriana is one of the original pink Phalaenopsis from which so many hybrids have been produced. I think it has much charm. It is quite a large plant and grows well either mounted or in a pot. The leaves are large and have an interesting marble patterning of grey over the green. The underside of the leaves is slightly purple, much like those of P. sanderiana, the other original pink species. P. schilleriana though has a different lip shape and the colour of the flowers is a more intense pink than those of P. sanderiana.
I am hoping that my plant will be a good breeder. I have successfully mounted a large number of my own seedlings of P. sanderiana on a horizontal branch mount and I am hoping to do the same with this species.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pterostylis torquata - the Jar Jar Binks of orchids

Pterostylis torquata
Pterostylis torquata is one of three of my Pterostylis species that I currently have. This is the only one flowering at the moment but the others may flower a bit later in the year. I have always enjoyed these comical Australian orchids. These orchids are not often offered for sale in South Africa, or commonly grown but I think they have a lot of charm and they do quite well given the same growing conditions as many of our local Winter rainfall terrestrial species. I am going to try to set some seeds on this species once another flower opens so I can do an out-crossing. I have sown Pterostylis species before and they seem to be a bit fiddly in vitro much like some of our Disa species. I have just finished reading an interesting article on asymbiotic germination and media comparison of some Australian terrestrial species: Dowling, N., and Jusaitis, M. (2012). Asymbiotic in vitro germination and seed quality assessment of Australian terrestrial orchids. Australian Journal of Botany. Pterostylis nutans performed well on BM-1, as did other genera. The authors recorded seedling development on the scale of 1-5, where 1 was an intact seed testa, 2 was a ruptured testa, 3 was the development of rhizoids, 4 was the start of shoot differentiation, and 5 was the emergence of the first leaf. The results only reflect the first 4 stages and I must wonder whether this was due to timing or whether none of the species tested actually made it to stage 5? I have actually noticed this before with BM-1 with other species where the germination rates are high but the protocorms only develop to a point. I guess I will have to wait and see what happens if I am successful in setting seeds on my plants..

Friday, May 16, 2014

The thing about "Phalaenopsis tetraspis C1"

Phalaenopsis speciosa
Do a search for Phalaenopsis tetraspis C1 and you will get tonnes of images of arguably one of the most beautiful Phalaenopsis species... or is it Phalaenopsis speciosa... or P. speciosa var. Christiana, P. speciosa subvar. Christiana, P. speciosa var. tetraspis, P. speciosa var. imperatrix, P. speciosa var. maculata, Phalaenopsis barrtii, or Phalaenopis sumatrana var. alba? There seems to be as much confusion and argument about the validity of P. tetraspis C1 as there are images on the internet. This species has even been awarded by the American Orchid Society as P. tetraspis C1. The RHS International Orchid Registry only lists the two valid species Phalaenopsis speciosa and Phalaenopsis tetraspis. The Kew Monocot Checklist also provides validity for both of these species but lists the most significant puzzle piece (P. speciosa var. Christiana) as a synonym of P. speciosa. Therefore, the correct name for P. tetraspis C1, also listed as a synonym for P. speciosa var. Christiana by other resources should simply be Phalaenopsis speciosa.
Mine flowered recently for the first time. I am intrigued by the colouration of the flower. This is definitely a species worth having in any collection.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The cool nights begin their magic

Autumn is here and the nights are certainly a lot colder, down to below 15 Degrees Celsius in my sunroom now. Sunlight has become less intense and daylight hours are fewer. Many plants have been stimulated into spike formation. Some though seem to be hanging around for a bit longer without any signs yet of spike production. My old faithful Phalaenopsis aphrodite is sending out two large spikes which I am hoping will make an impressive display coming off the vertical mount this year. This plant always pushes out about 8 flowers per spike. These flowers are always of excellent form and for some reason this plant is a really good parent. I have never had any problems using either its pollen or setting pods on it, unlike my P. cornu-cervi which flatly refuses to accept any breeding. My P. schilleriana has a large branched spike on it containing about 13 or so buds. I will be selfing this one to get lots of future babies for a mass planting like the one I did for my P. sanderiana. The seedlings themselves with the colour of their leaves make for a very eye-catching display on a horizontal mount. When in bloom in the next few years I am sure it will make for an awesome sight. I have future plans to do the same with my P. violacea but these seem to enjoy being mounted on a vertical surface more than a horizontal one.

Phalaenopsis aphrodite

Phalaenopsis schilleriana

Phalaenopsis sanderiana seedlings

Next week I am looking forward to a joint session of splitting and re-potting my Disa uniflora with Patrick. We are trying something new this year. I am going to suspend my plants in mesh bags containing their fresh medium and each planted mesh bay will be given its own dedicated dripper. I have mounted a 25L drum onto the outside wall of my garage where I keep my Disas outside. I will place frozen R/O water into this reservoir to melt slowly and to feed through to the individual bags on a gravity-feed. This will allow for a slow release of cold water directly into the bags' media and will hopefully ensure cold and moist conditions required by the Disas going forward.

My little Bulbophtyllum spathulatum seedlings are ready to be mounted onto individual mounts. They are still quite small but this species prefers slightly cooler conditions so my plan was to mount some onto pieces of bottlebrush (Callistemon sp.) which by the way make excellent and long-lasting mounts for orchids. It is great hardwood which dries quickly and the bark is perfect for epiphytes. I suspended these in my seedling greenhouse to remain over winter to establish hopefully by September when I will offer them for sale at the next WBOS show. These and other dwarf orchid species are really great if you don't have much space and would probably do very well in a terrarium. Another interesting miniature in my collection is Haraella retrocalla which has very cute fragrant blooms. I should have some seedlings of this one by the end of the year. I really love the spider-like marking on the lip!

Bulbophyllum spathulatum seedlings mounted

Bulbophyllum spathulatum seedling

Haraella retrocalla