Thursday, December 30, 2021

Rhynchostylis coelestis 'Blue' first flowering

Just in time for Christmas, my Rhynchostylis coelestis 'Blue' began to open its first ever blooms from twin spikes. I purchased this one as a seedling almost 5 years ago. It was very small when purchased and I doubted that it would survive. However, it slowly grew to flowering size and then quite suddenly had a burst of growth, throwing out twin spikes quite surprisingly. I had kept this species before, several years ago, but that was the pink variety. I had always been a little skeptical of the blue colouration of this variety, given that most 'blues' are actually purple, but this one is pretty close to true blue. Fragrance is subtle. It is most pleasing. I am also cultivating a large compot of Vanda coerulea seedlings that I deflasked in August. Perhaps in another five years or so I will get to report on their first blue flowers too.

Rhynchostylis coelestis 'Blue' 30 Dec 21

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Cymbidium aloifolium just gets better each year... and some.

This year has been particularly wet and very humid in our part of Queensland. We are in an official La Niña which means moist and humid conditions with higher than usualy rainfall and storms. I call this 'orchid weather' because the plants just seem to grow like weeds with all the rain and high huimidity. Unfortunately, it also brings along more bugs and this spring I have already had to remove a number of Dendrobium beetles and today also sprayed my two large Myrmecophila tibicinis plants that had larvae on them (these plants just finished blooming). Fortunately I caught the beetles early.

Gracing the stage currently is my Cymbidium aloifolium that is a real performer each year and just gets bigger and better. Thirteen spikes currently and the plant has been moved to a stand because it is just too heavy to hang anywhere now. It must weight close to 20 kg. Those Dendrobium beetles love to munch on the blooms, so I have sprayed those too. So far so good.

I have also had some very welcome success growing and flowering my Cymbidium suave. This plant was purchased as tube stock in a 14 cm tube in June 2020. It has grown incredibly for me and continues to shoot out new growth non-stop. It has also flowered for the first time this year, sending out three current spikes with another three developing. The flowers are fragrant of spice during the mornings. When the plant first arrived in the post, it was potted in soil of all things! I quickly removed all the soil and over-potted it up in a deep waste paper bin drilled with extra drainage. This worked really well and it has quickly grown to a large size in this container.

Another good looker is Eulophia guineensis which has wonderfully long-lasting flowers. Mine has been in full bloom now for over a month and is still looking good. I had to stake the inflorescence though, which is tall and erect, but the weight of the flowers is too much to hold up when it rains.

Then, a hybrid that is growing on me (excuse the pun) is Bealara Big Shot 'Hilo Sparkle' that I got as part of the deal when I purchased my greenhouse. Of the many plants that came with the greenhouse in very poor condition, this one perked up quickly after I repotted it and treated it for bugs. It has rewarded me with three large spikes, one of which has just begun opening its blooms. Flowers are pleasantly large and fragrant.

I hope the humidity lasts for a little while longer - just enough to get the growing done for the majority of my plants this season!

Cymbidium aloifolium 27 Nov 21

 Cymbidium aloifolium 27 Nov 21
Eulophia guineensis
Bealara Big Shot 'Hilo Sparkle'
Cymbidium suave
Cymbidium suave

Saturday, October 23, 2021

More October blooms

A few more plants are flowering now, so I thought I would snap a few pics and post them. The Dendrobium crumenatum is barely open for a day, so I photographed it while watering this morning. The Eulophia guineensis is a first flowering for me and the plants has grown rapidly over the last year. It seems to do better in a deep pot with pseudobulbs well mulched.

The Laelia gouldiana hybrid has an incredible fragrance of roses in the morning. The fragrance is very strong, just like a rose too, but it fades during the afternoon and is barely detectable by late afternoon. The blooms are also spectacular. It is a pity that I purchased this one without its grex name. Oh well.

Dendrobium Candy Cane 23 Oct 21

Dendrobium crumenatum 23 Oct 21

Dendrobium hybrid 23 Oct 21

Eulophia guineensis 23 Oct 21

Laelia gouldiana hybrid 23 Oct 21

Phalaenopsis hybrid 23 Oct 21

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Vanilla planifolia and some other Spring blooms

Recently, my Vanilla planifolia flowered for the first time and I have since been hand pollinating the blooms as they open. The flowers actually have a subtle and interestingly spicy fragrance - not quite expected. It grows well here in Queensland and mine is growing on a trellis against a South-facing wall. Length of vine seems to be the thing that is important for flowering, not necessarily age of the plant. My Dendrobium anosmum, D. aphylum and D. lodigesii are all in flower now and look good. The D. lodigesii is due for a good re-pot after flowering and a bit of a tidy up. The Phaius australis recently finished blooming with two tall spikes, the larger reaching almost 2m tall. I have since chopped these up to see if I can develop some growth from the nodes on the stems. I was also pleasantly surprised with my Cymbidium madidum that flowered very well this season. I spent much time watching the native stingless bees pollinating each flower after they had opened. These bees are the native pollinators of this species and systematically pollinated all of the flowers on four long spikes of flowers. The bees are very small and seem to really struggle when the pollinia are attached to their thorax after reversing out of a flower - some try to remove the pollinia with their legs while others simply give up flying between flowers and just crawl to the next one - they seem to have a raw deal. I often wondered what their reward was, since the flowers don't actually produce much nectar inside at all. After watching these bees I noticed that they collect the honeydew, which is high in sugars (and is very sweet), that often accumulates in thick blobs behind the flowers, near the ovary. So, it must be worth it then.
Cymbidium madidum
Cymbidium madidum
Dendrobium anosmum
Dendrobium aphylum
Dendrobium lodigesii
Phaius australis
Phaius australis
Vanilla planifolia bud
Vanilla planifolia
Vanilla planifolia

Friday, July 30, 2021

8 years in the waiting to see species in flower again!

I double-took when I recently worked out that it has been the best part of 8 years since I last had a flowering Bonatea speciosa in my collection. Two of my three plants are flowering and seem to be doing just fine in the Rockhampton climate. It is interesting how you never quite forget a frangrance though. I instantly recognised the fragrance of these flowers when I went outside to photograph them just after dusk. These flowers are just incredible. 

I have since also pollenated several blooms to hopefully get some babies into circulation. I also have an idea to incorporate a large display colony into a large half-globe pot for myself if I get enough babies.

Bonatea speciosa July 2021


Sunday, February 7, 2021

Habenaria dentata in bloom

My Habenaria dentata finally bloomed! I have been watching the stem grow taller and taller, just beyond 60cm, for about two months now. I still don't have this one down to a tee yet as it seems that the nectar produced in the long spurs of the flower have a tendency to glue the petals closed, preventing opening in some blooms. I am not quite sure why this might be, but a careful squeeze of the tips of those buds seems to do the trick and they spring open and unfurl normally.

Habenaria dentata November 2020

Habenaria dentata January 2021

Habenaria dentata flowers 6 February 2021

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Nervilia aragoana first flowering

I have been impatiently waiting for any signs of life from my various Nervilia species since September. So far, only my Nervilia aragoana has woken up, sending up a beautiful inflorescence recently, with what looks like three more shoots just beginning to emerge from the potting mix. This Nervilia sends up its inflorescence first, before its leaves. The flowers are a beautiful green and white, are small, but quite pleasantly fragrant. The flowers are also sensitive to changing light intensity and close up progressively as light decreases during the latter part of the day. According to the Internet Orchid Species Photo Encyclopedia, Nervilia aragoana is quite widespread through Asia, and is also native to Queensland, Australia and also New Caledonia.

I managed to get a few photos of the inflorescence emerging, demonstrating the speed of its growth over a few days, as well as photos of the complete inflorescence and individual flowers.

Nervilia aragoana inflorescence 20 November 2020

Nervilia aragoana inflorescence 21 November 2020

Nervilia aragoana inflorescence 22 November 2020

Nervilia aragoana inflorescence 24 November 2020

Individual flowers 24 November 2020