Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I've enjoyed growing orchids for more than a decade. They're just such beautiful plants, with the added bonus of gorgeous flowers. I wanted to share the exciting botanical happenings that are going on at my house right now, with a couple plants in bud.

This is Phalaenopsis Golden Light, which (strangely enough) does not have a yellow or gold flower. It is a multi-species hybrid cross with deep, clear, wine red flowers; about 2 inches across and very substantial and waxy-looking. I bought this plant from a local grocery store in November 2008, in bloom, with two basal keikeis. A keiki is a vegetative offshoot from the mother plant. They are more commonly seen on the node of a flower spike, but can also form out of the main "trunk" of monopodial orchids (orchids that grow only up from one point, not branching).

When I bought this orchid, it had two spikes and was on sale because the blooms were fading. The shorter spike had one flower remaining and no buds. That flower faded in about a week. The other (longer) spike had five flowers open and a bunch of buds. That spike bloomed continuously for the next 8 months. After the original five flowers faded, which took a month (they were still there at Christmas), it would open one to three flowers at a time, each of which would last a month. It was a nice constant display. After the last flower finished, it took a rest. This is typically when the flower spikes are cut off to let the plant recuperate and put its energy into growing more leaves and getting strong.

However, both flower spikes were still green and alive, and I knew that often they will continue to develop. Sometimes the nodes along the spike will even develop into flowering side branches. Anyway, since the plant still looked vigorous and the spikes were still green, I left both spikes on the plant. I couldn't bear to cut them. It grew a nice new leaf over the summer.

A couple months ago, I noticed that the tip of the longer spike was growing again, showing four new buds. AND, three of the nodes on the larger spike are developing into side spikes, one of which has a well-developed bud. AND, the shorter spike also has a node developing into a side spike. AND, there is a completely new spike coming out of the mother plant! AND, there is a completely new flower spike coming out of one of the basal keikis! I've never had a Phalaenopsis bloom this well for me before. It's so exciting! Go, orchid, go!

Also exciting at the moment is my Aerangis citrata. I bought this through the mail from a nursery in Montana in January 2009. It was in spike when I bought it, and bloomed with a spike about 8 inches long and 12 flowers. When those flowers were done, the spike dried up and I cut it off. Cool to see the flowers, but not as exciting as blooming it myself.

About two months ago, I noticed a new spike! It's been slow going, because I'm sure my house isn't as warm as the orchids would like, but it is developing.

This spike developed to about 12 inches long with 18 buds, an improvement over last year. Ha! It also grew a nice big leaf this year, which I'm sure helped. I lost two of the buds, though. One got too dry and/or cold while we were gone over Christmas, and shriveled up (blasted, in plant-speak). The other I accidentally knocked off when I was watering (sob!). The remaining 16 seem to be doing OK, though. You can see the long spur starting to develop on the underside of the flowers. The flowers will be white, about an inch in diameter with the spur also about an inch long.

You can also see another orchid in the background of that last picture, below the one that's in spike. That's Aerangis mystacidii, bought in December 2008. That one came to me pretty young, and I haven't seen it bloom yet. It did put on two leaves this year. I also have Aerangis punctata and Aerangis fastuosa, bought at the same time as the A. citrata. The A. punctata budded once, but it blasted before it could open. Both these plants put on two leaves this year as well. I love my little orchid collection.

Last but not least, my amaryllis is well on its way to blooming.

This is a Red Lion variety, with large all-red flowers. Dad gave this to me for Christmas in 2008, and this is its third blooming for me. Only one flower stalk this time around, but it got a little dry and forgotten last summer (oops) when I was stressed about being laid off again.

Yay for greenery in the house!


Caroline M said...

My mother does well with orchids, I missed the green thumb gene.

Jolene said...

I love the way that Amaryllis seem to grow miles overnight! Mine shot straight up this year... in what felt like record time.