Sunday, April 8, 2018

Paphiopedilum Adam Hausermann x Duncan York (#2) has really grown

Paph Adam Hausermann x Duncan York (6 years after purchase)
I repotted my two paphiopedilum seedlings today, and was shocked to realize that 6 whole years have passed since I bought these orchid seedlings.  While the growth on seedling #1 has remained rather stunted over (years of dehydration by neglect circa 2013-2015 haven't helped), the plant on the left has managed to establish a healthy root system, and has really grown up to what I think should be flowering size.


Evidence of damage on orchid
However, even this large and healthy plant bears multiple signs of past damage.  One leaf was half chewed off by my mischievous cat, when I had dared to try growing this orchid on a windowsill instead of safely within a glass terrarium.  Several of the longer leaves are bent and broken from being tossed around during multiple moves between apartments over the years.  Another leaf is significantly shorter than it should be--evidence that I had failed to sufficiently water this orchid during that period of time. 
Cat is sizing up opportunity to attack a newly exposed orchid

Even my presence is not a deterrent against attack
I decided to repot the paph because it has been a long while since I've refreshed its media.  Also, the plant was a little top heavy in its pot, and would frequently dry out too much between waterings.  I had noticed a new growth developing at the base of the main plant, and this seemed like a good time to switch up to a larger pot.
New growth on paphiopedilum orchid
The paph had a healthy clump of roots, which explains its great recent growth. I tried to be very gently in the repotting, disturbing the roots as little as possible.
Lots of healthy roots on paphiopedilum orchid
Paphiopedilum after repotting
Here is the paph after repotting.  The final pot is perhaps a little bigger than it should be, but I didn't have an intermediate size between the old pot and the new.  I had a problem with the orchid completely drying out between my weekly waterings when it was in a smaller pot, so hopefully this larger size will keep a better balance of moisture.  And if I'm really lucky, perhaps I'll see it flower by end of summer.  

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Tsubotaara Melinda Marie 'Blue Fairy'

Tsubotaara Melinda Marie 'Blue Fairy'
I came across this striking blue orchid at the 2018 New York Orchid Show.  The bloom was hidden behind a glass enclosure, labeled with a genus I had never seen before: Tsubotaara.  What kind of orchid could this be?  

According to the International Orchid Register, Tsubotaara Melinda Marie is a cross between Pabanisia Eva's Blue Amazon and Zygonisia Cynosure.  The hybrid was registered in 2010 by Kalapana Tropicals, a Hawaii-based orchid wholesaler.  A relatively miniature plant, this hybrid blooms with beautiful, oversized bluish flowers.
Tsubotaara Melinda Marie = Pabanisia Eva's Blue Amazon x Zygonisia Cynosure
Photo credits:
Pabanisia Eva's Blue Amazon: DementedPimento (Reddit) 
Zygonisia Cynosure: Maria's Orchids, 2016 New York Orchid show

The full genealogy of Tsubotaara Melinda Marie includes contribution from four different orchid genera.
Curiously, I could not find any photos of Zygopetalum graminifolium while researching this genealogy.  The image depicted below is gathered from a print from Jean Linden, a prominent orchid botanist from the 19th century. This is a species that does not appear to be frequently cultivated or photographed by orchid enthusiasts.  Nor was this ever a particularly popular species among orchid breeders: Zygopetalum Skippy Ku is the only hybrid registered with Z. graminifolium as a parent.

And here is a closeup of the contributing species.
Parent species of Tsubotaara Melinda Maria
Photo credits:
Pabstia jugosa: Orchi (Wikimedia commons)
Aganisia cyanea: Orchi (Wikimedia commons)
Zygopetalum graminifolium: Jean Linden orchid print
Zygopetalum intermedium: Manuel (Flickr)
Aganisia cyanea shares the greatest resemblance to Tsubotaara Melinda Marie, which makes sense because it was crossed twice into this hybrid.  However, I can see how features from both Zygopetalum and Pabstia genera are represented in the final hybrid. Tsubotaara Melinda Marie is a great example of how orchid breeding may be used to borrow traits from very different orchid genera to produce a truly distinct new flower.


Saturday, March 3, 2018

2018 New York Orchid Show


Hundreds of orchids hand from a translucent display at the 2018 New York Orchid Show
The New York Orchid Show is my favorite annual event in the city.  This joyous celebration of orchid beauty is a yearly signal that another cold, dark winter is nearly over.  The show opened today, at the New York Botanical garden.
It's possibly one of the most popular events at the New York botanical garden, and by midday the conservatory is packed with crowds.  This year, I woke up early to be one of the first people to enter the show on opening day.
Get to the conservatory before 10 AM to avoid the crowds
The Orchid Show features hundreds of orchid species and hybrids, presented in intricate displays.  This year's production is designed by Belgian floral artist Daniel Ost.
Phalaenopsis King's Caroline and Phalaenopsis Black Pearl
Phalaenopsis Taida Pearl Diamond
Phalaenopsis KV Charmer
Orchid terrarium
Cattleya and Dendrobium display
2018 New York Orchid Show
Each year, the displays follow a different theme.  This year, the recurrent element was these meshes of clear plastic tubing high up in the conservatory canopy.  These clear loops certainly catch and scatter the sunlight onto the orchid blossoms.  They also reminded me of a tangled garden hose....


Orchid display by Daniel Ost
A ribbon of orchids wraps around a bamboo structure
Cymbidium Golden Boy 'Nevada'

Dendrobium spectabile

Epidendrum Max Valley 'Shiranui'


This is just a small fraction of the orchids on display today.  The show runs until April 22, and is absolutely worth a visit.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Flower spike on a tiny keiki

A 1 year old phalaenopsis keiki
I first wrote about this Phalaenopsis Gold Tris keiki just over a year ago.  Keikis are orchid clones that sometimes grow on a mature orchid plant. Late last summer, when its roots had grown over 3 inches, I cut the keiki from its mother orchid, and planted it in the pot shown above.  The little orchid has more than tripled its roots system since then, but hasn't done much growth with its two leaves.

flower spike on a 1-year old keiki
Today, I noticed a green nub growing to the side of the orchid's base.  Much to my surprise, this wasn't some errant root, but actually a tiny new flower spike!  Although I have heard before that keikis sometimes flower within a year of growth, I never expected it from an orchid this small.  Its flowers would be almost as big as the entire orchid plant!

I'll be watching closely to see how this flower spike develops.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A display of dendrobiums

Dendrobium hodgkinsonii
In my final installment featuring orchid photos from the US Botanic Garden in DC, I am exploring the variety of dendrobium species and hybrids that were on display during my visits.  These orchids are some of my favorite genera, though I'll admit that I've had very limited luck growing them myself.  

Dendrobium hodgkinsonii closeup
Dendrobium catenatum
Dendrobium catenatum
Dendrobium ceraula older bloom
Dendrobium ceraula new blossom
This Dendrobium ceraula was one of the bluer orchids I've ever seen in the Dendrobium genus.  The newest blossoms come out with a lovely cerulean hue, which fades to pink as the blossoms age.

Dendrobium Genting Royal
dendrobium haleahi butterfly x00006 x dendrobium jaqueline thomas 
dendrobium haleahi butterfly x00006 x dendrobium jaqueline thomas 
Dendrobium Jaqueline Thomas Uniwai Prince
Dendrobium pseudolamellatum
 Dendrobium pseudolamellatum is a tiny flower.  The species is an epiphyte native to Borneo.
Dendrobium pseudolamellatum whole plant view
Dendrobium spectabile closeup
Dendrobium spectabile is one of my favorite orchid species.  I love its giant twisted flowers, that look like something out of an alien movie, and defy my attempts to capture them in focus in my photographs.  This orchid truly has to be seen in person to make sense.
Dendrobium spectabile whole plant view

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Will you fall in love with Bulbophyllums? Visiting the US Botanic Garden


Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann Buckleberry
Bulbophyllums are some of the strangest commonly cultivated orchid genera.  To be honest, they are such strange flowers that I don't know how I feel about them.  But they sure do catch the eye!  The US Botanic Garden Conservatory is a great place to go to catch some in bloom.

Closeup of Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Anne Buckleberry
With more than 2,000 species, Bulbophyllum is the largest genus in the orchid family, and one of the largest genera of flowering plants in the world.  You can find native bulbophyllum species in most tropical parts of the world, and with this great geographic spread comes an amazing diversity of flower shapes and attributes.

Bulbophyllum medusae
Bulbophyllum medusase may be one of the coolest orchid species I've come across.  Its flowers look like white cotton balls.  The sepals of the blooms can get as long as 15cm. This orchid grows in Malaysia, Thailand and Borneo.
Closeup of Bulbophyllum medusae bloom
Bulbophyllum longissimum
This is another Bulbophyllum species from southeast Asia.  These flowers can be almost 40cm long!

Bulbophyllum Icicles
Bulbophyllum Icicles is a primary hybrid between Bulbophyllum longissimum and Bulbophyllum wightii.
Bulbophyllum Icicles closeup