Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Orchids of Orlando

Last week my family and I vacationed in Orlando, FL, and I thought why not visit a few orchid shops. I really had no idea who was even selling in the area, so I cruised the internet and found “A World of Orchids” and “Tom Ritter Orchids”.
Our first stop was Tom Ritter’s. My only experience with orchid growers has been in Virginia, so to see how things differ in Florida was very interesting. One thing I noted right off was the difference in greenhouse construction. In Virginia winters are hard, snow weight on the roof of the greenhouse is a serious concern and as such the roof structures tend to be robust. In Florida snow threat is almost zero, and the overall construction of the greenhouse in much less intense. Hoop-house construction with light weight panels was the theme at Tom Ritter’s and it seemed to be working well for them.
 One of the next things I noticed right away at Tom Ritter’s was the impressive number of plants. They were packed in every inch of bench space and hanging overhead. They had an impressive number of cattleya ranging from seedling to blooming size. Unfortunately for me they were mostly all hybrids, some of them very nice awarded plants.

They also had an absolutely stunning number of Vandas. In Virginia, with winters full of low humidity and cold temperatures, Vanda growers are confined to greenhouses and require more than a little effort. At Tom Ritter’s they were thriving.

 Another aspect of their greenhouse I really enjoyed was their abundance of miniatures. I do not have many myself, but as my growing area shrinks they look more and more appealing.

The last observation I had at their greenhouse was the staggering amount of work it must take to maintain that many plants. Overall, their plants were in great shape, but there was the occasional plant that had been knocked over or fallen from its hanging home, clearly laying where it fell some time ago. There was the occasional plant showing signs of decline or virus, but with the number of plants they have, that sort of thing seems unavoidable. In the end, they seem like a good growers, friendly folks and an excellent place to visit if you have time.  

More to come on A World of Orchids…..

Sunday, January 16, 2011

C. crispa

C. crispa
This is a new addition to my collection and one I have been after for a few years. While it is not a common plant to be found in collections in my orchid circles, it is a plant with a storied past. The Horticultural Society of London received its first plant in 1826 from Brazil and by 1827 it flowered. It was examined by the famous John Lindley who proclaimed it a cattleya. And a cattleya it remained until 1853 when it fell into the Laelia genus, which ironically was created by Lindley, though it’s said he never described it as such. Since that time, it has been through many renaming’s; Bletia crispa [Lindley]Rchb.f 1861; Brasilaelia crispa (Lindl.) Campacci 2006; *Cattleya crispa Lindley 1828; Cattleya reflexa Parm. ex Walp. 1861; Hadrolaelia crispa ( Lindl. ) Chiron & V.P.Castro 2002; Laelia crispa var reflexa Rchb.f 1854; Sophronitis crispa (Lindl.) C. Berg & M.W. Chase 2000. (Internet Orchid Species Photo Encyclopedia Jan. 2011. But for me, it’s a cattleya, and I am happy to have it.
According to my source, it should start new growth in late summer and be complete in late fall, and some times produce a second growth if it is happy. This one I just got seems to be working on a new growth now, I am hoping that is a sign it is happy and not just confused as to what time of the year it is. I am told it blooms in mid to late summer in my area. Mine has no sheaths yet, but perhaps it will make one on this new growth and reward me with flowers this summer.

Friday, January 14, 2011

C. percivaliana ‘Wings’

C. percivaliana ‘Wings’
This plant came from the intermediate table at Chadwick & Son. It was late spring here when I got it and I put it in my outdoor growing area and it went to work putting up new growth. It did so well I had to repot it. Then it put up even more new growth and started growing out of the new pot again, so I potted it again. In hind sight this was a bad idea and in the end I think I set it back with the last repot as it never put down roots on the last growth it made and it only bloomed on 2 of the 5 sheaths it made over the summer. That said, it still has been a nice plant to have over the holidays and the blooms have been very long lasting, going on 3 weeks at this point. A. A. Chadwick says of the plant “Cattleya percivaliana grows in nature at relatively high altitudes from 4,000 to 6,000 feet. It is often a lithophyte found on rocks and receives considerable exposure to the sun. Under greenhouse conditions at sea level, however, it will require at least 30 percent shade in the summer to prevent the leaves from burning. Cattleya percivaliana requires lots of sun and air to obtain the best growth and the most flowers. Repotting should be done in the spring before the plant is in active growth.”  So I will put it in a little larger pot this spring then leave it alone.

There are some really cool forms of percivaliana and two that have been on my wish list for a long time are ‘ondine’ and ‘marmoreada’. Both are extremely stunning both visually and in price. They come up from time to time on ebay and often go for around 300 to 400 bucks. Perhaps one day someone will clone these forms and bring them down to a price I can afford, but until that time I will bid on them and hope I can pick one up for a steal.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

C. labiata alba

C. labiata alba
I blogged about this plant back in December before it bloomed. Now it is open and I really like it. I bought it out of bloom but in sheath so this is my first look at the flower. At this point it has been open for a week or so, and like a lot of the species cat’s I have, the dorsal sepal is beginning to dip back. The pictures make it look further back than it seems in person, perhaps it’s the angle. I am excited to see what the plant does next year for me. The grower this plant came from does a great job, but he is a big operation and the plants don’t always get the attention I can give them here. It still has one bud in the other sheath, so I hope I get to enjoy this plant for a few more weeks. I am also curious to see if it acts more like a typical labiata next year with the double sheath.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tragedy in the growing area!

A few days ago as I was looking at the plants, an activity I frequently employ when I am trying to avoid actual work, I noticed one of my most prized divisions looked sick. It is a cutting of C. rex, a plant I had wanted for some time before I broke down and bought this cutting. The oldest psuedobulb of the three had signs of black rot, a problem I have not had before.


I spoke with the grower who I got it from and he advised I cut the sick part ASAP, so I did. When I pulled it from the pot the roots looked very healthy.


I then looked up the treatment in A.E Chadwick’s book The Classic Cattleya’s, and he advised hydrogen peroxide, so I did that as well. Then to top it all off I put some fungicide on it. I figure all that attention will either save it soundly or kill it quickly. As of now I have not potted it back up. It is bare root and I thought of keeping it this way or in a pot of rocks until it starts to make new roots, but I have no justification as to why. Seem that this plant got too cold and wet, as that is most frequently cited reason for its cause. Not sure if the sphagnum played a role in all this, but either way I am likely too chicken to put it back in it. I am really pulling for this plant, I hope it pulls through.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

I am fortunate to have Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden virtually in my back yard. They have an amazing, extremely well manicured out door garden and a very impressive Conservatory. Within the Conservatory they have amassed an impressive orchid collection with well over 1000 plants. The Conservatory itself serves as a show case for what is in bloom and they bring in new blooming plants weekly.  This afternoon we went out for a visit and as always I was impressed with the orchids (but only took pictures of the cattleya, yes I know it is a disease…) as well as some other very impressive tropicals. If you ever find yourself in Richmond, stop by and have a look around. You will not be sorry.

This Jade plant was very impressive and in bloom.

This Crinum stands well over 6 feet tall and the bloom! Wow...

And, lets not forget about these...