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Thread: More on orchids

  1. #1
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    Default More on orchids

    I did a thread back in 2016 in which I showed some of the orchids I was growing at the time. I kept it going for about a year dribbling out photos as they flowered.

    At the time we were living in NW Sydney and I was bemoaning the fact that there were very few genuinely exotic-looking orchids which could be grown outdoors in the district. In fact only a handful of species tolerated the temperature which ranged from about 2 degrees in extreme winter nights to about 40 degrees for spells of a day or two in summer.

    Now we have moved to a seaside location on the Central Coast. Although itís only about 80km away atcf, the equivalent temperature range here is about 8degrees to 34 degrees, so the range of orchids we can grow is much wider. Plus I now have a shadehouse, a miserable little thing but it does give them some shelter.

    So I thought I would show here some of what we grow as they flower.

    I should caution you that there is nothing unusual here - I stick mainly to old favourites.

    Iíll try to keep this thread going for a year. Itíll be interesting to look back over what happens in a year.

    Cheers
    Arron
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  3. #2
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    Default A brassia

    First up a Brassia. Actually, itís a cross between 3 (or 4, I forget) Brassia species.

    The petals on these flowers measure 330mm tip to tip - if yo hold them out straight.

    These are often called spider orchids. Coincidently, they are pollinated by a group of wasps called spider-hunters, which prey on tarantulas. The wasp is attracted by a pheromone the plant releases, lands on it and attempts to sting the elongated lip, pollinating the plant in the process.

    Young plant, first time its flowered, so not many flowers.


    orchid brassia.jpg
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  4. #3
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    This is a Brascidostele ďGilded TowerĒ - a man made hybrid between species in three South American genera.

    It grows a bit large.

    Best feature is the highly figured lip, which is in none of the parents.

    orchid gilded tower wide.jpg

    orchid gilded tower close.jpg
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  5. #4
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    Default

    I'd love to see photos of your collection. I'm sure what you've shown us over the last few years is a snippet.

  6. #5
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    Ditto.

    My folks had a shade-house in which they grew a wide variety of orchids over some 30 odd years. 'Twas a lovely place to sit and chill out; no matter what time of year it was, there was always something interesting in flower.

    Alas, once Dad passed Mum had to move to a smaller place and few of the orchids transitioned well.
    I may be weird, but I'm saving up to become eccentric.

    - Andy Mc

  7. #6
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    This is Oncidium "Sharry Baby". I said above that I mainly grow old favourites, and Sharry Baby is about as old favourite as you can get. Its a hybrid between 4 species of Central/South American oncidiums that was registered in 1983. Now its probably the most commonly grown orchid in the huge oncidium alliance.

    Looking at it, its OK but not especially appealing. The flower spike is rather long and sparse, the mahogany colour doesn't really stand out, and the flowers always look like they didn't quite develop fully. What makes it so special, however, is its fragrance. The flowers smell like a cross between vanilla and chocolate. In the morning sun it really gets going and the fragrance fills our entire lounge/dining/kitchen area.

    I tried growing them several times in NW Sydney without success, but they do really well here. This one is only a young plant flowering for the first time but it still produced 2 large spikes - so it must be happy.


    Its not normal for it to be flowering in mid-summer. In fact none of the orchids above should really be flowering now. I think its because they've been confused by us moving houses twice in the last year.


    orchid_sharry_wide.JPG
    orchid_sharry_close.JPG
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  8. #7
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    This is Aliceara 'Winter Wonderland'. Another very commonly grown hybrid. This one was registered in 1985ish, and is a cross between about 8 species in the genera Miltonia, Oncidium, Brassia and Odontoglossum.


    This is another young plant doing its first flowering. Again its unusual to see them flowering in mid-summer.


    This photo doesn't do it justice. It has a very appealing crystalline texture to the petals. I should of photographed it against a black background perhaps.


    orchid_WWonderland_wide.JPG

    orchid_WWonderland_close.JPG
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  9. #8
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    This is Oncidium "Heaven Scent". Another old favourite. Its a linear descendant of Oncidium "Sharry Baby", which I showed above and mentioned had some systemic problems such as a sparse inflorescence and poorly shaped flowers. Heaven Scent is a breeder's attempt to get past these problems without loosing the striking aroma.

    This is a young plant doing its first flowering. Later flowerings will be much more impressive. I bought it as a tiny plant 3 years ago, so I suppose its 4 years old.

    This plant is one I bought as a tiny seedling from Bunnings. I've bought lots of these 3-7cm high plants in plastic bubble containers for about $9.00 each. They come from a Victorian grower called Collectors Corner, and they are in fact all very well grown, healthy and fault-free plants - or they are when they first arrive at Bunnings but be careful because the staff dont know how to look after them so they soon go downhill. Each winter Collectors Corner ships a wide variety of species and hybrids to Bunnings, with lots of new varieties each year, and I'm an enthusiastic customer. Most of the specialist orchid dealers in Australia I am less enthusiastic about.

    The Winter Wonderland and Sharry Baby I have shown above are from the same source - and are the same age.

    The positives of buying such young plants are that they are cheap (for orchids) and that you get to raise them to maturity fully acclimatised to your local conditions. The negative is that nothing with orchids happens quickly, so you can expect to wait 3 to 4 years for a flower.

    The brown leaftips suggest its suffering fertiliser burn.

    heavenscentwide.JPG

    heavenscentnarrow.JPG
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  10. #9
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    Default Carrying on

    As there isnít much else flowering at the moment itís time to talk Phalaenopsis.

    Phalaenopsis (or phals) are those white or pink flowered orchids you see today in such numbers in supermarkets or hardware stores. I used to think Iíd never grow phals because they are so common, and my attitude was that being common they therefore can not be exotic, and the best thing about orchids is they bring a bit of the exotic into everyday life.

    However Iím slowly changing my mind because thereís no doubting that Ė given a very small amount of knowledge of how orchids grow Ė there is no other orchid that is as easy care, floriferous, pest free, sociable, convenient and long lasting as the phals. Over the last 20 or so years of selective breeding for the 'modestly-priced flower' trade, breeders have developed them into little commercial flowering-machines.

    I only have about 5 phals in my collection but there is always at least one in flower at any time and those flowers can last up to 6 months.

    My phals are Ďsupermarket rescuesí, meaning plants bought in supermarkets etc and given to me after flowering by owners don't know how to care for them. They are usually in fairly bad state by the time I get them but they are hardy plants and recover eventually.


    This is a supermarket rescue. Itís recovered from previous appalling treatment and is obviously happy with current conditions judging by the very long and well loaded flower stem.


    white_phal.jpg


    cheers
    Arron
    Apologies for unnoticed autocomplete errors.

  11. #10
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    Default and more on phals

    This is another rescue phal.

    Itís very unusual. Itís a peloric, which in this case means the lip shape has been influenced by the petal shape. You can see that its labellum (the downward pointing lip) is atypical (compare this to the phal in the previous post, which has a typical lip). Itís a hybrid called ĎPhalaenopsis world classí.


    world_class.JPG

    Most of the phals for sale are ďNOIDsĒ, short for ďno identificationĒ, meaning the grower has not provided any information about the background or exact registered hybrid name of the plant. Presumably they think itís not relevant to getting a sale in a supermarket, so donít bother with unnecessary detail.

    Another side effect of the intensive breeding done for the supermarket trade is that very few phals offered are now scented. This is a shame because in their natural state many of the Phalaenopsis species have very strong and very special scents - usually an exotic floral/vanilla aroma. Apparently the commercial breeders realise that the effect of scent will be lost in a supermarket or hardware store situation, so they haven't selected for it. I've read that many of the yellow flowered commercial hybrids still retain some scent, though I haven't encountered any.

    cheers
    Arron
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  12. #11
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    They look very interesting; Iím not a flowery person but knowing thereís something that can stay in bloom for months would be something nice to get SWMBO.

    One important question, is there a breed of orchid that thrives on neglect? Unfortunately in my household when I go away (FIFO worker) thatís what most things receive unless theyíre covered in fur or feathers.
    Nothing succeeds like a budgie without a beak.

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chief Tiff View Post
    They look very interesting; Iím not a flowery person but knowing thereís something that can stay in bloom for months would be something nice to get SWMBO.

    One important question, is there a breed of orchid that thrives on neglect? Unfortunately in my household when I go away (FIFO worker) thatís what most things receive unless theyíre covered in fur or feathers.
    Thatís a difficult question for me personally because I donít know much about growing orchids in your climate. I looked up your climate on BOM and it looked like you get a hot, rainy summer and a dry winter down to about 9 degrees minimum. Thatís ideal for growing most types of orchid.

    Orchids that like your temperature range as well as the wet summer / dry winter regime include:
    Softcane dendrobiums (nobile type)
    Hardcane dendrobiums
    Almost all cattleya species and hybrids
    Almost all laelia species and hybrids
    Most oncidium species (prefer extra water in winter though)
    Most oncidium alliance hybrids except those with odontoglossum among the parents
    Vandas (probably need supplemental watering even in summer)
    Phalaenopsis
    Stanhopeas
    Many other less common species.

    I think any of these would grow well in your environment as long as you had them outside, in dappled shade, in a spot where the air flowed around them freely, able to receive natural rainfall, fertilised them occasionally at half strength, kept them potted in bark (not soil) and didnít let them sit in stagnant or stale potting mix. You might need to supplement the watering in dry times. I think thatís about as close to thriving on neglect as youíll ever get with orchids. Trips away shouldnít be a big issue as long as there is some watering going on in summer.

    Bring them inside when flowering, but no orchid really likes growing inside.

    There is no escaping the fact, however, that you have to read up on and understand how orchids grow. Itís not complicated, but they are not like other plants.
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  14. #13
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    That is a very handy list to take with me to the local nurseries, thank you for taking the time to write it.

    We get very humid summers up here, although rainfall has been somewhat sparse this last 12 months. I have a small garden bed in the front of the property with a young poncianna flame tree thing that would probably do dappled shade admirably.
    Nothing succeeds like a budgie without a beak.

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chief Tiff View Post
    That is a very handy list to take with me to the local nurseries, thank you for taking the time to write it.

    We get very humid summers up here, although rainfall has been somewhat sparse this last 12 months. I have a small garden bed in the front of the property with a young poncianna flame tree thing that would probably do dappled shade admirably.
    You could probably grow an orchid or two directly on the trunk of the poinciana. Look up Ďnobile dendrobiumí in Google. They are often naturalised on trees. Just wire the plant onto the trunk with a few strands of sphagnum moss twisted around itís roots to retain a bit of moisture. A Brassia, oncidium or cattleya would probably do well growing the same way. Eventually the roots will scramble down the trunk of the tree and that is what you want. Remove the wire once itís established. Just keep it well watered but allow it to dry out too. If you have a sprinkler system then perfect.
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  16. #15
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    Default Carrying on

    Although we have had a constant stream of flowering orchids since my last post I havenít shown any because they are just kind of more of the same. Most have been Oncidium intergenerics.

    This one is a bit different, though. This is a Bulbophyllum. Bulbophyllum is a huge Asian genus, with a few species native to Australia as far south as Sydney. Mostly they have small clustering leaves and pseudobulbs, with really weird looking flowers. They are nearly all small, too. In the past thatís limited their appeal, but now there is a big focus in orchid-growing towards the Ďminiaturesí. I think this comes from people in Europe and eastern seaboard USA not having much space and needing to grow in appartments etc.

    The miniature orchids are mostly in genera like Lepanthes, Bulbophyllum and Masdavillea. Although not spectacular, their appeal often lies in their sheer weirdness. You can see a collection of strange orchid flowers here ( https://pin.it/ogpte4tfobt2h5 ) itís amazing the shapes they have evolved into.

    This one is Bulbophyllum ornatissimum x putidum . The flower is about 90mm long.

    4D1CD481-5A34-427D-A685-1B150C40336B.jpg

    Cheers
    Arron
    Apologies for unnoticed autocomplete errors.

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