orchiddynasty

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Paphiopedilum malipoense  ‘Green Destiny'  (China )

Known as the “Jade Slipper” malipoense is as striking to the eye as it is to the nose. Its large flowers are atop some of the tallest flower spikes in the genus and have a fragrance reminiscent of raspberries. Endemic to China, it needs a distinct rest from watering in the winter months coupled with bright light and cooler temperatures. 

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Bulbophyllum plumatum  (Malaysia/Philippines/Sumatra)

There’s an undeniable charm about miniature orchids and especially if the flowers dwarf the plant itself. Some of the best examples of this occur in the Cirrhopetalum section of Bulbophyllum. and plumatum is a great example. It’s 6" flowers are reminiscent of a purple ‘plume’ of feathers are held away from the plant creating a floating effect to the observer.  

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Tuberlabium kotoense  (Taiwan)

Known as Guan Chun Lan in its native Taiwan, Tuberlabium kotoense is a fantastic miniature orchid with very fragrant flowers reminiscent of sweet star of anise. It can be grown in a coarse bark media but its highly recommended to mount on rough wood since its flower spikes develop at an almost horizontal angle.

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Neomoorea irrorata (Colombia/Panama)

I’ve been very excited lately as our Neomoorea irrorata has come into bloom. These are the types of plants that make me passionate about growing orchids so I make sure to point out the amazing cinnamon-ochre colored flowers to anyone stopping by. Its notorious for never (or almost never) blooming- something that doesn’t sit well when the plant takes up a large amount of space with its 4’ leaves. It’s at home to the misty cloud forests of Colombia and Panama where it can occur as an ephiphyte or terrestrial. 

Earlier this week Thomas Mirenda (Orchid Collection Specialist at the Smithsonian) was in town and stopped by the greenhouse. If you get to spend even a little time with him you quickly see just how extremely knowledgeable he is. During our conversation he saw the Neomoorea in flower and mentioned that there is supposed to be a butterfly that looks like the lip of this species, something I’d never heard before but after looking at the lip seem so obvious! Things like that make me appreciate growing orchids even more.

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Trisetella huebneri  (Panama to Bolivia Venezuela, Brazil)

I thought I would post a few miniatures this week and to start off  here’s Trisetella huebneri- a charming plant from wet montane regions of central and South America. Given bright diffused light and intermediate temps with clean water mild fertilizer, huebneri can reward you with a mass of flowers in the late Fall and Winter.

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Anacheilium cochleatum {Syn. Encyclia}  (Florida south to Columbia)

 An orchid with many names- Anacheilium cochleatum never ceases to get attention. Known as the “Cockleshell” or “Octopus” orchid to some, Its non-resupinate (upside down) flowers have always reminded me of a swarm of flying aliens with beady yellow eyes and a giant elaborate cloak (besides, wouldn’t that technically be a “penta-pus”?)

In Spanish speaking parts of the world it is sometimes referred to as Orquedea negra for its almost black lip which strongly contrasts against the creamy-green tepals of the flowers. As with most orchids with a large range of natural habit, it can be variable in size and color but desrves space in any collection. 

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Habenaria medusea ‘Snow Kimono’  S.E. Asia 

I grow a few different Habenaria species and medusea definitely gets the most attention when in bloom. It’s pretty obvious where its name comes from due to the “Medusa”-like appendages from the side lobes. When the flowers open these parts poke out from the developing bud looking cream colored and wrinkled with the appearance that they could never be ironed out straight. But within a few days (and with good humidity) they somehow become disciplined and turn crisp white with a contrasting red staminode.

Most Habinarias are grow as terrestrials and hail from tropical areas with distinct wet/dry seasons. Extra care must be taken to give them a completely dry winter rest (about late October). At this point the foliage will die back and the pot must be left dry until new growth commences in the Spring (usually March). When they are in active growth they should be kept damp in a well drained media and fertilized regularly. 

Since they take up almost no room in the winter, I crowd them all together under a T5 light setup I use for flasks where they will still get higher humidity and good light- but will not be watered and won’t use up valuable bench space.

Paphiopedilum liemianum(Sumatra)

We end Slipper week with the beautiful sequential flowering Paphiopedilum liemianum. Found only in northern Sumatra, blooms last about 4 weeks but continue to produce new buds on the same spike for up to one year. It is a very distinct member of the cochlopetulum section of the genus Paphiopedilum with its white “halo” around the bright green dorsal sepal. 

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Cattleya amethystoglossa  (Brazil)

This is a must have for any cattleya collection. I tend to favor interesting (over overtly beautiful) flowers so our collection has more bi-foliate cattleyas than uni-foliates. That said, amethystoglossa has it all. Amazing flowers with fragrance and beauty that rival any of its corsage type cousins. I received this plant from Roy Tokunaga 7-8 years ago and its flowers have gotten better and better over time with this years pseudobulb topping 2.5 feet. Definitely not for the windowsill.