Cattleya Pacavia and Others in Bloom

One thing I love about growing plants is their ability to surprise me time and again–I recently moved all the plants from the small greenhouse to the garage where I can better regulate the temperature and we have plenty of windows and lights–The other day as I watered, I realized with a pleasant shock, that this Cattleya (Laelia) pacavia was in bloom–

I bought this plant several years ago, and this is the first time it has bloomed–It’s just the one bloom, but I’ll take it–I’m delighted by its rich color, delicious fragrance, and good shape–

A closer look at the lip–I love the picotee edge–

Another cattleya in bloom now is this hybrid, Epicattleya Don Herman ‘Spots’:

Don Herman ‘spots’ is one of my favorites and a faithful bloomer each year–I keep it on a stand in the bedroom while it’s in bloom–Behind it on the same stand is a another orchid in bloom, an oncidium intergeneric called Oncidioda charlesworthii–

Both add a bright spot of color during these winter days–Another cattleya in bloom recently is this exquisite Rhyncholaelia ‘Misty Queen’–

The flowers are almost the size of my hand and their fragrance is wonderful–This is a mid-size cattleya at about 18″ tall though not a fast grower at one new pseudobulbs a season–A closeup of the impressive lip, Below:

Another cattleya in bloom now is this diminutive Cattleya cernua, with multiple spikes of cheerful orange flowers, each the size of a thumbnail–

This is an easy cattleya to grow–I give it bright light, water it every three days, and fertilize weakly every other week during the growing season–Many of the orchids didn’t have a great late summer/fall due to our move to a new home and my subsequent distraction from their usual care–I’m glad to find that for some of them it made little difference–


Winter Greenery

For Christmas this year I cut a few branches from trees in the yard and wired them on the mailbox (it was not easy taking cuttings from the single magnolia we have)–I then tucked in a few red berry sprays (fake) and stuck a bow on the other side–

I stuck a few bare, lichen-covered branches in to add some height and drama–

My hands smelled wonderful in the cool air after handling this cut greenery–

Schlumbergera in bloom

The Thanksgiving cactus, Schlumbergera truncata, have just finished blooming and I thought I’d post a few photos of those and the Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera bridgesii, now in bloom–

This lovely coral is a first bloomer for me–I have acquired a few new colors this year from cuttings-

A lovely pale peach (or gold):

I’ve had this one for several years now–Depending on what kind of summer it’s had outside, it can be more gold or have more pink in the petals–

The fuchsia:

This also a first bloomer from a cutting, and as the plant is fairly small still, there were not a lot of blooms, unlike the white one:

The buds were just starting to open here–This is one of my favorites, the flowers are larger than those on the other plants–

This white one looks wonderful in bloom next to the red one, which didn’t have many buds that survived this year due to an attack by a feral kitten, now one of our indoor cats–

It always summered on the front porch at our previous house but due to the sheer number of plants that I had on the new porch during and after our move, it went under one of the trees in the yard–

The Thanksgiving cactus have all done well despite the move and several months of sketchy care on my part as we made the transition to the log house (during the busiest time of year at work no less)–

My seedling hybrids are doing well and I hope to start seeing blooms from those next fall–I’m excited to see what my efforts will bring–Lastly, the Christmas cactus is just starting to open its buds:

I’ve had this one for about 15 years–It’s three feet across and years overdue for a repotting–I’ll be doing that in the spring before it goes out until late next fall–

The segments on the true Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera bridgesii are more rounded along the edges than the Thanksgiving cactus, which has serrated segments–People confuse the two all the time and big box retailers often label them incorrectly–Schlumbergera bridgesii is less commonly available–

I’ll be revitalizing all the Schlumbergera next spring with new pots and soil, and by next holiday season I hope to see a spectacular display–

Hippeastrum and Others

I’ve finally potted up the hippeastrum (amaryllis) I’ve had in a dormant state out in the shed–

They’ve been in darkness without water since August, when we moved in–

Some of my bulbs have gotten impressively large–The roots are amazing -one must never cut these roots, they are always viable–

This ‘Apple Blossom’ has a “daughter bulb” that should bloom in a year or two–I thought they looked nice together so I kept them that way–

I treat myself to a new hippeastrum in bud each Christmas but then after, about the middle of January, those I’ve potted up will be in bloom–I love having these magnificent plants in bloom around the house through the winter–

The seedlings I germinated last winter are doing well–They’ve grown amazingly fast–

I’ll be posting an update as the hippeastrum bloom, two new ones I got this year will be open in about two weeks–

Tiny Orchid in Bloom

Unexpectedly, this Mediocalcar decoratum has come into bloom–I noticed the buds last week as I watered–

It usually blooms in March–April, but like many of my orchids, the move has confused this tiny New Guinea native–Above one can see how tiny the blooms are–

These diminutive blooms are more sparse than usual, but still charm me–

M. decoratum is the most commonly available mediocalcar species–It’s easy to grow with bright light, a bit of direct late afternoon sun and regular watering, slightly drier in winter–This one likes to go outside as soon as possible in spring and stays out as late as possible in fall–

Fresh Air

When there are warm days like today in fall and winter, it’s a good idea to open the windows and let your plants get some fresh air while airing out the house–

These Thanksgiving cactus love the air dancing through the window–All of them are in bloom now, a post on those to follow–

Tillandsia and Tolumnia In Bloom.

I bought this Tillandsia two years ago, and it has finally put out two bloom stalks–

It was unlabeled, but I liked the color and look of the leaves, so I bought it–It has divided itself and both grow happily nestled in the hollow part of this small forked piece of branch–

On the same windowsill I have an orchid, a small one called a tolumnia–It hasn’t liked our recent move, but managed to put up a spike with two buds, one of which has opened–Here’s a short video of it–The video more faithfully captured the color of the flower than a photo–

Tolumnias are related to Oncidiums, the flower shape very similar–These orchids are referred to as “twig epiphytes” because in their native habitat they perch on the outer branches of trees, absorbing sunlight, morning mist, and rain when it falls–

Tree Work

We have an ancient pecan tree in the front yard by the road—It had a lot of lower limbs that desperately needed trimming up, and I decided today was the day—I managed to get one sizable limb cut before the chainsaw decided to stop cooperating—I think it needs a new air filter or something—We’ll take it in to be looked at, but I’m stubborn enough that I didn’t want to stop what I was doing:

So I got an old saw and got busy—I know I’ll feel this later in my shoulders, but I managed to take off all the problem limbs—I got on a ladder for the ones higher up—The main problem with this tree was a large number of very low-growing limbs—Some of them were so long they were resting on the ground, an invitation for rot, insects, and disease—I am happy with what I took off:

The longest limb was about 11 feet—This tree will be much healthier now with more sun and air flow able to pass through and under it—It’s a huge tree, easily 80 or so feet high—

Underneath, a variety of shade and partial-sun plants reside—I found lots of wild strawberries there—

The next step will be to continue cleaning under the tree by removing the smaller limbs and debris it has shed over the years— 

Orchids In Bloom and Winter Preparations.

There are several orchids blooming now; the Oncidium intergenerics are throwing up spikes from pseudobulbs that matured over the summer and the phalaenopsis are starting to join them—

This is Burrageara Living Fire, an exquisite intergeneric hybrid whose parentage includes Oncidium, Miltonia, Odontoglossum, and Cochlioda

This orchid has been instrumental in the dawning realization that I adore the color red in Orchids—Until very recently, I had few red orchids of any kind—These velvety blooms were a revelation with their combination of glowing yellow, unexpected lavender and sumptuous, rich reds—Burrageara Living Fire blooms reliably due to hybrid vigor with many buds, and is well worth adding to any collection—

Next up is Brassocattleya Hawaii Stars, whose single flower has only just opened—It did not take well to our recent move, and so all the buds blasted but one—This flower will evolve from its current pale, icy green to bright white and develop a delicious fragrance along the way—

Above, the developing spike from a second pot of Burrageara Living Fire; in the background, a spray of Oncidium Sharry Baby ‘Sweet Fragrance’, smelling heavily of Almond Joy—Delicious—

Below, Bratonia Dark Star ‘Darth Vader’ featured in a previous post, still in bloom—

Unlike Oncidium Sharry Baby, Bratonia Dark Star is not a large-growing hybrid and does not exhibit the banana-like freckles on the leaves which are the result of overhead watering—The flowers Peek out from a lower corner shelf in the greenhouse—

Speaking of the greenhouse, our weather has been cooler than normal for this time of year, so I’ve moved all the orchids and a few other tender plants into it, their winter quarters—I typically wait until mid-November so the plants can get as much time outdoors as possible before going inside—

It’s a tight fit, being a small greenhouse, but this will be easy to maintain through the cold months to come—

One of the hardy pinguiculas has thrown up a bloom—These diminutive carnivorous plants are native to parts of Georgia—When I stopped to examine this one, I noticed the others in the small planter were developing buds as well—I’m not sure who their pollinators are, I’ll have to do a little research—These plants suffered a serious setback when we got to the new house—It was mid-August, our hottest month, and with so much to do, I left it sitting out in full sun and forgot to water it (they can take sun but must be kept moist at all times)—They burned to a crisp and shed leaves, ending up half their original size—After discovering the damage, I submerged the entire planter to the rims in distilled water overnight—They managed to hang on and are now prospering again—Many Hardy carnivorous plants love the fall, especially Sarracenias, the pitcher plants, who put up their best pitchers then—

Here is a photo of the young Sarracenia leucophylla I started from seed, the only one that didn’t fall prey to the wrens who repeatedly dug out the mosss they are potted in—These are about 10 or so inches tall—When mature, these pitchers can easily reach  several feet tall—

In Bloom Now

This is a very busy month of the year for me so I’ve not posted in a while, but I’ve got some great things blooming now:

This is a streptocarpus hybrid called ‘blue Ice’—These plants belong to the same family as African violets, gesneriads— These are easy to propagate and I grew this one from a single leaf—I give it early morning sun and bright, indirect light the rest of the day—It is allowed to dry out between watering, but I don’t let it stay dry for extended periods of time—

Fall is when Oncidium Sharry Baby ‘Sweet fragrance’ blooms, above and below—It has one of my favorite orchid scents—I am always delighted when it blooms—

The marvelous thing about Oncidium Sharry Baby ‘Sweet Fragrance’ is that the cultivar name is spot-on with regards to the delicious Almond-Joy scent of the flowers—It has a ‘Sweet fragrance’ indeed—Speaking of spots, I keep this oncidium outside in the warm months, and rains splash the leaves, causing the spotting which is common for this hybrid—

Both Griffinia bulbs bloomed for the second time this year—I had forgotten about these photos, which are from just before the move to the new house—These are two different species, one is Liboniana, the other possibly Espiritensis or an unknown hybrid with espiritensis in the mix—I put too much perlite in the potting mix for these Brazilian jungle plants, and so I water them frequently: every other day in summer—But, they seem content—These diminutive relatives of the hippeastrum are every bit as alluring as their larger cousins—

Six weeks ago I was treated to an explosion of bright, tiny blooms from this Bulbophyllum sessile, below—

Rather than a stem, the blooms are massed along a trailing rhizome, from which the leaves with their tiny pseudobulbs grow—

The leaves of Bulbophyllum sessile are about an inch long, and the spiky, cream and orange flowers are about a quarter of an inch—It has a delightful fragrance: a sweet, slightly musky scent—B. sessile is easy to grow and forgiving of light neglect—Very bright indirect light and a daily watering in summer, ever few days in the cooler months of the year—