Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Journal March 14, 2018 - Phalaenopsis. an exceptional bargain.

One of the topics the speaker mentioned at the last meeting of the orchid society was the mass production of orchids today. For instance, Phalaenopsis, what were once prize-winning varieties a decade ago are now readily available at supermarkets at very reasonable prices. 

He said that they are being grown by the millions in the far east and imported by the shipload.  Plants are distributed nationwide from distribution centers to supermarkets and big box stores throughout the country.

The Phalaenopsis above was purchased about a year ago from Trader Joe's for under five dollars and has bloomed almost continuously since I purchased it.

They are now so inexpensive that one person on the gardening forum wrote that he throws them away after the flowers fall off and buys another.  To me, that is excessive and a total waste.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Journal February 25, 2018 - Poltinara Orchid Blooming.

Finally, I had an opportunity to make a time-lapse of an orchid blooming.  This is a learning process and the video is far from perfect.  

The frames were taken at five minute intervals and next time I will try ten minute intervals. Also,  I will place the setup in a grow tent to control auxiliary lighing in the basement from affecting the video lighting.

 All of the above being said, it was an enjoyable project.

This is what the orchid looks like up close, fully opened.

Potinara Love Love 'Yellow Bird', a medium/smaller sized cattleya. I waited a year for this one to bloom, the flowers will last about three weeks and then it is back to waiting. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Journal February 8, 2018 - Semi-hydroponic orchid culture.

The topic at this month's meeting of the Northeastern New York orchid society meeting was growing orchids using a semi-hydroponic method. It is a simple inexpensive method of growing orchids and once the plant is established it is virtually impossible to overwater the plant, as it will be accustomed to growing in water.

You can use any container without holes in the bottom, however, I prefer clear plastic food containers so I can see what the roots are doing, and, more importantly, I can see when to water/feed.

Two 1/4" holes are drilled about 1" above the bottom of the container to form a well. Most growers use expanded clay pellets to grow the orchids, so that is what I am using as I also have a lot of them available.

The pellets are pre-moistened and added to the container so that it is a little more than half full before the plant is added. The plant is not adapted to growing in liquid yet, so you want any roots left on the plant to be above the bottom not touching the liquid.

It is best to start with a young plant that does not have a large established root system. Before placing the plant in the container any dead or damaged roots should be removed, as they will rot. The plant is placed in the container and the pellets are added to fill around the plant up to the brim.

At that point, I place a strip of tape over the holes and fill the container with a quarter strength nutrient solution and let the plant soak in the solution for an hour. After an hour I remove the tape and let the liquid drain from the container, leaving the remaining liquid in the well.
That's it, you are good to go. The pellets will wick liquid up to the plant from the well. When the liquid in the well is almost gone I replace it with more quarter strength nutrient solution and let it overflow. On every fourth cycle, I flush the container with clear tepid water to remove excess salts from the pellets.

As a trial, I have identical plants, one growing in bark and one being grown semi-hydroponically, and it should make for an interesting comparison.

There are a lot of videos on growing orchids using this method on if you are interested in trying to grow orchids this way.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Journal May 30, 2017 - Double cross

Today I cross-pollinated these Phalaenopsis so I wanted to make a record on the blog of the date and what the parent plants look like.

The plants are really nothing special, they are what are now called "Grocery Store Orchids" by some people.  To many people, this is the variety that comes to mind when they hear the word orchid.

Also today, I harvested a Phalaenopsis pod from another cross to use as a test for a process known as green seedpod flasking.  

The idea is that by harvesting the pod prior to its opening and sterilizing the pod and removing the seeds in sterile conditions there is less chance of damaging the seed, vs. trying to sterilize the seeds after removing them.   

The pod was sterilized for 20 minutes in a 20% water bleach solution with frequent agitation.  Placed under the hood the pod was rinsed in sterile water before being opened.

The media is my own concoction and I will be more amazed than anyone if this actually works.  I have media that is specific for Orchid seeds that I purchased from a lab, but I am holding that until the remaining pods have been on the plant a little longer.  

The big question that hangs over this process is the age of the pod.  Some sites state it should be 120 days from pollination, some recommend six months, another a year, still others say wait till it turns yellow, others say wait until it is soft, still others say you can obtain viable seed 2/3 of the way through the period.  Who to believe?

Anyway, I have extra pods to experiment with, so I thought I would go with my own instinct and try this pod at about 100 days.   It will at least give me a practice run in working with a live pod and seeds.

On the topic of seeds, I expected to see seeds when I cut open the pod with the scalpel, not so, I found white fluffy material.  Using the tweezers I deposited clumps of it on the media and sealed the vessels and hope for the best. 

Upon examining the pod and remaining material under the microscope when I finished I could not see anything that remotely resembled a seed.  That said, it looks exactly like some other attempts I have seen on the web, so time will tell I guess.

The media contains distilled water, sugar, agar, 1/4 teaspoon of Orchid food, Super Thrive, coconut water,   Inositol and vitamins B and D.  That should be potent enough to grow hair on a golf ball.

The vessels have been placed under a 24 watt T5 grow light with a photoperiod of 8 hours.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Journal May 27, 2017 - Shade for the orchids

I wanted to place my heat and light loving orchids in the greenhouse along with the tomatoes and peppers for the summer, however, the light levels were too high for Cattleyas, even with the 45% poly shade cloth on the greenhouse.

After giving the problem some thought I came up with a workable solution: a temporary shade.

Using a folding frame that I had for camping I made a tent of shade material that came with a blow-away greenhouse some years ago.

Now, under the temporary cover, the light level during mid-day is about 3,000 foot-candles, which is ideal for Cattleyas. It is not pretty, but it works.  It is a simple matter to add or remove the tent as needed.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Journal May 25, 2017 - Tomato plants fruiting

This is the weekend that most gardeners in New York will be placing their tender plants like tomatoes in the ground.  For my part, I elected to go with the long range weather forecast and planted tomatoes, eggplant and peppers in the ground several days ago.

All of the plants have buds or small fruit and are much larger than anything available locally at garden centers.

The greenhouse tomatoes are much much farther ahead of the garden plants, even though they were started on the same day.  Once again, the difference is protective growing, where heat and light work their magic on the plants.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Journal April 12, 2017 - Hybrid orchid seedlings

At this point, as a result of purchasing flasks, I have well over a hundred hybrid orchid seedlings.

My expectation was when I bought the flasks that many of the seedlings would not survive being removed from the flask, but I was wrong as very few were lost.

The seedlings are in the small 2" or 3" pots and there is another tray not shown in the photos.  So, as I can not possibly raise all of the seedlings I am going to have to try to sell the excess plants, either on EBAY or at the orchid society meetings.