Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Plants: Plantae

At the EPOS meeting on Thursday, we picked up four more plants from Plantae - a number which I felt was very reserved, but at which OOAB's Senior Management rolled her eyes and said something about "Two orchids. We said two*". Always hard to restrain yourself when presented with 1) a big, long list of great plants 2) a personal courier service by one of the owners of the nursery and 3) a 10% discount! As usual, the plants were well packed in paper/polyester wool sheeting; I don't have any pictures of that as it was quite late when we got home from Port Elizabeth; I wanted to get them out of the packaging and onto the shelving ASAP.

So, without further ado, onto the exciting part. New plants :)

First up, to go with the theme of "blue orchids", I spent a fair few minutes trying to Google pictures of various Cattleya Alliance plants which the team at Plantae had helpfully highlighted as being "blue" in their price list. You might be interested to read my post about blue orchids (and mustard). Here is our shiny new mounted Laelia sincorana f. coerulea:
Laelia sincorana f. coerulea

According to IOSPE, L. sincorana comes from a dry region of Brazil and needs a "very dry" rest period in the winter. Other sources suggest the roots need to dry "very quickly" after watering, so I imagine it'll like being near my Tolumnia. Best I remember that watering regimen in the coming months, particularly with all that moss around the roots!

Next, we have Maxillaria tenuifolia:
Maxillaria tenuifolia
As many orchid-growers will know, the flowers of this species usually have a rather interesting aroma of coconut - some people have compared it to suntan lotion, piƱa colada or coconut cream pie! I am trying to collect various fragrant orchids, as I find this aspect of them to be quite intriguing. To this end, I recently acquired a copy of Steven Frowine's Fragrant Orchids, which at some stage I'll get around to reading properly and reviewing. Again, this orchid apparently enjoys a somewhat dry winter "rest period". I find the delicate foliage on this one quite graceful and attractive. Apparently, many people find it prefers being mounted instead of in a pot; ours is currently in a pot with what looks like coconut husk chips. I might consider mounting it one day... It seems to prefer fairly high light levels (stick it with your Catts or Cymbidium), but will tolerate lower light levels. According to IOSPE, it seems to grow all over the place at a variety of altitudes, so I suspect it's probably quite adaptable and forgiving.

Mediocalcar decoratum is a pretty tiny, miniature mat-forming plant:
Mediocalcar decoratum
I suspect if I get growing this one right, along with my pleurothallids, it might be time to "risk" something like Dendrobium cuthbertsonii, which comes from a similar part of the world to this species and seems to prefer similar cultural requirements. This plant is apparently equally happy either mounted or in a pot, but needs room to ramble. I should perhaps consider chopping a chunk out of some EcoWeb I recently received from First Rays. It seems to prefer fairly low light, so I imagine it will be happy with the paphs, and apparently likes being regularly watered. It's a cute little plant and I look forward to seeing it flower, when these plants are covered in tiny yellow-orange blossoms. Apparently, this species was only described in 1989! Ron Hanko has some great photos of it over at Orchids in Bloom; have a look at his impressive orchidariums when you visit!

Finally, Dendrobium unicum:
Dendrobium unicum
This plant apparently drops its leaves in its second year of growth (presumably on each growth), so I must not panic if I see the leaves do so! In fact, shortly after this leaf fall, you'll see the development of flowers along nodes on the stem. It has great orange flowers which apparently "smell exactly like freshly sharpened crayons". I wonder what animal finds that smell enticing (and what would happen if you sat in its natural habitat sharpening crayons)!? Apparently, it prefers being mounted or in a basket. Like many Dendrobium, it likes a cooler, dryer period in the winter with fertiliser being withheld during that period. 

So, whilst this order might have been for four more plants, I think we can all agree they're rather small - which, it could be argued (I maintain so!), is like getting 2 plants... :D They're certainly not another Ansellia africana, which dwarfs all my other orchids. We've also made some more room at OOAB HQ by moving (thanks Ron!) two gigantic pots with frangipani planted in them to the garden outside my office. Our sneaky plan is to make/buy some kind of staging upon which to grow plants in the area formerly dominated by the frangipani. One day, we shall have a garden, and that garden shall be great. And feature two frangipani!

Hooray for miniatures!

*good thing that Bulbophyllum tingabarinum was out of stock then, phew.