A quick getaway to sultry Savannah to escape the winter blues revealed the many surprises of this spanish moss-bedecked southern city. Among them were beautiful gardens where we found orchids adding a tropical touch, whether on the steps of a grand mansion, or a tiny patch in front of an apartment door.
Things are quiet at the USBG. Several sections are closed off for renovation and even the orchids appear to be in short supply as the USBG gets ready for its upcoming orchid show. Nevertheless, here are a few gems that caught my eye in the late afternoon sunshine. These are all generally orchids that like temperatures slightly on the cooler side.
I purchased this dendrobium orchid at our local orchid society meet from a visiting speaker who grew them in Texas. This orchid comes from the Philippines where it likes the heat.
I was struck but the architectural beauty of the plant and its bonsai like appearance. So after it had been growing in its pot for a few months, I slipped it into a bonsai pot. The plant was growing in sphagnum but knowing that these cane-stemmed dendrobium often a appreciate a good drying it out, I potted it in clay aggregate while leaving the root ball intact within the sphagnum.
The plant has grown well and blooms every spring after the cooler night of winter. The tallest growth is about 18 inches tall. The tiny flowers last from 1-2 months! They have the texture of plastic and appear in pairs, hanging ‘upside down’. In nature, the plant would be growing on a tree with the long stems hanging meandering down. The flowers, thus, would be the right way up. This is one orchid that is very attractive even when not in bloom. As you cannot see, the plant has been very carefully staked to keep the growths more upright. There were twice as many blooms as shown in the photo below–I just waited too long to photograph it!
The Orchid Show and Sale, held every Columbus Day weekend at the US National Arboretum kicks off Saturday Oct 6 and runs through Monday. This year marks the 65th Annual Orchid Show put on by members of the National Capital Orchid Society.
The show features hundreds of orchids in bloom, the likes of which you will not see for sale at your local grocery store. And if you want to add a few of these beauties to your collection, you’ll find a sales tent with many different types of orchids for sale, and experts who can help you choose.
Here are a few photos from this years show to whet your appetite. Visiting the show and sales tent is free, so this is a great way to while away a few hours and enjoy a burst of tropical color. There are also tours and workshops to help you hone your orchid growing skills! See details and hours of operation
My Brassavola David Sander is in bloom again! This year I was rewarded with about 6 blooms sequentially over two months. This plant needs to get big before it bloom profusely, but the attractive elongated foliage stays contained so a specimen can be grown in a 5″ pot. See my earlier post on this orchid for more information.
The U.S. Botanic Gardens show Orchid Mystique: Nature’s Triumph, in collaboration with Smithsonian Gardens, runs until April 29, 2012. This year’s exhibit observes the 100th anniversary of Japan’s gift of the cherry blossom trees to Washington, D.C., apparently by presenting our orchids around the Conservatory “in serene settings evocative of Japanese gardens to complement the thousands of orchids on display.”
Unfortunately there is not too much of a Japanese aesthetic going on(Italian style terracotta pots don’t quite cut it) other than a lovely Japanese garden, and with the hordes of tourist, serenity is in short supply. Still, there are always some beautiful orchids to observe and we’ve selected a few here to share with you.
Also on display are photographs of Images of North American native orchids from Hal Horwitz, which are really worth seeing. In that same vein, its also worth checking out an exhibit about a new national effort to restore and conserve native US orchids. Sadly, may of our own orchids are extinct or endangered in our own backyards of Maryland and Virginia.
Cattleya trianae is the national flower of Colombia and is among the largest and most beautiful of the cattleya orchid species. There are many different colors ranging from white to pink with variations in lip color to boot. It generally flowers in the late winter/early spring. This picture was taken in Cali, Colombia in February. The orchid was growing and blooming high up in a tree. You can find out more about this history of this orchid at Chadwick and Sons Orchids.
A few other orchids were also in bloom, but these were cultivated plants, though still native to the region. Below are two different types of Sobralia orchids. These plants that looks like grassy bamboo plants can reach from 12″ or 12 feet in height depending on the variety. The short-lived flowers, that may open at dawn ans spent by nightfall bloom in abundance. They are terrestrial, growing in the ground unlike the epiphytic Cattleya trianae.
Lastly we have Phragmipedium longifolium that was growing in a basket on somebody’s balcony. These are related to the Asiatic slipper orchids. However, these plants enjoy slightly cooler conditions and like lot of fresh cold water at the roots. They bloom over many months on the same stem.
With snow on the ground, there’s nothing like the rich perfumed scent of a gorgeous cattelya orchid to remind you of your favorite tropical paradise where I know you’d rather be right now. One of my new favorites has to be Blc. Momilani Rainbow ‘Buttercup’ which releases its heady perfume all day and has flowers that last for weeks, which is longer than for most cattleya orchids. While the plant is not compact it s definitely on the smaller side compared to other standard cattleyas. So, if you have room on your windowsill, this is one ‘houseplant’ I would definitely recommend.
Here are two maudiae-type slipper orchidsthat I bought at the recent orchid show held in Washington D.C. Most of these hybrids are being bred in Taiwan (slipper orchids are from south-east Asia) and the quality is outstanding. Growers usually have a batch of identical seedlings in bloom, and its fun to go through and pick out the best ones. ‘Best’, is of course, subjective but most slipper orchid enthusiasts will agree that if you look for flowers that are symmetrical, show clear color and boast a good flat dorsal sepal(that’s the striped one at the top of the flower that ends in a point) you can’t go wrong.
Then, of course, you have to like the flower, so that you’ll enjoy it once its home and blooming on your windowsill (the flowers can last six weeks or more). The orchid to the top is 50% sukhakulii, a species from Thailand that impart wide spotted petals to its progeny. Below is what is known as a vini-color hybrid–the goal with this kind of breedingis to get wine colored flowers–sin fact, some of these can be an extremely dark wine-red, or practically black. The vini colored slipper orchids are best admired while sipping a glass of claret red.
Maudiae-type slipper orchids also have beautiful foliage . They are relatively low-light plants and with a little care can be grown as houseplants. Learn how to grow slipper orchids
I purchased this gorgeous cattleya orchid at the NCOS Orchid Show that is on this weekend in Washington D.C. The large spotted waxy flowers held with their heady fragrance proved to be irresistible. There were about ten of these in bud or bloom being sold by Orchid Enterprise and most of them were snapped up quickly. I think you can see why.
For orchid nuts: This is a tetraploid mutation of the ‘Carmela’HCC/AOS clone.’Linwood’ received an AM/AOS