Friday, December 26, 2008

Tiger Morning seedlings

Below is one of three siblings from the cross Cym ((lianpan X lowianum), 4N X Tiger Tail, 4N), purchased from George Hatfield back in 2005. The other two are in spike, but not yet open. I'll update this post when they come into bloom.

Natural Spread: 5.7cm horizontal, 6.5cm vertical
Lateral Sepal: 3.6cm length, 1.1cm width
Petal: 3cm length, 1.1cm width
Lip: 1.5cm length (curled), 2.5cm length (uncurled), 1.1cm width

9 evenly-spaced flowers and 5 buds on an upright inflorescence measuring 43cm in length. Petals and sepals light green with reddish-brown speckles at base; column lemon-green; lip green-yellow with yellow patches; lip curled under; callus ridge yellow; texture waxy; substance firm. Noted for sweet, citrus-like fragrance.

According to George's notes, Cym. lianpan is presently considered by the botanists/taxonomists to be synonymous with Cym. goeringii. With such an interpretation, Cym. (goeringii x lowianum)=Cym. Eastern Morning, registered by Mukoyama in 2003 (see Mukoyama has recently (December 11, 2008) registered the cross Cym. Tiger Morning (=Eastern Morning x Tiger Tail).

However, in "The Genus Cymbidium" by DuPuy and Cribb (2007), Cym. lianpan is annotated as being a variety of Cym. tortisepalum (pg 310), not Cym. goeringii, e.g. Cym. tortisepalum var. lianpan and Cym. tortisepalum var. longibracteatum. See Table 19 (pg 312) for a comparison between Cym. goeringii, Cym. tortisepalum and Cym. ensifolium.

RHS has no registration of Cymbidium hybrids having Cym. lianpan as a parent, but does identify at least one hybrid with Cym. tortisepalum as a parent. It's up to the experts and administrators to settle any controversy...

Given that Cym. lowianum is part of this grex's pedigree, one would expect the presence of lowianum's "V" mark at the mid-lobe of the lip, which seems to be a dominant trait. Such is found if one uncurls the lip, as shown below.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

NCOS December meeting

This afternoon was our December NCOS meeting, with a holiday party. The attendance was strong, and the show tables were filled--the Paphs. having the strongest representation.

(Cyc. pentadactylon 'Jumbo Best' x Morm. sinuata 'Fireball'), exhibited by Chryss Mavrides.

Brachypetalum hybrids. All have Paph. concolor in their parentage. Display by Susan Kulhavi.

Paph. Angel Hair, exhibited by Barry Woolf.

Paph. parishii, exhibited by Barry Woolf.

Top to bottom: Paph. Green Cascade 'Penns Creek' HCC/AOS; Paph. Pukekaikiore 'JAN'; Paph. Icy Icy Wind 'Cattaraugus Creek'; exhibited by Bill and Lynn Goldner.

Paph. Mishima Elf; first bloom seedlings/siblings exhibited by Roddy Gabel.

Blc. Chia Lin 'New City' AM/AOS, exhibited by Ken Meier.

We won't meet again for another six weeks (Sunday, January 18, 2009).

Saturday, December 6, 2008

AOS Judging, December 6, 2008

Below are pics from today's AOS judging at the National Arboretum. The AOS judges gave an introductory lecture to members of the Maryland Orchid Society about the judging process, the standards by which orchids are judged, an example of improving flower quality over time using white phaelenopsis breeding as a model, and then some quizz slides to (successfully!) provoke discussion between the judges, and between the judges and the audience.

The number of plants put up for judging was greater than usual. But, it was an active, enjoyable and educational day.

Paph. Green Cascade 'Penns Creek' (Paph. Elfstone x Paph. Stefani Pita); HCC/AOS, 79pts

Zelenkocidium Thunderhead (Zelenkocidium Aloha x Clown Ears); HCC/AOS, 79pts

Paphinia Majestic (Paphinia cristata x Paphinia herrerae), four flowers on one inflorescence; AM/AOS, 87pts

Dendrobium Stephen Batchelor (Den. alexandrae x Den. johnsoniae); CCM/AOS, 81 pts

(Cyc. chlorochilon x Cyd. Jumbo Micky); screened but some flowers on both inflorescences were damaged and/or just past prime, thereby preventing a nomination. The disappointed judges discussed several means by which the exhibitor should package the flowers to prevent damage during transport. Perhaps next year...

Scaphosepalum decorum; CCM/AOS 81 pts

Clowesetum Dragon's Treasure (Cl. warscewiczii x Clo. Pink Lemonade) 'Miss Anita'; AM/AOS 84 pts

After most of my clerking duties were complete, I was able to participate in drafting the description for Dragon's Treasure.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cymbidium mastersii

Cymbidium mastersii is also in bloom. This was a surprise for me because I didn't expect the plant to flower for another year. It was recently purchased from a California vendor so I thought it would need another season to adjust to this region. The plant was tucked into a location under the backyard shade frame, and I didn't notice that the plant was in spike. Only when I brought the Cyms indoors for Winter did I noticed that the buds had already cleared their sheath.

According to "The Genus Cymbidium" by DuPuy and Cribb (2007), Cym. mastersii flowers do not fully open, shape and coloration is variable; petals and sepals range in colors from white to faintly pink; lip is white with a yellow central patch and yellow callus ridges, with some varieties showing pale to strong purple-red spots one the side- and mid-lobes; column white or pale green (see pages 212-216; figures 120-123). It flowers between October and December.

Here's a link to another description of the species: There's plenty of information out on the web, including pics of white (or alba) forms of the species.

Previous AOS awards for Cym. mastersii:
1. 'Cinnabar', CBR/AOS; 14 flowers on 2 inflorescences; February 7, 1995.
2. 'La Gobielle', CHM/AOS 83 pts; 49 flowers and 45 buds on 18 inflorescences; November 10, 2001.

Stats of my plant in AOS format (for my practice)
Natural spread: 4cm horizontal, 3.5cm vertical
Dorsal sepal: 5cm length, 0.8cm width
Petal: 4cm length, 0.4cm width
Lateral sepal: 5cm length, 0.7cm width
Lip: 4cm length, 1.1cm width
Description: 10 flowers on one inflorescence; petals and sepals white with rose-pink on outer surface; lip white, yellow throat and yellow-orange callus; substance light; texture matte.
The flowers seem most fragrant around mid-day-perhaps after having been warmed by the morning sun? I can't say it's "almond scented" as commonly described; rather, there's a slight fruity quality to the fragrance, at least to my nose.

Cymbidium Eastern Bunny 'Oborozuki'

As discussed in an earlier post, Cym. Eastern Bunny 'Oborozuki' is entering its blooming season--the second time this year!

Cym. Eastern Bunny=(Cym. goeringii x Cym. Lovely Bunny).
'Oborozuki' appears to be a Spring term meaning "hazy moon" , see

The flowers pictured below come from a plant with four pseudobulbs, the largest and youngest bulb responsible for four inflorescences and the second largest bulb responsible for another inflorescence, each spike (five total) at different stages of maturation. The plant is in a 5" pot, about 1.5' tall and about 2' canopy diameter. A second plant (not shown) has nine inflorescences, also at different stages of maturation, and about the same growth habit. Both plants reside side-by-side in an East/Southeast-facing garden window, having been placed there upon receipt from George Hatfield's visit this last May.

Stats in AOS format (for my practice)
Natural spread: 6.5cm horizontal, 5cm vertical
Dorsal sepal: 4.5cm length, 1.8cm width
Petal: 4cm length, 1.4cm width
Lateral sepal: 4.5cm length, 1.8cm width
Lip: 3cm length, 2cm width.
Description: 6 flowers on a first inflorescence. 4 flowers on a second inflorescence. Sepals and petals even pale yellow on top of faint green base; lip faint pale yellow on top of white base; column light green at apex becoming pale yellow towards base with inner surface strongly striped in dark red; substance heavy; texture waxy.

Still going strong as of January 23, 2009, with other inflorescences now in bloom.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lowering the Lights

This weekend's project was to lower the lights from the lightmover/ceiling to increase the lux/fc value at the orchid canopy. As you can see in the first picture, the lights are pretty close to the ceiling, and actually higher than they were placed last year.

I installed some chains that allow me to vary the distance each light may hang from its lightmover. The lower the lights hang, less area is illuminated, so I'm trying to find a compromise setting for this season. The maximum length will place the lights directly on top of the Cym canopy. While this achieves over 10,000 lux, the area illuminated is quite small.

At the above length, the lights are about 18 inches closer to the canopy than they were last year. (The calculation/measurement also includes the distance due to raising the plants off the floor with the palettes--another feature I did not have last year.) According to the light meter, the maximum lux per light at canopy level is now about 7,500 lux. Because this is an improvement over last year, I expect that the orchids will be fine. However, with light meter in hand, I must admit that I'm already thinking of improved lighting designs for next year, e.g. putting two lights onto each lightmover (four lights total).

Note: Although the photos indicate that the lights move synchronously, they are, in fact, asynchronous. The light on the left is set to pause at each end of the rail for about 17 seconds. The light on the right is set to pause for about 19 seconds. The lights take about 90 seconds to traverse the rail length.

Monday, November 17, 2008

November NCOS meeting

NCOS held it's monthly meeting yesterday. The guest speaker was Ernie Gemienhart of EnLightened Orchids (AOS Orchids, December issue, pgs 906-909, 2007) who discussed methods of growing orchids under lights indoors, e.g. spare bedroom, basement or garage. This was a timely topic given that I brought my Cyms indoors into my basement space just a few days earlier. Ernie has some nice ideas that I'll keep in mind as I evaluate the working conditions and overall plant health.

Below are some pics from the member's show table.
Lc. Gaskell Pumila 'Azure Star' HCC/AOS

Cyc. Wine's Delight 'J.E.M.'

Cirr. Elizabeth Ann

C. Portia 'Cannizaro' AM/AOS

Friday, November 14, 2008

In for the Winter

I moved my Cymbidiums into the basement tonight for their Winter season. We've had some light rain and/or overcast skies for several days now, with more light rain forecasted for the weekend. After that, the forecast is for below 30F nighttime lows, which combined with the saturated media would not be good for the Cyms.

Over half of the Cyms are in spike, and I am hopeful that the remaining will generate inflorescences in another month or so. I have a number of seedling crosses that are expected (should be mature enough) to bloom this year. Cym. mastersii, Cym. Eastern Bunny 'Oborozuki', and Cym. (lowio-mastersii x Summer Sands) have buds that have just cleared their sheaths. I'll be posting photos as the flowers open up.

I had noticed that some of my Cym. devonianum and devonianum hybrids were potted too low beneath the pot's edge, which will prevent the inflorescences from clearing the pot. So, I raised those plants "needing a lift" out of their pots such that the base of the pseudobulbs is now a half inch or so above the pot's edge. I had seen this "lifting" practiced while visiting Top Hat Orchids in Richmond, CA this last Spring. It was a good thing for me to do because, while doing so, I noticed that both Cym. Langlyense 'Cascades' and Cym. Miss Muffet 'Julie Sato' were developing multiple spikes beneath the media. These plants were on my potential discard list because they haven't flowered for me for a couple of years. But now, I have an explanation why I wasn't seeing any flowers, and I'm hopeful that the little spikes I saw will fully mature.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Basement preparations

The weather turned cooler this Friday, with a steady Fall breeze. The forecast for this next week's nighttime lows will be in the lower 40's and upper 30's.

This weekend's project was to clean up the basement growing area and make some pallets. I used some old wood we harvested from the attic insulation project for the pallets, following the design from I bought some cinder blocks to support the pallets. The pallets will help raise the plants higher to the lights. I also have some SunLift suspension system hangers (not yet installed) that should allow me to lower the lights closer to the plants, if necessary.

The electrician is scheduled to come at the end of the month to install the new circuits for the lights and lightmovers. I expect that the orchids won't need to be moved inside until Nov. 1 anyways. But, with the cooler weather, I'll be taking it one day at a time.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lights in the Basement

It's getting that time again. The Summer is gone, and we're progressing through Autumn. Soon, the orchids outdoors will need to be moved into the basement to over-Winter.

I have two, 250 Watt SunSystem II lights to maintain the orchids for several months in the basement. Last year, they were static. But presently, I'm in the process of installing mover system, using LightRail 3.5. Once all the equipment arrived, it only took a few hours to screw things together. I've asked a local electrician to install dedicated wires to run the lights and lightmover motors, and user/equipment-friendly outlets that will allow for the lights to move up and down the 6-foot track without becoming unplugged.

With the new light meter, I can now get a better measurement of exposure under these conditions. While I don't expect to fully mimic the sun's intensity, I do expect that I can improve the indoor culture conditions.

As a first exercise, I took some light readings around the backyard shade frame, this last Saturday. It was mid-day, around 1pm, and sunny. The light meter read around 90,000 lux on top of the shadeframe, and around 50,000 lux underneath the shadecloth (advertised as 40% shade). I got too busy with other chores to take measurements once the shadeframe was shaded by the trees...

NCOS Annual Show/Sale

Well, we've just finished with our annual Fall Show/Sale at the Arboretum. It was reasonably well attended over the three days, but the sales were down due to the present economy.

I witnessed one big exception today while staffing the cash register. One person spent $685 on orchids, and then went back in to buy another $150 of orchids!

Below are some pics of a few of the orchid exhibits set up by either vendors or regional orchid societies. I'll admit that few of the plants are in focus. My digital camera is having issues, and is need of replacement. However, I was taking the pictures more for reasons to document exhibition style. Some displays were overcrowded or poorly designed for other reasons. I liked some ideas in these pictures.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Meyer's Conservatory

I recently obtained some Laelia anceps seedlings--directly from flask, from Meyer's Conservatory ( This is my second attempt at growing orchids directly from flask. The first cross is L. anceps var. alba 'Drew's Yellow Girl' x self. The second is L. anceps var. veitchiania 'Fort Caroline' x self.

The previously mentioned Cymbidium erythrostylum seedlings (earlier post) died within a week. I mentioned my failure to another orchid grower, and he suggested buying some clear dome/community pot chambers from Tindara ( because he'd been using these for years without problems to successfully acclimatize seedlings directly from flask. So, I followed his recommendations, bought some clear dome compots from Tindara, and transferred the L. anceps seedlings into the chambers.

The other variable I changed was to grow the seedlings underneath my Agrosun light. According to my light meter, the seedlings (really the exterior of the cleardome compots) are receiving ~4500 lux/~450 footcandles of light, 16 hrs/day (the lights are on timers).

The seedlings from Meyer's Conservatory arrived in excellent(!) health. I need to mention here that over the last year, I had purchased a number of established seedlings of other orchid genera from Meyer's that also arrived in excellent health. With the Laelia anceps seedlings, I didn't have to extract them from the flask, as this task was already completed by the Conservatory. All I needed to do was transplant them into a sphagnum moss-type media. I counted between 31-35 seedlings per flask per cross, which is consistent with the number of plants they try to achieve in re-plate flasks.

So far, the seedlings continue to appear far healthier for the same amount of time in my hands than the Cym. erythrostylum seedlings I tried to grow.

Dendrochilum cobbianum

As mentioned last week, here is Dendrochilum cobbianum.

This is a fragrant orchid. Some say it's fragrance is unpleasant, smelling like old shoes. Who knows? Like wine, each has his'/her's own tastes. I like the fragrance very much, and it does not remind me of old shoes.

This is a reliable bloomer for me in September. The plant is potted in my Cymbidium media (45% coir, 45% medium coconut chips, 5% oyster shell, 5% dolomite). I grow it under lights in the basement over Winter, and hanging from a branch underneath a tree during Spring, Summer and Fall. I only got two inflorescences this year, so there is room for improvement in the plant's husbandry. I'm thinking that I will move it to a brighter location under lights over Winter and brighter location for the next growing seasons.

I also have a Dendrochilum magnum varietal that is sending up new growths, some of which may also have inflorescences. It's too early to tell right now.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hanna's weekend

Tropical Storm Hanna blew through yesterday (Saturday), filling up our rain barrels. I was tempted to water the orchids on Friday, but given the forecast, it was clear that I should wait. On Sunday, I dumped out the water in the catch trays--considering Hanna's rainwater to leach out excess salts from the media-- and fertilized the orchids to promote blooming.

I clerked for AOS judging on Saturday ( Despite Hanna's efforts, we had a large number of orchids submitted for judging, mostly Cattleyas, Laelias and Paphiopedilums.

Presently, I have Cym. ensifolium 'Jade Swan' in bloom (pictured below). It is a recent (Feb '08) acquisition, has bloomed twice for me this Summer, and has a nice, light and sweet fragrance. While clerking for AOS, I checked some of the stats for the previously awarded Cym. ensifolium varietals, and there's plenty of room for improvement to grow this plant up to an award quality specimen.

I also have Dendrochilum cobbianum inflorescences opening up. It was hanging from the tree branch, but I brought it indoors to protect the flowers from Hanna. Check back next week for pics.

As part of my (fortuitous) Integrated Pest Management program, I found this mantid on a Dendrochilum magnum leaf. We've lived at the house for 2+ years now, and this is the first time I've seen mantids here.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cym. Eastern Bunny 'Oborozuki'

The weekend rain has finally stopped, and the sun is shining, so I went out to check on the Cyms and found this little surprise regarding Cym. Eastern Bunny 'Oborozuki' that I recently acquired from George Hatfield of Hatfield Orchids.

Here's a pic (obtained from Hatfield Orchids' website: of the flowers.

I'm both thrilled and surprised at the vigorous growth of this clone. The left pseudobulb is sending up four new growths, and the right pseudobulb is sending up five new growths!

The flowers are nicely fragrant and long-lasting. With this degree of vigor, next Spring's flower yield should be great.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Water Quality Meter

Around two months ago, George Hatfield of Hatfield Orchids strongly suggested to the participants of the International Cymbidium Alliance, an online discussion forum, the purchase of a water quality meter that measures pH and total dissolved solids (TDS), for reasons of achieving better control over the pH of the fertilizing solution to maximize uptake from the orchid roots, as well as to avoid using media that has excessive salt content, e.g. coconut chips that still have significant salt content after washing and leaching.

I didn't run out to buy a meter at that point in time. But, I did observe during the weekend I was "led astray" that other serious orchid growers also used water quality meters as part of their orchid husbandry practice. The sum of these observations and suggestions motivated me enough to finally buy one (see below).

Here are the probe pH and TDS values for the calibration solutions.

Here are the pH and TDS values for distilled water.

Here are the pH and TDS values for my rainwater that I use to water my orchids. I expect the rainwater values will change according to the seasons, e.g. pollen content in Spring.

While I'm now ready to use the water meter when I make up my fertilizers, I also need to re-evaluate the advice of different orchid growers regarding the amount of "growth" and "bloom" fertilizers when the N, P or K values are given in ppm units. I've been accustomed to tsp/gal units, not ppm/gal units. I don't expect the results for using the water meter will be available for some time, but I'll be keeping notes...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Greenhouse tours

I was away this weekend taking a tour of some personal and commercial orchid greenhouses. Along with another NCOS member (Joe) whose goal was to "lead me astray", I drove to North Carolina to stay at the home of another NCOS member (Charlie) who had recently moved away from the DC metro area. Charlie gave us a tour of his greenhouse--which is almost as large as the square footage of my house--and the mechanics thereof. Charlie runs a really nice operation (potting, watering, humidity, light and temperature, and pest control), has the plants well-spaced, and healthy looking orchids--in bloom, recently out of bloom, seedlings, etc... One of the best role models I've seen for a personal greenhouse.

The three of us also drove down to Newberry, South Carolina to take a tour of Carter and Holmes Orchid nursery, stopping along the way to visit Seagrove Orchids in Seagrove, NC. Seagrove Orchids provides a show display and sales booth in the NCOS annual Show and Sale (October), so it was nice to see how their facilities are set up and reinforce the NCOS relationship with Seagrove.

Carter and Holmes is a larger operation than Seagrove, and has the advantage of an in-house breeding program and laboratory, so the orchid stock is not the same as Seagrove's. However, I appreciated comparing/contrasting greenhouse construction, maintenance and plant husbandry for these commercial growers.

Thankfully, our visit was, by-and-large out-of-season. That most orchids were not in bloom helped to mitigate the purchases. I know all too well the challenges of visiting an orchid nursery when in full bloom season. These little ones are either Laelias, Cattleyas, or Laelia/Cattleya (Lc) hybrids. So, in the end, Joe was able to "lead me astray" per design, and initiate a serious challenge to the "Primarily Cymbidiums".