Monday, May 11, 2009

Plant Find: Four new Orchids

I have had some success with Orchids in the past, but I have not kept any Orchids lately.  That was until I went to the Orchid Show and Sale at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens last weekend!

The Orchid Show was nice, but the real excitement came in the sale room, which was packed with orchids of various sizes, colors and price ranges.  My wife agreed with me that the sale room was much more fun, just knowing that you could take any of them home with you, assuming you had the money.

Phalaenopsis bastianii - birthday gift for my green-thumbed granddad who has recently started growing orchids.
But you didn't have to be a millionaire to walk away with a nice plant.  There were quite a few plants available in the $10-15 price range and very few plants more than $25.  We did see that a couple of the largest and rarest specimens had price tags around $75.

There were orchid seedlings for only $4 each!  Assuming you can keep the orchid alive for a year or two, this is a great deal.  I bought myself a miniature orchid that was in bloom, as well as 3 seedlings.

Tolumnia 'Genting Volcano'
Tolumnia 'Genting Volcano' pot with quarter for size comparison
The miniature orchid appealed to me on several different levels.  It is cool just because it is "full-grown" and still so small, housed in a 1" diameter pot.  I didn't even realize they made pots that small!  It also has a great inflorescence.  This particular plant is Tolumnia 'Genting Volcano.'  The Tolumnia genus is a section of what was once considered the Oncidium genus.  Oncidium was a very large genus and some plants were removed in 1986 and placed in the new genus Tolumnia.  Oncidium is one of the most recognizable genera of the Orchid family, containing the plants which are commonly called "Dancing Ladies" and "Sherry Baby," which is known for its fragrance of vanilla chocolate.  I had heard about this smell before, but not witnessed it until the sale.  It is amazing how much it smells like chocolate.

Three orchid seedlings: Vandopsis parishii v. Mariottiana, Phalaenopsis stuartiana, Dendrobium alexanderae
When I realized you could buy seedlings for $4, I started reading all of the tags, which were labeled with the genus and species, as well as the color of blooms.  I picked out one seedling from the common genus Phaelenopsis which had variegated foliage.  I also chose a Dendrobium and a Vandopsis.

My simple 8 gallon Orchidarium, including a variegated Maranta in the lower left.
I have set up an "Orchidarium" in a 10 gallon aquarium that I had on hand.  By putting these plants inside the aquarium, there is an increased local humidity that suits these plants well.  A small amount of water is kept in the bottom of the aquarium, at or below the gravel level.  A lid is not necessary and would inhibit air circulation, which can instigate problems with pests and fungi.

Eventually I will add some things to the orchidarium to make it look more natural and hide the pots - some driftwood, pieces of bark and sphagnum moss, probably.

Right now I have a couple of Marantas living in there with the orchids, which help to hide the pots.  They also enjoy the elevated humidity.  I pulled the red-veined Maranta out for the picture so that you could see the setup a little better.

What do you think of my new orchids?


  1. Nice plants, and very nice prices.

  2. Nice Orchids Zach. I had one my Mother got me when I was in the hospital about 3 years ago. We kept it around until this year. It finally fizzled on us. But I was really surprised we had it as long as we did, not knowing anything about keeping them alive. It sure was pretty!

  3. The aquarium is such a good idea. Let me know about your success with them. They are so unique.

  4. NEAT!!!
    I have 9 orchids myself. I'm going to try your Orchidarium out. We have several free tanks.
    I want them to thrive not just survive. I think your Orchidarium will be perfect for them. Wish I had access to the little ones. I love minis. You guys take care.

  5. Zach,
    I really like that miniature Tolumnia 'Genting Volcano'. I just love orchids. One of the things I get to enjoy when going to visit my family is a trip to The Plant Wizard. She has all kinds of unusual orchids. I always end up taking a couple back on the plane with me. I never knew that there was a chocolate-scented orchid. I'll have to keep my eye out for that one. :)

  6. I love your little seedlings! Great orchidarium too, I just ordered some seedlings, so seeing how you did this will help me to hopefully make them thrive ;)

  7. I have lots of orchids at home but never see any growth of orchid seeds before. Can I know how it grow?

    Can anyone show me any pic of that?