Friday, March 16, 2012

Trip Report: Garvan Gardens' Tulip Extravaganza

Last weekend, Christie and I drove over to Hot Springs, Arkansas for the weekend.  The town is aptly named after the natural springs that flow from the ground and have brought travelers here for hundreds of years.

Our trip to Hot Springs was inspired by the Tulip Extravaganza at the Garvan Woodland Gardens, but we also enjoyed the National Park focused on the hot springs.  (Ask the locals and they’ll tell you that it is the first US National Park.  In truth, it doesn’t have that official designation, but it was the first nature reserve set aside by the US government, before there was a national park system.)

Tulips at Garvan Woodland Gardens
As you can see, the gardens were beautiful.  They are planted fresh each year so that they can create new swaths of color and have premium new bulbs from Holland.  We enjoyed the diverse palate of colors and tulip styles.

Tulips at Garvan Woodland Gardens
The gardens included lots of neat areas and we spent our whole afternoon wandering through the acres of carefully designed planting.  I have uploaded a photo album with tons of pictures, so feel free to peruse them all by clicking on the photo below.

Garvan Woodland Gardens 2012
Click for complete photo album

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hand pollinating Dendrobium orchids

My friend Derek inspired me to try hand pollinating some of my orchids.  Derek hand pollinated his Phalaenopsis with itself.  I was lucky enough to have two Dendrobium species (not hybrids) in bloom at the same time, so I set out to cross this unusual and very different species.  The anatomy of orchids is very similar, regardless of the genus, which is what makes them orchids.  I watched a video on youtube before trying this.  It is a very simple process, but that didn’t prevent me from making a mistake!

Dendrobium peguanum blooms
One of my plants is Dendrobium anceps, which I posted photos of recently.  The other is Dendrobium peguanum, a little miniature that I purchased recently in full bloom.  This little guy is only about 2 inches tall (maybe less) and held about 25 blooms above his little pseudobulbs.
The process of hand pollination requires 2 easy steps:

1. Choose one healthy bloom.  Using a toothpick, remove the pollinia from this bloom.

Dendrobium anceps pollinia being removed
Dendrobium anceps pollinia being removed
The pollinia are two tiny orange dots that are hidden behind the anther cap on the column.  And for these little Dendrobium I was working with, when I say little, I mean tiny.  In my case, I separated the anther cap from the pollinia so I could concentrate on keeping track of the pollinia, which is the only part that matters here.

Dendrobium anceps pollinia on toothpick
The column is the part that sticks out from the plane of the flower and is opposite the lip.  The lip is usually pretty obvious, sometimes being frilly on the edges.  Usually, the column is positioned above the lip, which is called resupinate and means “upside down.”  So the “norm” for orchids is upside down.  When the column and lip are arranged the opposite way it is considered non-resupinate.  These Dendrobium have a mixture of arrangements on them, as you can see in the pictures below.  Same bloom, just “upside down” in one and “right side up” in the other.

Dendrobium peguanum resupinate bloom
Dendrobium peguanum non-resupinate bloom
2. Place the pollinia inside the receptor on the column. This is where I screwed up.  Once the anther cap and pollinia are removed from the column, there is a little bit of a hole exposed on the tip of the column.  I tried to place the pollinia back in that hole.  After I did so, I was laying in bed thinking something didn’t seem right about that.  I got out of bed, watched another youtube video and realized my mistake.  Thankfully, the pollinia were relatively simple to remove and I was able to put them in the proper location.  The proper location is the little green void that you can see just below the tip of my toothpick in the picture below.

Dendrobium pegaunum being pollinated with pollinia from Dendrobium anceps
Since both plants had many flowers in good health, I pollinated several on each plant independently, and then I crossed one flower on each plant.  After doing so, I put a little sticky note flag next to each of the blooms that was a crossed pollination, so I will know that those are special, if a seed pod forms.

Orchids are not easy to grow from seed.  Although it happens in the wild in a haphazard manner, to grow an orchid from seed outside of nature, it must be done in a sterile lab environment.  And it costs money.  If I get pods to form on my orchids I will probably count it a success but not do anything with them.  UNLESS I get pods to form on those two flagged blooms.  Those would be special, because I would have created my own hybrid, Dendrobium anceps x Dendrobium peguanum and Dendrobium peguanum x Dendrobium anceps, depending on which plant was the pollinator or the pollinatee.   If I get this lucky, I will probably send my pods off to be flasked, in which case I could wait 6 months to a year before getting some little plants back.  I don’t know if these have been crossed before or not.  Maybe something interesting will result.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hardy aroids emerging

Last year I was brave and planted some aroids outside in the brick path garden.  Now they are starting to break through the soil surface and enjoy these unseasonably warm days we’ve been having.

Arisarum proboscideum - Mouse Tail Plant
If you look closely, you’ll notice in the picture above there are two different blooms (mice) on my little clump of Arisarum.  You will also notice there are lots of little red brick shards and clumps of gray mortar.  This plant is growing in the garden around the greenhouse and when the greenhouse was bricked a couple of months ago, the area really got trampled.  Some of the plants that we put in last year are probably gone now, but several are coming up and looking really nice.  I was especially happy to see these little “Mouse Tails.”

Zantedeschia aethiopica - first leaf
The Zantedeschia aethiopica is not much to look at right now – just a single leaf.  I don’t expect it to bloom this year, but if it does, I will be very happy – and you can expect an update!  Jason gave me this plant last year.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Terete orchids

The term terete means "cylindrical or slightly tapering, and without substantial furrows or ridges."  This term is sometimes incorporated in the Latin names of plants, such as Luisa teretifolia, which you could translate to mean "the Luisa with cylindrical foliage."  There, you just learned Latin!  Wasn't that easy?

There are a number of orchids with terete leaves and I have obtained some recently.  Sometimes these orchids are referred to as succulent because of their appearance.  These  plants are well adapted to dry seasons and can store energy in their swollen, cylindrical leaves during dry periods, just like many cacti and succulents do.  But note: just because an orchid (or any other plant) has terete leaves does not mean that it is succulent or that it grows in a location with a dry season.

Dockrillia striolata mounted on rock

Dockrillia is a genus that was once considered part of the gigantic Dendrobium genus.  These plants are home to Australia and Papua New Guinea and are distinguished from other Dendrobiums since they lack pseudobulbs, which are usually very prominent as "canes" with other Dendrobiums.  I just got a little plant (pictured above) of Dockrillia striolata (synonymous with Dendrobium striolatum).  The fleshy little needles of this orchid will turn red when exposed to a lot of light.  You can see that a couple of the leaves on mine are more purple/red in color.  You can see a photo of the blooms here.

Dockrillia wassellii

I also recently got a large mounted Dockrillia wassellii (above).  These two species are the most common of the Dockrillia genus in the US.  There are MANY cultivars and other species available in Australia, but it is not easy to import these to the US.  My wassellii plant is considerably larger than I expected it to be.  I started to joke with Christie about how unreasonably large the box was when I received it for such a small plant inside.  Then I opened it to see that the box size was quite appropriate.  This plant is listed as being "nearly terete" since the leaves are actually have furrows running the length.

Dendrobium lichenastrum var. prenticei

My main reason for expecting a smaller plant was because I was expecting something more along the lines of the Dendrobium lichenastrum v. prenticei that I had purchased just a couple weeks earlier (pictured above).  That plant is tiny.  I talked about that plant in my mounted orchids post in December.  I'm not sure why this plant has not been transferred to the Dockrillia genus.  It appears to be a good candidate and is even from Australia.

Brassavola nodosa

Another plant I included in my mounted orchids post in December is terete-leaved, Brassavola nodosa (pictured above).

Bepi. 'Femme Fatale'

I have had this intergeneric hybrid orchid, Brassoepidendrum Femme Fatale 'BJ' for about eight months now.  It has stiff, terete leaves and the most awesome speckled blooms.  Mine hasn't bloomed yet, but I'm anxiously awaiting that day.

Leptotes bicolor

My final recent purchase of a terete-leaved orchid is Leptotes bicolor.  I'll finish my post with a couple of bloom pictures.  Recently, my friend Leslie attended the big orchid show at the Missouri Botanical Gardens and took some photos of a mature, blooming Leptotes for me.  It is a beautiful plant in bloom.

Leptotes bicolor in bloom at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Leptotes bicolor at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dendrobium anceps in bloom

This plant is admittedly not one that people call “beautiful.” It is an oddity that I admired when visiting Lowell’s greenhouse last August. When I inquired about the name, he graciously offered me some pieces of it and brought them to our next Oklahoma Orchid Society meeting. The plant is Dendrobium anceps, anceps meaning “double-edged.”

Dendrobium anceps
It is planted in a net pot with coconut husk chips. The plant hasn’t looked great over the last 5 months and I wasn’t sure that I was giving it the care that it desired. However, I noticed recently that it was covered in buds. And I mean covered! It is even blooming on the leaves that look burnt and dead.

Dendrobium anceps buds

Dendrobium anceps bud - such an interesting shape
The buds peak out from the overlapping leaves and look really neat before they open. Once they open, they have that signature look of many Dendrobium.

Dendrobium anceps blooms

Dendrobium anceps blooms