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What's Blooming Now?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Doritaenopsis "Sogo Gem", on the left, and an unnamed Phalaenopsis on the right. They're lighting up the foyer.

If there were one thing I could change about orchids, it might be their tendency to bloom their fool heads off just as everything else OUTSIDE is doing that. They sit all winter, planning and vegetating, and then go ape in June, just like my roses and columbines, valerian and delphiniums, geraniums and violas...Oh, well. I'm not complaining. Just joy on top of joy, that's all. We can't expect to spread it out through the dreary months.

This is the little private party in one south-facing window in the bedroom right now. Pretty ridiculous, if you ask me. And oh, how I love it.
Years ago, maybe seven? Shila gave me a little keiki (baby) that had grown off her big purple Phalaenopsis. It was about 2" tall, with two tiny leaves. I never got its name. It's a mature plant now, flawless, and it makes more huge intricate flowers every year.

It's important not to turn a phalaenopsis while the buds are forming, or the flowers get confused and turn toward the light, and the ranking gets all messed up. I waited until the buds were all open to turn their faces away from the window and toward the denizens of the house. Ahhh. This is a HUGE plant, and I suspect it has Phalaenopsis gigantea somewhere in its parentage. It's so big and floppy that I had to put it in an enormous metal cachepot to support its heavy leaves. Gad, you'd think I could remove the tag from the cachepot. Having orchids all over your house doesn't necessarily mean you're a class act.


I bought this little Phalaenopsis "Universal Dream Stephanie" x "Taipei Gold Star" mostly for its fragrance. Yes, some of the Phal's are fragrant, usually the ones with smaller, waxy blooms. That tends to indicate that Phal. violacea is somewhere in their lineage, for it is wildly fragrant. You must wait until they're warm and the sun hits them, and then look out!

Orchids are nothing if not durable. This exquisite little Phal. very nearly died; it caught some kind of fungal disease and all its leaves turned yellow and mushy and fell off, all but one. I sequestered that sorry-looking thing in the downstairs bathroom, doused it with antifungal sulfur powder and waited two years. Now look at it! It's back up in the main collection and blooming its head off. And it's fragrant, too.
It's Phal. leucadia "Red Pepper" x Phal. goldiana "Zuma," and I think it's saying, "Thank you for having faith in me, and believing I'd come back."

Twyford "Lava Glow" is one of my favorite Phalaenopses. It's a gorgeous plant, with shiny dark-green leaves piled one atop the other. This year, it's got 24 blossoms, and I'm told a mature plant can have upwards of 50 at a time. The lip is an indescribably rich magenta-flame color, lost in this photo. The flowers are about the size of a quarter. If you see this plant in a big box store, and you may, pick it up! It's all I can do not to grab Lava Glow plants when I see them languishing at Lowe's. But I've got about fifty orchids now, and they're not getting smaller by the year. I'm out of room, with a bullet.

Best horticultural tip of the year, thanks to my friend Boneman. When you have 50 orchids to keep up with, you're going to have scale and mealybugs eventually. I used to use pyrethrins, and I hated to do it, and it didn't seem very effective, anyway, but I won't use the really poisonous stuff. I now spray my plants with Windex (with ammonia) and the scales just dry up and die. Windex doesn't burn the flowers like pyrethrins do. And I'd much rather have a spritz of Windex on my windows and floating in the air than insecticide, wouldn't you? I spray my orchids, it gets all over the windows, I wipe it off, I get clean windows instead of poisoned, murky ones, and everybody's happy. Thanks, Boneman!

More orchids tomorrow!


Why you have just about convinced me to run to the nearest Raley's and buy my first orchid. They look so easy-care not to mention so pretty. And Windex? How funny is that? The Big Fat Greek Wedding daddy was right after all; Windex is the perfect cure-all

What a treat to see so many orchids. Thanks for sharing them with us who are too impatient to grow them.

Good heavens, you almost make me forget that I cannot keep the temperature in my house consistent. What a lovely look at your indoor garden. I am so wishing I could walk in your foyer and be greeted by these lovelies.

I'm still patiently waiting for another bloom stem Julie. My little Lowe's Nobby Amy has grown and grown since I brought it home, and has probably three or four new leaves, but no new blooming yet. I have orchid envy looking at all yours blooming to beat the band!

I feel your pain, Jayne. Generally, if a phalaenopsis puts out a leaf, it's not going to put out a bloom spike until that last leaf is fully mature. Success with orchids is measured over years--remember the sick one that took two years to recover? I've got another huge Phalaenopsis that lost all but two of its leaves to some mysterious gooshy blight. After two years, it's made four more leaves. I know I'm not going to see a spike until next spring at the earliest, until the newest leaf is fully mature. That'll make it three years. What it's doing is building up its batteries--think of the leaves as an energy bank--until it has enough to produce a bloom spike. Keep feeding it while it's growing, make sure it's getting enough light--east window sun is great--and hunker down. And let me know when you see a spike!

Very interesting. The Lava Glow orchid is stunning, even if its true color doesn't show up well.
You almost make me want to go out and buy ONE orchid.

You know, I meant to tell you that John, over at Prairie Ice is an orchid lover, too. You might really enjoy his blog:

He's a birder, too!

You have beautiful orchids. I also grow orchids, and hadn't heard about Windex. I will give it a try. I am new to your blog,and wondered who is Boneman is? It is a great site.

Hi Julie..

I remembered what you said about using Windex for scale on your plants, would it work for aphids too. I bought a beauty of a red mandevilla after I saw yours on your blog, and it's doing great inside under my skylight in the bathroom. But..a bunch of aphids just hatched all over the leaves.
I sprayed it with Windex and there are still a bunch of bugs...any suggestions? thanks....dorothy

Thanks for the preview of Phal. leucadia "Red Pepper" x Phal. goldiana "Zuma." I've had one for awhile and been waiting for it's first spike. It crawled out of it's wood basket; and I just re-potted it.
Will try your windex tip; and may go looking for that 'Universal Dream x as well!

Posted by dhkerrmail March 21, 2011 at 1:47 PM
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