Sunday, January 4, 2009

Epidendrum albertii

This small-flowered species is rare in cultivation and a compact grower. This species is also known as Albert's Epidendrum and is found growing in Costa Rica south to Ecuador. Epidendrum albertii grows from 500 to 1500 meters in elevation on rocks near humid streams or on trees in wet forests.

Epidendrum albertii has flattened, cane-like stems that are covered in many leafy sheaths. Leaves are green on top and reddish on the underside. The flowers of Epidendrum albertii are small and produced on a short flower stem. Most plants produce one flower per stem. Blooms in the fall.

Provide warm or intermediate growing temperatures and bright light. Mount Epidendrum albertii on a cork or tree fern mount and provide regular water and misting. Fertilize evenly throughout the year. This species likes heat and humidity.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Book Review: The Classic Cattleyas

The Classic Cattleyas

I saw this book at the Atlanta Botanical Garden a few months ago and was stunned at how beautiful the book was. The author has a great deal of experience in with Cattleyas and liberally expands the definition to include some related species.

Here is the publisher's description:
In 1818, William Cattley succeeded in flowering one of the first species of the genus that would bear his name. These first cattleyas are the classic cattleyas, whose form defined the essence of tropical orchids for generations to come. Indeed, the color of their flowers became known as "orchid." In this helpful and informative book, each classic Cattleya species is described in fascinating detail, and its role in breeding programs is elucidated. All that is required to appreciate and grow the large-flowered cattleyas successfully is included. Cultivation, humidity and watering, fertilizing, propagation, and diagnosing and treating problems are detailed, making this volume valuable for both veteran orchid enthusiasts and those who simply love these beautiful flowers.

Here is a partial review from Orchids magazine:

"Another in the long line of fine horticulture books from this publisher. Everything about this book simply screams, 'Read me.' While the main focus of the book is on the species, Chadwick also discusses the early days of cattleya hybridizing, giving a wonderfully accurate picture of how we arrived at the dizzying breadth and range of colors now seen."—Ned Nash, Orchids, May 2006 (Ned Nash Orchids )

This book is a "must-have" for the Cattleya lover!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rhyncholaelia glauca

This species is also know as the Glaucous Beaked Laelia and is found growing in Guatemala and Mexico. Rhyncholaelia glauca grows on trees in mountain forests from near sea level to 1500 meters. The original plants were discovered growing near Veracruz, Mexico.
Plants are medium-sized and look a lot like unifoliate Cattleya orchids. This species was thought to be a Cattleya species until it flowered when it was first imported to England.

Flower grow to 5 inches (12 cm) wide. The flower of Rhyncholaelia glauca has apple green petals and a white, heart-shaped lip. The margin of the lip is complete, not heavily fringed like Rhyncholaelia digbyana. Occasionally, some flowers will have a pink cast. Flowers are very fragrant and have a sweet scent. Flowers have a heavy waxy substance and are long-lived. Blooms in late Spring to Summer.

Provide warm or intermediate growing temperatures. This plant grows best mounted on cork bark, tree fern plaques, or slatted baskets. Provide high light and good air circulation. The roots need to dry between watering. Few hybrids have been made using this species.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The New Encyclopedia of Orchids: 1500 Species in Cultivation

Book Review: The New Encyclopedia of Orchids: 1500 Species in Cultivation
By: Isobyl la Croix

I read about this book in the Kansas City Start newspaper a few days ago. It seems to be the best new orchid book written in a generation!

This book is the ultimate reference guide for the orchid hobbyist! 1500 orchid species are profiled in this authoritative, detailed, and carefully researched encyclopedia. Infinitely varied and hugely interesting, these strikingly beautiful plants are sumptuously illustrated with over 1000 photographs in a reference that no orchid lover can afford to be without. Isobyl la Croix is a scientist, plant hunter, and horticulturalist; her deep passion for orchids informs the plant selection and adds depth to the plant descriptions. The cultivation advice includes information about the orchid's native habitat—including elevation, geography, and climate. Recent developments in DNA analysis have led to some surprising findings with regard to the relationships between orchids, and the author has undertaken an extensive effort to bring all orchid names up-to-date to reflect the latest scientific thinking and taxonomy. From Acampe to Zygostates, no other serious reference approaches the depth and authority of this remarkable book.

The author is the editor of the prestigious journal The Orchid Review.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Schomburgkia crispa

Schomburgkia crispa is also known as the Curled Schomburgkia.

Schomburgkia crispa is found growing high up in trees where it received nearly full sunlight and breezes throughout the day. Schomburgkia crispa is found growing in Venezuela, Surinam, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador.

Plants are large. The elongated pseudobulbs of Schomburgkia crispa are topped with 2 or 3 leathery leaves.

Schomburgkia crispa has beautiful, medium-sized glossy maroon flowers with heavily undulated petals. The lip is narrow and lighter in color with a yellow triangular blotch near the tip. Many flowers are clustered at the end of a very tall erect or arching flower spike. Blooms in summer and fall.

Schomburgkia crispa was the first species of Schomburgkia to be described and is the type species for the genus. Schomburgkia crispa grows best mounted on a strudy hardwood mount or in large slotted baskets. Provide as much light as possible; schomburgkia's require more light than most cattleya orchids to flower. Provide intermediate to warm growing temperatures.

For more information:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sophronitis coccinea

This species is also known as the Scarlet Sophronitis and is a miniature orchid species.

Sophronitis coccinea
is native to mountainous forests in the Serra do Mar mountain range near the coast in Brazil. The plants are found growing between 700 to 1800 meters in elevation. It grows on moss-covered trees and rocks in protected locations. There is constant fog and high humidity in their habitat and the plants are well-adapted to constant moisture.

Sophronitis coccinea has compact, tightly clustered pseudobulbs that have a single leaf that grows to 2.5 inches long.

Flowera are 1.5 to 3 inches (3-7 cm) across.  The flowers of Sophronitis coccinea have intense orange-red flowers. The flower stem is short and produces a single flower which is long-lived. Flowers do not have a fragrance.  Blooms in Spring or Fall.

Grow in cool to intermediate orchid growing conditions. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 80 degrees F in the summer in its native habitat. Winter temperatures hover around 45 degrees F.

 Sophronitis coccinea has been widely used in hybridizing to bring the bright flower color and small plant size to Cattleya hybrids.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cattleya dowiana

Dow's Cattleya was named in honor of Captain Dow, an American ship captain who lived in the nineteenth century. Cattleya dowiana has an incredibly showy flower and has been used by breeders to make some important and beautiful hybrids. There is a great deal of similarity between this species and Cattleya aurea.

Cattleya dowiana is native to Costa Rica, Panama. Cattleya dowiana grows on the Caribbean coast and can be found growing between 250 and 2500 meters in elevation. Cattleya dowiana's preferred habitat is mature tree crowns high off the ground.

This is a medium-sized unifoliate orchid. Pseudobulbs of Cattleya dowiana grow 3 1/4 inches to 8 inches (8-20 cm) tall and are partially hidden by papery basal sheaths when young. A single light green, fleshy leaf grows at the top of the pseudobulb.

Cattleya dowiana is fragrant and very showy. This species is best known for its yellow coloration and very dramatic lip. The petals and sepal are a coppery-yellow. The lip is dark wine red and very intricately veined with gold. The flower stem is 5 inches (12.5 cm) long. The flower spike will have anywhere from one to six flowers. Unfortunately, the flowers are short-lived.  Flowers are 5 inches (15 cm) wide and it blooms in the summer and fall.

Provide warm to hot growing conditions.  This orchid really appreciates a warm place in the greenhouse with extra humidity and good air circulation.