Angraecum leonis

Friday, December 28, 2012

Maria's Orchids, an Honored Guest

     The following post is from a guest that is currently in a graduate program at Columbia University.  She's been growing orchids a little over a year and a half in an apartment in NYC.  I'll let her pick it up from here.

     I've been interested in growing orchids for a while; but it was only in the last year that I really took the plunge into the hobby.  Before that, I was like many other first-time orchid growers; I;d periodically bring home a blooming orchid from the grocery store, only to watch it subsequently lose its flowers and wither away.

My orchids a few months after moving to NYC.
     About 1.5 years ago I moved to NYC to start graduate school and I wanted to bring a little nature into the big city with me.  Around this time I decided to start indulging my hobby in earnest and I began reading forums such as to learn about how to properly care for these plants.  I moved into my new apartment with three nearly rootless orchids in tow; an Oncidium intergenic, a noid phal I had received as a birthday gift a couple years earlier and a noid paphiopedilum which did not survive the cross country drive.  By the end of the summer, I had picked up two more plants from the somewhat disappointing Garden District around Manhattan's 28th St.  Not long after that, I stumbled upon the world of online shopping for orchids, and I was thoroughly hooked.
My orchid grow area with setup of orchid growlights.
     I originally planned to grow orchids on windowsills, but quickly realized that my apartment was too dark for this to work.  All the windows face against a brick wall, and New York winters can be depressingly dark.  Instead I use growlights so my orchids and I can both benefit from 14 - 16 hours of bright 'daylight' even in the depth of winter.
     The setup includes an ultrasonic humidifier ($40), a plant stand ($90), a CFL growlight ($70), T5 fluorescent grow lights ($95) and a 24 hour timer ($12).  The total cost was right around $300.00, though many of these items seem to be cheaper now then they were a year ago.  It's held together (securely, if not elegantly) by a combination of craft wire, bungee cords and duct tape.  I most recently added a terrarium (photo above), for another $280.00, whose primary purpose is to protect the orchids spikes and flowers from my cat.
     The grow shelves are located next to a window, which is nearly always open.  This helps keep humidity high, since NYC generally seems to have a humidity index above 60% outside and frequently reaches 100%.  In winters, I run a humidifier next to the plants, to try and counteract some of the drying effect from the heating unit (which cannot be turned entirely off).  I suspect that the chill from the open window is what helped induce every single one of my mature phals into spiking this season.
     The setup is relatively simple and has so far worked quite well for my smallish collection of species and hybrids.  Nineteen of my orchids are both mature enough and healthy enough to flower; 13 of them have either flowered in the last year or are currently in spike.  The only serious problem I've come across so far is the summer heat, which periodically reaches the high 90s (and occasionally above 100 degrees F).  It's been too hot for cool-growing Dendrobium victoria-reginae to survive in my care and would likely be an issue for any other non-warmth tolerant species.
     My Angraecum:
Angraecum leonis
     As an amateur orchid grower, I've been interested in a many orchid hybrids and species and have a few plants from most of the popular alliances (I think I'd want to grow ALL the orchids, if only space and money and time allowed).  My one member of the Angraecum Alliance is Angraecum leonis, which was my very first internet purchase.  I've not yet seen this orchid bloom in person, but I was drawn to the description of the white, scented flowers.
     My Angcm. leonis arrived in an extremely dehydrated state, in a pot of rock-hard old sphagnum moss (you can spot it in the topmost photograph of this post).  Its only roots were the aerial ones sticking out of the pot.  I only realized how bad things were when I accidentally jostled the pot and the entire orchid fell out revealing that there hadn't been a single root left alive in the old media.
     Part of my initial motivation in starting my blog actually stemmed from my frustrations during this time.  While I could find culture notes for Angcm. leonis and beautiful photos of the flowers, there was very little information on what the whole plant should look like (Tom's blog wasn't around yet).  Even more difficult was searching for what "healthy roots" look like on any orchids other than phalaenopsis.
     Around that time, I had been reading about how people grow Vanda orchids in vases.  The Angraecum didn't seem too different in growth habit (and the Orchidboard lists Angraecums under the Vandeae Tribe), so I decided to try out the vase method for myself.  My Angcm. leonis grows in the vase with no media; and I soak it in water for 15 - 20 minutes daily.  Initially I watered every 2 - 3 days, but last summer I increased the frequency twice daily (and down to once a day for the winter).
     I can't yet conclude whether this a good alternative method for growing Angcm. leonis, because I started out with an orchid that was in such poor health.  In the past year, the orchid has produced a massive amount of root growth and completed growing one full leaf.  It is now starting on a new leaf.  Fortunately, since starting my orchid blog one year ago, I have a good photographic record of my orchids so that I can track their changes.
     I am still very much a beginner to the world of orchids; but I think I've learned a lot over the past year as I've expanded my orchid collection from 2 to 30 plants.  In particular, writing my blog has encouraged me to be more observant of growth changes, helped me keep a record to track both my mistakes and successes and has connected me to the wonderfully helpful and friendly community of orchid bloggers such as Tom himself.
Happy Holidays!
     All photographs are Copyrighted to Mariasorchids.      

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Angraecum scottianum

     Angraecum scottianum, a species of angraecoid used as a parent to one of the most popular Angraecums sought after by hobbyists to date; Angraecum Longiscott.  Angcm. scottianum is also one of the easiest Angraecums to grow in culture.  I have several of the plants at various stages of growth from a seedling to a few mature plants.  I will concentrate on the development of the seedling in this post to its first bloom.
     Angraecum scottianum originates from Grande Comore Island in the Comoro Islands.  It is found on the western slopes of Mt Karthala at about 1,300 - 1,950 feet (400-600m).  It is an epiphyte that grows on the trunks and lower branches of large trees.  Angcm. scottianum is usually found growing on the west side of the trees being exposed to almost full afternoon sun.  I'll address this in detail for plants in culture a bit later in this post.

Angraecum scottianum
     Angcm. scottianum will grow well either mounted or in a pot/basket.  You will find that growing it in a pot/basket, you'll need to stake it.  The plant becomes very pendulous and wiry.  By mounting it to a tree-fern totem, the aerial roots that develop from the lower quarter of the plant will have an opportunity to attach to the totem.  The tree-fern material will also give good drainage when watering and give the roots the ability to breath and not become stagnant.  During the warm summer months the plant will need to be watered daily and often misted in the later part of the day.  I water my plants everyday for almost ten months; backing off to every other day in December and January (temperatures are averaging low to mid 70s F).  If the temps drop below 70 degrees F (50s - 60s F) I will back off on the water a third day, never more than that.  Angcm. scottianum has a very short rest period, if at all.
     When fertilizing Angcm. scottianum, I do nothing different than I usually do.  Fertilizer is applied every seven days throughout the entire growing season and is only backed off to every 10 - 14 days in December and January.  I use a systemic fungicide every 30 days (Thiomyl).  Keep in mind that you should alternate your fungicides to prevent issues of immunities.  You can check with your local orchid growers about alternates.  I also use Dithane and Clearys.  I also keep Physan 20 on hand in a quart spray bottle (a good topical fungicide) for minor problems that arise between my regular treatments.
     The overall length of Angcm. scottianum's stem will vary between 8 - 16 inches (18-40cm) and will eventually become pendulous in a more mature plant.  Branching will develop at the lower to mid section of the plant.  Plants that have a stem barely 2 inches (5cm) tall can and usually will bloom.
Angcm. scottianum seedling with bud

     The leaves are terete and usually about 4 - 5 inches (10-13cm) long.  Each leaf having a groove running the length on the top side of the leaf.  With the leaves being terete and somewhat thin, the plant will take very bright light, although direct mid-day sun light should be avoided.  Morning and late afternoon sunlight is fine.  With plants that are grown in the upper north, an east or west window will do fine.  The plant can also be placed on a table several feet from the window.  The root system will eventually put out aerial roots, although not much higher than 4 inches (10cm) from the base.
     The inflorescence is 2 - 5 inches (5-13cm) long on mature plants and can put up to 8 flowers each.
Flowers usually open in pairs successively over a period of about 2 months.  In younger plants, the flowers may be borne singularly on a pedicle of about 1 inch (2.5cm).  As the inflorescence developes, multiple sheaths will cover the bud.  As the bud grows, the sheaths will separate as a snake sheds it's skin.  The sheaths protect the developing bud as long as possible.

Angcm. scottianum bud development
     Once the flowers of Angraecum scottianum open, they are 2 - 2.5 inches (5-6.5cm) across.  The petals and the sepals are about 1 inch (2.5cm) long with the petals being slightly narrower than the sepals.  The nectary or spur is usually about 4 - 6 inches (12-15cm) long.  They have a waxy substance and have a faint fragrance of seet honey.  The peetals and sepals open with a yellowish green tint and turn pure white as the lip.
Angcm. scottianum

     The flowers can last up to three weeks if the plants are kept out of the elements.  Here in the northern hemisphere, the blooming period can range from mid February into mid October in the sub-tropical regions .  Heaviest during the warmer months of June through late August in the more temperate areas. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Aeranthes Grandiose

     Aeranthes Grandiose is a hybrid that was registered in September, 1990.  The seed parent is Aeranthes grandiflora while the pollen parent is Aeranthes ramosa; both popular Aeranthes species sought after by hobbyists.

Seed Parent x Pollen Parent = Registered Hybrid
     The seed parent, Aeranthes grandiflora comes from Madagascar's east/southeast coastal rain forests from sea level to about 4,000 feet (1,200m) in the central plateau.  Humidity is high most of the year and rainfall is moderate to heavy.  Aeranthes ramosa is the pollen parent and grows at about 4,500 feet (1,350m) above sea level in Madagascar.  It also is exposed to high humidity and reliable rain throughout most of the year.
     The hybrid, Aeranthes Grandiose is an immediate to warm growing angraecoid that has become extremely popular with hobbyists around the world.  Orchid vendors that carry the plants find that they sell out rather quickly and will try to get more for their customers so there does seem to be a steady supply.
Aeranthes Grandiose (young blooming plant)
     The plant in the image above was growing in a large amount of redwood bark.  It was re potted into a hanging basket in a medium consisting of charcoal, perlite, lava rock and a minimal amount of coconut chunks.  The size of the medium was moderate to large pieces.  Giving the plant quick drainage.  The plant is watered every three days for almost 10 months of the year.  In December and January, watering is cut back to every 5 days and then returns to summer watering in mid February.  I try not to let water set in the leaves against the stem, avoiding stem rot.
     Because the inflorescence is usually long, branched and pendulous and very wiry, it is best to mount the plant to tree fern slabs.  However, these mounted plants require water twice a day during the hot summer months.  Growing them in hanging baskets or shallow pots will require watering every two to three days (although I water mine every three days).  Make sure the potting material is coarse enough to drain quickly and allow the roots to breath.
     The stem of Aeranthes Grandiose is short.  Very seldom reaching beyond four inches (10cm).  There will be 5 to 6 leaves (average total of 12 leaves) alternating from each side arching slightly up into a fan shape.  Each leaf can be up to 12 inches (30cm) long and about one and a half inches (4cm) wide.
     Much like its parents, Aeranthes Grandiose can stress when temperatures reach into 90 plus degrees F.  Make sure that you are giving the plant enough water and that it is in an area that is receiving a steady cross breeze.  By using the coarse medium in hanging baskets or shallow pots will get fresh air to the root system and the plant will cool itself somewhat.  Humidity should be a constant 80 - 85% year round.  A warm green house during the winter months in the colder areas of the northern hemisphere will keep the plant in excellent condition until the warmer spring and summer return.
     I use a well rounded fertilizer throughout most of the year every week and change to a fertilizer that is higher in phosphates in the fall.  Returning to the basic fertilizer in winter.
Aeranthes Grandiose Bud
     The inflorescence can be 24 - 50 inches (60-125cm) long and can branch.  They are bracted throughout the entire length and are extremely wiry.  Flowers will open at the tips and open successively; not unusual that there can be two open at the same time with the flowers lasting 3 - 5 weeks.  The blooming period will last 3 - 6 months.  Each flower will be 3 - 4 inches (7-10cm) wide and 4 - 5 inches (11-13cm) high with a club shaped nectary or spur.  The color of the flowers will be an ice green to a lime green and have a slight yellowish tint.
Aeranthes Grandiose
     A mature Aeranthes Grandiose or specimen plant can have several secondary plants with over a dozen wiry inflorescence containing a couple of dozen open flowers and just as many buds waiting to open.  It is an amazing orchid to add to any collection as long as the plant is given all that is required to thrive.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Angraecums & Old Man Winter

     This post should have been made about 3 - 4 weeks ago; as long as nothing is frozen over yet and there isn't several meters of snow, take the time to read it.  Especially those that haven't grown orchids through a winter season yet.

     For those of my Followers/Members and the many Regular Readers that live in the far reaches of the North and get to experience Old Man Winter at his most coldest and shortest of days; be prepared to pay extra attention to your Angraecums and other orchid genera's.  Believe me when I tell you that I have experienced winter.  I used to live in an area of the Northeast US that is greatly effected by Lake Effect Weather.  Examples follow:

     1.  Water turns to ice immediately upon contact:
2.  Rivers, lakes and your pool quickly freeze:
3.  The snow begins to fall, sometimes to much:
4.  How much clothing do you need to stay warm:
     If conditions are anything like the above images, its time to make some changes to your Angraecum/Orchid collection.  It is time to Winterize (actually, you should have started a couple of weeks ago)!
     As I have said in so many of these posts, "Angraecums are sub-tropical to tropical plants."  Think about putting your plants in areas that will not be as cold as the windowsill that they sat on most of the spring through the early fall.  Air temperature right next to that glass can be 10 - 20 degrees F cooler than a table that sits several feet away (1-2m).  Especially older homes that use the older type of storm windows if any at all.  The plants will deal with temperatures in the mid to upper 60s F (don't keep them there to long); but will fare much better in an area that is in the low to mid 70s F.
     If the air temperature is warm enough to keep them closer to the glass you may want to consider using a slight translucent material such as frosted plastic to soften the light. With the light coming in from one direction, you can rotate the plants every couple of days to prevent them from growing at harsh angles.
     Air quality is important.  Humans as well as plants can suffer when the air becomes stagnant.  Use a small fan to keep air circulation going.  When closed up in a house during these winter months, plants can begin to suffer without good air movement.
     You must also think about the amount of light you will loose when you move those plants away.  One option is to get a wire rack with shelves that can accommodate sets of grow lights.  The amount of time that your plants are exposed to light will be less during the cooler months.   If that isn't feasible, move the plants into a room or rooms that get east and/or west sunlight.  With the plants further away from the windows, the direct sunlight coming in from these directions will help.
     During drier and cooler times of the year it is suggested that the amount of watering be cut back.  This is a true statement, however, be sure to do the research on your plants (if unable to find the culture information for your Angraecum/Orchid, write in the comments section at the end of this post and I will certainly help).  Some of the Angraecums are year round growing plants and will require most of that moisture.  Keep the potting material moist/damp, do not let it dry out.  With winter's drier air, I suggest that you put the pot into a small dish with marbles in the bottom and keep the marbles just about, not quite submerged in water.
     One of the things I DO NOT forget to do is to fungicide my plants just before the on-set of winter.  It is warmer here in South Florida; but with temperatures getting ready to drop into the 50/60 degree average at night and even into the low 40s F, plants can be susceptible to fungus'.  Use a systemic fungicide and cover the entire plant with the liquid.  Do your best to get the underside of all of the leaves and the potting material in which your plant sets.
     You can back off on the frequency in which you fertilize.  That can be done by using a weaker dilution or by increasing the number of days in between fertilizing.  If you treat your plants every 7 days in warmer months; in drier and cooler months try every 14 days.
     For those of you that have green houses; be sure to continue to use fungicides.  Watering can be backed off as long as the humidity range doesn't drop below 65 - 70%.  Fertilizer can also be used with less frequency (every 10 - 14 days).
     These are suggestions.  Keep an eye on your Angraecums and other orchids.  Be prepared to deal with any and all issues.  I talk to numerous professional growers on a regular basis that successfully grow in these drier and cooler conditions.  I can only imagine what heating costs are when you're dealing with several feet of snow and temperatures that dip down below freezing.  I lived in that type of weather once upon a time.  I thoroughly enjoy the sand, sun and palm trees today.  But most of all, I enjoy the sub-tropical weather during the winter months that allows me to grow without a major fear of frozen plants.
     To all of you dealing with Old Man Winter, enjoy the skiing, ice skating, sledding (I miss this) and the snow mobiles.  In a couple of months, you'll be planting your gardens again and moving some of your orchids outdoors.  If you have any questions, please post it in the Comments section of the post or you can email me at .         

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Angraecum calceolus

     Angraecum calceolus originates from Madagascar and the surrounding islands.  It can be found extensively at the base of trees and thick brush in humid areas at sea level and to the altitude of about 6,700 feet (2,000m).  The English translation of the name means 'the little shoe'.
     The root system on Angcm. calceolus is very numerous and is heaviest at the base of the plant; however the more mature the plant becomes, it will put out roots from the stem to within about 4 inches (10cm) of the crown.  The stem itself can grow to a height of about 7 1/2 - 12 inches (20-30cm) although the average maximum height in culture doesn't exceed 8 inches (23cm).

Angraecum calceolus' root system

     There can be up to ten leaves on the plant which can reach a length of 6 1/2 - 8 inches (16-20cm).

Angraecum calceolus with additional plants at the base
and in flower on 6 - 18 inch (15-45cm) long wiry inflorescence.
     Angcm. calceolus will do well mounted to various slabs and wood as well as potted / baskets of 4 - 5 inches (10-13cm).  They have a tendency to grow like weeds and can become heavy clumped specimens in a short period of time.  New plants will develop at the base and often on the lower sections of the stem.  Angcm. calceolus is considered a compact plant and will do very well in the colder reaches of the northern hemisphere; it should however be kept out of temps of 60 degrees F or lower.  If you see ice forming on a window in the winter, keep the plant away from it. 
     During the warmer late spring into the early fall while temps are warm, water the plants that are potted or in baskets every three days.  Back off the watering to every 5 - 7 days during the cold winter months.  Any plants that are mounted should be watered every day during the warm months and every 3 - 4 days during the winter.  When watering both the mounted plants and those in containers, be sure to water the potting material, mounted material or bare roots only.  Try not to get excess water on the leaves.  Too much water sitting up against the stem can and will cause stem rot.  Fertilize every 7 days summer and winter.  Use a systemic fungicide every 30 days and a topical for minors issues when needed.  Be sure to spray the entire plant then; especially the bottoms of the leaves.
Angraecum calceolus
     The average inflorescence is usually about 12 inches (30cm) long and has reached a length of 18 inches (45cm) on several occasions.  There can be 1 - 3 branches on the inflorescence that are 4 - 6 inches (10-15cm).  The number of flowers will range from 4 -6 on a less mature plant with up to fifteen flowers on a mature specimen.  The peduncle is very stiff and wiry and have blackish bracts every 3/4 - 1 1/4 inches (2-3cm) apart. Flowers are about 1 1/4 inch (3cm) long with a club shaped nectar or spur.  Flowers are of a green tint.
     The flowers of Angcm. calceolus do not open in any one direction.  Because of their small make up on being borne on such a wiry platform, it is not unusual to see about 10% of them self pollinate.  They may not be the showiest Angraecums you can own; but they do grow quickly and have a very unusual flower.  Keep in mind that they take up very little room.
Angraecum calceolus with ants and aphids
     Up until recently, the only pest issue I've had to deal with was aphids.  As you can see in the image above, an ant is farming the aphids.  It collects the waste from the aphids to use as fertilizer for their own food source.  Using a mild insecticide will eliminate and prevent this problem from occurring.
Angraecum calceolus

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Angraecum eburneum ssp. giryamae

                During the early part of my presentation regarding the Angraecum Alliance, I stress the fact that many of the alliance do not do well in the blooming department if the roots are bothered or disturbed too much.  In other words, they become somewhat dormant when it comes to blooming for as long as and up to five years.  You will see this mentioned in various posts throughout the blog.  This particular post is going to address that probability in depth dealing with an Angraecum eburneum along with the culture demands of this species.
                Angraecum eburneum ssp. giryamae or Angraecum giryamae (the specific species in this post) as it is now classified as well as two other sub-species of Angcm. giryamae hail from various locations such as Madagascar, the Mascarene Islands, the Comoro Islands and East Africa; their origination depending upon the species.  They are all considered sub-tropical to tropical growers and grow in fairly moist areas as epiphytes and occasionally as lithophytes and semi-terrestrial plants.  Exception to this is Angcm. eburneum spp.  xerophilum grows in the semi-arid to arid areas of Southern Madagascar where there is a 3 – 5 month dry or dormant period during the winter months in the Southern Hemisphere (this species is discussed indirectly as one of the parents in the post “Birth of a Shooting Star”).

                                  Image 01                                      Image 02
Several days after giving the Angraecum presentation to one of the South Florida Orchid Societies, I received an email along with a photograph attached showing an un-named Angraecum that had grown so much that it had pushed itself out of the pot.  The plant appeared to be Angcm. giryamae and was in excellent health.  No sign of stress or any severe batches of fungus.  It had very strong leaves of green with numerous secondary plants and a few kiekies (Images #01 $ #02).
The root system was visible (and there were many), most were 3/16 – 5/16 inches (.4 - .6cm) wide.  There was also a substantial number of new roots with green tips almost 3/4 inches (2cm) long.  It is this root system that shouldn’t be disturbed.  I always explain that when potting or placing certain species of Angraecums in baskets; you should use a container that will not need to be changed later.  Let the plant grow into it!  Angraecum giryamae can reach a height of 4 – 6 feet (1.2 – 1.8m); although a plant in culture will very seldom reach a height of over 4 feet (1.2m).
            The instructions given to the plant owner were followed exactly as given.  She had a 12 inch (30cm) square by 6 inch (15cm) deep cedar basket prepared for the transfer of the plant.   The medium was a mixture of charcoal, perlite, tree fern pieces and coconut chunks that were considered to be medium size.  She very carefully used a small hammer and broke the pot up around the plant’s base root system.  She did not pull any of the broken pot pieces off of the roots.  Whatever fell off at the time of breaking the pot is what was thrown away.  Any of the old medium that was still stuck to the root system was left alone.

Image 03
The plant was then placed into the cedar basket and the new medium was placed into the basket around the plant.  Then very carefully working the new medium into the voids in and around the plant.  Once the plant was settled into the basket, it was watered and a systemic fungicide was used to treat the plant.  It was placed in the same area receiving the same amount of light and care has it had previously (Image #03).

During the summer months, the plant was watered about every three days, fertilized once a week and a systemic fungicide is used about every four weeks.  Patience now has the upper hand; will the plant lie dormant or will it bloom?
Images 04

             Late this summer, the plant starting putting out an inflorescence; a very good indication that it would bloom.  Watching it develop and finally seeing the first buds appear gave even a higher degree of hope that the re-potting of the large Angraecum was a success.  As you can see in the following image, the Angraecum giryamae successfully bloomed (Image #04).

Not every transfer or re-potting of a mature Angraecum will be this successful.  Root systems are used by this genera as any other.  Supply the plant with moisture and stability.  But, the root systems are much more sensitive.  If the roots are disturbed too much, they will become dormant for an unusual amount of time; not blooming and slower growing for several years.  That is why I stress to hobbyists to find out how large the plant will get and then placing that plant into a pot or basket to accommodate the plant as a mature adult.  Keep in mind that the medium must be thoroughly thought about also.  Do not use a mixture of materials that will decompose.  It will cause problems with mold, mildew and funguses that may kill the plant faster than you can treat it.
            [The plant in this post belongs to Patt Lindsey; a hobbyist here in South Florida.  She supplied all of the photographs as well as doing the repotting.  Congrats to you Patt.  A job well done!]

Monday, October 8, 2012

Angraecum Crestwood

             Angraecum Crestwood is a multi crossed hybrid.  Starting with an Angcm. sesquipedale and crossing it with an Angcm. eburneum; coming up with Angraecum Veitchii.  Before I finish the hybridizing here, let me remind you that the Angcm. Veitchii had been posted earlier in this blog.  Take the Angcm. Veitchii and cross it with Angraecum sesquipedale again.  You end up with Angraecum Crestwood.

Angraecum Crestwood
             One of the odd traits of the Angcm. Veitchii was the fact that the flower always wants to open parallel to the ground.  In other words it wants to face down with the spur/nectary following suit, staying parallel.  That issue is actually called “twisty flower”.  The lip of the Angcm. sesquipedale is pointing down and slightly out while the lip of the Angcm. eburneum is upright appearing as a hood rather than a lip of the flower.  Angcm. Veitchii seems to open on its own terms.  Not following either of the parents traits.
             Cross the Angcm. Veitchii with Angcm. sesquipedale and it now opens with the traits of Angcm. sesquipedale.  The lip is now down and slightly out in the new hybrid Angcm. Crestwood.  It  looks very near an Angcm. sesquipedale; not as large but with the colors nearer the Angcm Veitchii, A white lip, with a slight green throat and white stripe down the center.  While the sepals and petals are slightly green in cast.  The two petals of the Angcm. Crestwood do not retract as much as they do in Angcm. sesquipedale.  The plant has bloomed in late spring through late summer; even into early fall.  The flowers will last up to four weeks if not in severe weather conditions.

Angraecum Crestwood
             Regarding culture; Angcm. Crestwood’s family tree contains two of the largest Angraecum plants that exist.  Keeping this in mind, it is best to pot/basket the Angcm. Crestwood in something large enough so that re-potting won’t be necessary every couple of years.  It will not get near as tall as it's lineage does; however it will not be setting on your window sill either.  It can reach in excess of 24 - 30 inches (75 - 90cm) and after five years or so have numerous kekeis or secondary plants from the main.
            Use a large medium of charcoal, aliflore, perlite and some lava rock.  The larger medium will give the plant ample space to grow its roots, plenty of drainage and air to let the root system breath.  In warmer months, water the plant every 2 – 3 days, trying not to get water on the leaves where it could sit in the leaves against the stem eventually causing stem rot.  Once cooler weather arrives, watering can be cut back to every 3 - 4 days.  If you notice any of the exposed root system starting to wrinkle, increase your watering habits.  I fertilize the plants every week year round (because of my sub-tropical climate here in South Florida) with a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer.
             As the plant gains height, aerial roots will start to appear at the base of the plant.  The taller the plant grows more roots can eventually grow.  Do not damage these roots.  As with so many Angraecums, mess with the roots and the plant will go dormant and not flower for several years.
             When using a systemic  fungicide, it is best to spray the entire plant; especially the base or bottom of the leaves.  Make sure to allow the fungicide to reach the root system within  the pot/basket also.  If issues regarding fungus does appear, use a topical fungicide as needed until it is time to use the systemic mixture.
             Angraecum Crestwood does very well with bright, indirect sunlight.  My plants get a fair amount of 50% spackled light a couple hours a day.  The 20 inch (50cm) or so length leaves are broad and can be burned by direct sunlight.
             Angcm. Crestwood can be grown indoors in a large pot sitting on a table near bright light.  Do try and place the plant outdoors during warm weather.  It will appreciate the breeze.  Once temps reach an average night range of 55 degrees or below, it is time to move the plant into warmer surroundings.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Angraecum Veitchii "the first"

     Who was John Seden?  He was a horticulturist working for the Veitch Nurseries in the Southwest part of England in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s.  John was a hybridizer that was responsible for the first Angcraecum Hybrid.  John used Angcm. eburneum (the seed plant) and crossed it with Angcm. sesquipedale (the pollen plant).  On January 10, 1899, Angraecum Veitchii was displayed for the first time and was officially registered with the Royal Horticultural Society as an orchid hybrid that same year.  More than a hundred and ten years later, Angcm. Veitchii is one of the most popular Angcraecum hybrids grown by hobbyists today.
     With the history of the first Angraecum hybrid out of the way, I'll say there is good news, great news and of course I have a bit of bad news.  Bad news first, Angcm. Veitchii will not fit on your standard window sill for those are thinking of growing this plant in your house .  Especially those of you who have a real winter with that cold white stuff called snow and the ice that shows its freezing head.  It will however do well in a large pot (with good drainage and at least 12 inches (30cm) wide and in a north window (medium light) or an east facing window that sees the sun no later than 11am (the plant leaves can burn).

Angraecum Veitchii

     In a green house environment or the warm sub-tropical climate of South Florida, the plant will most likely not slow down in its growth.  Its parents growing period is just about year round and if the plant is being grown in warm sub-tropical weather, it will grow year round also. 
     Both the Angcm. eburneum and the Angcm. sesquipedale do not like their root systems inferred with.  Angcm. Veitchii is the same way.  It is best to put a younger plant (even a seedling) into a pot that can house it as an adult.  I started my Veitchii in a 12 inch (30cm) basket.  I chose the basket to give the root system a better opportunity to breath and air out.  The medium is an even mix of medium to large pieces of charcoal, lava rock with some smaller aliflore, coconut and broken pieces of tree fern fiber.  This mix drains well yet holds enough moisture for the roots to absorb it.
     A mature plant can have a stem of about twenty inches or more.  With the leaves arcing up from the crown, the plant will be close to 26 - 30 inches (65 - 80cm) high.  Leaves are slightly folded length wise, bilobed at the ends and have a very heavy substance about them.  They grow on alternate sides of the stem and can be up to 14 - 20 inches (35 - 50cm) long.  Use a systemic fungicide on the plant at least every 4 weeks.  The leaves of Veitchii can live quite a long time and once you have a fungus mark on any leaf, will will last as long as the leaf survives.  Use a topical fungicide at the sign of any fungus rearing its ugly head. 
     Watering takes place every 2 - 3 days during the warm summer months and is slowly backed off  to every 3 - 5 days when temps start to level off in the mid to upper seventies.  If temps drop below seventy degrees, I will water once a week.  For those of you growing this in your house, water it in your kitchen sink or bath tub and give it ample time to drain out.  You may want to keep it in a pan with some marbles in the bottom to help with humidity.  Humidity is important to the plant.  I fertilize my plants every 7 days, year round!

Angcraecum Veitchii (both sides of plant)

     You'll notice the four inflorescence in the above image on the left.  As the buds develop, they will start to weigh the inflorescence down and become pendant like.  Once the flowers have opened, notice the nectary (spurs) in the image above right, they are all just about parallel to the ground and all you see is the back sides of the flowers (all flowers are facing down).  This is an affliction being caused by the parents.  Angcm. eburneum's lip is up-right (like a hood), the flower twists around, the lip become erect and the spur hangs down.  Angcm. sesquipedale's lip is down and slightly out, yet the spur still hangs down.  Now you have Angcm. Veitchii, its confused, lost and not sure what to do.  The affliction is called "Twisty Flower" and yes, it is a real issue.  This is what we can do to improve the physical look of the flowers.  As the first flower starts to split its sepals to bloom, Put a stake in the pot or basket and attach the inflorescence to the stake.  Once that flower has opened and facing out, the remainder of the flowers will follow suit.  All will open so that we can fully enjoy their beauty.  If the inflorescence is stake prior to the first bud opening, all of the flowers will open facing down.  As old man Ripley would say, "believe it or not"!

Angcm. Veitchii

     Flowers are about 3 1/2 inches (9cm) wide by 3 1/2 - 4 inches (9 - 10cm) long.  The nectary or spur is usually 3 inches (7 - 8cm) long.  The sepals, petals and anther cap will have a greenish tint while lip is white.  They are fragrant at night and can last 6 - 8 weeks, as long as the plant is kept out of the harsh elements of weather.
     Angraecum Veitchii can be a somewhat fast growing plant if given the proper requirements.  It will start to produce basal keikis after the first blooming and then continue producing more keikis as the plant matures.  You will see keikis eventually start appearing up on the stem as well as roots.  If the plant needs to be put into a larger container, it is best to break a few of the slats on a basket and then drop that into a larger basket, adding medium to fill the voids.  If using a clay pot, break the pot at the bottom and let whatever pieces fall off just fall.  Do not attempt to pull any broken parts of the pot off of healthy roots.  The plant can go dormant and not flower for several years.
     Enjoy the post.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

New Facebook Page

     I've started a new Facebook Page called Angraecums.  I hope to have it running in conjunction with this blog.  It will eventually give everyone a quicker update to changes and additional posts here at 
     As I have said early on in the beginning of this blog, I would start to post on other orchid genera in the blog.  I am currently working on several posts that should be up by the end of September.  I will continue to concentrate on Angraecums, these being a very strong passion.

     The Facebook address is , click on this link and it should take you directly to the page.  If it doesn't, cut and paste the site to your address bar.  Thank you everyone to date for your participation. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Angraecum leonis

     Angraecum leonis, "lion like" or the "lion's head".  No matter which version you grow (Madagascar / Comoro Islands); you should have a beautiful specimen plant in about 3 - 4 years.  Angcm. leonis is an easy Angraecum to grow.    

Angraecum leonis (Comoro Islands)

     Angraecum leonis grows in two very distinct areas.  One hails from the northern tip of Madagascar at about sea level.  The plant is the smaller version of the two; growing in an area that is somewhat dry.  The second comes from Comoro Islands.  It is epiphytic growing at an altitude of about 3,000 feet (900 meters) and is in an area with a heavy annual rainfall (the main reason for its larger size).

     The Madagascar version is the smaller of the two.  It will do well in either a sub-tropical climate or a cooler climate that sees cooler to cold winters; as long as the plant is kept in a room with temperatures not dropping below 65 degrees.  It should be very near a north facing window (again watching the temperature range during the winter).  The leaves can burn rather easily; keep it out of any window that will get direct sunlight for more than an hour.  It is very capable of flowering in either a bright or medium shade.
     The flowers are about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 inches (3-4cm) wide by 1 1/2 - 2 inches (4-5cm) high with a nectary or spur of about 3 inches (8cm) long.  They can last up to 4 weeks, they are fragrant and usually bloom mid April into late May.  Flowers will open with a slightly green cast but turn a pristine white within 2 - 3 days. 
     In either climate, the plant will do well as long as it is watered regularly during warmer months and less during its dry season (winter in the northern hemisphere).  There is little if any stem to the plant with the leaves being 4 - 6 inches (10-15cm) long, sickle shaped and very fleshy.  In culture, this version of Angcm. leonis will very seldom reach a width of more than 8 inches (20cm).
     Angcm. leonis can be mounted to a cork or tree fir slab and also be potted in a 5 inch pot with a medium sized perlite, aliflore, charcoal and tree fern combination.  Remember, back off the watering during the dry period in winter.  The plant will show signs of lack of water if you notice the leaves starting to shrivel or wrinkle; just increase the watering amount and everything should return to normal shortly.

Angraecum leonis (Comoro Islands)

     Unlike the Angcm. leonis from Madagascar, the Comoro Islands version can have a stem of up to 4 inches high (10cm); however you will usually only see that in very mature plants.  Leaves of this larger version can reach 8 1/2 inches (22cm) with an over-all width of the plant being close to 16 inches (40cm).  Leaves are sickle shape but not near as fleshy as the Madagascar version.  Angcm. leonis is exposed to a much heavier rain fall total in the Comoro Islands and does not need to store the moisture.  If the plant is potted, be careful not to over water the roots.  Root rot can develop during the summer months if watered to often.  If the plant is mounted, be sure to water frequently during the summer months to keep the plant hydrated.  Misting in mid-afternoon heat can be very helpful.
     Flowers from the larger version measure 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 inches (6-9cm) wide and are a little higher than 3 inches (8cm) tall.  They will often bloom in succession rather than all at once.  They are very fragrant and can last about 4 weeks if kept out of the stronger weather elements.
     I treat either version of Angcm. leonis with a systemic fungicide every 28 - 30 days.  Fertilizing every 7 - 10 days. 
     Angraecum leonis will appear to be a slow grower at first; but once it starts to become a specimen plant it will develop very well.  As with MOST Angraecums, it is best not to mess with the roots or take cuttings to share.  The plant can stop blooming for several years.  If repotting is absolutely necessary, then repot when new roots are starting to grow.  This will help the plant re-establish itself quicker.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Where Are You Visiting From?

I am trying to map out where the visitors of this blog are from.  If the blog is helping you in anyway; please take the time and leave the CITY and COUNTRY you are from.  If in the US, just leave the CITY and STATE you are in.  You do not have to leave your name and please don't leave your email address.  Just put the info in the COMMENTS section of this post.  Thank you to all that have visited the blog.  Many more posts are on their way.    Enjoy!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Angcm. longicalcar: "Saving the Three Sisters"

     This post will concentrate on two issues.  The first deals with the effects that severe under-watering will have on Angcm. longicalcar (Angcm. eburneum ssp. superbum var. longicalcar or just about any other orchid for that matter) and the attempt to save three plants (the three sisters).  The second will deal with the specific culture for Angcm. longicalcar.  A species that is now considered extinct in areas that the plant once thrived (I'll address this later in this post).  An unfortunate reality that is claiming too many of the orchid species; not only in Madagascar; but throughout the world.
     Both of these issues will be dealt with simultaneously.  I am certainly not trying to confuse anyone and I do think this will flow quite easily.
     I recently confiscated; sort of took possession of three Angcm. longicalcars from a hobbyist that was slowly letting them completely dry out.  Under-watering them is a severe under statement.  Upon inspecting them, I determined that they would not have lasted much longer in the conditions they were in.  All three of the plants were purchased at the same time about two and a half years ago.  Slightly larger than what would be considered large seedlings.  Several of the older leaves on all of the plants are 12 - 14 inches long (32-35cm).
     The first indication that there was a severe problem with the plants was the conditions of the leaves.  The leaves of Angcm. longicalcar are very strap like and have a heavy substance about them.  Not having a pseudo bulb to hold moisture, the leaves will hold as much as they can.  As you can see in figures 1 and 2, the leaves have started to wrinkle.  The plant is taking stored moisture from the leaves and that moisture is not being replaced.

figure 1                                      figure 2

     You can also see several marks in the leaves being caused by a fungus.  Those marks will forever be on the leaves; even after treatment.  A healthy plant can live 50 plus years and the leaves will stay on the plant for the majority of that time.  Keeping the plant healthy will ensure a better looking specimen.
      Another observation of the plants was that they were potted in only a 5" pot.  They gave the appearance that they were pushing themselves out of the pots.  Angcm. longicalcar is a variation of an Angcm. eburneum; they can grow to 2 - 4 feet high (although a plant in culture will very seldom grow much higher than 3 feet, a little under a meter).  An Angraecum that doesn't like it's roots messed with and only in a 5" pot (re-potting would certainly be needed, which it did need).  My rule of thumb is to put the plant in a pot that it can grow into (a practice that goes against most other orchid species, most prefer to be snug in their pots). 
     There was little to no organic potting material left in the pot either.  What very small particles were left was nothing more than a bit of dry compost which tells me that a fine mix of medium was used to pot the plants initially (figures 3, 4 & 5).  When potting Angcm. longicalcar, a medium to large mix should be used.  Avoid barks because they will break down and can become very moldy, especially in a sub-tropical climate such as South Florida.

figure 3                     figure 4                         figure 5

     The roots in the bottom two-thirds of the pot are dried out and no longer serve their purpose.  They should be cut off and the remainder sprayed with a topical fungicide.  When cutting the old dead roots off of the plant, be sure to cut slightly up from the affected area to be sure of getting all of the decay.  The orchid's roots are usually thin strands covered by a spongy material called velamen.  This material absorbs the moisture and the nutrients and supplies the plant.  If this velamen is withered, broken, dried out or missing; the root is no longer doing its job.
     [UPDATE Sept. 12, 2012: one of the plants is showing new root growth on two different areas of an aerial root; the crown has shown some strong healthy growth as well; the other two plants are holding their own; only time will tell].
     [UPDATE Nov. 23, 2012: the third plant has started to show very strong new root growth at the basal section of the plant along with two new roots developing at two of the lowest leaf axils.  The basal root growth is close to three inches (7.8cm) with the green root tip 3/4 inch (2cm) long.  The roots coming out from the leaf axils are about 1/2 - 3/4 inches (1.3-2cm)in length and a very solid green.  There is also a new leaf in the crown.  The number two plant as yet to show any new growth in roots but it is holding on.]
[UPDATE Nov. 23, 2012: three new root growths on the third
Angraecum longicalcar plant.  It also has a new leaf growing in the crown.]
     [UPDATE Nov. 23, 2012:  South Florida's version of winter has started setting in with temperatures in the mid to lower 70s F during the day and dropping to the mid fifties on occasion.  I am still watering the Three Sisters every three days and using a regular amount of fertilizer and fungicide as though it were mid summer.  I think the 15 - 20 degrees difference from day to night is helping promote the new growth.  The first plant to show improvement has its aerial roots growing longer and has a strong crown.  The last plant is hanging in there.] 
     Once the plant has been pruned of its bad roots and the remaining roots have been sprayed with a fungicide, it is time to place in a pot or basket.  I am using an 8 inch (20cm) terracotta pot rather than a basket so that I can eventually put it into something larger. The 8 inch pot is wide enough to accommodate any basal keikis that may develop during this period.  Normally I would use a larger container now but I am trying to save the plants and hope they will someday thrive.  The terracotta pot can be broken up around the plant and everything put into a large basket in 2 - 4 years; including the broken pieces of pot still stuck by the roots.
     Angcm. longicalcar is a combination lithophyte and semi-terrestrial.  It grows between rocks and into the dead plant materials that gets caught between those rocks.  Use a medium to large mix of charcoal, aliflore or perlite, some tree fern material, coconut chunks and a small amount of moss to help hold moisture.  Make sure that the mix is worked down into the pot with no gaps.  It is also wise to use a pot clip to help give the plant stability (figures 6 & 7).

Figure 6                           Figure 7

     This plant will grow as wide as it is tall and become very fan like.  I usually add some marble chunks to the bottom of the pot to give it weight and prevent the wind from blowing it over.  I have also used bunji cords to help keep the pot secure.
     As you can see in figures 6 & 7, the crowns seem to be in pretty good shape.  I've place a time release fertilizer in the pot to try and boost the nutrients the plant was not receiving in the past.  I am keeping the plants in a bright shade to prevent any burning of the leaves due to the plant's bad care in the past.  I will be very careful not to over water and add to the present issues.  With a regular and steady watering regiment, the plant will hopefully show improvement.
     They will be fertilized every 7 days.  Have a systemic fungicide applied about every 3 - 5 weeks (keeping a topical fungicide ready in case needed).  I will use an insecticide about three times a year unless absolutely necessary. 
     If everything goes according to plan, the three Angcm. longicalcars will be back in a much brighter light, with a routine that will bring them to the fantastic specimens they can be.
     [UPDATE Aug. 5, 2013:  Its been just over a year since I started caring for the "Three Sisters".  All three of the plants seem to have recovered from their dehydration episode.  A couple of the leaves that were severely wrinkled did fall off but the good news is that the crowns of all three plants have thrived with two of them having three new leaves and the other two leaves.  Thick root systems have developed as well as some new aerial roots emanating from the base of the plant.  All of the leaves on all three plants are now a thick leathery makeup as they should be.  Early this fall the three plants will be moved into a brighter light for several months before being put in partial sunlight next spring.  Hoping beyond hope that I can get them to bloom in another year or two.]
     [UPDATE Sept. 18, 2013: The "Three Sisters" have been moved into slightly brighter light.  From mid morning into mid afternoon, the three plants will receive about 2,500fc compared to the 1,200fc they received while recuperating.  Mid day they are getting about two hours of 20% spackled sunlight.  The footcandles level does jump to about 4,000 for about an hour or so but that is still filtered light (because of the sun starting to head into the southern sky and it setting).  With temps still in the upper 80s to low 90s for another month, they will be watered every other day.  They look so much better than they did last July.]
     The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed Angcm. longicalcar as CRITICALLY ENDANGERED on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  It is now extinct in locations such as Analavory and Itasy Lake (over collection and bush fire eliminating the plant from these areas).  It is now only found in the rocky Itremo Plateau in Ambatofinandrahina.  Less than 25 plants remain.   These plants are monitored regularly and are still being found as cut-up for collections.
     Another cause for alarm is the apparent lack of a pollinator.  Only one dried seed pod has been seen in the last couple of years with no sign of seedlings.  One can not exist without the other.  It seems the two are on a very sad path to extinction.
     However, through the seed programs that have been set up and the growers here in the United States and overseas; we are being given a chance to try and save this species.  If you do have an opportunity to purchase one of these exquisite plants, do so.  With proper care it will provide you with years of pristine white flowers that can last 8 - 12 weeks.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What's Light Got To Do With It?


     NOTE: This post is to give anyone an idea how I determine the quality and quantity of light for my plants.  The conditions that you reside in will vary in different amounts.  Use this as a stepping stone to determine the light for your plants!
     At every lecture/presentation that I've done over the last four years, one of the most common questions has dealt with light.  As I have said numerous times, "Give an Angraecum what it requires and it will reward you with years of some of the most unique flowers you can encounter in the orchid world".  So keep in mind that there are Angraecums that require bright light (direct sunlight to some extent), there are some that thrive in medium to dark shade and then there are some that don't really seem to care and will do well in just about any type of light.  Use a specific culture sheet to help guide you!
     The easiest way to read the light reaching a plant would be to use a light meter of some sort.  There are several that will give you an accurate and/or usable reading in foot candles (the measurement that seems to be used by many professional growers when needing a unit measurement).  I have one called the "Rapitest" that has been dependable and did not break the bank as far as cost was concerned.  I purchased it at an orchid grower's nursery.

"Rapitest" Sun Analyzer

     It is easy enough to use.  Point the meter towards your light source, multiply the number the needle shows by 1,000 and you have a usable unit of measurement in foot candles.  Keep in mind that the numbers will vary depending on the time of year (seasonal changes in the position of the sun).  The north and south light will change the most.  Summer light from the north will be higher than winter's light and the light in the south will increase with the sun in the southern sky.  East and west light will have a minimal amount of change to the light. [Added May 12, 2013 - one of the problems that has come to my attention with the "Rapitest" Sun Analyzer is that it seems to loose some of its ability to accurately read the light after about 12 - 18 months; both of the "Rapitest" meters have dropped about 10% of the reading it gathered when newly purchased.]
     Another way to measure light is with a traditional photographic light meter that can give you an EV (evaluation) reading.  I use Gossen's "Luna-Pro F".  The meter is used in the ambient light mode (light that will reach your plant).

 Gossen "Luna-Pro F" Photographic Light Meter

     Set the ASA/ISO at 100.  Face the white dome toward the light source.  Press the larger red button on the left side of the meter in once (the smaller red button should be in the "IN" position) and then turn the dial until the needle is at the center mark "0".  The EV number will be at the bottom of the dial under the down pointing diamond mark.  The chart below contains the EV conversions to foot candles.
EV 9 - 119 fc
EV 10 - 240 fc
EV 11 - 476 fc
EV 11.5 - 673 fc
EV 12 - 951 fc
EV 12.5 - 1,345 fc
EV 13 - 1,903 fc
EV 13.5 - 2,691 fc
EV 14 - 3,805 fc
EV 14.5 - 5,382 fc
EV 15 - 7,611 fc
EV 15.5 - 10,763 fc
EV 16 - 15,221 fc
EV 16.5 - 21,526 fc

     Then again, you can always set the technical information aside and just read the light by eye.  The following list is what I use with most of my plants.
Heavy Shade; 150 - 275 fc
Medium Shade; 350 - 500 fc
Bright Shade; 600 - 900 fc
Heavy Spackled Sun; 600 - 1,200 fc
Medium Spackled Sun; 1,200 - 1,600 fc
Light Spackled Sun; 1,600 - 2,000 fc
Full Summer Sun AM; 2,500 - 5,500 fc
Full Summer Sun NOON; 5,500 - 8,000 fc
Full Summer Sun PM; 8,000 - 6,000 fc
*NOTE: These numbers represent summer foot candle measurements and will vary at various altitudes, various seasons and air qualities.  Be sure to keep a close eye on your plant placements and to watch for sun burn.  These numbers were also derived for my plants in South Florida (a sub-tropical climate in the northern hemisphere).