Saturday, May 29, 2010

Potinara orchids, and related hybrids

I discussed Dendrobium, now something from the Cattleya alliance, Potinara. Another will be in the same shipment as Dendrobium Yellow Song Canary. The Potinara varieties seem suited for home culture, due to hybridization and small size.

Potinara is a manmade genus (nothogenus) created from several species of Cattleya-type orchids. Potinara consists of grandparents from Brassovola, Cattleya, Laelia, and Sophronitis.

It gets complicated. With genetic testing, some species have been moved to different genera, and some have been renamed. So... this is rephrased from Richard Pippen, Ph.D , Professor Emeritus, Western Michigan University, Naples, Florida

Some Brassasavola have changed. Now Brassavola digbyana is Rhyncholaelia digbyana. 19th century botanical sketch here is from Wikimedia commons. The Rhyncholaelia digbyana is a Mexican or Guatemalan species, and contributes larger, ruffled lip, and may contribute fragrance. from

Other Brassovola parents were shuffled around, so some are now Brassocattleya or Brassocatanthe.

Rhyncholaelia provides fragrance and highly ruffled characteristics for the lip.

*Brazilian species of Laelia were merged into Cattleya.
*Sophronitis was merged into Cattleya.
This drawing is "Sophronitis crispata as Laelia flava". How's that for confusing? " Laelia flava has brightly colored yellow, star-shaped flowers. Color ranges from yellow to pale yellow. Some individuals have small red spots near the base of the petals. The lip is frilly. The flower spike reaches 25 cm above the foliage and has 4 to 8 flowers near the tip." from verdantgreenla.orgI think these would contribute warm colors, yellow, orange, or red, and multiple flowers.

*Cattleya auriantica, C. bowringiana, and C. skinneri were split out of Cattleya and are in the new genus Guarianthe. This sketch os Sophronitis coccinea as Sophronitis grandiflora. OK. The former Sophronitis coccinia, now Cattleya coccinia comes from Brazil. Info from Here we find red or orange coloration, clusters of flowers.

Guarianthe skinneri as Cattleya skinneri.

So Dr. Pippen gives the example, Potinara Burana Beauty, a cross between Potinara (now Rhyncattleanthe) Netrasiri Starbright and Cattleya Netrasiri Beauty, which went from
Brassavola x Cattleya x Laelia x Sophronitis = Potinara to Rhyncholaelia x Cattleya x Guarianthe = Rhyncattleanthe (Rth.)

Not that it is going to matter to the home grower - the species have been so jumbled, traits from multiple ancestors from multiple places contribute. See original link from Manatee Orchid Society for much more mind boggling detail. Where it matters to me, is that I like to look for the ancestors and see what the original plants looked like.

These are from and are the others in my order. Potinara"Cheryl Winkelman" Who knows what were the original progenitors, and with so much genetic scrambling, it may not be possible to find out. I find it compelling that the lip has a pattern similar to that seen on the Guarianthe skinneri sketch.

Sophrolaeliocattleya Jewelbox orange. Not Potinara, but with some members of the mix.

The photos don't show the entire plant, that will have to wait until I can do it myself. Assuming they survive and bloom in my hands.

Mor history of "Minicatts" here, from

Dendrobium nobile

Dendrobium nobile, 19th century lithograph. Some people drink. Some gamble. Some smoke. When I have a hard day, week, month, I think about gardening. This year with so much rain, and chilly, the outdoor garden is more neglected. That leaves indoors, and lately, orchids.

Now that my Dendrobium nobile is in bloom, I became more interested in this species, and researched its development into the modern hybrids. It's interesting to read. Ning is in Shanghai with the better camera, so this is not as clear, but this is the general idea.

Photo and information below are from
In the early 1950s, Jiro Yamamoto began working with Dendrobium nobile in tissue culture. He went on to develop new hybrids, refined growing techniques, and expanded to greenhouses in Japan, Hawaii, and Thailand. Yamamoto Orchids has developed more than 4,000 registered hybrids. Many of the modern ones are tetraploid, a genetic duplication that can mean more robust plants, with larger flowers.

Yamamoto is now a major orchid business, supplying their flowering Dendrobium plants around the world. While I can't say that my NOID, Trader Joe's Dendrobium plants are from Yamamoto, I strongly suspect that they are.

The Yamamoto tetraploid hybrids and sophisticated growing techniques resulted in an impressive transformation of this plant. The orchids are greenhouse grown in Hawaii, starting with the highly developed hybrids, then propagated through tissue culture, then grown in clusters and brought into bloom. I'm not sure I want the top-to-bottom flowering plant in my own collection. They are beautiful, but possibly too much for my little plant room. However, I think these varieties are so developed as far as ease of growth, compact size, and flower shapes and colors, they make a great plant in my home collection. I love seeing the growth habit, with the twisting, knobby canes and succulent leaves. I don't know if my plants will be as stout as the greenhouse-grown plants, but I took a lot of pride that I brought specimens into bloom. In all honesty, that's probably due to Mr. Yamamoto's efforts, more than mine.

From the Kew Gardens website, "This species occurs largely in deciduous forests between 1,500 and 2,000 m elevation in the foothills of the Himalayas and surrounding areas. It is recorded from India, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, China, Laos and Vietnam. It prefers bright sunlight, which is provided by deciduous trees which lose their leaves in the autumn." also "This species was first known from China and was later imported for cultivation into Europe from India. Many horticultural varieties of this species were named in the 19th century. The specific epithet 'nobile' means noble..."

Dendrobium is used in Chinese herbal medicine. Also some nice photos here. "It is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it has the name shí hú (石斛) or shí hú lán (石斛兰)." Assuming that there IS a medicinal property to this plant, the changes in domestication, hybridization, and culture, would have no predictable effect on that property - there could be more, less, or none. Apparently, the nobile orchid is regarded as an aphrodesiac. Here, it states hypotensive, antipyretic, analgesic (basically, aspirin and a blood pressure pill). Also "Nourishes the Stomach; Promotes generation of Body Fluids; Nourishes Yin; Clears Heat". Also here. "A prepared Dendrobium compound decreases the level of blood glucose, promotes the secretion of insulin and increases insulin sensitivity in diabetic rat models and patients. Shi-Hu is also a main substance in the Shi-Hu Ye Guang Wan, a preparation for cataracts, poor sight and other eye problems... alkaloids in the Dendrobium species, such as dendrobine, are a weak anti-pyretic and analgesic... may increase immunity, decrease the oxidant stress in aging and have anti-cancer activity.... recently used in the treatment of stomach and lung cancer.

Well, better this than tiger testicles or rhino horns, or whatever.

It's been another very hard week. As I stated at the beginning, this is one of my outlets. The pic is from - more realistic - but the plant is ordered from Hausermann orchids. This is my 4th order (or 5th?) from them. I must like that place.

This pic isn't that attractive. I'll have to take my own pic. Web pics may not look like what I get, because of differences in growth, lighting, and color changes in the camera, so I won't really know until (if) it blooms in my hands. Probably in about 9 months, my guess.

The variety originates from Yamamoto orchids, Dendrobium Yellow Song 'Canary'. From the Yamamoto Orchids site, "A new variety is in stunning golden yellow. It has won a new status of rarity, since flowering on new canes are guaranteed, yet that is a rare quality for yellow inflorescence... It flowers well, with 4~5 or more blooms on each node. Canes grow fast and multiple shoots can develop producing golden blossoms in profusion, resulting in a bouquet full and festive. Its robust character makes the care very easy. We can recommend even for novice growers. Even a short cane in 5cm can bear flowers." Of course, their photo shows an awe-inspiring blossoming plant, but as I noted earlier, I'm happy with the smaller number of flowers, held more loosely, that I'll probably have.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Kitchen Garden Log: Barrel planters, hens, seedlings

I may hve put the peppers and eggplants out too soon. They are not looking as good as I hoped. We'll see if they perk up.

The 5 hens are producing 4 eggs daily. Someone is shirking. If I could figure out who it is, I would put her on a "Work Improvement Plan". As it is, the others seem to be covering for whoever it is. At least absenteeism is not an issue. They don't have a choice on tht. A good leader will reward them. Today I've been doing homework all day, so could not pull weeds for them, but I did put a watermelon rind through the shredder on the food processor - in seconds, a big batch of tasty morsels.

Potato barrel. My largest concern now is that I planted too many. As always, "we'll see"

Seeds planted 7 days ago, zucchini, squash, and cucumbers. I'm leaving them on the deck in the sun. It's overcast. When one set of leaves is developed, I'll plant them.

Peppers. They are sulking. Probably too cool, but with warmer weather now, maybe they'll start up again. The purple plant is basil. There are some little radish seedlings, I'm not sure how they will do. In the back, seedlings of bunching onions. I'll let them get bigger then pull them.

Kind of a mix now. Purchased eggplants, bigger. The lettudce and mesclun will be done in a week, leaving a lot more room. The heliotrope isn't planted yet, this may not be the right spot. Very fragrant. These onions will be allowed to develop tops, unless Ning pulls them. By tops, I mean these (Egyptian walking onions) develop clusters of baby onions on the top of the stalk, instead of a flower. Those are used to plant the next crop, for indefinite perpetuation of the variety. If these do get pulled, I have others in the borders that will make plenty of new sets.

Orchids - Dendrobium nobile blooming

I've been debating leaving orchids ouside. Daytem temp today 72, overcast. Night temp 50s. Concern is exposure to excessivde sun if not cloudy.

I can't beleive this bloomed under my care. How cool is that!


Iwanagaara continues to bloom, as does Vyl. and one paph maudii - must be 3 months for that one.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Irises have started blooming.

Each one that I look at is my favorite. Then another opens and THAT one is my favorite.

Inuendo. The first that I started here, now in their 9th year. They've been divided and moved a few times, and a few keep returning to the original location.

Edith Wolford. I never like photos of this iris, but in person it's amazing.

China moon.

China moon again. Sometimes close-ups are nice, but it's also important to see them in context of the garden. I'm not crazy about all of the flower pictures that show a decapitated bloom without including the rest of the plant or surroundings.

Bumblee Delite. A small variety. Lots of grass intermingled in this one.

Each year, I think the effort isn't worthwhile. Irises are difficult to keep clean, because their roots are so shallow, and the rhizomes are at ground level. This makes them almost impossible to weed. Then when they bloom, I just feel awe. They are worth it.

I have a few that I tried to start last year, from store purchases of rhizomes. They are a long, long way from blooming size - those little dried out rhizomes take a long time to become a blooming size plant, and many die over the winter. If I can keep them going, one might bloom next year. The other will likely take 2 years.

Fruit tree protection, figs, cherries, peaches, apples, pears

I did some fruit tree maintenance today. Each received a collar of thin stretchable plastic, covered with tanglefoot.

The figs attract ants, which enter the figs. This is a problem for two reasons. First, I suspect they carry fungus, so the figs spoil much faster. Second, they are difficult to extricate from the fig, so I have to wash them out, losing some fig flavor. The collar of tanglefoot was very effective last year, in stopping the ant problem.

Other trees, apple cherry, and pear, develop large aphid infestations. The aphids are tended by ants, so preventing ant traffic on the trees also prevents much of the aphid infestation.

Other tasks for fruits:
I added some more nylon bags, and adjusted others that were about to fall off. They look ugly, almost offensive, but if they do their job, they will be worth it. This is the 5-variety European pear.

I also sprayed all fruit trees with neem. Some of the apples have a lead disease, causing parts of the leaves to blacken and wilt. This is worst on Golden Delicious and Jonagold. I'm hoping that the infestation will stop in the warmer drier weather - 79F today. Peaches have significant leaf curl, all of it seems to have started due to uncovering the trees when they started blooming. The chilly wet weather that followed countered some of my preventive effort, but I still think they are much better off this year than before.

The thinned fruits, peaches and apples, are enlarging quickly. Now dime sized.

I also pinched (removed terminal growth) ends of fig branches that had grown 4 to 5 new leaves. The purpose is to stimulate fig production for the fall crop (main crop), earlier, and to stimulate compact branching structure.

Lattarula breba. Nice!

Brebas are falling off Hardy Chicago, but most look intact on Vancouver/Brunswick, Petite negri, Desert King, and Lattarula. The figs on Lattarula are swelling quickly, bigger than a quarter now.

Ginkgo tree

My favorite tree as always. This tree is now about 14 years from seeds, having been collected by my Dad in Illinois, planted in a flowerpot in Chicago window sill, then brought to Vancouver WA in 2001. It's been in this location for 8 years. Growth for this tree is much more rapid than its siblings, probably partly due to the fact that it's in the middle of the doggie yard. A lot of sentiment in this tree.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Iwanagaara Appleblossom "Fantastic"

Wow - I'm impressed! Iwanagaara Appleblossom "Fantastic" didn't drop its buds, it bloomed! Nice flowers! No fragrance, but I have a cold and can't smell anything.
It's more pale than the internet photo. Maybe it will darken, and develop fragrance, in a few days. From what I've read, the first day doesn't always have the fullest color and fragrance.

This cold is miserable. Friday I felt crummy, Saturday I ignored it and did yard work, but not that much and it wore me out. Sunday I slept all day, and still felt crummy. Today I woke up feeling crummy. Maybe not as bad as yesterday. Will the blooming flower heal me?

It rained a little last night. Not a lot. The rain barrel filled up completely! That spout does drain half of the roof, so no surprise. But I was surprised, anyway.

Now I have an easy rainwater source for the orchids, and a quick water source for containers and seedlings. Cool! Now we're talking about getting a second one for increased storage capacity!

Thinning peaches and apples really gave them a boost! It's easy to compare fruit, tiny, on branches where I missed thinning, to fruit 4 times larger already, on the branches that I thinned. Apples not as dramatic as peaches.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Kitchen Garden Log. Time to Start Some Veggies


1. I pulled several buckets of weeds from the rose bed / peach bed / raspberry patch. A lot of the weeds were young raspberry plants. They are spreading like crazy. Chickens got benefit of all of the weeds. I need to do some research - I don't know what some of the weeds are called.

2. I spread fresh straw for the chickens. Their eggs have been too muddy, I have to wash them. Today's eggs were clean. Since they are eating so much greens, I threw in some shell calcium to keep the eggshells strong.

3. I planted seeds, Cucumber (Early Pride Hybrid and Palaace King Hybrid Asian Cucumber) and Zucchini (Sweet Zuke Hybrid) and summer squash (Butterstick). I blogged on these earlier when I bought the seeds. I planted the seeds in compost-based potting soil.

4. Transplanted a couple more eggplants into the barrels. Im not sure how these will do, they are not thriving. Probably started too early.

Water Barrel

I bought this a month or more ago. We've had lots of rain since then. However, I didn't have either the time, energy, or inclination to install the barrel. This is a 57-gallon unit, so will be good for obtaining small amounts of water, but not for storing large amounts for the entire garden.

It wasn't that much effort. The hardest part was creating a level spot with the blocks. I tried many times before feeling satisfied it was level.

It was amazing, I didn't lose any parts while the barrel sat uninstalled. Well, it took some time to find everything, but there it was.

The diverter unit is simple and clever.

Now we just need some rain. With my impeccable sense of timing, I now have the rain barrel installed at the end of the rainy season.

Water from half of the roof flows via this downspout, so it should fill quickly, once it rains.

This will be especially handy for giving freshwater to the hens, and having freshwater for orchids. According to my reading, orchids don't appreciate buildup of salts from tap water, so will benefit from fresh rainwater.

Once it rains.

Backyard Orchard

This time of year I feel very excited. We are almost to the statistical last frost date, probably far past it. Small fruits have formed on most of the trees. It's now time to prepare the fruit to optimize the crop.

Strawberries are not tree fruit, so may not count as "orchard". However, they are fruit, and have been very productive in past years. Currently neglected, but blooming like crazy, so I expect a good crop in a few weeks.

Ponderosa peach. This tiny tree is about 1 1/2 feet tall. It blood way to early - while the covering was still in place. It will have a few peaches, so I will get a taste.

I've learned my lesson. Don't be greedy. If a branch has 20 peaches, it won't support them, they'll be late, small, and not as sweet. I can't eat that many, anyway. I've been thinning them to about 4 inches apart. In general, the little branches are about 6 inches long, so I'm leaving one to 2 peaches per branch. That will still mean about 100 peaches per tree, if they all develop. I see in this photo that I missed some, so will need to go out and thin them. Initially I used scizzors to cut off the little peaches, but I found that it's easier to twist them off with my fingers.

You can see that peach leaf curl is present. The late rains, after I removed the covers, resulted in some leaf curl, but not too bad. I lost a few small branchlets on the peach trees, but overall they look great!

Sweet cherries don't need thinning. Each year, they set more fruit. Backyard Orchard Culture definitely works for sweet cherries.

Surefire tart cherry. This is its second year. The fruit set was much better than the sweet cherries, probably due to the later bloom, avoiding frost. There won't be enough for a pie, but we'll get several handfuls to taste.

Hollywood plum. Also in its 2nd season. It's a lot to ask, to get a crop at this point. The prolific flowers gave me a false sense of hope. But none set. Today I pruned, to open the center, and keep it small, the central tenant of backyard orchard culture.

Oh wait - a plum! One isn't much for most people to get excited about, but for me it will be a treat getting to taste it! Cool! The leaf:fruit ration is probably several hundred to one, so there is plenty of photosynthetic surplus to make it juicy and sweet. We'll see.

I wonder if the red leaves will fool the birds, keeping them away from the fruit? I'll cover it soon.

Grapes are getting ready to bloom. Still one of the most reliable and prolific fruits in my yard.

The new apple, Karmijn (see prior entries). Despite having few roots, here it is. I've noted that new fruit trees often have deformed leaves at first. It doesn't bother me, later leaves usually grow nicely. It's mulched with some lawn trimmings.

These small trees may take 3 or 4 years to bear. Gives me something to look forward to. I'm already thinking about what I'll add next Spring - there is room for a couple of columnar trees, such as Golden Sentinel or Scarlet Sentinel. There is still a long time to cogitate over it.

Honeycrisp apple. It had even fewer roots. It's growing. It will need water during the summer, sue to the small root mass. I'm happy to see it grow.

I've been thinning the apples to one per flower cluster. The clusters generally have 4 to 6 blossoms, most of which set fruit, so this means removing 4 or 5 fruitlets per cluster. I might be too early. It will take a while to thin apples on all of the trees. Again, I feel a little concerned I'm starting too early. I've bagged the apples with bags, bought from Raintree. These are like lady's nylons, maybe that's what they used to be! The idea is, the bags keep moths from laying eggs on the forming apples, so the apples won't have worms. It's another "we'll see" situation.

My Buddy Charlie

Before his latest haircut. He was starting to overheat, so time for a trim.

After. He's showing his age, now more slate grey instead of ebony black. Not as lively.

Baigou isn't by my side all of the time, like Charlie. He keeps to himself. WHen Im gone, the two of them sleep together. Half way through Baigou's haircut, the clippers quit working. Hence, the somewhat punk haircut.

Cattleyas and Dendrobium

Two new additions. I keep saying I don't have room for more. That is correct. Still, during a hard week, it gives me something to look forward to.

I'm very impressed with Hausermann Orchids. This is my 3rd order from them - or is it the 4th? Each time, the plants were in great shape, carefully wrapped, nice root systems. This time, one was in bud, so if it doesn's suffer too much from shipping, and my treatment, I'll see flowers. That's very, very cool! I'm just very impressed.

Here's the plant in bud, Iwanagara Appleblossom "Fantastic". This is also called Iwanagaara, and in some cases Apple Blossom is split into 2 words. Plus, with renaming, it may not even be Iwanagaara - I'll add more later. Regardless, it's said to be a versatile and fairly easy, compact, attractive, and fragrant.

I repotted, as I have been doing when adding any orchids. Doing so gives me a chance to inspect the roots, trim off dead roots, convert to the same medium as the others, and transfer them into the pots with side openings. I almost didnt repot the Iwanagaara, due to the buds - but then decided to do so. Then sprayed with neem oil, as a 'tonic'.

Iwanagaara Appleblossom "Fantastic". Picture from Hausermann orchids. I chose this variety because of the stated bloom time, and it was described as compact.

I decided to add a traditional Cattleya, so here it is. This is Cattleya Hawaiian Wedding "Virgin". Photo from Hausermann Orchids.

Here's the plant. As with the Iwanagaara, I repotted it. Also an impressive plant, with a stalk indicating prior bloom. That means, to me, a chance that it could bloom next cycle. I can't ask for more.

Can't forget, this Dendrobium nobile NOID is starting to bloom. Not the massive plant-hiding mass of flowers, but I think I like it better like this. It's the first Dendrobium that I've had bloom under my care, so that's cool.