Monday, May 7, 2012

Plant Media
Orchid Leaves

Let's take a look at that phalanopsis orchid.  We'll start at the bottom and look closely at all areas of the plant and by the time we're finished, you won't believe this little orchid had so much to tell us.  This first photo looks at the plant media or the stuff that the orchid is planted in.  It's mostly old moss and very little bark.  Most of the bark has broken down and the moss is mostly ineffective in holding much moisture.  We'll talk about how we know this in just a little bit.  We can see it's inefficient planting matter because you can see all the little poke holes from my fingers sticking in it checking to see if it was wet or dry to determine whether or not it needed water.   The  second photo focuses on the leaves.  This is our second giveaway that the the plant matter is not working well in the water retention area. We know this because our leaves are all wrinkled.  If you look very, closely you can see the oldest leaves are the most wrinkled and the newest leaves are firm, strong and greener.  What you cannot see are the older leaves feel softer and thinner and kind of saggy.  
Next, we see this little protuberance coming out of the base of the plant if you look real close.  This is a new stem.  Most of the time when you buy an orchid, you try to purchase the ones with more stems because the more stems you have, the more flowers you get blooming at the same time.  This is, after all, why we buy orchids.  Isn't it?  We want the spectacular display of flowers.  I was really happy to see a new stem coming.  Normally, our orchids, flower.  Then the flowers die and the stems, die off and we cut them back and new stems come.  This plant has been really unusual in that the stems, never died off.  So..... I never cut them back.  This stem will make a third stem on this plant since the other two stems are currently flowering for the third or fourth time.  I've lost count to be honest.    The next photo shows the plant flowering with......a bud.  Each stem has an additional bud.  So this plant is by no means finished flowering.  You can see it's a healthy blooming plant despite the desperate need to have the planting media replaced.  
This plant has one final story to tell us.  What you see is a new baby growing on the top of a stem.  Two new leaves have formed at the top of the stem at a juncture below the flowers but substantially above the lower leaves.  The next step for me is to cut this stem off and plant this set of leaves in some mossy bark media and let it root.  It will shoot up a stem and flower when it's mature enough.  What am I waiting for to but this baby off?  The same thing to give it some fresh moss and bark.  I'm waiting for it to stop flowering.  :) 

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