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Thread: Help with Orchid

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
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    598

    Help with Orchid

    A friend gave me this start about 5 years ago. It has grown, and multiplied but has never bloomed. It's the first and only plant of this type I've ever had. I'm trying to determine what to do with it. It's either going to bloom, or get thrown out.

    Anybody got any life saving advice for it?
    Attached Images  
    Tom W
    Aching Back Farm

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
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    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast
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    You can give it to ME!

    Hey, Tom!

    That is one gorgeous orchid! I wish mine looked that good, but I bought mine cheap, and dieing... So, cheap, as a matter of fact, that the pot itself was less than retail.

    Do you know what type of orchid it is? A lot of times, the type determines the temperature and light requirements for it to bloom. Also, it looks like it may be time for it to be divided, maybe past time. You will probably have a difficult time detangling those roots....

    But, My, OH, My! You do seem to be doing good with this one. It looks quite healthy. I'll gladly take it if you don't want it. None of my sickly purchased ones look nearly that good!

    Also, what kind of fertilizer are you using? Even these sickly little things will bloom if I manage to figure out the right place to put them in order to give them the right temperatures and light.

    Orchids sound really complicated, and they are quite expensive when in bloom. The blooms last so very long.

    I think most of the complication is solved when you know what kind it is...
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  3. flowering your orchid

    Tom,

    That appears to be a Cattleya, or something similar. It needs a minimum of 500-1000 foot candles of light during the day, and day temps of 65-70; cool down to 60 degrees at night; maintain 50%-75% humidity. Getting it to flower may take some doing.

    I'm guessing it will need a long dark cycle - 14 hours of total darkness per night. A black plastic bag should work, but make sure no light leaks in overnight. Also needs 10-30-20 fertilizer to get it to flower. It may take up to 2 months to get it to flower. Keep direct light off the plant in the summer.

    Your best bet is to try and duplicate it's natural flowering cycle. Find out what it is, and check when that type would normally flower. Then start your flowering process about 2 months in advance. That will help keep the orchid in sync with normal daylight, temps and humidity. You'll need to supplement or adjust these factors to match the needs of the plant.

    Don't throw it out. Check locally. Most communities have an orchid club. Someone will be glad to take a large specimen like that off your hands. That looks like it can be divided into a number of plants, and that may be what it needs as well.

    -Malcolm

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
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    598

    Seems I got more questions than answers

    You may be right Ann, there are 4 large plants in the pot. But, at one time it WAS a division, and it has never bloomed. I've checked all the boards I can find, but I still cannot identify it. It sits in the southeast corner of my sun room, with windows to the south and east. It only gets a little sun in the morning because of the trees and porch roof outside.

    For these 5 years it has had various fertilizers, none seem to do anything except make the plant bigger, NO Blooms. The last feeding was about 6 months ago with 6 month osmocote (18-6-12). It is often neglected for water. It usually gets very dry between watering.

    So, if I could find someone or someplace to identify it maybe I could research or ask more intelligent questions. If I do opt to get rid of it, I'll let you know Ann. I'm starting to get an attitude about it that is the same one I have about roses. I love them in someone else's yard/home. I like plants that don't manipulate me into spending all my time on them.
    Tom W
    Aching Back Farm

  5. #5
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    Aug 2001
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    Masdevallia

    Tom,

    I took a cruise on the internet, and based on the picture that you posted, the closest that I came to was a Masdevillia which needs dividing every one or two years. Most of the fertilizer information says to use a diluted balanced fertilizer in the warmer months, and to use a diluted high phosphorous fertilizer in the cooler months to prepare it for bloom.

    First things first, when it comes to orchids, it is best to identify what type you have. Do a google search on Masdevallia images, and if the leaves and stems look like yours, then do another search using Masdevallia fertilizer.

    Let us know what you find out... I am very curious.

    Here is one link that I found:


    University of Connecticut - Masdevallia infracta Lindl.


    If it is a Masdevallia, you are very fortunate. They apparently don't mind out heat as much as some of the others...
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  6. Identifying orchids

    Ann and Tom,

    Ann, you might be on to something there. But it could also be a Cypripedium, Epidendrum, Oncidium or Dendrobium as well. Their foliage is so similar it's almost impossible trying to identify them from foliage or photos of foliage. Even a close inspection of their growing habit won't even get you close to an identification. Several thousand orchids have foliage that will look like that if you stick them in a pot, give them 5 years and lots of nitrogen fertilizer.

    Orchid identification is a very difficult task at best. So much of the foliage looks similar, and there is a wide variety of foliage within any family - just like children in the same family can be look very different but all be brothers and sisters. There are over 30,000 identified varieties and the Amazon forest is full of orchids that have never been identified.

    Flowers are the certain identifier and contribute almost 100% to their identification. One thing to note is that Masdevillias are not very common in the US. They don't show up anywhere in my standard orchid "radar," while the other varieties I listed are much more common here, unless you are a collector.

    Now let's cut to the chase, Tom - get the darn thing to flower, or take it to an orchid club and let someone put it in their greenhouse. Follow my blooming instructions and then post a picture. I had over 50 different orchids when I lived in Florida, but when I moved back to Missouri none of them survived after 1 year. I collected small-flowered varieties; they are very fragile and can't take much abuse. That's why I think Masdevillia is a long-shot. Also look closely at the length, width and shape of the leaves, the way they "cup," curl and hang, and the pointiness at the ends. I have a picture of Cypripedium that looks almost identical to your plant, but I wouldn't bet 2 cents on that as an identification.

    Large-flowered varieties (Dendrobium, Cypripedium and Cattleya) are more durable and common, and within the capabilities of the average person to keep them alive. That's why you find them for sale at Walmart, Lowe's and Home Depot. I'd still find an orchid club - those people really know their stuff.

    -Malcolm

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    598

    Egg On My Face

    After hours of looking and searching, with no real clue, even following all the good references, I finally remembered the phone. I picked it up and called the lady who gave this thing to me and asked, what kind of orchid is this.

    Man, this is too embarrassing, but I gotta do it.

    She said that if it is the plant she gave me in Louisville, it's not an orchid at all, but a Clivia. Now, I had never even heard of clivia so I started searching for that. Guess what? There are bunches of different ones of those, and all the plants look nearly identical, so I've still got to get it to bloom before I know for sure what it is.

    Actually I'm glad I started this because I found out that some of the clivia's can be really expensive! One site I found that sells them they were anywhere from $50 to $135, each.

    Anyway, thanks for all the interest, and help. I suppose if I had included the following picture some of you super plant ID folks would have picked it up right away. You will also see why I found it so difficult to match it up to any of the orchid plants-DUH!
    Attached Images  
    Tom W
    Aching Back Farm

  8. #8
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    Aug 2001
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    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast
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    Tom,

    Congrats!

    Now, I know I want one !!!!

    They are really pricey! I was researching them a few weeks ago. There is one that I would love to have that has bicolored flowers (Red with some white). Did you ask her what color the flower is?

    My understanding is that they can be cut into sections similar to the way an Amaryllis bulb can.

    What you are showing in the latest picture is what was throwing me off... I couldn't see the base of it!

    You are one LUCKY FELLOW! Many are priced much higher than you found. They would be marginally hardy here, but I would probably keep it in a pot outside in the spring, summer and fall here.

    WOW! You don't know how fortunate you are!

    Thanks for sharing your find with us...
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
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    P.S.

    Tom,

    I do believe it is time to divide! And I guess you realize now to be careful what you think about tossing...

    Take a picture for me when it bloooms, okay?

    Good Luck!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast
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    Clivia Seeds

    Sprouting!
    Attached Images  
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    northeast Tennessee
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    1,703
    Tom I ran across this post and was wondering, did you ever get this thing to bloom?
    tennessee sue

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    598
    Not the first sign of a bloom. I've had the thing for maybe 10 years now. I keep it because it's such and interesting plant, and has the potential of being a 'keeper'. It is almost a non-care plant. I have forgotten it for months, and still it thrives.

    About 2 weeks ago I repotted it with some good draining potting soil. The pot was full of thick roots, and would have been easy to divide. But, I was not willing to take on yet another non-bloomer until it proves it's worth.

    I've tried all the tricks I can find to coax it to bloom, but so far it has resisted. If you hear a loud noise coming from west central Alabama, that will be me celebrating the long awaited event.
    Tom W
    Aching Back Farm

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