Saturday, 17 August 2019 12:34

Priot to August 2019

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If I had to guess it was perhaps December of 2018 that I divided the smaller of 2 divisions of the main plant.


(This is a work in progress)


Without the ability to travel back in time, all I can do is play catch-up to the current date and blog about this group from now into the future.  Below is a list from memory and other contributing factors as for significant events related to this group.


March 2016 last known bloom, good enough to be awarded second place in a society sponsored show in ribbon judging.
May 2016  acquired in an auction
through 2016/7  tortured by being exposed to poor conditions in the Sacramento area.  It did not die back but it also did not thrive much. 
spring of 2017  divided in two 
late 2017
(after I got my mini-greenhouse shelves to address a low humidity issue, I divided the oncidium on my own creating "group B" 
spring 2018
with no bloom, I worked each division removing dead and in the process of rotting material. 
early July 2019  removed from pot so I could bleach the clay pellets and clean the pots from a fertilizer induced explosion of algea. 
august 17, 2019  current 


Growing Area (Exterior)

I live in an apartment facing south-southwest in Sacramento.  Summers are warm to hot with very low humidity and winters can be cold with more cloudy days with a light rain then days of sunshine.  If clear weather during the winter temperatures can fall close to if not below freezing and frost is frequent.  Depending on the season (angle of sun) my growing area can get a couple hours of direct sun followed by scattered tree shade.  Late fall, into winter through early spring it gets a longer duration of direct sun per day. 


Growing Area (mini-greenhouse units:  4ft. tall. about 2ft. across and approximately 18 inches deep, 4 removable shelves and a pair of zippers for opening a panel that break within a week.)

These shelf units duplicate the environment of a standard greenhouse except they can get much hotter inside requiring ventilation.  Water trays of various sizes increase the local humidity.  The back of the shelves (opposite the side one can easily reach in) get the most light and obviously the top shelf is the brightest overall.  The plastic covering has been treated with a greenhouse paint so that internal light is about 80-percent compared to full sun.  It is with these factors that I have to limit my choice of orchids.  Catasetinaes love it.


Culture method


Pot:  I use a 4-cup soup storage container from "glad" that you can find in any grocery store.  I opt for the transparent non-decorated version.  Transparent because I like to admire the roots.  I use a semi-hydropnic method.  Approximately an inch up from the bottom, I use a soldering iron to make my drainage holes.  Typical pots have drainage holes on the bottom allowing all excess water to drain.  Semi-hydropnics means that a pool of water is formed, and the water actually will wick its way up the potting medium drenching the roots during the day and retreating from the root zone when temperature falls late afternoon and during the night, although new roots be acclimated to the high humidity.  The drawback is that I have to flush the pots with tepid water on very hot days.


Medium: I use a small clay pellet instead of an organic bark.  I have to cool the orchids with lots of water and water degrades organic bark so I rather spend money on new orchids and not new potting mix every year.


Feertilizing:   I follow my own fertilizing routine and it seems to work.  One application can be a balanced 30-30-30, followed a week later with something more focused on leaf and roots growth and then followed by a bloom formula.  I also flush with rain water a couple times a year followed by using a application of epsom salt (magnesium).  I toss into the pots a small amount of osmocote time release pellets as well.


During the worst of winter (temperatures below 55-degrees, the orchids try and stay warm in my dining room area.  


If we are dealing with a heatwave, where temperatures get above 105-degrees, everybody except the catasetinaes come inside.


For maintaining some airflow in each mini-greenhouse besides the phenomena known as convection (as hot air escapes through the top replaced by not so hot air from the bottom), I use a couple of battery operated fans in each unit.  Thanks goodness for rechargeable batteries.




Meet the members of "Group B"  (17 Aug. 2019)



If you ask me, snapping pictures with today's technology, is about as valuable as the basic plant tag.  A picture is a moment in time captured forever.  Wait a month, take another picture, compare the difference between the two, or a series of pictures, and you can tell how your orchid is progressing.



A normal person that already had three good divisions would probably toss the above two  time investments away and save the space. However, I am not normal as most of my friends would tell you even if I was standing next to them. On the left is "scrappy" and besides a nice collection of roots below the surface, what you see is what there is.  I am guessing the rest of that division was dead or dying and to save that new growth I just cut it from the host bulb.  If I was not hurting for room or the pot, I would toss it and "group b / 2" (on the right.  Since I am tending three good divisions, might as well see what happens with these two.  In all honesty, I have very little hope for "scrappy".  No supporting bulb, so the next growth, if it happens, will be small.  This is like tending to a seedling, it be about 4 years before it even think seriously about blooming, but if it does, it come with a story - and pictures.  "2" on the right has a much better chance as they are new growths from an existing older bulb.  Again, it be a few years of growth cycles before it bloom.  If they get established and actually start maturing, they be considered a gift for junior members so long as they understand it might be a year or two before the division bloom.  


"Group b / 3", "3" for short,  by coincidence has 3 new healthy growths and a couple supporting back bulbs.  Probably still 2 years from any bloom but each new growth will be stronger and more vibrant.  (Click image, left, to see the actual original unedited picture)


"Group B / 4" or just "4" has three happy thriving new growths.  Again could be a couple years before that first bloom. (Click image, right, to see the actual original unedited picture)


"Group B / 5" or just "5" has two happy thriving new growths.  Again could be a couple years before that first bloom. (Click image, left, to see the actual original unedited picture) 


I'm not going to dedicate that much time to blogging about this group.  At least I have some base images to compare in the future and when something significant happens, I will mention it.


I suspect I will be cleaning the clay pellets and pots again in September, October at the latest unless the algea gets real thick again.  At that time I will take some pictures of the root zone.  An advantage of the clay pellets is that they can slowly be poured out while supporting the orchid, then completely remoe the orchid with virtually no trauma to the roots, otherwise known as "set back".  I will seat thse more towards the back of the pot so new growth can fill in the front half.





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