So a whole bunch of the little flask babies I ordered from Equatorial Plants last summer got to move out of the nursery this week. It was a pretty big job, but really fun to see how much the little guys have grown in about 9 months. It is almost like giving birth, well I am sure my dear sister would dispute that statement… well at least I feel proud as a mother fussing about with the little flask babies. The Dendrobium cyanocentrum v.blue babies (image to the left) that I mounted back in January have gone absolutely nuts. They obviously love their new home in the warm vivarium because there are roots and shoot all over the place! Really cool! Then there is the new transplants…. drumroll please. A few got potted, some mounted on EpiWeb, most were placed into the warm vivarium, a couple got to move into the nano vivarium, and a few gets to stay in the nursery mini-greenhouse for a bit longer, but now in their own pots. Even a Phalaenopsis wilsonii is given a lease on life after arriving in really poor state from the beginning and not doing as much as quiver in the nursery. But the roots are still green so we’ll see if moving into the warm vivarium will kick start some action. There are a bunch of the smaller babies left in the community pots but they will need a few more months of maturing before they are ready. You have to be patient when you grow orchids from flasks, but it is very rewarding. I can already imagine 2-3 years from now when they will bloom for the first time. Yes, I said years.
Yesterday I treated the entire apartment, well that was an overstatement, I treated all the flower pots, orchid pots and vivariums at least with nematodes. Waging war on the Sciaridae. I have not really seen any of them around the apartment, but they absolutely love my nano-vivarium and my flaskbaby nurseries (mini-greenhouses) where it is nice and warm and humid. But I took no chances and treated everything with the tiny biological predators, the nematodes (from Lindesro). It is not as disgusting as it sound, you have larger creatures living in your bed or favorite pillow… namely bedbugs. Anyway, they are harmless to humans and pets and it is nice not having to use any toxic poisons to combat these darn things that have invaded my 35×100 cm slice of tropical heaven (the nano)! Most people think all the tiny flies we often see around our plants are the common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster), and of course – some are. These are however merely a nuisance but harmless to our plants. But there is another pest from the Sciaridae family called Sciara hemerobioides, or the dark-winged fungus gnat (or “sorgmyggor”/”sorrow mosquitoes” as we call them in Swedish – very appropriate name). These evil doers look a lot like the common fruit fly, but are not only a nuisance their larva love to munch on fine tender roots. Although most orchid roots are too thick to be bothered, these larvae can completely decimate a cultivation of fine moss or young plants – such as my tropical moss and flask babies. You can tell the flies apart (without putting them under the microscope) by the way they fly. The evil fly is not a very skilled flyer, Sciaridae moves in a jerky fashion and is often seen running over the surface rather than flying. They are also not attracted to fruit or wine like the harmless fruit fly so you cannot trap them in this way. They are however attracted to yellow, so I hung yellow fly traps (the yellow cards with glue on them) to catch the adults, then sent in the nematodes (Entonem /Steinernema feltiae) to kill the next generation larvae. It all took about 2 hours using the high-pressure watering hose (at low pressure) but it is well worth if it only works. Now I just have to sit back and wait. They say it may take 2-3 weeks [...]
Today was spring cleaning in the nano vivarium. I took the whole thing apart, cleaned out the watering system and polished the tube. To do that I had to lift out the whole EpiWeb wall/branch assembly which gave me a good opportunity to go over and inspect each plant since that is really hard to do when it is inside the tube. I was pleased to find that several plans had started to attach themselves to the EpiWeb and I could remove some of the unsightly support sticks and wire. It was especially nice to see the two Masdevallias, guttulata and tuerckheimii doing so well after the fungus trouble a few months back. Both have grown several new leaves and are looking really good now. I also decided to move a few plants out to the warm vivarium instead since they are a bit too big for the nano, aesthetically. Gastrochilus calceolaris and Masdevallia guttulata got to move (I had already moved the Ascocentropsis pusilla last weekend). I also rigged up a little shelf out of EpiWeb for a little venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) to help the Drosera capensis keep after the fruit flies who unfortunately also like the humid warm conditions in the nano… It was a big job, but it was well worth it.
One of the mini orchids from O&M is bloming now in the nano. It came in bud so I cannot claim the honor, but it is quite lovely!!
The flask baby project is progressing nicely… here you see the Phalaenopsis amboinensis babies. The UK kids from Equatorial Plants are growing slowly… oh so slowly. For some you can see clear growth, especially Cattleya schilleriana and D. cyanocentrum. Even Paph. bellatulum and Phal. amboinensis (in the picture) are looking good, some are growing faster than others. Promenaea rollinsonii are not breaking any speed records, but are looking okay. Phal. wilsonii has not moved a single millimeter … they are in pretty sad shape overall and I have now tossed one of the 5 I got (but in all fairness, they were all in pretty bad condition when they arrived). The super tiny Dracula cordobae babies that came from Ecuagenera are doing ok. The bottle came with mold so I had to deflask at once, even though they were sooo small. We will see if they make it – but so far so good. Still in flasks: Masd. infracta, Masd. decumana and they are growing ever so slooow… The two small orchi-pacs I got from Roellke in october, Paph. appletonianum and Phal. pulchra are growing fine (but I think I might loose one of the pulchra’s…).