I got a small flask of Paphiopedilum bellatulum from Equatorial Plant Co in 2008 and deflasked them in August the same year. I have since traded all the seedling but one plant that I kept for myself and it is now blooming for the very first time, 3 years and 7 months later. I am like a proud momma! You really have to be patience when you raise orchid seedlings, but in this case it was more than worth the wait. The name is derived from the Latin word bellus (meaning beautiful), a fitting name I would say. I adore the voluptuous shape and vanilla ice cream coloring against the mottled leaf backdrop, marvelous. Paphiopedilum bellatulum is a small terrestrial or lithophytic species from China to Indo-China where it grows at 900 to 1500 meters in shady locations on limestone cliffs. Flowers grow as large as 5-8 cm wide, mine measures about 6 cm, and blooms from a short, dark purple inflorescence that just clears the beautifully mottled green leaves with a deep purple underside. It is reputed to be a difficult species to grow, but perhaps this is because the growing recommendations for it found online can be rather contradictory. Some say to grow it warm to hot, other cool to intermediate. I say it does best in intermediate growing conditions in medium/low light and kept evenly moist all year, only slightly drier November through April. It supposedly prefers a slightly calcareous medium, but I grow mine just fine in a mix of medium bark and volcanic rocks without any added calcium. Edit: As it turns out, this is probably a primary hybrid with P bellatulum in the mix, not a pure species… so I still need to get the pure species for my collection. Paphiopedilum bellatulum (Rchb.f.) Stein, Orchid.-Buch: 456 (1892).
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.
I don’t know how it happened, and I can’t remember where, but I fell in love with phal bellina about a year ago and have ever since dreamed about a vivarium for warm growing species. Now that I have one, I finally came home with my beloved bellina. I am soo happy!! I had ordered it from Marita Åkesson along with a Phalaenopsis cochlearis, but I came home with a Phalaenopsis miva fragrance (violacea x zuma gold) as well. So now I have four lovely warm loving phals in the vivarium, counting my first phal amboinensis flask baby to leave the nursery. When repotting the newbies I discovered a flower stalk on the cochlearis too – extra bonus! The Angraecum florulentum that I got from Marita back in 2007 along with one Paphiopedilum bellatulum and three Dendrobium cyanocentrum (blue) flask babies also graduated to the new viv., it’s starting to look pretty nice but I still have a lot of room in there. The florulentum has been growing fine on the windowsill, but last year the two flower stalks dried up before they could mature and now it has started two new stalks (and something that could possibly be a keiki – see img. 4 above) and I don’t want a repeat of last year. The humid environment in the viv should take care of that.
Time for another update on the flask baby project. Yesterday was a big day! The first few teenagers got to move out of the community pots and into a little pot of their own today. Granted, I still placed them in sphagnum moss and keep them in a separate mini-greenhouse in pretty much the same conditions as before but still, this is a big step. It took better part of my sunday afternoon to do it but it was very exciting. Two Cattleya schilleriana, one Phalaenopsis amboinensis, one Paphiopedilum bellatulum and three dendrobium cyanocentrum (blue) got to graduate. I mounted the dendrobiums, two on cork and one directly on the EpiWeb in the nano-orchidarium. The rest of the youngsters got a root-check, and all are looking really good!! The Promenaea rollinsonii have started growing a lot finally. Then I replaced the moss before replanting – consolidating tubs. I also went ahead and deflasked the last two flaks from Ecuagenera (Masdevallia decumana and m. infracta) since one was starting to mould and I was starting to ger a few clear leaves on the plants in the other. They came out fine and looked great! Especially the Masdevallia decumana babies looked big and really healthy (the tub in the back). Very cool!
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…).