Well, my move from Paris to Kentucky is complete. I had to say goodbye to all my little green pets in the flat, but my ex-flatmate is sending me pictures now and then so I get to at least see pictures of the blooms.
My new projects include fixing up the sunroom in the house I'm now living in, which was full of dead, dry, or stringy-leaved plants, and making it into the tropical haven it should be! Here's what it looks like so far...
I was on edge not having any orchids in my new home so when I saw some in K-Mart the other day for half off, I grabbed two.
I also became a volunteer at my local botanical garden, which although it is small, has a nice collection of orchids and will be an excellent opportunity to learn. Hopefully I will be growing flasks soon and begin building a collection of orchids that I really love!
Wow, today the first rays of sunlight have made it into the flat. Light meter readings have skyrocketed to between 4000 - 5000 lux on the orchids and up to 8000 in the direct light. What a huge difference!
The paph I brought home on Nov 28 has faded and fallen off the stem. It took about a week from when I first noticed the petals were fading to wilt, fold up, and drop off. All the color has left the drying flower, and it is now a transparent tannish brown. I am trying to preserve it. Thread with pics here.
Meanwhile, the fuchsia phal has finally shown its first bud. The white one is up to five and looks as if it might keep going. My expectations have been exceeded already, so every new day is bonus. When they actually manage to bloom I will probably be parked in front of them for hours every day, staring at the blossoms. Thread with pics.
It feels like I actually know the plants now, after taking care of them for over a year. I've inspected their leaves, roots, and spikes so many times over the past year that I think I could draw both of them in detail from memory. Seeing them spike has been so rewarding. The blooms will make me very, very proud and happy!
The days are starting to get longer. Light is increasing bit by bit. Today I measured over 1500 lux for the south window even though it was close to 4 PM and cloudy. Plants are going to start perking up soon, I can already sense them waking up.
First new orchids in the New Year were brought home today! An orchid friend had 'rescued' them from a flowershop, that were going to discard them since their flowering period was ending. My friend bought all four that were left for approx. 25% of its original price and in my turn, I bought two of them. My first Oncidium Twinkles!
Length of day at Winter Solstice - 08:14:51
Length of day Today (Dec 30) - 08:18:31
Already a difference of 4 minutes! And by the end of January we will be up to almost 9.5 hours of daylight. The rate of change in these northern latitudes is incredible, with a daily increase of more than 3.5 minutes at the spring equinox.
I used to wonder why the new year starts in January and not in March, when spring is springing. But I suppose it makes sense to begin the year when the days start getting longer. Apparently the Roman calendar didn't even have a name for the winter months, they were just all grouped together and considered extra.
If I had to design a calendar (and why can't I just have my own?), I would move the new year back a week or so to fall on the Winter Solstice. I think the pagans did this long before the creation of the modern western calendar.
I have to admit, growing orchids has made me even more in tune with the length of days and seasons of the year. It's no small wonder that our ancestors centered their calendars and religions around these phenomenon. Quite honestly, these are the strongest external forces we experience on Earth; why shouldn't they be venerated?
Now back to my orchid pets. One of the new Oncidium growths has got a leaf that seems kind of folded. Not like the accordion-like folds I've seen in some photos of under-watered plants, but a lengthwise fold along the leaf as it emerges from the growing point. I wonder if it is due to the dry conditions I have kept the plant in for the past couple of months.
The white Phalænopsis has reached the point where, after waiting and waiting since October, things are starting to get exciting. The spike is budding. There are four buds that I can see, and it doesn't seem to be done yet. I am so thrilled! My partner keeps saying "Do you really think it's going to bloom?", introducing doubt into my certainty. It's true, the buds could shrivel up and drop off, but...I prefer not to think about that!
The tip of the spike of the fuchsia Phal is starting to bend and flatten out, and I expect that it will begin to bud within the next couple of weeks or so.
The Paphiopedilum is just as it was a month ago when I bought it. The flower is large and firm and beautiful. I will definitely be getting more of these.
At the suggestion of OrchidBoarders in this thread, I purchased a bacteria that comes as effervescent tablets. This special strain, known as BTI (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) is supposed to affect the digestive tracts of fungus gnat larvæ, causing them to stop eating and eventually starve to death. Sounds pretty horrible if you think about it.
Well, I choose to inflict this torture on those tiny larvæ because they are growing into adults which end up buzzing all over my flat. They're in my ears, flying in my eyes and nose, at the table when we eat...so it has to stop.
I dissolved one of the tablets in a liter of water and watered all the plants with it. The instructions said that 1 tablet can treat up to 100 liters of water for mosquito larvae, so I guessed that it would be enough. A few days later I repeated the process.
That was a week ago and I still have gnats everywhere. I think I still need to wait a week or so before there is a noticeable decrease in the population. I hope it works!
Sunday, December 15, 14:00
Oncidium 2400 lux
Phal/Paph 2200 lux
I made a video about my spiking Phals. Actually I created a channel last week and have made three videos so far. I've got lots of ideas for topics but it's just finding the time to put them together! I hate that!
I got a light meter the other day. It was inexpensive and it only gives readings in lux, but it seems legit.
Here are some readings I've taken so far. They were taken at the crown of each plant with the sensor pointing towards the brightest point out the window.
Friday Dec 6 2013, 08:20 - 28 lux
Saturday Dec 7 2013, 11:45 - 750 lux
Saturday Dec 7 2013, 12:15 - 1600 lux
Saturday Dec 7 2013, 13:45 - 3000 lux
Sunday Dec 8 2013, 11:40 - 1550 lux
Sunday Dec 8 2013, 12:45 - 1250 lux
Friday Dec 6 2013, 08:20 - 35 lux
Saturday Dec 7 2013, 11:45 - 1900 lux
Saturday Dec 7 2013, 12:15 - 2500 lux
Saturday Dec 7 2013, 13:45 - 3800 lux
Saturday Dec 7 2013, 14:35 - 1900 lux
Sunday Dec 8 2013, 11:40 - 2600 lux
Sunday Dec 8 2013, 12:45 - 1900 lux
This reading shows that the paph/phals are receiving about 1169 lux.
The meter only displays up to 1999 lux before it must be switched to a x10 mode, so here you see the reading of 229 x10, or 2,290 lux.
So far the readings are a bit disturbing, because my online research is telling me that phals enjoy 4,000 - 10,000 lux, or about 400 to 1000 footcandles. If that's true, they're receiving much less than their minimum light requirement.
When I compare other readings for accuracy, the readings seem to match, like an overcast sky giving a reading of 5,000 and a well-lit office about 500. For example, I just opened the window and got a reading of the overcast sky and it ranged around 10,000 lux. That seems to be in line with what I've read, so maybe my plants really are receiving way too little light.
In any case, we are only a couple of weeks from the winter solstice so the days will soon be getting longer and the sun more intense. Hopefully these orchids will hang on until they start receiving more of the light they need!
I owe my love of Orchids to my Mother-in-law. Betsy has a green thumb that I envy over. She can make anything grow. I walked into her home one day and there was this beautiful white orchid on her table. By many means it was nothing exotic( as orchids go) a white one from a local chain store. But it was awesome to me. bright white faces looking out to the open concept home.
The fuchsia phal's spike is really behaving, growing nicely upward, while the white phal's spike is rather unruly, bending sharply towards the light. It's been gently but firmly lassoed with some shoe string.