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  #1  
Old 06-11-2022, 02:06 AM
CleverMonkey CleverMonkey is offline
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Blooming my Bifrenaria harrisoniae 'Ruth' AM/AOS
Default Blooming my Bifrenaria harrisoniae 'Ruth' AM/AOS

I’ve had this plant for about 20 years, but this is the first time it’s bloomed. I’m posting this in case it may help those who don’t have quite that much patience. Flowers are about 2 ˝ - 3 inches wide, fragrant but with a very odd scent I can’t even begin to describe.

I don't know if this is the secret to getting the Bifrenaria harrisoniae to bloom, but here's exactly what I did that may have done the trick. Mine lives outdoors year-round in bright light but trying to avoid much direct sun. I should preface this by explaining I’m in Oakland CA, sometimes shown as being Zone 9b, but the Bay Area has microclimates due to our ocean/bay/hills geography, and my part of Oakland is 10a. And it’s a Mediterranean climate – we have no rain from June to October, then where I am maybe a total of 24 inches of rain (when not in drought) spread out from October through May. It can get chilly in the winter but usually doesn’t go down much below 42-45 F or so at night, but the plant can take lower than that sometimes with no problem.

Back in late March 2021 I gave it a top sprinkling of Nutricote 18-6-8 (180 day formula) using the amount recommended by the manufacturer for the size pot it's in. Then in Sept I gave it two feedings of liquid 10-10-10, one feeding of the same in October and one feeding again in November. As for watering, I watered it moderately during the spring, summer, and fall, letting it dry between waterings, but when the chilly weather came, I put it under my bistro table so it would not get any rain, and then watered it extremely sparingly, to the point I worried I was being a bit ruthless in withholding water.

Then this late March, I again gave it the top sprinkling of the Nutricote and watered moderately. Currently, in addition to the 4 flowers, it has 1 full size new leaf and 6 new little leads. Hopefully I can get it to bloom next year – time will tell.

I should also mention that they’re notorious for not liking repotting, but mine has taken dividing and repotting without skipping a beat - maybe it was just lucky timing, or I’ve got an especially vigorous plant. And I propagated 2 of the 4 old pseudobulbs.

Flowers are more of a light cream than the yellowish cast they have in the photos.
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Old 06-11-2022, 09:52 AM
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Welcome to the Orchid Board!
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Old 06-11-2022, 11:32 AM
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Welcome. Lovely bloom...should be...your interminable patience paid off. Good4 U!
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Old 06-11-2022, 02:20 PM
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Welcome!

I will try the "extra fertilizer" approach on mine - occasionally get flowers but not a lot, the rest of my conditions are pretty much the same as yours.
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Old 06-12-2022, 02:09 AM
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I've seen photos of this growing among rocks in a lot of sun just above a hot beach in Brasil. Give much more light and heat? And lots of water, it rains a lot there in summer.
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Old 06-12-2022, 03:46 AM
CleverMonkey CleverMonkey is offline
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Hi estación seca,

I've read that they grow in strong sun, and I think mine's OK with some morning sun, but any more and it seems to get sunburn. I wonder if giving it more water than I have been would allow it to tolerate more sun.

It's in medium fir bark, so the top of the medium often feels pretty dry, even when there's moisture below. My typical tendency with all plants is toward overwatering, so with my orchids I've tried to be wary of that.

Just examined the plant and I've got 2 or 3 additional new growths coming along, making a total of 8 - 9, getiing hard to count. On top of the 18 bulbs with leaves, it's going to be leaping out of the pot in no time. I guess it really likes that Nutricote.

---------- Post added at 12:46 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:28 AM ----------

Hi Roberta,

Since you say you do get flowers, how long do they usually last? I've no idea what to expect.

Also I've read the scent described as "extremely lovely", "one of the most fragrant orchids", and "fruit, honey, spicy". Mine is fairly fragrant and I guess the fruit and spicy terms might apply, but with something else thrown in that makes it odd. Not the strong lovely scent that some of my Cattleyas have.

Last edited by CleverMonkey; 06-12-2022 at 03:50 AM..
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Old 06-12-2022, 10:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CleverMonkey View Post
Hi Roberta,

Since you say you do get flowers, how long do they usually last? I've no idea what to expect.

Also I've read the scent described as "extremely lovely", "one of the most fragrant orchids", and "fruit, honey, spicy". Mine is fairly fragrant and I guess the fruit and spicy terms might apply, but with something else thrown in that makes it odd. Not the strong lovely scent that some of my Cattleyas have.
It has been awhile since it bloomed so I honestly can't recall. I think flowers last a couple of weeks, That is what I'm getting from from Bif. inodora, which I grow fairly shady and which has been much more productive for me. I do have note that Bif. harrisoniae is fragrant, just don't recall details. It doesn't look so good this year. I have a couple of Bif. tyrianthina that look better but have never bloomed. Both species are grown very bright, I'm looking for ideas. Maybe wetter... I have them in large bark and they dry out very fast. Since full sun doesn't seem to be accomplishing much, maybe I'll try a little less light.
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Old 06-19-2022, 05:30 PM
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Congratulations on your flowers, and your perseverance. I used to have the alba variety of this species (stupidly traded long ago for who knows what), and I remember that the flowers lasted a couple of weeks in good shape (possibly longer if you keep them a little on the cool side and out of the sun). The scent was very good (although probably not to everyone's taste).
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Old 06-19-2022, 09:29 PM
CleverMonkey CleverMonkey is offline
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Yes, SMWeaver, a couple weeks of bloom seems about right. The first 2 flowers opened June 1, and I just cut off one of those today. Will get not much more than a few more days on the rest.

One thing that surprised me was the size of the flowers as I'd only seen photos and judged them to be fairly small. When mine first opened they were 2 1/2 & 2 3/4 inches, but after a few days the largest was 3 inches wide, not huge, but larger than expected.
And the plant, which has always been happy to grow, is still happy. I had repotted it in March 2020, when it was climbing out of its pot. Now, having just grown one full size new leaf, it's got nine more underway.

Growing well for me is one of the qualities I like in a plant.
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