Of seedpods and seabirds

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

An amazing number of seedpods on
this clump of Oeceoclades maculata
orchids growing in oak leaves.

Oeceoclades maculata, a terrestrial orchid found in shady forests along the northern Kwa-Zulu Natal coast of South Africa, made itself at home in Florida about 4 decades ago. It loves to appear in mulch, in leaf litter beneath oak trees and in shade. As I was cleaning up the garden for the holidays, I found a nice clump with more than 30 seedpods. It has steadily moved north from South Florida to Alachua County, even appearing in Tallahassee. Several individuals are scattered throughout my garden in mulched areas, especially loving the non-irrigated beds. Leaves are similar to sansevierias, and the flowers are small, greenish pink and cute. Listed as an invasive exotic, it doesn’t displace anything in my garden and so I allow it to flourish.

Last summer, I found a tiny bulb and decided to grow it in captivity. So far, so good. It is growing well in its 1-inch pot and has produces 3 more mini-bulbs. Checking on growing conditions, I discovered that it likes to be dry in the dry season, so I have moved it accordingly. I dropped a few pellets of slow-release fertilizer into the pot toward the end of summer, and will wait for spring to fertilize again.

Meanwhile, in a terrarium garden of miniature orchids,

Once known as Ixyophora viridisepala
this small orchid now is Chondrorhyncha

Chondrorhyncha viridisepala opened a single tubular flower, which at 1 3/8s inches, is a Gulliver among Lilliputians. The sepals of this South American orchid are horn-like and fleshy. Two sweep back and a third whooshes forward, so from certain angles it resembles a fat seabird trying to lift off the ocean. It is related to what was formerly called Cochleanthes amazonica, but now is Chondrorhycha amazonica, an orchid that is well known among South Florida orchid growers.

Dendrobiums and cattleyas continue to bloom now, and spikes are lengthening on Phalaenopsis schilleriana. All are loving the cool-ish weather that finally arrived Monday. As your phals put out spikes, try to keep them facing the same (southern) direction until they flower so the blooms will display an orderly beauty.

A reminder about bromeliad beds: look for the stray brown leaf, then (wearing long sleeves or elbow-length gloves) lift the leaves above them to see what’s going on. Lots of plants have matured and are dying now and require removal lest they take on the aroma of fish too out of water.











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