Sheltering from the Storm and Appreciating Orchid Seed Pods & Flowers
Mother Nature reminds us of her immense power today. Storm Eunice currently has us firmly in her grip. Eunice is battling against the trees, pushing them, flaying, whirling, and then ruthlessly discarding anything that isn’t tied down securely enough. As I write, I am eternally thankful that my sturdy glasshouse and Vegepod are both intact and remain where I left them, safely in my garden. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost trees, fences, polytunnels, or is suffering with any kind of storm damage today. I am grateful to enjoy the privilege of a home complete with roof and power, and to be warm and dry, and away from the aggressive wind outside.
If you’ve lost a fence in the storm, instead of replacing it with another fence, have you thought of planting a hedge? Hedges are far more elegant than a fence could ever be, and they provide food and shelter for wildlife. Why not plant an edible hedge and grow delicious sloes, damsons, nuts, rose hips, and other delights? Not only will a hedge outlast a fence; at the moment bare-root plants are available, these are far more economical to purchase than container plants and will usually be much less costly than buying fencing. Bare-root plants are raised in a more environmentally friendly way than the commonly seen but more expensive containerised plants. I love that bare-root plants require less irrigation and these field-grown plants can be easily grown without any peat-based compost or plastic. I find bare-root plants have superior root systems and establish better than container grown plants. Bare-root plants are only available during the dormant season, which ends in March. My advice would be to go ahead and order bare-root plants now! I don’t sell plants, but if you’re considering planting a hedge, here are some hedging plants to tempt you!
I’ve been indoors looking at my orchids today. These first two orchids in my photograph below are both the same species – Aerangis macrocentra; these plants are from my National Collection of Miniature Aerangis and Angraecum Species.
Aerangis macrocentra seed pods
Of these two Aerangis macrocentra specimen’s, one plant has noticeably smaller seedpods. This plant actually flowered slightly ahead of the plant that now holds larger seed pods. There was only one day when both plants had a flower in bloom, but thankfully, I was able to cross pollinate the flowers. Whilst pollinating the flowers, I noticed that these plants were able to self-pollinate themselves without me taking any action. At the time whilst my Aerangis macrocentra plants were flowering, I was eagerly checking both the plants a couple of times a day, ready to seize the moment and cross pollinate their flowers, so as to increase the likelihood of producing viable seeds and to maintain optimum genetic diversity among my plants.
This orchid is currently holding four seed pods, which is a higher number than I would usually ask one of my plants to develop. The other plant has now dropped two of its seed pods – both of these discarded seed pods were a product of the plant’s own self-pollination.
I’ve cross pollinated both of these Aerangis macrocentra plants at least once before. Last time, the seed pods ripened and opened whilst I was working away from home. Orchid seed is tiny – it’s like dust. Seed pods propel their seed away from the mother plant, which extends the range of the orchid species’ territory; except in this case the plant’s propagation was unsuccessful – as the seed was lost when it was rinsed away as my Tall Orchidarium‘s automated misting unit operated. Accordingly, I’ve been eagerly watching these Aerangis macrocentra seed pods, looking for the moment when they take on a soft apricot tint; it’s a very subtle change that signals the optimum moment to harvest the seed and send it to the lab to flask and cultivate.
Phalaenopsis lobbii flowers
This is Phalaenopsis lobbii. All of these pictures I’m sharing here are of the same plant; I thought I’d show you a couple of pictures I took back in December 2021 and then I’ll share more pictures of the same plant as it looks today.
I’m growing this miniature orchid inside my Orchidarium. I set this enclosure up back in 2017; this Phalaenopsis lobbii plant has resided inside this Orchidarium since 12th November 2017 (over four years ago). I’ve found this miniature orchid is very happy indeed growing in the humid conditions I’ve created for the orchids inside this enclosure.
Some Phalaenopsis species are deciduous – they lose their leaves through the wintertime or in drier periods. This mechanism helps the plants continue for a time without their optimum growing conditions and allows the orchids to contend with drier periods and times when there is less water available; this enables the orchid species to survive what would otherwise be challenging growing conditions that would cause the plants to decline or possibly die. Cultivated orchids, including deciduous species, usually retain their leaves throughout the year; as these plants tend to be more cosseted and do not have to endure as cold or as dry a period, as their wild relatives experience.
This Phalaenopsis lobbii specimen’s flowers are fading but they retain an elegant, washed out beauty that I still appreciate. These blooms may have forgone their zip and the original vibrancy of their colours, but they have kept hold of some of their quiet glory. I adore Phalaenopsis lobbii.
Due to an unexpected period of drought, caused by an unfortunate accident when a workman accidentally cut the hose I use to syphon water from my reservoir into my Orchidarium. The following day, I headed off to work at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021, unaware that my bedroom was being liberally sprayed with rainwater at regular periods, throughout the day, while conditions inside my Orchidarium became drier by the hour!
I came home to some very sorry looking plants, but thankfully this Phalaenopsis lobbii plant lives on, which makes me feel relieved and very happy!
I’ve not been tempted to try and pollinate this Phalaenopsis lobbii specimen’s flowers during this flowering. I will give this plant a year off from seed production so as to maintain the health of the plant. Orchids need to be in good health to produce seed as seed-production is an energy intensive process that lasts for a prolonged period. This same Phalaenopsis lobbii plant was successfully cross-pollinated in December 2019 and has already produced seed (and seedlings).
For more articles about orchids, please click here.
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For outdoor gardening advice for February, please click here.
For outdoor gardening advice for spring, please click here.
For articles about glasshouse, polytunnel, and greenhouse growing, please click here.