Whilst watering today I noticed a Pleurothallis costaricensis needed splitting and had become detached from its cork mount.
No tools were needed just a slight pull and the orchid split into plenty of small pieces. Just make sure there are a few roots in each little clump.
Each piece of the orchid needed to be planted in a 5 cm pot. A little orchid bark compost went into the bottom of the pot before placing the little orchid in the middle and filling with compost. After planting the orchid in the pot I gently pressed around the edges to hold the orchid and compost inplace. Do not press on the roots as they are easily damaged.
I tested the orchid was firmly potted by picking it up. If firm it will not come away from the pot.
I was able to make 28 new little plants from the old costaricensis.
Once the new plants had been labeled and given a drink of rainwater they were ready to move into our cool America section
Hopefully all the little Pleurothallis costaricensis will grow into beautiful plants like this one. They are slow growing miniatures that flower on and off throughout the year. Coming from the cloud forests of Costa Rica these little orchids like cool rooms and so good for the heating bill.
We started our visit to Kew Gardens with The Princess of Wales Conservatory which was opened in 1987 and is the home to Kew’s Orchid House, carnivorous plants and cacti.
The air was perfumed by Prosthechea radiata and Stanhopea nigroviolacea.
Swathy Vanilla planifolia wound its way to the roof and naturalistic planting arched over the pathways. The orchid house was a thoroughly enjoyable visit to all the senses and I could have stayed in there for hours peering in detail at each orchid but there was lots more to see at Kew.
The Palm house was next on the agenda. Designed by Decimus Burton, one of the foremost architects of the time, and constructed between 1844 and 1848 by Irish iron founder Richard Turner, it is a cathedral of cast iron and hand blown glass. It is said to be the first large scale industrial use of cast iron. A tribute to the industrial revolution.
Up a spiral staircase to the gallery where it was a very humid 35 degrees celsius but wonderful views of the roof .
Although called a Palm House and has palms in it there are other plants inside including orchids.
It was fun searching for orchids amongst the other plants. Among our finds were Stanhopea wardii and Cymbidium aloifolium.
Next we visited the Temperate House which was much cooler than the Palm House but was just as awesome. Again it was designed by Decinus Burton. The main section was opened in 1863 but the wings were not finished until 1896. The building suffered damage during World War Two, causing the roof to leak and corrosion of the iron work. It was first restored in the 1970’s and them further restoration was completed in 2018. It is a magnificent building.
The view from the gallery was amazing, looking down on plants native to Australia. There was an unusual looking Grass Tree, Xanthorrhoea preissii, from Western Australia.
The orchids found here were Coelogyne flaccida and and Dendrobium hetercarpum.
I thoroughly recommend a trip to Kew and the glass houses. Although I have visited many times before there is always something new to see and learn with each trip. It is a lovely day out.
The word Keiki means baby in Hawaiian . Growing a keiki is the way a plant reproduces itself asexually. A Keiki is an exact genetic replica of the mother plant.
The picture below shows one of our Pleurothallis palliolata orchids bearing mature keikis.
Many Keikis have evolved to fall easily from the mother plant when hit by a raindrop, with a slight breeze or when knocked by an animal or bird. We often find Keikis on the benches or floor of the greenhouse.
The keikis on our Pleurothallis palliolata came away easily with a very gentle pull.
The new little orchids were then potted in bark compost, labelled and given a good drink of rainwater.
In time these babies will flower just like the parent plant. Our Pleurothallis palliolata orchids flower during the winter months. I really rate these cheerful little orchids.
Bulbophyllum stenobulbon comes from South East Asia as far west as Assam. It grows in warm forests but its not really fussy about temperature and will grow well from 10 degrees celsius to 18 degrees celsius, but needs to be kept shaded and well watered.
Although Bulbophyllum stenobulbon has small flowers there are lots of them, twice a year, winter and summer. It makes a very attractive houseplant.
Our specimen Bulbophyllum has become quite untidy with prolific roots and runners everywhere. Today it has had a little bit of a trim so that new orchids can be propagated for our show sales table and our Etsy shop.
Before touching the orchid any tools must be sterilised. We use methylated spirits to do this.
For the best results take a cutting consisting of three bulbs and their roots.
Place a small quantity of orchid bark in the bottom of the pot.
The runners are quite flexible and can be bent carefully to fit inside the pot. Try to get all the roots inside as Bulbophyllum stenobulbon are quite friendly orchids and like to make their way into other orchid’s pots.
Fill in around the orchid with bark compost and gently press around the edges to make sure the orchid is firmly held in place.
To test that the orchid is securely potted gently pick it up. If the pot comes with it the orchid is well potted.
It is now time to give our twenty new little orchids a good rainwater drink.
Barkeria skinneri is a native orchid of deciduous oak forests in Mexico. Unlike many of our other orchids Barkeria skinneri does not grow well in pots. This is because the roots rot if they cannot dry out quickly after watering. For this reason we grow them mounted on bark. We use virgin cork bark from Portugal, a sustainable product traditionally harvested. Using cork bark is a good way of supporting cork forest conservation. Below is a small Barkeria skinneri from our collection that is growing well on its mount.
Our seedlings are tiny compared with the monster orchid Barkeria skinneri they have the potential to become. The photo shows a twenty year old orchid grown from a seedling.
Our Barkeria skinneri seedlings have been growing in flasks for about two years. They have grown healthy roots and leaves and are now ready to be deflasked.
The first thing to do is to remove the little orchid from its flask and gently wash off the media from the roots using tepid water at, 18 degrees celsius, taking care not to damage the roots.
For the mounting you will need a piece of cork bark, a drill, thin wire and something to cut it with and a label.
You will need to drill at least three holes in the cork. One at the top and two lower, slightly apart, where you wish to tie the orchid. Thread one piece of wire through the top hole and attach the label. Make a hook so you can hang the mount up if you wish.
Take another piece of wire, thead it through the two holes so that it holds the orchid in place on the bark. The wire should be tight enough to hold the orchid to the bark without cutting into the orchid.
It is a week since this little Barkeria skinneri, shown below, was deflasked. It has already started to grow new roots. Hopefully all the newly mounted orchids, shown above, will survive to become strong, healthy orchids.