Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Bloom Event - Angraecum crestwood and Veitchii

And when I say event, I mean event. You might remember my post a few weeks back about eBay purchases of Angraecum crestwood 'tomorrow star' and Angraecum veitchii. I have been eagerly watching the flower spikes develop ever since.

Angraecum crestwood had just the one spike which spawned two buds. The flower spike is relatively short, a trait shared with Angraecum sesquipedale (one of its parents), but the flowerbuds were enormous, especially when you take into account the massive nectar spur at the back of the flower which is longer than the bud!

The flowers soon opened, and stayed that green colour for several days, until fully open.

And yes, the flowers really are that shiny in real life. The flower is six inches from top to bottom and side to side with the spur at the back being seven inches long. They are fragrant at night, though I am not overly keen on the scent.

As you can see, the green colour fades to ivory after a few days. They have a really heavy, thick texture and seem outlandishly big for the size of the plant (as is often the case with Angraecum).

The only issue i'm having with it is that brown mottling is appearing on the flowers which I put down to mite damage (I have given the entire collection a soap and oil spray recently, so that should sort them out), which really shows up on pale flowers like these. The plant has more than one fan so I'm hoping that flowering will get better and better in future as the plant matures (not that it's small even now!)

Also in flower is the other plant I got at the same time, Angraecum veitchii. You might remember that this one had five flower spikes growing when I got it and it hasn't disappointed. There are four or five flowers per spike. Angraecum veitchii is a hybrid between A. sesquipedale and A. eburneum. One parent (sesquipedale) produces flowers that look very much like A. crestwood, pictured above, but the other parent (eburneum) produces greater quantities of smaller flowers on a longer spike. More importantly, the flowers of A. eburneum are non-resupinate, meaning that to our eye at least, the flowers are upside-down with the lip uppermost. Angraecum veitchii is well known for being, shall we say, confused, with the blooms usually twisting through three quarters of a turn to open on their side, facing downwards.

As you can see, my tactic to deal with this was to let the flower spikes develop unsupported, so the flowers open facing down on practically horizontal spikes. "Why didn't you support the spikes as they develop?" I hear you ask. The answer to this is that orchid flowers are sensitive to gravity. If I had supported the spikes, the flowers would have opened all facing downwards.

Quite a nice show, even unsupported, isn't it? As you can see, though, the flowers are facing all sorts of one directions. Even the ones facing forwards are upside-down.....

Pretty nice flowers, even when upside-down. If it were just a case of the flowers will have a good orientation (i.e. facing forwards) but were ostensibly upside-down, I wouldn't bother to support them - quite a few orchids in my collection have non-resupinate flowers, after all. Once the blooms are open and set, though, I put stakes in and tied the flower spikes upright, so the flowers then end up displayed the right way up.

As you can see, most of the flowers are now displayed correctly, and it looks even more of a spectacle.

Both of these plants are in relatively small pots that are full of roots so once blooming is done I will have to repot them. Angraecum have a reputation for refusing to bloom for several years once they have been disturbed so it is with some trepidation I shall approach this. All I intend to do is to remove the outer pot and pot on, so the roots shouldn't be disturbed at all. That's the idea, after all. I guess we will find out next winter.

Interestingly, although the plants somewhat resemble Vanda (at least vegetatively),  Angraecum seem much happier growing in pots and seen to absorb vast quantities of water. Each week when I come to water, both of them are quite dry and need a good wetting. The pots must be full of roots.  They also seem unfussy as to their growing medium. One plant I bought recently (A. sesquipedale var. angustifolium) is planted in a medium that I would have thought held far too much water for the plant, but it seems perfectly happy with roots growing at the bottom of the pot as well as new roots emerging from the stem. Had that been a Vanda, I would have found a pot full of dead roots with live ones only above the growing medium.

Provided I can re-flower these plants in the future I can recommend them as easy to grow orchids (apart from their size).

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