Monday, June 16, 2014

My Catasetum Returns, a Lithops Has Outgrown its Home, and the Last of the Sunflowers

Due to a family tragedy, I haven't blogged recently.

Last spring I bought a Catasetum tenebrosum at last year's Orchid Festival. It's a very unusual orchid and the orchid enthusiasts told me it was a bad idea as a "first orchid". But I loved the unusual, cassis-like perfume of the almost-black petaled flowers (that contained a hint of cat pee), so I sprung for one (they ain't cheap!). Here's a photo from 2013:
Catasetum tenebrosum blossoms, MR, 2013
Catasetums have large pseudobulbs and require strict growth and rest periods. Their blooms have a tendency to explode, showering local humans and animals with pollen. They are the phoenixes of the orchid world- they seem to die rather horribly after blooming, then, the next spring, they begin to come to life again. During its dormancy, I occasionally remembered to sprinkle mine with a few drops of water, and that was all I did. Then, starting in May, I saw a little bit of green growth at the base of a pseudobulb, and some new greenish root growth. I began to water it and fertilize it a couple times a week. It grew. I watered it everyday, fertilized it twice a week. It grew more! The leaves are growing lush, and an inflorescence has appeared. "Cat" is getting ready to bloom!
Catasetum tenebrosum revivifying (MR2014)
The orchid enthusiasts were pretty surprised this was happening; I was a bit of a newbie's sensation at the Orchid show this year. I'd like to state for the record, though, that in general, I 'm dreadful with orchids. But hey, I guess I'm learning. It can happen, right?

Now here's a Lithops that may need a new pot. What do you think??
They look so lovely and camouflaged in this pot, however, I'd like to keep them as is for awhile. Lithops in general do not take kindly to re-potting. They might not forgive me....
And here's my last sunflower of the season. It was a short season this year, as winter ended late, and spring ended early. And hey, I'm Zone 10 now, right? But every sunflower had a chance to bloom at least once before the killer heat and vicious mites bumped them off. This is a lovely saffron-colored decorator's variety. In general, the Russian Mammoths were hardier than the "boutique" varieties I tried this year, so I may go back to them next year. Not sure yet.

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