Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Number One Plant Rule

My comment on Tom's blog entry: The staghorn fern, Platycerium bifurcatum, a cold hardy subtropical fern

My comment has a bit of spoiler so I recommend reading his entry first!


Wow!  Really excellent story!  Great info and pics!  It was very interesting and entertaining to read about your Platycerium's successes and setbacks. I kept thinking that the "reveal" would be that your Platy was finally killed by an exceptionally cold winter.  So the suspense had me sitting on the edge of my seat.

Several years back, thanks to Craigslist, I got a really great deal on an overgrown NOID Cattleya. I divided it and ended up putting divisions on around a dozen different trees.  All the divisions quickly established and grew quite well.  Each year they all flowered.  Then a few years later... my garden got hit by a freeze and around half of the divisions were killed.  Some of the causalities were only a foot away from survivors.

This exceptionally cold event confirmed my number plant rule... don't keep all my eggs in one basket.  Hedge my bets! No two locations in any garden are going to provide the same exact amount of protection. Every garden has an incredible variety of microhabitats.  So if it's a plant that I'd be sad to lose, then I endeavor to maximize my chances of success by hedging my bets.

With this in mind, whenever I share divisions of cherished plants with friends... I be sure to let them know that I'm not being nice or generous or altruistic... I'm simply insuring my plant!

Sharing is caring?  Sharing is insuring! So it's a good idea to cultivate a network of strategically situated plant friends!  Heh.

Of course for plenty of plant enthusiasts a primary goal is to have an impressive specimen.  Which is fine... if the plant has already been adequately insured.  But with plenty of plants it's easy enough to propagate them from seed/spore. Just sprinkle some Platy spore on some wet floral foam in a pot... place the pot in a zip lock bag, set it by a window and voila! Your Platy's insured!

The benefit of propagating from seed/spore is that the apple might fall far from the tree in the direction of greater cold tolerance.  Progress is a function of difference.

Here's a pic of the Cattleyas a few years ago...

Cattleya Portia coerulea

And a relevant quote from the father of modern economics...

When a great company, or even a great merchant, has twenty or thirty ships at sea, they may, as it were, insure one another. The premium saved upon them all, may more than compensate such losses as they are likely to meet with in the common course of chances. - Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Encyclia cordigera Blooming On A SoCal Tree

Ok, maybe there shouldn't be an Encyclia cordigera on EVERY tree in SoCal... but it should certainly be on MOST trees! It does like heat though so the closer to the coast you live the more full sun you'd have to give it.

The large Tillandsia is Tillandsia ehlersiana. Thanks Andy!

I'm uploading this video for my friend Carlos in Brazil...

He doesn't have any videos yet! But I can't complain too much because he does share quite a few photos...

Here are some other links that should hopefully be of some interest...

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Largest/Longest Orchid Seeds?

On 29 June I received a box from a really nice friend.  Thanks friend!  The box contained some super neat mini Tillandsias and a couple tubes of orchid seeds...

Epidendrum wrightii
Schomburkia undulata

The Epi is a species of reed-stem so I was very curious whether its seeds are as exceptional as the other reed seeds that I've sown.  My friend had informed me that the wrightii seeds contain lots of "cotton".  This was interesting to hear because I typically associate cotton with monopodial orchid seeds.  When I saw the wrightii seeds they did indeed look like they had lots of cotton.  Upon closer inspection I realized that, unlike with monopodial orchid seeds, the wrightii cotton was actually part of the seed!

The seeds with long "tails" are the wrightii seeds.  Interspersed with the wrightii seeds are seeds from Epi radicans x Epc Orange Blaze.  Above the penny are seeds of Schomburkia undulata.

Here's what the wrightii seeds looked like after I soaked them for one night...

They clumped together just like Tillandsia seeds do when you put them in water.  Perhaps soaking before sowing isn't the best approach for wrightii seeds!

Here's some basic info about orchid seeds...

The orchid seed has no endosperm.  The seed consists of a simple, dry outer coat with a small mass of undifferentiated cells which form a pro-embryo.  This unit can be easily carried in air currents and may travel long distances before coming to rest.  - Calaway Dodson, Robert Gillespie, The Biology of the Orchids

Some more info...

Numerous mechanisms and devices promote appropriate carriage and secure anchorage.  The buoyancy of orchidaceous "dust" seeds is due not only to small size but also to a large airspace between embryo and testa; wall sculpturing and overall shape (usually fusiform) also help to keep them aloft and may encourage attachment to rough bark.  Tillandsioid bromeliad seeds feature hooked coma hairs for better attachment; similar devices on a much smaller scale adorn microsperms of shootless Chiloschista. - David Benzing, Vascular Epiphytes


Experiments indicate that buoyancy and mobility correlate with the apportionment of mass between the coma and the seed proper.   - David Benzing, Bromeliaceae: Profile of an Adaptive Radiation
More broadly, the epiphytes achieved relatively low terminal velocities at least in part because they allocate proportionally more biomass to the coma vs the seed proper.  Percentages (60.0-61.7%) of the aggregate seed mass represented by the flight apparatus grouped the obligate (T. utriculata and T. fasciculata) and faculative (T. ionochroma) epiphytes together, with saxicolous T. sphaerocephala (41%) as the outlier.  In short, the more consistently bark-dependent the taxon, the greater the relative cost of the coma, the more buoyant its seeds, and the greater the dispersal range.  - David Benzing, Bromeliaceae: Profile of an Adaptive Radiation

All Tillandsia seeds have endosperm.  This makes them heavier than orchid seeds.  In order to achieve greater buoyancy and travel greater distances... the Tillandsia seeds have "parachutes"... aka "comas".  The larger the coma, the more epiphytic the Tillandsia.

Does Epidendrum wrightii have a coma?  Kinda?  We can guess that the point of these appendages is to increase buoyancy and to help the seeds attach to bark.  But why don't other orchid seeds have these appendages?  Maybe they don't need them because they aren't as heavy as the seeds of Epi wrightii?  This would imply that, unlike orchid seeds, the seeds of Epi wrightii do have at least some endosperm.  And if most reed-stem Epis do have some endosperm... then we can guess that Epi wrightii is more epiphytic than most reed-stems.

According to Wikipedia (and Arditti and Ghani)... Epidendrum secundum has the distinction of having the longest seeds in the orchid family... 6.0 mm long.  Let's take another look at the comparison photo I took...

The penny is 19.05 mm in diameter... or around three Epi secundum seeds.  In the above photo we can see that the seeds of the Epi radicans cross have a short tail.  We can guess that Epi secundum seeds have a longer tail.  We can also guess that this is what Arditti and Ghani included in their measurement of the Epi secundum seeds.  So if we're including tails in the measurement of orchid seeds... then the seeds of Epi wrightii are a lot longer than the seeds of Epi secundum.

Are there any reeds with seeds that are longer than wrightii?  If so, then this would imply that they were more epiphytic than wrightii.

There are numerous species of reeds and I've only see a very small fraction of their seeds.  Hopefully this post will encourage people to share photos of their reed seeds.

It's really exciting to discover that wrightii seeds are somewhat similar to Tillandsia seeds.  This gives us some material that's potentially very useful in terms of breeding for orchids that are more epiphytic but have seeds that are easier to germinate (don't require flasking).

Monday, June 6, 2016

Echeveria Epiplus Orchid

Without trimmed bush...

With trimmed bush...

Uploaded for: Echeveria gibbiflora

My Echeveria gibbiflora is trying to win the Guinness World Book Record for tallest Echeveria. I'm guessing that it's around 8 years old because it blooms once a year and I counted around 8 bloomings.

A few years ago I attached a small division of Dendrobium discolor x canaliculatum to the Echeveria. So happy together? So how is the weather? Which orchid would you have chosen?

On the left you can see Kalanchoe beharensis epiplus Encyclia cordigera.

This is the first year that I've attached orchids to a few of my Aloes. I'm pretty sure that, out of all the succulents, Aloes have the most potential in terms of hybridizing to create some super awesome hosts for orchids. Right now there are some species and hybrids that are good hosts... but none of them are super awesome hosts. They are either too slow and/or don't have enough suitably sized and accessible branches. If I had to pick the best one it would probably be Aloe tongaensis. It's relatively fast but still not nearly fast enough.  And it's just a bit large for taking to shows.

A little while back I pollinated my Aloe tenuior with pollen from several different tree Aloes.  Aloe tenuior is a relatively fast grower that makes somewhat upright branches.  The branches are on the skinny side though so I tried crossing it with Aloes that have much thicker branches/trunks.  Pods formed and ripened, I sowed the seeds and now I have four seedlings.  From the getgo they looked stouter than tenuior but I couldn't be quite certain that they weren't selfings.  It's been kinda driving me nuts.  Their stoutness might just be a function of somewhat different culture (more sun, more water, fertilizer, etc.) but I'm leaning towards the idea that they are hybrids.  With what though?!  I didn't keep track of which pollen went in which flowers.

This last weekend my friend Michelle and I walked around my front yard comparing one of the seedlings with its potential pollen donors.  We narrowed the list down to these two Aloes...

Aloe dichotoma
Aloe Hercules

Woah!  It would be pretty wild if either of these two Aloes really was the pollen donor!  And normally I wouldn't jump the gun like this but I really want to encourage anybody and everybody to try and reduplicate these crossings in order to provide some evidence for, or against, the possibility of compatibility.  Of course with the main goal being to create/proliferate some super awesome hosts for orchids.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Prosthechea vitellina x Green Hornet

Post on Epiphyte Society of Southern California (ESSC) Facebook page


Next weekend (June 11, 12) is the Fern and Exotic Plant Show at the Los Angeles Arboretum.  Dan Asbell will be selling blooming size Prosthechea vitellina x Green Hornet orchids in 3" pots for $20 dollars.  Roberta Fox has been growing this cross near the coast and you can see a photo of it on her website...

Prosthechea vitellina is a cooler grower while Green Hornet is a warmer grower.  Will the cross grow when it's cooler and when it's warmer?  If so, then it will be an especially good orchid for growing outdoors year around here in Southern California!

Besides being a cooler grower, Prosthechea vitellina is pollinated by hummingbirds.  Will the cross also be pollinated by hummingbirds?  Let's find out!

Also be sure and check out the Orchid Society of Southern California (OSSC) auction on June 11 at 2pm!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Exceptional Seeds

Forum thread: Exceptional Seeds


Check out this thread... Some things currently in bloom. Yeah, they aren't orchids... but if you scroll down you'll see some nice propagation going on.

Succulents are relatively easy to grow from seed. In other words... you don't need to flask them. Which means... what? How different would the succulent hobby be if succulent seeds did require flasking? How different would the orchid hobby be if orchid seeds did not require flasking?

I've mentioned in a couple threads that I've successfully germinated some reed-stem Epidendrum seeds without flasking them. I basically used the same technique that I use for succulent seeds, Begonia seeds, Gesneriad seeds and so on.

I'm guessing that, unlike the seeds of most orchids, the seeds of some reed-stem Epi species contain enough nutrients to germinate on their own. It's just a guess though because the only way to be certain that absolutely no facilitative fungus was involved would be to flask the sterilized seeds without any nutrients. Which I'm probably not going to do...

Instead, I've been going around sticking Epi secundum pollen in different flowers...

- Barkeria cyclotella x Bardendrum Terusan: 1 pod nearly ripe (25 Jan)
- Brassavola digbyana x nodosa: 1 pod developing (5 Apr) and 1 pod around half mature (23 Feb)
- Cattleya nobilior: 1 pod developing (5 Apr)
- Cattleya Big White Floof: 2 pods developing (5 Apr)
- Epc. Cerina 'Nadia': 2 pods around half mature (3 Mar)
- Prosthechea cochleata: 3 pods nearly mature (27 Dec)

For some of these it's a bit surprising that pods have even started to develop. And, interestingly enough, this is pretty much the same list of orchids that I've attempted to pollinate with pollen from Epi secundum. Even though it's a pretty small sample group it seems like many, or even most, orchids in the Cattleya alliance are receptive to Epi secundum pollen.

Here are the registered intergeneric crosses with Epi secundum as the pollen parent....

- Epicatanthe Morningstar Sunshine = Cattlianthe Panache Domaine x Epidendrum secundum
- Epicatanthe Party Blossom = Cattlianthe Hawaiian Party x Epidendrum secundum
- Epicatanthe Saturn's Rings = Cattlianthe Golden Wax x Epidendrum secundum
- Epicattleya Purple Passion = Cattleya intermedia x Epidendrum secundum

That's the entire list! And they were all made by the same nursery... Rex Foster Orchids.

I'm guessing that crosses with Epi secundum as the pollen parent aren't very spectacular. But, some reed-stem intergeneric crosses aren't too shabby... Reed-stem Epidendrum Hybrids. Personally, I'd be pretty happy if I could easily grow Epicattleya Orange Blaze from seed!

Epc Orange Blaze is 75% reed-stem. What are the chances that it can easily grow from seed? Coincidentally, there's one currently on eBay... Epidendrum "Orange Blaze", Orchidée, Orchid... in France.

Here's a clue regarding whether 50% or higher reed-stem Epi crosses might be able to easily germinate from seed...

One of the oldest artificial epidendrum hybrids is Epidendrum O'brienianum, a cross between E. radicans and a member of the E. secundum complex (Epidendrum evectum). The E. secundum influence predominates in that the column is straight and the lip is uppermost with a small fleshy callus. Epidendrum O'brienianum is a common garden plant in subtropical areas; spontaneous seedlings occur in varying colors. This hybrid sometimes "escapes" from the garden and may appear to be native in areas as far apart as Mexico and Africa. Unlabled plants in gardens and greenhouses are likely to be hybrids, and they may have almost any combination of reed-stem species in their background. These epidendrums are usually tetraploids, so that the Epidendrum parent predominates in crosses with Cattleya or Laelia. Epicattleyas of this type could easily pass for pure reed-stems in dim light, but they always have at least the tip of the column free from the lip. - Robert L. Dressler, Will the Real Epidendrum ibaguense Please Stand Up?

If the crosses themselves are strongly influenced by the reed-stem parent... then you'd figure that the same would be true of their seeds. This would mean that there's a decent chance that the seeds of 50% reed-stem crosses can be easily germinated. If it is relatively easy to germinate 50% reed-stem seeds... then, in theory, many people would be happy to hybridize accordingly... and, by the law of truly large numbers, we'd expect to see at least a few 50% reed-stem crosses that we'd be happy to purchase or trade for. Over time there would be an increase in the supply of seeds from desirable crosses. These seeds would be relatively easy to germinate... so as their supply increased... there would be a logical and corresponding increase in total happiness.

With more and more people happily growing orchids from seed we would also expect to see faster climatic convergence. Some seedlings are always going to be better suited to any given conditions. So more seedlings grown would mean faster adaptation. As a result, there would be more and more orchids growing outdoors year around in colder and/or drier areas. Basically...

more seedlings -> more difference -> more progress

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Tillandsias - Seeds Dispersed By Wind

Here are some super exciting Tillandsia videos...

This Syzygium jambos is downwind of my Cedar tree.    Tillandsia volunteers make pruning a bit more interesting!

And here's a photo of my highest epiphyte...

Tillandsia ionantha -  My Highest Epiphyte

This Tillandsia ionantha clump is over 3 stories high.  As you can see by the 1/4" polytube... it's watered via drip... twice a week at night during summer.   Other than the fairly infrequent winter rain... I get the feeling that it doesn't get any water on its leaves.  So I'm guessing that its roots can and do absorb moisture.

It's entertaining watching the hummingbirds go up and down my Cedar tree visiting the different plants in bloom... Tillandsias, Gesneriads, Echeverias and so on.  The tree is a vertical buffet for hummingbirds!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Stronger Bees And Smarter Raccoons

Reply to reply: What Are You Carrying?


The problem, as I see it, is that the ability to hold and carry multiple objects isn't limited to humans. - Quokkastan

But I've never argued that humans are the only animals with linvoid1.  I've argued that humans are the most linvoid1.

And humans aren't even necessarily the best at it. - Quokkastan

What animals are more linvoid1 than humans?

You've side-stepped the issue by saying that the mental faculties required to see value in multiple items, in holding on to them, and in combining them in creative ways, also counts.  But that essentially is human intelligence.  An enormous part of it in any case.
So what you're ultimately arguing is that human intelligence created human intelligence. - Quokkastan

I'm arguing that our exceptional intelligence is the result of linvoid3... which is the result of linvoid1.
Take a look at this photo...

Carnivorous Cattleya

The large white flower is from a Cattleya orchid that is growing on my tree.  A honey bee visited the flower and died as a result.  The Cattleya didn't intentionally kill the bee.  There aren't any carnivorous orchids.  The bee entered the flower and got stuck to the orchid's built in "glue".  The bee wasn't able to free itself and died.  If the bee had been able to free itself... then it would have continued deeper into the flower where it would have been rewarded with some nectar... or been tricked?  Some orchids are notoriously deceptive.  In any case, the bee would have turned around and, just as it was about to exit, the flower would have deposited its pollen onto the bee's gluey back.  When the bee entered into the next orchid flower... the pollen on its back would have gotten stuck exactly where the bee had gotten stuck to.

The bee essentially died during sex.  Well... it died while it was attempting to facilitate orchid sex.  The same thing could have been said for me if I had fallen out of the tree while attempting to pollinate the Cattleya.

Neither the orchid nor the bee are native to California or to the US.  The orchid is a hybrid but its ancestors are all native to the Americas.  The bee isn't even native to the Americas.

Maybe you find this story fascinating but you're wondering what it has to do with the evolution of human intelligence.  Well... the bee died because it wasn't strong enough to extricate itself from the flower's sticky part.  This is an example of selection pressure.  In this case... we're not talking about linvoid2 (selecting for intelligence)... we're talking about selecting for strength.  The bee was killed because it was too weak.  It wasn't strong enough to survive the orchid's "gauntlet".

Right now California doesn't have very many people who grow Cattleya orchids outdoors.  This means that the pressure that Cattleyas exert on California bees is vanishingly small.  It's imperceptible.  But we can imagine that... if more and more people in California started growing Cattleyas... the selection pressure would grow more and more perceptible.  More and more bees would be killed by Cattleyas.  If everybody in California had Cattleyas blooming on their trees... would this kill all the bees in California?  Probably... not.

It's a given that no two bees are equally strong.  Why is it a given?  Because "difference" is the very point of sexual reproduction.  "Difference" allows species to hedge their bets.   "Difference" helps species adjust to constantly changing conditions/circumstances.  More and more people growing Cattleyas is an example of changing conditions.  As more and more weaker bees are killed off... more and more exceptionally strong bees would survive to pass on their genetic material... and the population of bees in California would shift accordingly.

It might help to read this passage...

Sex responds instead to a different mandate, which I will call the mandate of genetic diversity.  Evolution requires imperfect reproduction. In simple organisms with extremely large populations, such as bacteria, genetic mutation supplies the necessary imperfection. In species with more limited populations, including most multicellular organisms, mutation does not occur rapidly enough to permit evolution to operate at high enough speeds to allow species to adapt effectively to changing environmental conditions (in particular, to quickly evolving viruses, bacteria, and other parasites). Here sex - the production of offspring through the mixing of genetic material - comes to the rescue. Populations of creatures that reproduce sexually will be far more genetically diverse than populations of similar size that reproduce without such genetic mixing.  When environmental conditions change, it is more likely that some portion of the sexually reproducing population will already carry the genes necessary to deal with that change. In other words, sex allows us to evolve to meet changing conditions more quickly. 
If genetic diversity is adaptive, we ought to observe the mandate of genetic diversity operating in our choice of mates. And we do. Despite sex, we could reproduce more perfectly, and thereby respond more effectively to the mandate of reproduction, by mating with our closest genetic kin - in other words, through incest. The mandate of genetic diversity, however, predicts the evolution of inhibitions to incest; and, indeed, we all carry such inhibitions, both genetic and learned. The mandate of genetic diversity also predicts that our mating choices will be somewhat random; and, indeed, we often fall in love with unexpected, sometimes even objectively unsuitable, partners. As Pascal observed: "Le coeur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connait point." ("The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows not.")  - Theodore P. Seto, Reframing Evil in Evolutionary and Game Theoretic Terms

If, in the future, California has exceptionally strong bees, then the cause would be the exceptional selection pressure that millions of Cattleyas put on the bees.  Are humans exceptionally strong?  Nope.  But we are exceptionally intelligent.  The cause of our exceptional intelligence was linvoid3 (exceptionally large amounts of linvoid2 (selection pressure on intelligence)).

In the example of the Cattleyas and the bees... the bees changed because their circumstances/conditions changed (more and more Cattleyas were grown in California).  But with our early ancestors... linvoid3 wasn't the result of changing conditions... it was the result of our ancestors themselves changing.  They became more and more bipedal.

With all of this in mind... let's take another look at your argument...

You've side-stepped the issue by saying that the mental faculties required to see value in multiple items, in holding on to them, and in combining them in creative ways, also counts.  But that essentially is human intelligence.  An enormous part of it in any case.
So what you're ultimately arguing is that human intelligence created human intelligence. - Quokkastan

We both agree that our ancestors became more and more bipedal.  We also both agree that this helped them to become more linvoid1.  Becoming bipedal freed up their hands and arms to simultaneously carry different resources (linvoid1).  You're under the impression that I'm arguing that our ancestors became more intelligent because they were more intelligent.  But, as you pointed out, this would be a circular reasoning.

What I'm actually arguing is that linvoid1 caused linvoid3.  Walking upright forced our ancestors to confront complex carrying choices.  How many different things would they have wanted to carry with them when they migrated?  Here are some pretty basic things...

- children
- food
- tools
- weapons

Being able to simultaneously carry more than one thing made this problem very complex.  It wasn't a relatively simple problem of children OR food OR tools OR weapons... it was a complex problem of children AND/OR food AND/OR tools AND/OR weapons.

The complexity of this problem resulted in linvoid3.   Whenever anybody went anywhere... they were confronted with a complex math problem.  Individuals that were exceptionally good at solving these complex math problems were more likely to survive and shift the population in the direction of more intelligence.

The complex math problem is, more specifically, a complex economic problem.  The problem is how to allocate resources in order to maximize benefit.

All organisms are confronted with the problem of how to allocate resources... even plants.  The Cattleya on my tree has to decide how to allocate its limited resources between growing and blooming (reproducing).  Insects can allocate more resources than plants can.  This means that insects are confronted with more complex economic problems than plants.  Mammals can allocate more resources than insects can... which means that mammals are confronted with more complex economic problems than insects.  Out of all the mammals... humans can allocate the most resources... which means that humans are confronted with the most complex economic problems.

The more complex the economic problems.... the more intelligence required to solve them.  Humans are the most intelligent animals... which reflects the fact that humans solve the most complex economic problems.  Our ability to solve the most complex problems reflects the fact that we can allocate the most resources.  And what, exactly, allows us to allocate the most resources?  Linvoid1.

In theory we could select for raccoons that are more and more bipedal.  Doing so would make them more linvoid1... which would result in linvoid3 and voila!  Raccoons would be just as intelligent as we are.  The first thing you saw when Seldon resurrected you would be a raccoon checking your vitals.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Creating The Perfect Orchid For Southern California

In an e-mail, u u (flickr, OB) said that creating the perfect epiphytic orchid for SoCal is a "Herculean" goal.  What's life without one, or two, or... a dozen... Herculean goals?!  But just how Herculean is this goal anyways?

For those of you who haven't been following along at home... the perfect epiphytic orchid for SoCal would be a lot like Aloe Hercules (AH)...

Hercules, Hercutherm, Hybridize This and Hercules
Hercuthermal Experiment

Let's geek out a bit...

Creating The Perfect Orchid For Southern California

Brassavola nodosa (BN)

x = 10
y = 5

Golden Peacock (GP)

x = 5
y = 10

BN is twice as succulent as GP... but GP is twice as hercuthermal as BN.   BN only grows half the year here in SoCal while GP grows the entire year.  What we want is the best of both worlds!  We want an orchid that needs less water to grow the entire year.

So let's imagine that we crossed GP and BN.  This would give us a Fatter Golden Peacock (FGP).  Here are a few basic assumptions...

1. No two FGPs would be exactly alike
2. The more FGPs there are, the more variation there will be

We've all heard the expression about the apple not falling far from the tree.   It's a given that the more apples that fall from the tree... the greater the distances that some of the apples will fall from the tree.  This is what I've tried to illustrate in the x y graph.

In our case, we want the apple to fall far from the tree... but in the direction of AH.  The more FGPs that are produced... the greater the chances that we'll end up with a fabulous outlier.  This is known as the law of truly large numbers.

If there's one thing that orchids are really good at, it's producing a truly large number of seeds...

Cattleya Penny Kuroda Pods and Seeds

A single seed pod can contain a million seeds!  A million seeds is a truly large number of seeds.  I'm pretty sure that this goes a long way in explaining the success (diversity) of the orchid family.

Since orchids are exceptionally good at producing a large number of seeds, all else being equal, we should be able to make a lot more progress in a lot less time with orchids than we could make with coconuts.  An average size flask of orchids can contain around 30 seedlings.  But the same size flask wouldn't be large enough for even one coconut seedling.  Therefore, creating the perfect orchid for SoCal should be a less Herculean goal than creating the perfect coconut for SoCal.

So how many FGP seedlings would we need to grow in order to find the fabulous outlier?  A million seedlings?  Maybe 300,000 seedlings?  If so, that would be 10,000 flasks!  That's a lot of flasks!  If this is the case then...

Herculean = Expensive

In the x y graph I put AH and BN both as a 10 in terms of succulence.  Clearly, in absolute terms, AH is a lot more succulent than BN.  But in relative terms... perhaps they are reasonably equivalent.  For some evidence that this is roughly correct, check out this photo of a BN growing on a cactus in nature.

If you looked through that gallery of orchids growing on succulents/cactus... you would have noticed that BN isn't the only Cattleya alliance orchid that grows on cactus.  There are 100s of species in the Cattleya alliance that grow in seasonally dry forests and many of these orchids are happy to grow on the cactus that share the same habitat.

Here's a partial listing of some of the relatively drought tolerant species in the Cattleya alliance...

Barkeria (all)
Brassavola (all)
Broughtonia (all)
Cattleya nobilior
Cattleya walkeriana
Encyclia (all)
Laelia (Mexican... all)
Laelia sincorana
Myrmecophila (all)
Psychilis (all)
Rhyncholaelia (all)
Schomburgkia (all)
Sophronitis brevipedunculata
Tetramicra (all)

They all use different strategies to deal with drought.   Barkerias are the only ones that are deciduous.  Brassavolas are the only ones with entirely terete leaves... they also have very skinny pseudobulbs.   Tetramicras have canaliculate/fleshy leaves, skinny pseudobulbs and multiple leaves on each pseudobulb.  The pseudobulbs of the Rhyncholaelias aren't skinny or fat... but their leaves are relatively succulent.  Psychilis do not have very fat pseudobulbs either... but neither are their leaves relatively succulent.  Instead, their leaves are quite stiff (coriaceous).   Myrmecophilas are the only ones with hollow pseudobulbs (for the ants to live in).  Most of the others species have fat/succulent pseudobulbs but there's considerable variety in the size/shape of their pseudobulbs and in the quantity/size/shape of their leaves

One type of form that I find particularly appealing is the "teapot" form (short and stout).   Encyclia pyriformis is a good example...

Encyclia pyriformis

The plant is so short and stout!  And here's a good photo that illustrates how stout Cattleya walkeriana can be.

Given the number of...

A. species in the Cattleya alliance that occur in dry forests
B. crosses that have been made with these species

... what are the chances that BN is truly the most drought tolerant orchid in the Cattleya alliance?  Pretty slim!  So ideally we'd want to cross GP with both A and B in order to find the combination of traits that is closest to AH on the x y graph.

How long would it take us to test out all these different possible combinations?!  And how much money would it cost us to flask all the seeds?!  Clearly the answer depends on how many of "us" there are.

Recently a friend in Australia shared a photo of a nice tree in Perth.   As nice as the tree is... it has a pretty big problem.  It's naked!  The tree doesn't even have a single orchid growing on it.  Perth doesn't have any native epiphytic orchids.  And neither does Los Angeles.

Perth and Los Angeles have something else in common.  Both cities have many people who love growing orchids... Orchid Society of Western Australia (OSWA) and the Orchid Society of Southern California (OSSC).

As the saying goes... many hands make light work.  What if we collaborated with the OSWA to create the perfect orchid for... Southern California?  For Perth?  And what if we invited the members of the Cape Town Orchid Society to join us?

Here's how I've illustrated this...

Creating The Perfect Orchid For Mediterranean Climates

Even though each of these three cities has a Mediterranean climate... there's a considerable amount of variation in precipitation (mm/inches)...

1. Perth: 730.5 / 28.76
2. Cape Town: 515 / 20.28
3. Los Angeles: 379.2 / 14.93

Out of these three cities... the least Herculean goal would be to create the perfect epiphytic orchid for Perth.  This is because Perth receives a lot more rain than Cape Town... and twice as much rain as Los Angeles.

Participants in Los Angeles and Cape Town would make promising crosses and send the seeds to participants in Perth.  The participants in Perth would flask the seeds and allow their climate to select the most suitable individuals.  The survivors of this selection process would be crossed with other promising candidates (recombination) and eventually the perfect epiphytic orchid for Perth would be found.  Participants in Perth would send seeds of this cross to participants in Cape Town.  The same selection/recombination process would eventually yield the perfect epiphytic orchid for Cape Town.  The seeds of this orchid would be sent to Los Angeles and the same process would eventually yield the perfect epiphytic orchid for Southern California.

What would we call this system?   Trickle down epiphytics (TDE)?

Perth, Cape Town and Los Angeles aren't the only cities with Mediterranean climates.   There are quite a few other cities in the same boat.  So if we want to get the ball rolling as fast as possible (maximize the rate of progress)... then we should be as inclusive as possible...


For comparison, here are the climate graphs for Brassavola nodosa, Barkeria barkeriola and Laelia speciosa (source) ...

For even more comparison, here's the climate graph for Melbourne...

Porto gets so much rain!!!  *green with envy*  With as much rain as Porto gets... is there already some epiphytic orchid species or hybrid that could thrive, or at least survive, there without any supplemental watering?  I'm guessing that the answer is yes.  And maybe the orchid growers in Porto are already growing this orchid?

Personally, I don't know any orchid growers in Porto.  And I'm guessing that I'm the rule rather than the exception.  I do know an orchid grower in Rome... but I really can't say that I'm doing a very good job of networking with other orchid growers in Mediterranean climates.

Here's a partial listing of orchid societies located in Mediterranean climates...

Maybe we should create a Facebook page/group for orchid growers in Mediterranean climates?

Googling around I found this photo in Wikipedia commons....


The photo was taken by Marcia Breia in Cordoaria Garden which is in Porto, Portugal.  The tree is the London plane tree (Platanus × acerifolia).   The truck is so big, fat and mossy!  It would be perfect for an orchid... or two.

We would certainly linger longer and be more inclined to take a photo of this tree if it had an orchid growing on it.  But not only would this specific space be more appealing, it would also be more diverse.

Regarding the value of diversity...

Biological diversity is a natural protection against surprises and shocks, climatic and otherwise. Among diverse species will be some adapted to prosper in a new landscape in new circumstances.  - Daniel J. Evans et al, Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming: Mitigation, Adaptation, and the Science Base 
More genetic variety in a species or a population means a higher likelihood that some individuals will adapt to changing conditions.  Lower genetic variety results in uniformity of species, and ultimately translates into vulnerability. 
As an example, modern agricultural practices typically are monocultures - the practice of planting vast swathes of genetically identical plants.  This is an advantage when it comes to growing and harvesting crops, but it can be a problem when a disease or parasite attacks the field, as every plant in the field will be susceptible.  Monocultures are also unable to deal well with changing conditions, such as the changing percipitation and temperature regimes associated with climate change. - Sarah L. Burch, Sara E. Harris, Understanding Climate Change: Science, Policy, and Practice

Regarding our natural preference for orchid diversity...

One would think that man could find enough variation in the orchid family, as it occurs in nature, to more than satiate his taste for variety. Yet man's appetite for variety is never appeased. He has produced over two times as many hybrids, in the past 100 years that he has been engaged in orchid breeding, as nature has created species in her eons of evolutionary effort. - Calaway H. Dodson, Robert J. Gillespie, The Botany of Orchids

Regarding our natural preference for collecting/sharing...

The absence of [Dendrobium johannis var. semifuscum] from the mainland of the Northern Territory and its presence on Melville and Bathurst islands leads to the speculation that it might have been introduced to the islands by Macassamen (trepang fishermen) who were known to plant all manner of things on some of the places they visited during their travels. - A. W. Dockrill, Australian Indigenous Orchids 
People collect baseball cards and people collect plant seeds.  In reality, it is not all that surprising that as people move around they help preserve the genetic diversity of plants. - Norman C. Ellstrand,  Maize Germplasm Conservation in Southern California’s Urban Gardens: Introduced Diversity Beyond ex situ and in situ Management
A far less technical way of preserving a species is in gardens.  Although the managers of botanical gardens or arboreta are more self-conscious of their role, any gardener can help.  The wide cultivation of Bougainvillaea and the para rubber tree, for example, protects them from extinction in tropical America.  By collecting and breeding novel plants, nurserymen preserve biological diversity.  By selling novel plants, they diversify the places the plants are grown and so help preserve them. - Daniel J. Evans et al, Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming: Mitigation, Adaptation, and the Science Base   

Regarding the virtuous cycle of diversity...

Thus, the total diversity of an area provides the pool of competitors for niches in developing ecosystems.  The larger the pool, the more likely it is that the system will evolve into a complex, highly interrelated system.  And complex, highly interrelated systems provide more niche opportunities for new species.  Over time, interspecific dependencies, both of predation and mutualism, will evolve.  Further, interspecific competition often aids in avoiding competitive exclusion, as predators concentrate on the competitively advantaged species on any given trophic level.  Thus, total diversity plays a key role in the development of ecosystem structure through ecological time.  That structure, in turn, provides opportunities for more species to survive and thereby increases total diversity further.  Therefore diversity augments diversity in a continuing upward spiral. - Bryan G. Norton, The Preservation of Species

Creating the perfect epiphytic orchids for Mediterranean climates would mean that lots of people would attach these orchids to trees.   Because, just like AH... they would require very little supplemental water to grow year around.  All these orchids on trees would create new niches for a wide variety of living things.  The logical and beneficial outcome would be more diversity.

Right now there are thousands and thousands of people growing millions of epiphytic orchids in Mediterranean climates.  All these epiphytic orchids require more supplemental water than AH requires.  And because people often don't have the time, or energy, to consistently and regularly water their epiphytic orchids... many epiphytic orchids are killed from dehydration.  Basically, people unintentionally help nature select for the most drought tolerant and hercuthermal epiphytic orchids.  This means that we will eventually end up with the perfect orchids for Mediterranean climates.  Personally, I'd love to have these orchids sooner rather than later!!!  It's really hard to imagine that I'm the only person in this boat!  So in theory, it shouldn't be a Herculean goal to encourage people to help create/buy/test/share epiphytic orchids that might be better suited for Mediterranean climates.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Epiphytic Trial By Neighbors

This last weekend I attached some of my orchids to trees that aren't mine.  No, I didn't do it guerrilla gardening style.  :)

Last year my neighbors on both sides of me expressed interesting in having some orchids.  My neighbor on my left... "Carol"... is from Costa Rica and my neighbor on my right... "Arthur".... is from the Philippines.

So on Saturday I went over to Carol's place and prepped the hosts.  The main host was an old Ficus carica (common fig) that had been lopped in half.  It had a myriad of smaller branches so I went through and removed lots of them.  I'm hardly an expert at pruning but here are my general rules...

1. No redundant branches
2. No crossing branches
3. No backwards branches

I don't always strictly adhere to these rules.  For example, in this case... I wanted to err on the side of more, rather than less, shade for the newly attached orchids.  Plus, I kept a few "illegal" branches because they were thick enough to provide lots of surface area for some orchid roots.

Here was the result...

Neighbor B's Ficus carica

There are quite a few main branches.... which is nice... but they are a bit on the short side.  Mounting the orchids low is good for appreciating them... but it makes them more accessible to the usual suspects.

After I prepped the Fig tree, I also prepped a pair of really old and overgrown Bougainvilleas.  Ouch, my most of me.

Sunday morning I ate a breakfast of champions... one cold slice of leftover pizza and a warm bowl of oatmeal... and I gathered up a few of my extras...

Epiphytic Trial By Neighbor B

- Oncidium maculatum
- Oncidium NOID
- Laelia anceps
- Brassavola nodosa
- Cattleya walkeriana
- Laeliocattleya Clayton Waglay = Laelia anceps x Cattleya Claesiana (intermedia x loddigesii)
- Myrmecolaelia Ruby Ray = Myrmecophila tibicinis x Laelia undulata
- Brassanthe Maikai = Brassavola nodosa x Guarianthe bowringiana
- Brassocatanthe Little Mermaid = Cattleya walkeriana x Brassanthe Maikai
- Encyvola Gordon Vickers = Brassavola nodosa x Encyclia tampensis
- Brassanthe Bill Worsley = Brassavola nodosa x Guarianthe aurantiaca
- Ascofinetia Twinkle =  Neofinetia falcata x Ascocentrum miniatum
- Oncidium sphacelatum x obryzatoides

I attached the walkeriana, the nodosa and all the nodosa crosses to the two Bougainvilleas.  The rest of the orchids I attached to the Fig tree.  I used 30lb fishing line and the slip knot technique to make sure that the orchids were very firmly attached to the branches.  I didn't include any moss.

When I finished attaching all the orchids I went over to Arthur's place and prepped his tree.  It was also the common Fig tree.  It had less main branches but they hadn't been lopped in half.  After I removed lots of the smaller branches... I went and collected pretty much the same set of orchids...

Epiphytic Trial By Neighbor A

Here were the differences...

- Cattleya walkeriana
- Laeliocattleya Clayton Waglay
+ Rhynchostylis gigantea
+ Vanda NOID

I attached them using the same method.

In terms of instructions... I told Carol and Arthur to use the "shower" setting on their nozzle to thoroughly water the orchids Tuesdays and Saturdays in the evenings during the summer and less frequently and earlier in the day the rest of the year.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Orchid Olympics

Reply to reply: Cool Growers x Warm Growers


Unfortunately for me I can only grow temperate orchids outside year round. - chibae

Pretty much the saddest story ever... :( :( :( And there are no diminishing returns. Each time I hear this story it's just as sad as the last time I heard it.

I just looked at a map of the US. I guess North Carolina (NC) is a bit below the "mid-Atlantic coast"? Just in case you didn't know... NC is home to the Northernmost occurring epiphytic orchid in North America.... Epidendrum conopseum (EC). But, what are the chances that EC is the most cold tolerant epiphytic orchid in the world? Why should we suspect that EC is more cold tolerant than the Southernmost occurring epiphytic orchid in South America? Why should we suspect that EC is more cold tolerant than the Northernmost occurring epiphytic orchid in Asia? Why should we suspect that EC is more cold tolerant than the Southernmost occurring epiphytic orchid in... Down Under? National pride? "Our soccer team is better than your soccer team... and our epiphytic orchid is more cold tolerant than your epiphytic orchid!"

In another forum a fellow in Tampa was wondering what type of tree he should plant. While digging around for an answer I ran across these two things...

It is interesting to know that for a period of 46 years this orchid has evidently escaped collectors in North Carolina. In a conversation with Professor Oakes Ames last winter he expressed the opinion that the reason for this was perhaps due to the "Big Freeze" of 1888-89 which may have destroyed these plants this far north and thus temporarily moved the limits of its northern range farther south. It is also possible that the position of the orchid high up in the trees may have made it easily overlooked. - Donovan Correll, Epidendrum conopseum in North Carolina
In December 1989, a severe cold front passed through Florida; temperatures reached -5C, killing all the orchids. At other central Florida sites, mortality of Encyclia tampensis was high (>80%). - Ronald J. Larson, Population Dynamics of Encyclia tampensis in Florida

There's a line that marks the Northernmost distribution of EC. This line really isn't static! It's very dynamic. In exceptionally cold years... this line is moved South by many many miles. And maybe in exceptionally warm years... the line is moved North by many many miles. Where was this line 1000 years ago? Where is it 100,000 years ago? Wouldn't it be amazing to see an animation of this line over the past million years? Has EC even been around for that long?

It's a race to Canada! As far as tropical epiphytes are concerned... Pleopeltis polypodioides (PP) is in first place. I think it grows no problem outdoors year around in the mid-Atlantic coast? In second place is Tillandsia usneoides (TU). And in third place is EC.

PP cheats because it got a head start. TU also cheats because birds help carry it. So it's only fair that we (ie you!) help EC cheat. Just go around sowing a gazillion EC seeds in its favorite trees. If enough other people do the same thing then eventually I'll have no problem believing that EC is the most cold tolerant orchid in the world. I'll be swoll with national pride. Well... unless the other countries start doing the same thing.

I guess we'll need to start the orchid Olympics (OO)? Medals for most cold tolerant orchid? And most drought tolerant orchid? And orchid that's most attractive to hummingbirds? Poor Africa will never place in that last event! Well... they do have Disas... but there aren't any terrestrial orchids allowed in the OO!

Lots of accusations of doping? Testing for miracle grow? DNA testing for genetic purity?

Genetic purity is overrated?

As interspecific gene flow is frequent and the new lineages were able to backcross, species cohesion is difficult to accept in orchids. Wherever lays the definition of species boundaries, it is no doubt questionable in orchids making it difficult to establish natural entities. - Yesenia Vega, Isabel Marques , Sílvia Castro, João Loureiro, Outcomes of Extensive Hybridization and Introgression in Epidendrum (Orchidaceae): Can We Rely on Species Boundaries?

What allows EC to make any real progress in the race to Canada? It's the fabulous outliers. Progress depends on difference. More difference means more progress.

Deng Xiaoping was fond of saying that it didn't matter whether the cat was black or white... what mattered was whether it caught mice. Lots of people will probably freak out if I suggest that we (ie you!) deliberately introduce hybrid ECs to the wilds of the mid-Atlantic coast. But nature doesn't care whether an orchid is a species or a hybrid. If nature cares about anything it's survival of the fittest.

Yes, change is the basic law of nature. But the changes wrought by the passage of time affects individuals and institutions in different ways. According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself. Applying this theoretical concept to us as individuals, we can state that the civilization that is able to survive is the one that is able to adapt to the changing physical, social, political, moral, and spiritual environment in which it finds itself. - Leon C. Megginson

Plants don't have a crystal ball. They can't predict exactly how their environment is going to change. Plants can't predict global warming or cooling or drying or wetting. Orchids aren't an exception to this rule. What makes orchids exceptional is that they are really good at hedging their bets. Orchids are really good at producing lots of seeds. A single seed pod can contain a million seeds. Each seed is a different bet... so a million seeds is a lot of different bets. It's a given that all these different bets can't be equally good. Just like ideas can't all be equally good...

Individual decision making is closely connected to creativity not because all choices are excellent, but because they constitute a broad field out of which the best responses can emerge. If we wished to establish a connection to Darwinian ideas, we could say that the wide spectrum of decisions is similar to the field of the spontaneous variations of living things from which the pressure of natural selection preserves only the most apt. Without such experimental structures and behaviours, responses remain stagnant and life sinks under the weight of institutionalised routine. Freedom multiplies actions and ideas, some of which turn out to be brilliant and others fundamentally flawed. The important fact, however, is that few if any of them could have occurred under conditions of enforced conformity. To leave people alone with their projects is to permit - even to encourage - the exercise of private imaginations. - John Lachs

It's a bad idea to facilitate the hybridization of EC? Because EC's hybrids will be less adaptable to change? Or because they will be more adaptable to change?

Yeah, your story is truly sad. But there's no reason that it can't have a happy ending! There's no reason that there can't be a wide variety of epiphytic orchids that are happy to grow outdoors year around in the mid-Atlantic coast.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Hercuthermal Experiment


Last October I purchased a Bpl Golden Peacock (GP) from peaceriverwood... 

This cross was a great find for three reasons...

1. I suspected that it might be hercuthermal (wider temperature grow range)
2. Two of the species (milleri and vitellina) are pollinated by hummingbirds
3. The nodosa theoretically adds some drought tolerance

Here's why I suspected that GP might be a hercutherm...

1. nodosa = intermediate/warm grower
2. milleri = cool/intermediate/warm grower? 
3. vitellina = cool/intermediate grower 

The vendor that I purchased GP from is in Florida so this cross definitely grows when it's warm.  My question was... would it also grow when it's cool?!   Just in case you don't know... I live in Glendale (a few miles east of Los Angeles) and I grow all my orchids outside year around.   

So I decided to perform a little experiment.  I took a piece of wood from a broken down pallet and sawed it in half.  On one half I attached the GP and on the other half I attached a straight nodosa.  I hung both mounts right next to each other and tried to regularly water them early in the day.  For the rest of my plants, minus a few other exceptions, I severely cut back on watering like I usually do when it starts to get cool.

I took a few photos to document the experiment... 

9 Oct 2015

Hercuthermal Experiment

2 Dec 2015

Hercuthermal Experiment

28 Mar 2016

Hercuthermal Experiment

As you can tell from the photos ... there was quite a large disparity in their growth!  The GP put out quite a few roots and a new shoot while the nodosa is just starting to put out its first new root.  I didn't fertilize either orchid but they did receive quite a bit of sun.  

It sure does seem like GP is more hercuthermal than nodosa but... perhaps there's another explanation for the disparity in their growth?  Maybe the GP somehow got more direct sun?  More sun means more heat.  Or maybe the nodosa had already entered into "hibernation" (aka rest mode)?  Or perhaps I talked to GP more than I talked to the nodosa?  

In any case, whether or not GP is truly more hercuthermal than nodosa... it seems clear that GP is willing to continue growing in cooler weather as long as it receives enough water.  For the gazillion previous years that I've grown orchids I was quite happy to severely reduce water when it started to get cool.  My orchids would take a break from growing and I would take a break from my orchids!  Plus, for lots of tropicalish plants... cool+wet = rot.  So, when it's cooler, it's safer to err on the side of a lot less watering and a lot better drainage.    

Aloe Hercules really forced me to reconsider this paradigm.  I don't water my succulents at all when it's even remotely cool but Hercules would keep growing anyways.  It seems logical that what allowed him to do so was... A. being hercuthermal and B. his ability to store water.  On rare occasions when it does rain here in Southern California... he really soaks up and stores the water and uses it to grow during the dry days.

If I hadn't regularly watered the GP would it have continued to grow?  It doesn't seem likely.  But it would have been nice to have been able to confirm this by having a "control" division of GP that didn't receive any supplemental water during the experiment.

Last year at the Santa Barbara Orchid Estate Fall Open House I purchased Epicattleya Carrot Top Katydid (Cattleya sanguiloba x Epidendrum longipetalum).  I wasn't interested in it for hercuthermal reasons... I was interested in it for hummingbird reasons...

8 Nov 2015 

Epicattleya Carrot Top Katydid

Carrot Top (CT) is a real sequential bloomer.  In fact, it's still blooming!  Five + months of blooming isn't too shabby!  Lots of blooms for my buck!

Back in January I noticed that CT's roots were still active.  It hadn't been receiving regular water like the GP and the nodosa... but... it was still potted SBOE style (pot in a pot with rocks).  Usually I mount orchids as soon as I get them... but in this case I had decided that perhaps it was adequately safe in such a well-drained medium.  If I had mounted it though... I wonder if its root tips still would have been active?  I'm guessing that, even though the rock medium was well-drained, it still provided more moisture than a mount without any moss would have.  So if I had mounted CT as soon as I got it... and didn't regularly water it... then I don't think that the roots would have continued to grow.

When I realized that CT was still actively growing... I decided to mount it.  Here's what I saw when I removed it from the outer pot... 

25 Jan 2016

Epicattleya Carrot Top Katydid

Lots of really happily active roots in the middle of winter!

According to the OrchidSpecies website, Cattleya sanguiloba is a cool grower and Epidendrum longipetalum is a cool to cold grower.  So CT is definitely a cool grower... and since it's from the SBOE... I'm guessing that it's also an intermediate grower as well.

In this case... there are two causes for CT's active roots in the middle of winter...

1. It's a cool/intermediate grower
2. It received enough water to grow

GP and Hercules are pretty much in the same boat.  The difference is that Hercules doesn't seem to need any supplemental water.

From my perspective... Hercules is the standard that all orchids should be measured against.  All orchid crosses should be made with Hercules in mind.   And hummingbirds.   Hummingbirds should be kept in mind as well!

So I've been keeping an eye out for other vitellina crosses and have managed to find a few others...

Here's a recent picture of the third one in bloom...

Hercuthermal Experiment

It would have had more flowers on it but I removed them to collect the pollen.

Out of the four orchids on that list, the last one (Laerianchea Orange Planet) is my most recent find and the one that I'm most excited about.  This is because this cross (OP) is closer to Hercules and hummingbirds than the other three are.  Guarianthe aurantiaca is pollinated by hummingbirds and Laelia rubescens is a warm grower and drought tolerant.  But is OP closer to the Hercules/hummingbird standard than GP is?

OP arrived in a small pot filled with New Zealand Sphagnum moss.  I placed the pot in a container of water to fully hydrate the orchid and the moss.  Then I carefully unpotted the orchid and used a tweezers to carefully remove all the moss that was near the new growth that was just starting to emerge.  I used fishing line and my patented (not really) slip knot technique to tightly attach the orchid and the moss to a mount (cut from a pallet)...

Laerianchea Orange Planet

OP is not yet blooming size and I'm particularly impatient for it to grow!  So I added a pouch to hold slow release fertilizer granules (Osmocote).  The pouch is made from shade cloth and I used a couple water bottle lids as placeholders.  This is my first time trying this technique but my friend Dave has had some really great results with it.  He uses little plastic baskets to hold the fertilizer pellets.  We both got the idea when we visited an orchid grower in Malibu.... but Dave actually decided to give it a try.

It's invariably the case that tightly attaching an orchid to a mount will wound the orchid to some degree.  These wounds are susceptible to pathogens/rot.  Usually it's not a problem though if the orchid is happy enough.  But since I'm super excited about OP I decided to play it really safe.  For the past three days I've kept the orchid completely dry in my garage under lights.  The weather is still a bit on the cooler side and I wanted to make sure that any wounds on OP are completely healed before I put it outside and give it a good soaking.

In addition to purchasing some vitellina crosses... I also purchased the species... which is just starting to bloom...

Prosthechea vitellina

I've wanted to purchase it for the longest time but the consensus seemed to be that it really isn't a fan of the heat.   So what changed?  The hummingbirds talked me into buying it.  I think I'm becoming more and more susceptible to their influence.  Hopefully I'll be able to keep vitellina alive!

Back in February I saw that another vendor on eBay was also selling GP at a reasonable price.  He even had 10 of them for sale.  So on Feb 26 I shared a link with the Epiphyte Society of Southern California on Facebook.   But the GPs didn't sell like hot cakes!  Well... the ESSC had less than 30 "likes" back then.  So on Mar 3 I shared the link with the Orchid Society of Southern California.   The OSSC has over 2000 likes... but the GPs still didn't sell like hot cakes!   Right now there are still 6 GPs for sale.

So here I am!   Making my case!  Showing some evidence!  Offering some logic!  Trying to increase the demand for hercuthermal orchids.  And hummingbird orchids.  And drought tolerant orchids.   And sequentially blooming orchids.   Orchids that are more like Hercules and better for hummingbirds really should sell like hot cakes!

Let's think about the long-term goal.  Here's a picture of my street...

Washingtonia robusta

None of these palms have orchids growing on them.   Should they all have orchids growing on them?  I sure think so!  The hummingbirds sure think so too!  Hopefully you will agree with us!

I suppose I could buy the six remaining GPs and then ask my closest neighbors for permission to attach them to their palms.   They might want to know who would be responsible for watering them.  Me?!  It's a given that my neighbors would be more inclined to give their permission if I offered to water the GPs.  And I suppose I could walk up and down my street with a super soaker in my hands and a couple more slung over my shoulders.  Or I could program a drone to water them for me?

The ideal orchid wouldn't require any supplemental water.  I could just go around my neighborhood attaching it to palm trees without ever having to worry about watering!  Each orchid that I attached to a palm would provide lots of color and interest for humans and lots of food for hummingbirds.

My experiment doesn't definitively prove that progress can be made in this direction.  But hopefully it will help generate interest in the possibility of progress!

What can you do if are interested in hercuthermal and/or hummingbird and/or sequential blooming and/or drought tolerant hybrids?

1. vote for these types of hybrids... HybridizeThis
2. dollar vote for these types of hybrids

Hybridizers aren't mind readers.  So if you want orchids that are substantially better, then you have to communicate your preferences to hybridizers.  You have to let them know that you want orchids that come as close as possible to meeting the Hercules/hummingbird (HH) standard.  The more hybridizers there are trying to meet the HH standard... the more fabulous outliers we will be able to grow.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Feedback On is a new website for orchid growers in Southern California to sell their orchids.  The creator of the website promoted it on OrchidBoard and I decided to share some feedback...


Really great website! Thanks for creating it! Here's some feedback...

Last weekend at the Santa Barbara Orchid Show I was happy to see that Peter had Lambara Five Aces (LFA) for sale.

LFA = Bardendrum Nanboh Pixy x Broughtonia sanguinea (and here)

It's a really exciting cross. A few months ago I bought some seedlings of this cross on eBay. The plants that Peter had for sale at the show were full grown and in full bloom. I was super tempted to buy one for myself but decided to buy one for my friend who drove us.

I was surprised that the LFAs weren't selling like hot cakes and I mentioned this to Peter. He said that people are idiots. Hah. No. That's not what he said. He said that most people don't know whether a cross is good or not. Or something along those lines.

It makes sense that most people aren't knowledgeable about crosses. And even people who are knowledgeable about crosses can't be knowledgeable about all crosses! There are just way too many crosses!

Ideally it would be really easy and quick for those who are knowledgeable about crosses to share their expertise with everybody else.

It's already kinda possible to do this. For example, just now I posted a link to Peter's LFA for sale on your website on the Epiphyte Society of Southern California's (ESSC) facebook page. I essentially vouched for the cross. Well... I vouched for the cross's potential.

Your website allows people to review and rate the orchids for sale... which is great. But I'd like the opportunity to offer more substantial feedback on an orchid. And by "substantial" I mean monetary.

Rather than simply giving LFA 5 stars... I'd like to be able to give it 5 cents!

Above the review/rating section there would be a valuation section. In this section you'd display my username along with my valuation...

Epiphyte: $0.05

I would essentially be giving Peter 5 cents for helping to make this really great cross available. Plus, I would be publicly vouching for LFA.

Let's say that Don also valuated this listing...

Cieneguitan: $0.20

The total valuation for this listing would be 25 cents.

Users would have the option to sort listings by their valuations. And you'd probably want to put the top 5 or 10 most valuable listings on your homepage. Users would essentially have the opportunity to use their pennies to help decide which listings were most worthy of being displayed on the homepage.

Also, it would be really awesome if I could click on Don's username and see all his valuations. I could sort them by date to see his most recent valuations and I could also sort them by value to see which listings he most values.

Right now I have the option to pick Don's brain. I can e-mail him and say, "Hey Don! Peter's selling 201 orchids on OrchidExchange. Which ones do you most highly recommend?" It's really wonderful to have easy access to Don's extensive outdoor growing orchid expertise. But it would be even better if everybody could know which of Peter's orchids that Don values the most.

With this system in mind... you would still want people to have the option to see and valuate sold listings. If Peter lists a Laelia speciosa cross and somebody buys it before I do... I'd still want to valuate the listing. I'd still want to give Peter some money for listing such a great cross. The more money this listing receives... the greater the incentive that Peter and other vendors would have to offer more Laelia speciosa crosses for sale.

It wouldn't be technically difficult to facilitate valuations. Members would use paypal to buy digital dollars. I'd give you $5 dollars and you would put $5 digital dollars into my "digital wallet". The digital wallet would simply be a column in the users table.

You would also need a many-to-many table. I'm guessing that you already have one for ratings? You would just need to create another one for valuations.

In the listings table you might want a column to keep track of the total valuations. That might make it faster to sort listings by their valuations.

While I'd certainly be happy to spend some money to promote/sponsor/support/encourage some really nice listings... I'm not sure how many other people would appreciate the opportunity to do so. One possible incentive would be to allow valuators to include a link to their personal website...

Epiphyte (website): $0.05

For my website I might choose the facebook page for the OSSC... or the ESSC... or my flickr page... or my blog.

So my valuation would have three functions...

1. Reward Peter
2. Promote LFA
3. Advertise my website

If you did display the top 5 or 10 most valuable listings on your homepage then this could potentially drive some decent traffic to the websites of the top valuators of those listings.

In this case the motivation to valuate the listings wouldn't be purely altruistic.

Anyways, it's just an idea! But I'm pretty sure that crowd sponsored results are the future.

Web 2.0 made it stupid easy to share information. Voila! Here I am! Here we are! As a result... the internet has lots of information. Web 3.0 will make it stupid easy to share our valuations of the shared information. As a will be stupid easy to find the most valuable information.