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Could this be a flower spike?

HU-45580804
5 months ago

I have a young, pest-prone Ports of Paradise Green Ching Hua cattleya. The other day as I was swabbing at the scale and mealybugs on it with methylated spirits, I noticed one of its sheaths was paler than the others and fatter. At first I thought that either it was dying or had been invaded by some cocoon-building grub, but then it occurred to me it might be starting a flower spike - even if just as a swan song. Here are a couple of pics of the sheath. I’d appreciate your opinions.



Comments (7)

  • Billsc
    5 months ago

    HU-... First off, you need to obtain a book that covers basic Cattleya orchid culture, or go on the internet and do some reading there on basic Cattleya orchid culture. I'm willing to help, but am tied up in another project right now (even in retirement they don't give us but 24 hours in each day to get all we want to do done). I'll drop back in later and see if others have pitched in to help, there are several out there on this blog who are really good at this. First, tell them where you are, and how you are growing your plant. You know, indoor, outdoor, ten miles east of the North Pole, etc, etc, Things like that.

    First off, if you want to see a photograph of your plant in bloom, go on line and look for BLC Ports of Paradise 'Green Ching Hua' AM/AOS. Your photos, and its name tells me your plant is an unbloomed clone of a multigeneric Cattleya type orchid that has Brassavola, Laelia, and Cattleya in its genetic makeup. When this cross was made, and some had bloomed, someone (probably the breeder) named all those seedlings and registered the name with the Royal Horticultural Society in England, so all those little plants became Brassolaeliacattleya (BLC) Ports of Paradise. At a later time someone saw one of these seedlings bloom, and thought it was a particularily good quality seedling from all those plants, so they took it to an American Orchid Society judging, and the plant won an Award of Merit, so that one little plant was further identified with a "nickname, and its award" as BLC Ports of Paradise 'Green Ching Hua' AM/AOS. Now, this one little plant is singled out from all its siblings as having a particularily good quality bloom. At a later date, someone decided they could sell these plants (This is usually the breeder/namer/award recipient--this is why they are in the orchid business). Growing this one plant up and dividing it so they can sell half of it every few years is not a really good business practice, so they had the plant cloned. By taking one dormant growth bud off the plant, a cloning lab can produce many hundreds, or even thousands of exact genetic copies of that specific plant. You, have either purchased, or obtained one BLC Ports of Paradise 'Green Ching Hua' AM/AOS. So now, you know what you have. Search it on the net, and see what you have. The photographs of your plant are there. And after reading all this you are probably wondering if you want to get tangled in all this strange talk, just to own one orchid plant. You don't, you just need to learn how to grow the crazy thing, and to know how to grow it, you are going to have to know what you have, and that is explained above.

    I'll check back here in a day or so and see what is going on, Hopefully one of the other growers will have started you on the correct road to good culture by then, otherwise you and I will pick up from here, If you can tolerate my rambling. Good luck.

    Bill

  • getgoing100_7b_nj
    5 months ago

    We all eagerly wait our catts to bloom and look for signs of potential bloom. :) The only sure way of knowing is to wait for at least the sheath to emerge from the fold in the new leaf. Patience is a virtue. The pseudobulb appears to be healthy and I see no reason to think it is ready to give up the ghost. In the mean while care for it that gives it the best chance to emerge as a healthy bud(s) if there is indeed one in there. Give it good light (don't drastically change to full sun though :)). I would give it high potassium fertilizer at 1/4th the recommended strength. As for mealy bugs and scale infestation, try 50 to 75% water diluted isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and horticultural soap for scale. If all else fales, try system bayer 3in 1 bioadvanced, sufficiently diluted. Catts are tough orchids, I would not worry too much about their survival unless you have black rot or similar bacterial or fungal infection..

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  • jane__ny
    5 months ago

    Looks like a new growth, not a spike. Post back with some pictures.


    Jane

  • Billsc
    5 months ago

    HU.....I'm back, and it looks like you haven't attracted a "helpmate" yet, so let me jump in and see what I can do. First, I, like Jane, would like to see a few more photos of the plant, the mix, the pot, and where it is growing - inside, outside, under lights, sunny window - and where you are located. All these things, believe it or not, are very important to someone assisting a new grower with culture instructions.

    What I see, from the photos posted, is an immature Cattleya type hybrid orchid that is close to blooming, but needs some additional help. It appears to me that the plant has been "grown hard", meaning lots of sunlight, and fertilizer, along with a good watering schedule and temperature control, up until fairly recently. The pot is full of a stocky plump well grown plant, that wants to start putting up tall erect pseudobulbs that will produce its first blooms. The oldest leaves and pseudobulbs have lost their almost rusty brown dull green look telling us it once was getting strong light. The leaves and bulbs have turned to a deep almost shiny green color indicating low light. The newest bulbs, on the other hand (the circled one, and the one above and to the left of it) have turned a pale green, and grown long and leggy, and are bent down over the edge of the pot, indicating low light.

    I think I would recommend you go back to a balanced fertilizer, and slowly increase the intensity of the sunlight the plant is getting. I'm hedging here a bit, because your location will determine how you should go about that process, and I don't have that info. If you are in Miami, you need to go about increasing sunlight differently that if you were say, in North Dakota. Help us out with more info, and a few more photos, and we will go from there.

    Bill

  • HU-45580804
    Original Author
    5 months ago

    Thanks for your very helpful post. This morning, I noticed the sheath was blackening. So I gently removed it. Underneath was a healthy-looking pseudo bulb, but it isn’t pregnant. Never mind.


    I’m in Sydney (Australia) and the plant is inside a warm sunroom, right in front of a north-facing window. It gets direct winter sun from around 8:30 a.m till around 2:00 p.m. In summer it’s outside in bright shade under an awning. Our summers can be brutal, though this past one was cooler and rainier than usual. I give this plant banana skin water once a week.


    In any case, now that I know there’s no flower spike involved, I’ll just do what you say and wait. once again, thank you.

  • Billsc
    5 months ago

    Well, now you know why we "helpers" are always begging for more information about the plants we are talking about. Had I assumed that you lived on top of this big ball we call earth, I would have been talking to you about summer culture, and probably would have had you and the plant pretty confused by now. immature Cattleya type plants tend to grow fat squaty psudobulbs until they get close to blooming size, then the bulbs start standing up and growing in diameter. It appears that your plant tried to put up two erect pseudobulbs, but low light and possibly too much nitrogen in the fertilizer caused them to be too weak to "hold their heads up". More sunlight (but don't burn them) and a balanced fertilizer is what I recommend. And from my commercial growing days, it was always fertilizer at half the manufacturers recommended strength, half as often. Orchids are really light feeders, but they get a small amount of fertilizer in the wild at all times. And to be quite honest, I have no clue what the chemical analysis of "banana skin water" is. The sheath around the pseudobulb is there to give the growing bulb extra strength while it is soft and tender. As the bulb hardens up, the sheath dries up, and will peel away easily, or you can just leave it on. (I have never seen "little elves" running through the jungles peeling sheaths off plants, or dropping ice cubes around their roots.) {thats a local joke.} I would let it stay until it is thoroughly dry, then it will peel away quite easily. The flower sheath now, is another story. Flower sheaths on Cattleya type orchids come from the bud at the top of the pseudobulb where the folded leaf base attaches to the bulb. The bloom spike with buds pushes up through the center of this sheath. Depending on the genetic make-up of the plant, This sheath may stay green through the entire blooming process, or it may dry out before or after the plant blooms, and some plants don't develop sheaths at all, or maybe just some times. Best advise is don't mess with this sheath until blooming is complete. you can very easily damage the tiny bloom spike, and even tinier blooms inside this sheath. Another "Oh, by the way", most orchids--Cattleya and Phalaenopsis particularly, orient their flowers to the light source. Most amateur growers never give this a second thought, but those who show their orchid plants in competetions give this a great deal of thought and care. I feel that God made arrangements (roots) for orchid plants to be firmly attached to their host at all times, so there must be something to it. If your plant is developing blooms and you move it to water it or show it off, and you put it back on the shelf facing a different direction, the buds in a certain stage of development will orient to face the light this gives you a "less than ideal" presentation of the blooms. If this is important to you, mark the pot, and mark the bench, and replace the plant to the marks each time you move it. If this has no real meaning to you, forget you read what I just wrote. G'day, Mate.

    Bill

  • HU-45580804
    Original Author
    5 months ago

    Thanks Bill. I’ve got a few phals in spike and I’m religiously keeping their buds facing north. As for this cattleya, unfortunately there are no buds to worry about. By the way, you made it very clear that you were talking about Summer culture. It’s all helpful info, and I’m grateful. Rach