Disa

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Shiva

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;) I know, I know, I don't have many slippers to show, but they're coming. Lots of small plants that need to grow still.

In the meantime, let me present you Disa Helmut Meyer 'Undepost Red'.



The bad news is all my disas have died after flowering, including this one, unfortunately. I should cut the flowers off after a while to let the plants recuperate. But it's hard to cut off such a beautiful thing. I have reasonnable success flowering them. Worst is, it is very hard to find someone who will export Disas to Canada. If you have a source that can, let me know.
 
E

etex

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The blooms are gorgeous! So sorry about the plant loss! It would be hard to cut off a bloom this beautiful!
 

arcticshaun

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I love the exotic Disa flowers but I haven't felt up to the challenge yet. Nice job on the flowers pity that the plant didn't survive. Zephyrus was carrying Disa's (not in catalog now) and Orchids Canada (John M?) may have them sometimes. I'd like to try them in a ebb and flow type hydroponic set up with RO water.

Shaun
 
J

Jorch

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I thought Disa, like Habernaria and Cynorkis, will die back after flowering? The main plant will develope corms (tubers?) and new plant will sprout in a few months?

I love Disas, but they don't love me. too bad :sob:
 

TyroneGenade

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I thought Disa, like Habernaria and Cynorkis, will die back after flowering? The main plant will develope corms (tubers?) and new plant will sprout in a few months?
Yes and no. After flowering the plant will die but even before doing so it will be generating a new growth if it has been grown properly. How to grow Disa properly is something of a mystery. The tubers are soft and fleshy and bruise (and thus rot) very easily. If the plant is too warm it will not produce a replacement tuber or send out any stolons with plantlets. Many of the hybrids are more sensitive to the heat than the actual species. Growing hybrids I lost plant after plants after plant... Now that I grow straight Disa uniflora and racemosa the plants are actually multiplying.

If one is growing Disa then one has to keep the roots cool and wet. Up on the mountains they are either growing in the cold wet sand of the stream bed or up on the rock faces in sphagnum moss which is kept constantly moist. I'm growing in the latter option but then it has to be live moss. The dead moss compacts and rots and then bye-bye tubers. Some people have a lot of success with dead moss with perlite etc... but not me. If you can't keep the plants cool then the best way to keep the roots cool is to pot in a clay pot in plain course sand but then your water quality has to be excellent (virtually distilled water). Because I grow in live moss I can be a little more negligent with my water quality---the moss takes up a lot of nutrients and grows fast. I hope my Disa (which were seedlings) will be big enough to bloom next year.

Best of luck Disa growing!
 

Shiva

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Thank you everyone for your comments. I find that successfully flowering Disas is rewarding enough. I have two small plants left and I'm gonna try one in s/h. Unfortunately, none of the addresses mentioned will ship to Canada. I wish this frontier between the US and Canada would be abolished for plants. Free trade should include orchids with no hassle. :arrr:
 

SlipperFan

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Thank you everyone for your comments. I find that successfully flowering Disas is rewarding enough. I have two small plants left and I'm gonna try one in s/h. Unfortunately, none of the addresses mentioned will ship to Canada. I wish this frontier between the US and Canada would be abolished for plants. Free trade should include orchids with no hassle. :arrr:
I agree, but extend that to all countries.
 

TyroneGenade

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If plants can't be shipped to you then what about seed? Disa seed germinates very easily on damp sphagnum moss (the dead kind) and the seedlings grow fast. The seed needs to be sent fast though. 6 weeks after pollination the pod should be cut off and posted or the seed sown. By the time the seed pod opens there is only days before the seed dies.
 

John M

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Shiva, I grow and sell Disas. In fact, I'm the exclusive Disa distributor for North America, Central America and the Caribbean for Alba Labs in South Africa. Their plants are not all registered with the RHS however. Many have "commercial" clonal names only. However, I also grow properly named Disas, species and hybrids. I have been working for the past 3 or 4 years at getting just the correct conditions to reliably grow, bloom and rebloom these awesome plants. It's been a very costly, uphill battle. However, I've been sure to learn the lessons of my failures and not make them again. This year I learned that in my area of Canada at least, we have too many dark, overcast days in November and December to keep most Disas healthy, despite the fact that they do naturally go semi-dormant in the winter. It seems that they don't want to go as dormant as my low light levels push them! So, once again, I've lost a lot of plants; but, I will begin supplementing the light soon to halt the downward trend in the general health of the plants. By late January, even though it's cold and the days are still short, the sun shines most days and the Disas REALLY wake up and begin growing like crazy again.

Anyway, I will have Disas for sale (definately seedlings and probably some larger NBS plants), by March or so. I want to hold off selling any until I see that they've made it through the worst of this dark winter and that they have started to put on vigorous growth again. Then, I can sell them.

Please feel free to keep in touch with me about this. I suggest that you send me a PM in late February to ask how things are coming along.

BTW: The most frustrating part of growing Disas is that often you get a plant that does supremely well for you and you come to just love it! Then, it finishes blooming and promptly dies without producing any new growths. This is because it has not produced any tubers....and of course, once a rosette has bloomed, that part of the plant dies. So, your only chance of retaining that clone is to have satelite propagations coming up from tubers that have formed on the mother plant's roots. Also, occasionally a plant will send out stolons as well as, or instead of, tubers. These are also good for multiplying a plant and keeping it going from year to year. I've asked MANY people about the tricks used to get the plants to reliably produce tubers each year, ensuring the long term survival of the plants. Some have thrown up their hands and not had an answer. Some have had an idea and shared it with me. My conclusion is that tuber formation, while vital to the plant's long-term survival, is not necessarily vital to the species survival. Many plants "chose" to sacrifice themselves and put all their strength into blooming and hopefully, producing seeds instead of putting their strength into tuber formation to extend their own life. So, to encourage tuber production, one must find that balance between giving the plant all it needs to grow and bloom spectacularly; but, also not quite enough to convince the plant that it can do a really wonderful job of producing gobs of seed and therefore, IT does not need to survive.

The best way to increase the chances of tuber formation seems to be to keep the roots cool and to stop feeding once the flower spike is well under way. Also, don't begin feeding again until you see new growth emerging from the pot....usually during, or sometimes, after flowering, next to the old, dying mother plant.

The coolness simply satisfies the naturally evolved needs of the plant which comes from generations of growing in a cold water environment. In nature, even though the flowers and foliage may be quite warm in the summer sun, the roots are constantly kept cool in, or very near, cold water mountain streams.

The lack of food beginning when the buds appear will allow the plant to use up all the fertilizer residue still in the potting mix and if you've been feeding very lightly; but, often during the whole growth cycle up until then, what's left in the pot when you stop feeding will produce and sustain a beautiful blooming. However, the diminishing nutrients at a time just prior to normal seed production, will cause the plant to "rethink" the idea of sacrificing itself in favour of producing seeds. Instead, using the chlorophyl in it's leaves, it will use sunlight, water and CO2 to make simple sugars which need to be stored in tubers attached to it's roots. So, as well as satisfying the plant's physiological needs by keeping the roots cool, you actually trigger tuber formation by starving the plant of the nutrient elements required for growth, at a critical time in it's life cycle and this encourages sugars to be formed instead, which are then stored in root tubers as a way to fuel future growth, which is what we want!

I've got a few hundred seedlings and plants at the moment. I'm sure to have some ready for release in a few months.

Here are 3 different Disa unifloras that bloomed for me last summer.





 

TyroneGenade

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Hi John,

That is a fine looking red you have there. Many moons ago Sid Cywes was producing yellows which still retained the red vermiculation in the hood. This was accomplished by a few crossings onto yellow plants and then selective breeding... Pretty easy here in sunny South Africa. We can get Disa to flower within a year of being deflasked. (I don't really know how, all my Disa protocorms in flask are still protocorms while those I deflasked because of contamination are now tiny plantlets...)

A good way to trick the plant into making a new tuber is to cut the flower stem just after the flowers open.

tt
 

Shiva

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Well, John. You've got me drooling and I'm happy to see someone in Canada that is doing something serious to understand these beautiful plants. Please let me know when you're ready to ship. One trick I found to keep the roots cool in summer is putting the plants in shallow pans of water with ice cubes mixed in.
 

cnycharles

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from the little information that I've found, it was suggested that a disa would be more likely to grow new tubers and shoots if it were growing in net pots. if in solid pot then they were more likely to flower and have less shoots. I guess you would have more light and cooling if in a net pot than in a normal solid pot
 

John M

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Thanks for the additional comments everyone. I LOVE Disas; but, I know I've still got a lot to learn. Currently, I've got some plants that are awesome(!!!)...and I've got others that are dying. They sit side by side and get the same care! Yes....there are definitely some more secrets left to unlock!

Hint: To help keep roots cool, grow in clay pots while standing in a 1/2" of water. Also, increase air movement around the pot to speed up evaporation and therefore, increasing the cooling effect. If you use plastic pots, use white plastic, or paint the pots white. Darker colours absorb more light energy and that converts to heat.



"That is a fine looking red you have there. Many moons ago Sid Cywes was producing yellows which still retained the red vermiculation in the hood. I haven't seen something like that. It sounds awesome!This was accomplished by a few crossings onto yellow plants and then selective breeding... Pretty easy here in sunny South Africa. We can get Disa to flower within a year of being deflasked. (I don't really know how, all my Disa protocorms in flask are still protocorms while those I deflasked because of contamination are now tiny plantlets...) I've read reports of it taking 2 or 3 years to bloom them, normally. However, I got some seedlings last march in flask and potted them out right away. Most of them are now BS and I expect them to spike this spring/summer. I just hope that they've grown a tuber!

A good way to trick the plant into making a new tuber is to cut the flower stem just after the flowers open. Well, that will certainly send the message to the mother plant that it's not going to make seeds this year! Although, of course, the flowers on the cut stem can still be pollinated and produce seed, while the stem is kept in water. Cutting the flower stem to encrourage tuber formation would be a good thing to do for valuable plants....just to help ensure their survival. Hopefully multiple tubers will be produced and then the next year, some "copies" of the plant can be allowed to hold their flowers for their full life, on the plant.
 

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