The Coryopedilum Chronicles VII - 6 month status review

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May 14, 2017
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Dallas, TX
The Coryopedilum Chronicles VII – Six month status review

This Chronicle documents the status of two flasks each of Paphiopedilum sanderianum, rothschildianum, platyphyllum, adductum v. anitum and randsii six months after they were deflasked and placed into compots.

In Chronicles VI, there were two new additions- freshly deflasked single flasks of Paphiopedilum adductum and praestans. In Chronicles VII, we add Paphiopedilum stonei- but the plants have only been out of flask for a month, so a status report on those will be forthcoming in Chronicles VIII.

The status of each species is presented in a separate section, along with photographs.

Growing conditions - updated

The compots are all together on a single shelf in a bathroom- so no natural light. Artificial light was provided by four Phillips T8 32W 48” Natural Light bulbs, 2850 lumens, 5000k bulbs that were approximately 18 inches above the leaves until three months ago. At Chronicles VI, all plants were approximately 12 inches from the lights, save for a selection of platyphyllum and randsii which were being tested out at 9 inches from the lights.

The increased lighting proved a very bad idea. The subjects of these Chronicles did not suffer unduly, but leading up to a month ago, Paph. villosum compots started shedding old leaves and everyone’s foliage got quite light. To that end, I have gone now very strongly in the opposite direction. Some plants are now 15 inches from two fixtures (or four bulbs) and the rest are about 12 inches away from a single fixture (or two bulbs.) A few of each Chronicles subject are under each condition, and I will explore the results in Chronicles VIII.

The other option would have been to keep two fixtures per shelf and have the plants back at 18 inches from the lights, but that would have meant two growing shelves per shelving unit instead of three, and since the goal of these Chronicles is to be practical- it made more sense to first test out fewer fixtures with the same number of shelves. We shall see what happens.

Watering has been out of the tap for four months with no ill effect. No fertilizers or other supplements have been applied, and at this point none are planned for the foreseeable future. With the decreased lighting, watering is now only necessary twice a week- and every 6 weeks or so I skip a watering to ensure the centers of the compots do not remain too wet.

Temperature and humidity are monitored on an ongoing basis. Currently, with the new lighting scheme and also generally lower winter temperatures (and cooler temps inside the home), there is more fluctuation than was the case over the summer, with humidity ranging from 60% to 72% and temperatures as high as 77 during the day, with a low of 70 at night.

Plant losses defined

One of the statistics reported below in each section is plant loss. Please know that I define a “plant” as having at least two leaves and at least one good root. In any flask, you will always lose some or all of the really tiny plants that have not rooted well. And so I am not including them in the reported plant losses.

Paphiopedilum sanderianum

The three compots that were potted with the agar removed are on the left, and the two with agar partially intact are on the right- along with 3 seedlings that got so large they had to be potted out.

These continue to do well and are growing nicely, if not as fast as before. The increased light intensity has not caused any significant difficulties, but I do think the lower light levels now in place will be better for the plants.

The plants potted with agar intact continue to be a bit more vigorous than the plants with agar removed, but now that the other subjects in these Chronicles are seeing that gap disappear, I have to wonder if the parentage of each sibling cross might be making a difference. Unfortunately, in the case of sanderianum there were not two flasks of the same parentage available as was the case for the other species.

There have been no plant losses.

Paphiopedilum rothschildianum

The two compots that were potted with the agar removed are on the left (they were fairly clumped in flask and so not individually separated- hence two compots vs three), and the two with agar partially intact are on the right.

These were finally starting to take off in Chronicles VI, and are now really growing at an exceptional rate. Until they really start crowding I am reluctant to pot them out though- I want to be sure they are very well rooted. At this point there is not a significant difference in performance between plants compotted with agar intact vs. agar removed.

There have been no plant losses.

Paphiopedilum platyphyllum

These continue to astonish me with their rapid growth rate, and now they are demonstrating the very wide and slightly undulate foliage pattern of mature plants. You only see 4 compots here because these got so big I had no choice but to unpot the two largest compots, plant out the largest 15 seedlings, and then make new compots with the plants not yet large enough to be on their own.

Of all the species, these had the least negative reaction to a test of higher light levels, but do note that some of the smallest flask leaves were starting to yellow slightly- and it was happening all at once. So they might have been on the brink of trouble. Either way, all is great now.

One interesting note- when I potted out the 15 plants in the second photo, all had very good root growth but it was quite shallow in the pot. I will be interested to see if this persists.

There have been no plant losses.
Paphiopedilum adductum v. anitum

These are finally stabilized, with one new full leaf- if small- post-flask in the proper color and a new leaf coming in most cases. These are being kept in the lowest light level areas of the each of the two new lighting configurations, and I think that will bring better results in the long run. But make no mistake, these are very slow growers right now.

No plant losses since Chronicles VI.

Paphiopedilum randsii

These have not being doing so well, and so right after Chronicles VI I unpotted all of the compots, discarded a couple of plants that were not going to make it, cut browning leaves and then reconfigured them to get plants of similar size into the same compot.

They are doing better now, and as with adductum anitum I am keeping them in lower light areas, but despite their improvement I do not instinctively feel like I am out of the woods yet. Time will tell. I have done some research that suggests these need temperature and humidity levels that are just not possible in a home environment- and that they are not going to be quite as adaptable as many other species.

If there is no improvement at the 9 month mark, these will be donated to a nursery where they can receive proper care and have a shot at reaching maturity. As great as growing in the home can be, it is not for every species- and I am starting to think randsii may be one such species.

There have been two plant losses since Chronicles VI. Both were smaller plants that have not demonstrated any root growth since deflasking.

Paph adductum – 3 month progress report

As noted in Chronicles VI, this flask came at a discount because the plants were small and not in the best shape. Almost all of the really tiny plants have been lost and there are about 20 viable plants remaining, in addition to the 10 or so from the prior flask which started off in similar condition but was really set back when I waited a few days before potting up the plants.

This photo is of two of the compots and is a good representation of where things stand. The larger plants have firmed up, and even as existing brown/dying leaves out of flask are continuing to die, there is new leaf growth.

Not much to say on these at present. Three months from now will be a better time to speak more on their status and what the future may hold.

Paph praestans – 3 month progress report

As with the platyphyllum, these seem really happy to be here. The photo tells it all- these are growing out very beautifully and very quickly. There is just one flask represented in these two compots, and while I think they will make it Chronicles VIII in their current state, the compots will need to be broken out into a total of 4 compots late next spring.

No plant losses.

Hospital compots

The hospital compot experiment was a great success in that a lot of very small plants were kept alive, but at this point that is about all that can be said of them. Leaf growth has been minimal, and root growth non-existent in all but a few cases. (Note this does not apply to some randsii and adductum anitum that were temporarily put in these compots to get the humidity up- those are fine and will be discussed in Chronicles VII when there is more to report since they have not done much in the last 3 months.)

At this point, save for the randsii and anitum adductum noted in the above paragraph, the few hospital compot plants that are actively growing will be added to existing standard compots over the holidays and the remainder of the plants destroyed. That may sound harsh, but it is a very real fact with orchids- and with some of these species in particular- that plants too slow to grow at this young age are likely to grow very slowly, if at all, in future and may never bloom. It is just not responsible to keep such plants alive and in active cultivation.

Chronicles VIII to come in three months, to document the progress of the plants nine months out of flask (plus praestans and adductum six months out of flask.) At this stage, most everything will be about ready for either single pots or for thinning into compots of 5-6 plants each, depending on size. Plus at the nine month mark it will be time to determine if it is responsible to continue raising the randsii here.
Great update, thanks.
What duration of lighting are you using?
Could you measure the light intensity, at the leaves, with a light meter?
Have you tried root stimulants on some of the small babies as an experiment (I think they work)?
Why no fertiliser? They are actively growing and many wont have functional roots. Foliar feeding some may be an interesting experiment.
Great update, thanks.
What duration of lighting are you using?
Could you measure the light intensity, at the leaves, with a light meter?
Have you tried root stimulants on some of the small babies as an experiment (I think they work)?
Why no fertiliser? They are actively growing and many wont have functional roots. Foliar feeding some may be an interesting experiment.

Lighting duration I will confess varies some with my crazy schedule- but I generally have the lights on 13 hours a day, give or take an hour.

On light meters- I have had a terrible time there. Been through three and none of them work properly. I did a pretty good search on this site and Google, and from that ascertained that light meters are not always effective with certain types of artificial light, but could get no details.

What I am doing is taking the one that actually takes readings (the other two $100+ ones could not even do that), and I am using it to measure relative light levels for monitoring purposes. Right now, the single fixture shelves are getting about 40% less light than the double fixture shelf (12 inches and 15 inches from lights respectively.)

I have never been a fan of stimulants or other similar things- and this holds true in everything, not just orchids. I don't do it with violets, I do not use fancy water additives for my aquaria (when I have them- none at the moment) etc. They may well work, but I prefer to keep things as basic as possible.

Fertilizer will come into play once the plants are in single pots- so in 3-9 months from now. This is just how I was taught. One of my first jobs in middle and high school was at an orchid nursery, and we never used fertilizer on compots. Plus the first few times I worked with Paphs out of flask, I did not have good results with fertilizer. It just seemed safer to keep things very simple at the early stage and let them adapt to basic growing conditions before adding other things into the mix.
No stimulants!? Your local dealers must be upset! :evil:

Hahaha. Not so bad now, but I must tell you back when I did the first Chronicles (sanderianum) plus the kovachii Chronicles- I had several PMs, some of them rather urgent, telling me I was crazy to not try X brand of "stimulant" as you call them. Of course most of the time, the person also happened to be selling said stimulant.

When I presented the sanderianum Chronicles along with a slide show at an orchid society once back in around 2005, a member of the audience killed me with questions about why I was not using dead worm casings and other things that evidently would mirror what the various species experience in the wild.

Here is my general take on all of that. Every habitat is unique- and anyone with enough time can analyze every single physical attribute of that habitat and come up with a very long list of many- perhaps most- of the elements that went into creating that habitat.

If you try to recreate that somewhere else, all you can really do for all practical purposes is pick and choose certain things and recreate them the best you can.

That is not the same as the plant being in its original habitat. Certainly there are some things- the use of oyster shell for example- that are very practical ways to provide a key nutrient to a given species. But worm casings? Really? Will the orchid know the difference between Borneo worms and Texas worms?

Also one has to consider that most species are adaptable to a great degree, plus the fact that in the home you are providing a far more stable environment where you are actively removing or preventing the threat of disease and damage by predators.

In 35 years of growing orchids, and now 12 years of these Chronicles, I am also finding that with many species you only have to get 1-2 generations away from the wild before the plants are far easier to handle and grow in captivity provided their basic needs are met. In fact, this is the one thing I say as often as I can because if the greater orchid growing public could ever come to accept it as reality- then perhaps we could have more win-win situations like we have had with kovachii, allowing a local nursery to responsibly breed a cultivated generation of plants for easier home growing, while collectors exhibit a little patience in return and thus avoid the massive collecting and eventual death of 100s or 1000s of wild plants.

Once upon a time sanderianum was just as difficult and slow to grow in captivity as adductum is today- despite the fact neither plant is all that reticent in its natural habitat. Rothschildianum was not much better, quite frankly, if you look back to the 60s and 70s (I was not alive then, but have the benefit of a lot of past conversations with those who were messing with these plants at the time.)

And as I noted with randsii above- sometimes you just have to say "I cannot grow this here" and move on.

There is no doubt that carefully following and experimenting with the latest and greatest in plant technology can work out well for some. But I do not think it is a viable part of a fundamental approach to orchid growing. And sometimes it proves disastrous- as anyone who ever used benlate can tell you.

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