Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Bathtub of Brassavolas

You know that we're big fans of the Brassavola genus here at Cats and Catts, so it shouldn't be a terrible surprise that I have a mad mess of them in my bathtub. What's surprising is that only one of these has bloomed for me (B. Little Stars). I've had some for a few years now and -- although I haven't killed them -- I haven't put them in a blooming disposition. I'm all stocked up on Brassavolas on the empty hope that I'll someday be rewarded with gorgeous white flowers and their maddeningly entrancing smell. So, what's the source of my bad luck? I have have some theories:

Among orchid genera, Brassavolas can withstand a tremendous amount of light. They are the high-lightest of the high-light orchids. They want to be right up against the glass of the windowsill or inches from a grow light. But, as you can see, they aren't very demur about the amount of space they take up. Like an octopus, they want to spread their pendant tentacles in every direction. They can't possibly fit in a windowsill without displacing my other orchids that want a lot of light.

Humidity is another problem. Most of my Brassavolas are on wood mounts. They grow well like that, but require daily misting and carefully maintained humidity. Dry spells brought on by a short vacation, a malfunctioning humidifier, or a mid-winter cold snap can quickly damage a plant's root system. I speak from experience. 

The final theory centers on the cats. Between Bean's Brassavola bumping and Riley's outright assaults, it's a wonder they've been with me this long. It's difficult to grow healthy plants if your cats are constantly harassing them.

I'm contemplating a few options, including giving up hope. The best and most ambitious response to my Brassavola problem is a Wardian case built exclusively for my Brassavolas and their needs. I've been thinking about it all summer. I could apply my cold frame construction skills to create a glass box with a fogger, small fan, high light, and some sort of watering system. What could go wrong? Except for spending a lot of time on something that looks hideous and doesn't work... There's that.

But maybe it will work? I have to try something or these things are going to take over the house. psuedobulb by psuedobulb.

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