Saturday, October 29, 2011

Keikiechtomy is a New Word

A perky keiki atop Den. Berry 'Oda' AM/AOS
This is a difficult post to write -- not because I'm inexperienced in creating fake words -- but Lan Lan is laying directly over my wrists. She bites if I move too quickly.

My Dendrobium Berry 'Oda' AM/AOS endured a keikiechtomy yesterday. The link will take you to a photo showing what the plant looked like under Griffin's care two years ago. Now, it's all grown up ... with a kid!

A Newly Liberated Keiki
Experienced Cats and Catts readers know that keikis are little offshoot plants that grow off of some epiphytic orchid species. They're clones of the mother plant; they have identical genes. "Keiki" means "baby" in Hawaiian, but in other cultures it means "free orchid." "Keikiechtomy" is a word I created a few minutes ago to refer to the process of removing keikis from mother plants. 

Here's my three-step keikiechtomy process:
Step One: Use a razor blade to hack haphazardly at the mother plant. Repeat until the keiki falls off.
Step Two: Pot the keiki in a gigantic pot with poor drainage.
Step Three: Make sure the keiki is unstable and can be knocked over with ease.

Actually, you should do the opposite of most of that.

Keikis sometimes need extra support.
It's best to conduct keikiechtomies in the Spring, but my keiki's roots were sufficiently long and I was bored. I would have placed the keiki and some wet sphagnum moss in a half-opened plastic bag for a month or so if the roots needed a boost.

Lan Lan looked up the word "Keikiechtomy" on Google and it yielded zero results, so I'm assuming full and complete copyright ownership. I shall relinquish my intellectual property rights if, and only if, someone wants to name their punk band "Keikiechtomy."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Phal. equestris: Litte Flower, Big Joy

Phal. equestis ('Blue Wan Chiao' x self)
Last year I met an orchid judge who told me that his all-time favorite species was Phal. equestris. I think they're cute, but I honestly didn't understand his excitement about a small-growing Phal

Now, I kind of get it. This genus has potential! Who knew? Two months ago, Peter Lin gave a presentation to the Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City about novelty-type Phals and it made me rethink the future of Phalaenopsis in my collection. In addition to showing a series of eye candy Phal photos, Peter delivered remarkably sane advice about potting Phals. Instead of suggesting either sphagnum moss or bark, he advocated a layered approach: moss on the top, bark in the middle, and foam packing peanuts on the bottom. It's worked really well with my equestris (see below).

Sabine loves the subtle color of this equestris variety
What are "novelty type Phals?" According to Lin, the phrase "novelty type" generally describes a plant that's non-standard and typically refers to a Phal that's smaller, colorful, fragrant, summer-flowering, and having heavy flower substance. Many novelty hybrids have Phal. amboinensis and/or violacea in their parentage. Check out the amazing color patterns on the novelty hybrids sold by Big Leaf Orchids.

I'd also like to cultivate the small-growing species Phals. I'm thrilled with my Phal. equestris ('Blue Wan Chiao' x self). It's bloomed with ease and it radiates a ton of cheerfulness in a small 2" pot. Although equestris isn't my all-time favorite, I can envision a future where it's in my top ten.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Photographing the 2011 Wisconsin Orchid Show

The 2011 Wisconsin Orchid Show at the Mitchell Park Conservatory in Milwaukee was awesome! The Wisconsin Orchid Society hosted a wonderful set of vendors and exhibitors, and the MidAmerican Orchid Congress ran a fabulous Fall meeting program. And, of course, I didn't take enough pictures.

I've attended a handful of orchid shows and I always try to take a lot of pictures. No matter how thorough my efforts appear to me at the time, I typically regret not taking better photos and more photos. The Wisconsin Orchid Show at the Mitchell Park Conservatory in Milwaukee presented special challenges. The exhibits were fantastic and well-lit by natural sunlight coming in from the glass space-age dome. Unlike most shows I've attended, the exhibits were set off against a natural background of trees and rock. It was a beautiful setting, but too challenging for my meager photography skills (I'm more comfortable with a black fabric background).

A couple of my friends are photography pros, so I have a sense of what quality photography is supposed to look like and its far distance from my point-and-click universe. I've never taken a class or read a book about photography so I lean on editing software. Photoshop bewilders me. I love Photoscape because it's free, easy to use, does almost everything I want, and takes up very little space on my computer. I also use an old Microsoft program called Picture It! which has a feature that superimposes the Rule of Thirds on the photo to allow for precise cropping.

My basic photographic strategy entails taking a lot of photos and letting only the very best see the light of day. I hope you enjoyed these five. I left a lot in the reject pile.