While this week was a short week, a lot happened so it feels like it was longer.
Photo taken by my co-worker Terry
My older brother came to visit me while I worked this week so it was nice. He actually came to get his orchid checked out by the Greenhouse workers. It was a Dendrobium sp hybrid. The orchid had not flowered in years and would only occasionally produce new growth. My co-worker Terry helped diagnose its condition and requirements for flowering. She is very knowledgeable about orchids as she is usually the one in charge of their upkeep. What was determined was that the orchid needed to have a winter dormancy. All the species that makes up the hybrid have to go through a dormancy period where you stop watering and fertilizing of the plant for the winter months. The hope then is that the orchid would then bloom in the spring once the temperatures had warmed and the light had increased. After this year's dormancy, the orchid should be repotted and a change of substrate. As I may have mentioned before most if not all orchids are epiphytes (grow on other plants or surfaces that are not soil). They do not live in soil so they require a substrate that has a certain level of aeration. When the substrate starts breakdown, it starts to choke the orchid. This particular orchid hybrid was potted with coconut husk substrate. Coconut substrate degrades faster than substrates like fur bark. Once the dormancy is over switching to fur bark would be best. Orchids also like to be pot-bound rather than 'over-potted' so it needs a smaller and taller pot.
According to my brother, the flowers look similar to these Dendrobium here in shape and size.
Mainly this week I finished clipping down the plants in the Tropical Room. The Yam vine ended up winding its way up past the sun screen and around the water pipes and the hydraulics in the door. It was like untangling rope but more difficult as the vines branched out every which way.
Photo taken by my boss Kim
I had to trim back the philodendron in the Tropical Room (Philodendron erubescens). We have two types of philodendrons in the Greenhouse. Both are very large and have a tendency to grow where ever they can get away with. Unlike vines, they don't tangle around themselves nor have modified leaves to grab with. In order to climb, they use whorls of adventious roots (above-ground roots that are used for purposes other than absorbing nutrients) to grab at and support themselves as they grow. In the case of our greenhouse, it means climbing the walls and structural supports of the Tropical Room.
In order to cut it down to size, I had to saw two of its stems off. The stem itself was very fibrous and dense. It kind of reminded me of a combination of bamboo and rhubarb.
Recently most of the citrus plants have been producing fruits, so the Subtropical room has had a very pleasant smell this week. The Greenhouse has a lot of citrus species and hybrids; from Lemons to Sweet Limes to Kumquats and a couple of hybrids that I had not even heard of. Some of the major producers in the Subtropical Room were the Lemons. Most of the lemon varieties we have are not the lemons we typically think of; ie the "store-bought-lemon" (Citrus × limon; citrus hybrid). They are sweeter than store lemons but still sourer than an orange. I found out to my surprise that most of the edible citrus fruits that we think of are in fact a series of hybrids that were bred from other older species like the citron and the mandarin. Unlike apples which are multiple varieties and subspecies of one original species; citrus fruits are hybrids on top of hybrids.
A banana 'tree' flower inflorescence (a group of tightly packed flowers like lilacs) (Musa acuminata). The inflorescence does not flower all at the same time, the lower flowers bloom first and gradually bloom upward. You can see the fruit starting to form at the base of the inflorescence. This species of banana produces a dwarf version of the cultivated banana we are used to. It is actually thought to be a precursor of that cultivar.
Have a good week! Happy Thanksgiving weekend!