Den speciosum v. curvicaule

papillon1February 21, 2011

Is anyone here growing this Den? I have gotten it to produce a sheath for the last 2 years but they have both blasted, What am I doing wrong? Am I giving it too much water? Not enough? It now has produced two huge new growths and the pot is too side heavy, it keeps tipping over. I am wondering if it is OK to repot now. I guess it should have been done when the growths first began. Can anyone offer any help?

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I have the plant, it's in spike right now. Are you sure you have sheaths? The plant will not bloom from the new growths, it blooms from old canes and does not make sheaths. The 2 new growths you are talking about have little tufts that look like sheaths but they are not. If your plant follows the usual timetable it should produce new growths in the next few month and the 2 'new growths' you are talking about should bloom next spring along with any of the old canes that feel like blooming. The new growths which will be produced this spring will not bloom next spring.

Each of the canes has small nubs near the top, these are flower buds and spikes will initiate from them, the plant does not make sheaths. It needs to get fairly large before it's first bloom. They also like to get cold in the winter, keep it from freezing but let it get down to the low thirties. When it finally gets around to blooming you will be very pleased.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 11:43AM
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highjack(z6 KY)

Mine is a little different from Nick's plant. Mine blooms on old and newest pbulbs. My spikes do appear to come out of small papery looking sheaths, maybe 1/2" long. Some of the pbulbs produced singleton spikes and two produced double spikes.

In this picture you can see the small sheath-y looking thing.

I grow mine inside and the temps never go below 60 and in the brightest light I have. When the spikes appear they grow about an inch a day and the blooms open fairly fast. I do wish the blooms would last longer but the wonderful fragrance makes up for the short life.

I don't know where you live but I wouldn't repot it just yet. This is the first year I've bloomed mine and I think it was a little early. Mine is also heavy on one side and I bungee it to the table.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 2:29PM
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Orchidnick - I did have the flower nubs you referred to (I called them sheaths for lack of a proper name) they had papery sheath like covers. They were on older canes. The 2 new canes will hopefully respond next year.
Highjack - Your plant is fabulous. I wish I'd get mine to bloom. I also grow inside & have this under lights, in my room it is about 60 degrees min. but may get cooler at night, as it is close to the wall and at floor level. Can you tell me when is the best time to re-pot?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 3:29PM
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My mother had one in Calgary which is so cold that the house was kept at 70. It would not bloom until we put it in a bathroom in the basement where the heat outlet was closed and the temp was allowed to go down into the 30s. Who knows, maybe it would have bloomed anyway but they do experience a cold winter in their native habitat and they are reputed to do better if they get cold.

The 'non-sheaths' I was referring to occur at the top of a new cane and do not produce flowers. Eventually flowers may come from the same area but I just wanted to forewarn that when a new cane matures, it has this thingi on top which looks like a sheath but is not.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 5:42PM
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highjack(z6 KY)

Nick if you look at the second picture you can see the light tannish dried out "sheath". All of my spikes came out of these things.

Are you saying the nubs on the sides of the pbulbs just below the leaves will also produce spikes? Mine look like the nubs where a spectabile spikes come from.

They may experience the cold in nature but it is not necessary for them to bloom. No one in this area grows them anywhere but in a heated g/h.

Papillon I would wait until you get the next set of new pbulbs. Mine will also get a repot when the new growth begins.

What kind of light are you using? These are very high light plants.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 6:07PM
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I did notice the bracts on your cane so obviously it's a new growth. I have numerous speciosums and they all religiously do not bloom the first year and a new growth. The nubs represent future flowers, it will bloom out of the same cane for 5 years or more until it is exhausted. I have old canes that have not bloomed in years and still have some of these nubs, having the nub does not guarantee a flower spike. By the time I notice the spike I can no longer tell whether they originated from one of these nubs but they can originate from the top of the cane or anywhere along the length of it in the top inch or so.

I have an Avril's Gold which produces 5 to 8 beautiful spikes every year. It is a very slow grower and only does 2 new canes a year. It's been doing this for over 10 years, you do the math, it must bloom at least 5 times out of a cane at yearly interval.

Then there is a Grandiflorum which has 40 canes by now. It has made 8 new canes very year for a few years. It has not rewarded me yet with a stunning shower of flowers, 14 to 16 spike per year has been the norm over the last few years with no increase. Since the plant has a wingspan of 7 feet and is 5 feet tall, 16 spikes are great but not mind blowing like some of the photos I have seen from Australia. You figure, I think they must be female as they are unpredictable and do exactly what they like.

Arthur must be on a leave of absence, I expected words of profound wisdom from by now.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 7:25PM
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highjack(z6 KY)

Nick you mean the little brown nub on the pbulb that doesn't have the bract on it will produce a spike too? Plus it will also bloom from the top of the pbulb again?


    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 6:24AM
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On an active cane, I see new spikes emerging from the top as well as the sides of the cane near the top. Usually within an inch or less. I'm not 100% sure that they arise from these nubs but I believe they do. I see some inactive older canes that still have some of the nubs so the picture is a little confusing.

I have all of the 6 varieties plus a number of hybrids and they each seem to have a different schedule, not all do the same thing at the same time. The grandiflorum is always on time, spikes are about to open, probably within one week. After blooming, a period of inactivity and then new growths appear in mid June. Their rate of growth is astonishing, like corn in the mid west. 32" plus length is achieved in less than 4 weeks. Then again inactivity until the new spikes appear in late Dec, early Jan.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:26AM
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Thanks for all the information. Nick, I had no idea that some of them got so large!!
Brooke, I am growing under fluorescent lights - 4 40 watt bulbs. I will wait till the next new growths to appear and then repot, thanks. What kind of medium are you using to grow yours?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 10:09AM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Here is my speciosum, in bloom 2006 at an orchid show. Not a good candidate for growing under precious light space. Leo and Neva are not large people but you get some idea of the scale of the plant. After that blooming the plant was divided using an old saw. It will have to be chopped in half after the next blooming.
I'm not even sure which variety it is, maybe speciosum

The discussion is comparing apples and oranges, i think the breeders have been using var. curvicaule because of the bloom habit and maybe a mature plant would not get as large as some of the other varieties.
From memory, one of my curvicaule seedlings bloomed last spring as Brooke described whereas the large plant pictured blooms from nubs.
I've got a few of those curvicaule seedlings and they always form that sheath on mature pseudobulbs but if the plant is not large enough you will not get a bloom. Now maybe as the plant get larger maybe it too will bloom from nubs on the older pseudobulbs???

These speciosum varieties can be become blurred where ranges overlap or when people have done of bit of fiddling with pollen. But curvicaule occurs further North than some of the other varieties and may not need the same degree of cooling to bloom.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 2:06PM
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Arthurm - Wow, that plant is just beautiful. I surely would not be able to get that size plant in my growing space!!!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 2:42PM
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Agree with Arthur, curvicaule is not that large so it will stay manageable. The grandi I have is my largest, similar to Arthur's picture. It and most of my plants are growing bare-root, mounted on large logs. The big one sits in the saddle of a root stump. The few I have potted are in 3/4" rock. One large Hillii sits on a bed of lava rock (6" to 8") pieces that are held together by a frame of natural branches. Roots by now have tied everything together. I use it to illustrate litophytic growth at our shows. None are in bark or coconut, repotting these guys is not something I would look forward too.

The only problem is that every year the grandi gets heavier as I get another year closer to 80. There are 2 lines here that will cross one of these years. I don't think I will cut it up, it's too majestic when in full bloom.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 3:59PM
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Nick - I think that I have mine in Aussie Gold. Do you think I could successfully repot it into lava rock?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 9:57AM
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Some people do very well with lava rock, Orchid Zone, a premium grower does everything in lava rock. I find it retains way too much water for me and have had bad luck with it. Don't use it anymore.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 11:53PM
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