What do bloom spikes look like on different orchids?

orchidobsessed(9)June 9, 2008

What does it look like when an orchid is about to bloom? Does a bloom have to come out of a mature psuedobulb? What can i do to encourage my orchids to bloom? pictures would help.

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You need to research the plants you are interested in. Learn the basics. I good place to begin is a book, Ortho's 'All About Orchids' inexpensive and they sell it everywhere. Lots of pictures which will show you where the blooms come from on different plants. You need to learn about light, temps, watering, etc.

When you have a basic understanding, come back with specific questions and you will get lots of responses.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 11:09PM
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richardol(Santa Royale CA)

There is no one answer. Some bloom from the top, some from the side and some from the bottom. Some bloom before new growth starts, some bloom on mature growth and some bloom from last year's growth. I depends on the orchid or its species parents.

The Ortho book is a great starting point.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 1:08AM
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xmpraedicta(3b Saskatoon)

As Jane and Richard said, much of this will come with experience...but you're not alone! When I first started growing, I too was very curious about how spikes looked and whether the things I saw were spikes, roots or new growths. I looked around online for some photos, and observed some on my own too...it is a difficult question to answer because, as mentioned, many orchids are different, and also, at shows you tend to see the flowers instead of the spikes.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 1:25AM
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Interesting, I had the same questions as a novice so . . . . HERE COME THE PIX !!!

Cattleya harrisoniae = One spike with 2 buds coming out of a sheath formed at the apex of the leaves.

Dendrobium Andree Millar = One spike with 4 buds coming out of the base of the leaves, an Australian type of Den.

Dendrobium Ise 'Yayoi' = New spikes and old already bloomed spikes all along the new and old canes.

Dendrobium Lemon Ice 'H & R' = 2 spikes, one with 2 buds coming out of the upper half of the cane.

Doritaenopsis (now Phalaenopsis) Little Blue Bird = One spike with 4 buds coming out of the base of the leaves. Sorry about the sideways, the photobucket screwed it up !

Epicattleya El Hatillo 'Pinta' HCC-AOS = Four spikes, each one coming out of the apex of the pseudobulb where the leaf starts.

Grammatophyllum scriptum var. kiilani = Old brown spike on the right and new one just to its left coming out at the base of the pseudobulb.

Potinara Elfin Charm 'Amethyst Jewel' = One spike with one bud coming out of a new growth without the usual sheath.

And, OF COURSE, Dendrobium Rainbow Dance !!! = Those are spikes all along the canes.

I'll answer any q's about the pix. ENJOY !!


    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 3:37AM
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savtaj(Z 9-10 (Israel))

Chryss, what impressive photos -and all recent, too!
And to complicate matters, I have a Miltonia that is spiking like your epicatt, whereas my epicatt spikes exactly like a cattleya. Go figure!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 6:42AM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Wonderful photos, Chryss. Thanks for sharing them! I love the silhouettes against the rose-colored background. Veddy nissse!

Orchidobsessed, I can't add much to what has been said here. But just a couple of points: all the orchids I've grown-- catts, oncids, encyclias and phals are more likely to bloom from structures that are mature.

Catts bloom on the new pbs, after the pb has grown fat enough to start splitting the tan sarong. Most bloom from a "sheath"-- a little triangle that starts at the top of the pb, where leaves begin. The sheath begins to fatten up, fatter and fatter until the buds split it and appear. You can see the open sheath at the bottom of the bloom spike in Chryss' first picture.

As the buds develop further the buds in Chryss' first picture would drop until they are pretty much L-shaped before opening. The drooping is a sign blooms will open in a few days. Some catts, esp brassavola and hybrids can put up buds with no sheath (or sheath so small you never saw it)

Oncids also bloom from the newest pbs after maturity. Spikes usually come from the bottom, where two little "handle"-like leaves form at the sides of the pb.

Phals form spikes at the bottom of the plant, at the side, in the area between two leaves' attachments. Roots can also form from there, but usually a spike has a slightly different form from a root.

As Calvin said, once you've seen a couple, there won't be any mystery, tho it's always fun to peer into the plant and find one starting.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 9:10AM
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xmpraedicta(3b Saskatoon)

Good advice from all, and marvelous pictures chryss! - I thought I'd include a few more pictures of spikes :)

Nigrohirsute /formosae dendrobium 'sheath'

Neofinetia falcata spike (same as what mehitabel said about phals..most vandaceous are like this)

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 9:34AM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

Whenever I went to an orchid greenhouse I would look at the blooms and how many bulbs there were. Then as I got more into it, I would study the plants and try to determine where the spikes or buds were coming from and if the plants were unifoliate or bifoliate. I didn't know what a sheath was until the grower pointed one out and I went, "Ahah!" I went home and found several sheaths on my cattleyas that I hadn't seen before because I didn't know what to look for.

If you have a greenhouse you can go to, go and study the plants and ask questions.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 3:34PM
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Hey Calvin, your pix are a lot nicer !! I did mine in a flurry last night and NOT up to my standards !

Your falcata looks to have spots !! Is that so ?? Is it a hybrid or, if it does have spots, a seedling variant ??

Mine is just white, but I love it !! Do you pot it in the traditional Japanese way ?? I'm really interested in doing it like that but maybe have to . . . oh, oh . . . GET ANOTHER ONE !!! I think the term "addictive personality" explains it, I just NEVER say no !!


    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 5:30PM
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sweetcicely(S7 USDA9 No.CA)

Thank you, Orchidobsessed for asking the question!

What a rare and helpful thread! --well worth permanent status on the forum. Countless times I've searched in vain for pictures of emerging spikes on various orchids. They often look quite different from spikes that have grown a few inches.

Thanks, Chryss and Calvin, for the clear, annotated photos!


    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 6:25PM
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Wow. Thanks for all the information and the pictures really helped. I will read "All About Orchids" if I can find it.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 6:26PM
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I think my Vanda is starting to spike, but the new "spike" is growing from the exact same leave intersection as the last spike did...is this possible?
It is about 1 cm now

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 10:59AM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Hi, wiscnick. I don't grow vandas, but among phals (same family), P. violacea and some hybrids of it can grow spikes from the same spot. I have two different ones that done it, and a friend has one, too. Don't know if there are others.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 11:54AM
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shaunsarctic_orchids(z0 NWT,Can)

Great thread! There is definitely a variety of ways that orchid plants send out flowers. It's always a treat when you realize that a new type is in spike/sheath. I think there a picture in FAQ's of the mitten-like appearance of a Phal spike versus root growth (I think that fairly similar for most of the Vandaceous types). I still wouldn't recognize a sheath on a multifloral Phaphiopedilum (although I hope to soon).
Pleione spikes from spring bulbs

Paphiopedilum bud (other Paphs could be quite different)


    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 1:02AM
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Those are the best pictures for illustration that I have ever seen. I have been growing orchids for about 4-5 years and if I can do it, anybody can. I am very lucky to have a window that the orchids really like. My biggest problem is that sometimes the orchids will burn a little bit in the window. I NEVER put my orchids outside. I tried that once and I did not let them adjust gradually and I lost an orchid by doing this. So now I never take the chance. Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 9:06AM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Calvin, that nigrohirsute dend looks like it was crossed with a spider! Great pics.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 3:37PM
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xmpraedicta(3b Saskatoon)

Chryss - Thanks! My neo is just the regular white kind..I have no idea why there were red spots on the spike..possibly due to the light? I have it potted 'on top' of a ball of sphag with an air pocket underneath, and the entire thing is inside a larger pot surrounded by clay pellets..unconventional, but it seems to enjoy itself...so definitely, you should get another one to experiment with. I encourage it - get another!..(one of these days, this kind of enabling is going to come back and haunt me ;))

Shaun - Those pleiones look awesome...love seeing those emerge.

Mehitabel - I love these black haired dends, and you are absolutely right - the little 'sheath' type thing looks exactly like a spider's furry little behind!

I'm enjoying this thread thoroughly. Although it's nice to have a blooming orchid, sometimes I get even more excited when I see new growth, roots or spikes forming!!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 11:06PM
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whitecat8(z4 MN)

Great question, Orchidobsessed.

Chryss, your shot of the Den Rainbow Dancer looks like an expensive portrait by a professional photographer.

Calvin, whenever I see a spike, it's an involuntary inhalation, followed by a big "Oh" and a grateful smile.

Here are more pix. I don't know the technical names for plant parts, but you can see where the spikes, buds, etc. come from.

Aerangis fastuosa

Coryanthes fieldingii

Cycnoches Midnight Magic

Dendrobium aberrans 1 - little dark spot is the spike.

Dendrobium aberrans 2, spike from leafless pseudobulb  cuuuuute

Dendrobium moniliforme

Encyclia bracteata - 2 spikes w/ one bud each

Gastrochilus japonicus - 2 spikes

Lepanthes manabina - buds at the end of spikes on leaves

Neofinetia falcata ÂShutennou ÂRed EmperorÂ

Ornithocephalus bicornis

Paphiopedilum spicerianum  looks like a new leaf at first

Phalaenopsis Snow Twinkle  can look like a new root at first

Polystachya piersii blooming, so you can see where the spike comes from

Polystachya piersii spike, side view

Trigonidium egertonianum

This is fun!


    Bookmark   June 15, 2008 at 2:45AM
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