Dendrobium Smilliae aka Bottlebrush orchid

The flower and the extra long stalks are a show stopper once the plant fills out. It’s pretty cool even now.

Epiphyte, warm growing (70’F-86’F), bright, filtered light, high humidity. Keep wet in summer months, a bit drier in the winter. The drying in the winter is a trigger for blooming. It’s planted in semi-hydro ( small pebbles in a shallow glass container with about an inch of water at the bottom)

Australian and New Guinea native, typically found in low land areas growing in the branches of trees and rocks in a bog forest.

This is one of a few orchids that is pollinated by birds, the yellow honeyeater is a small, yellow, hummingbird like bird that hovers near the flowers, feeds on the nectar and pollinates the orchid in the process.

I’ll fill in more details after I have more time with this one, It was just acquired it at the orchid show last month.

Encyclia Green Hornet ( cochleata x trulla) aka octopus orchid


I first saw this at the Houston Orchid Show and was lucky enough to find a vendor with one for sale. It reminds me of little space aliens descending.

I’ve only had it a month, so I’m still relying on basic orchid care for Encyclias: keep warm, medium light. I have it potted in a glass container with clay pellets ( semi-hydro ). Most orchids require cooler weather to bloom, time will tell if this one does as well. One greenhouse claims it is a winter bloomer, which means a temperature drop will be required. Others claim it is a year round bloomer, in which case no temperature drop is required. Time will tell.

It should max out between 12″-18″ in height

It is supposed to be a scented orchid, I haven’t noticed any scent yet.

The forums claim it is a fast growing, easy to care for plant

I’ve seen it listed as a cross between cochleata x trulla and cochleatum x lancifolium

I’ll upload better photos and care tips after I have time to see how it does.

Sedum morganianum Burrito aka Donkey Tail

New cuttings potted up mid April 2018
Early Aug, the growth rate is increasing, once the weather cools a bit it’ll grow faster

First listed by Glasshouse Works in 1988, it’s a species native to eastern Mexico. It’s a smaller, thicker version of Sedum edeveria.

It’s most common use by gardeners is in hanging baskets.

Protect from cold, it prefers temperatures ~ 70’F, anything lower than 45’F will damage or kill plant

Sun to light shade, minimum 4 hours of direct sun daily

Keep damp in growing season, drier in winter

Lightly fertilize

Dropped leaves or yellowing leaves appear if the plant isn’t getting enough light

Tiny red flowers will appear on end of tails

Propagation by cuttings or leaves placed in damp soil and moderate sun. As new growth appears gently cut back on watering and give the plant more sun.

Lepismium Cruciforme Rhipsalis

New cuttings potted up mid April 2018
First flower on the new cuttings
New cuttings getting started
Cuttings in Sept, some progress

This is one of those plants I stumbled across a photo of and I had to have it. Once it gets going it looks like an octopus trying to escape the flower pot.

A green to red rhipsalis with small tufts of white with red flowers along plant. Flowers will become small red fruits. A happy plant can have trailing stems up to 4′ long. This is a hanging rhipsalis, it’ll need to be up high enough to let the branches trail. Fast growing once it gets started.

Water lightly but do not let get dry, water more in warm weather less in cold weather. Pot must have good drainage

Light shade, will burn in direct afternoon sun, loves bright morning sun best

Protect from cold, 55’F, and from heat greater than 80’F

Propagate from cuttings, let end callous over before planting in damp soil

Endangered in natural habitat, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, so be sure to pass cuttings along to all the gardeners you know

Aeonium arboretum atropurpureum “zwartkop”

New cutting late March 2018
New cutting late March 2018
Aeonium arboreum growing in a sidewalk garden in California

Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ aka Black rose

The flowers are actually leaves, in older plants they can be as large as 8″ across. The true flowers are a bright yellow, and look like small daisies. I’ll post photos once it blooms. These just arrived this week.

The plant grows long stems with sparse clumps of rosettes. It looks like a small tree when fully grown (~3′)

I’m hoping to grow it in pots outside. It’s rated for zones 9-11 so it’s probably best grown as a house plant.

Grow it in full sun, well drained soil, same as you would for any succulent. Water it more in the summer, less in the winter, giving it a thorough soaking and letting it go almost dry between waterings.

Propagation is by cuttings in early spring. The two plants in the photos are cuttings, I’ve potted them up in wet soil, I’ll let the soil get drier and give them more light over the next few weeks.

The earliest mention of this plant I could find was late 1980s where it is mentioned as a houseplant or plant for warm, dry landscapes.

It’s in the same plant family as jade, Crassulaceae. It’s native to the Canary Islands where it prefers to grow on hillsides.

Heliamphora ( Sun Pitchers )

These grow on the mountains in Venezuela where they receive lots of sun, humidity, water and cool temperatures, which drop significantly at night. All of which makes them a challenging plant to grow. I’ve slaughtered many.

First discovered in 1839 by explorers there are many species. The mountains are flat topped and widely separated leading to many similar, but different plants.

These are carnivores, but use a bacteria in the pitcher fluid to break down the insects instead of producing their own enzymes. There was and is an ongoing debate as to how carnivorous they are.

Outside through the Houston fall-winter-spring they do very well. It’s too warm in the summer for Heliamphoras to be outside. I have two growing quite well in terrariums, one on a windowsill that gets lots of morning light, one in a niche that has a light directly over the terrarium.

Humidity seems to override all other things when growing Sun Pitchers. Bright light is next and like all carnivorous plants distilled water is best. I’ve not found a daily temperature change to be important for growing, it might be for flowering? Every time I’ve removed it from the terrarium it’s begun to die back, starting by browning at the top edge of the pitchers.