Chysis bractescens

I potted this in semi-hydro ( glass pot, clay pellets, about an inch of water well below the root level ) I’ve had fantastic luck with the other orchids potted this way.

I’ve read Chysis bractescens should not dry completely out, but let them get drier and cooler in the winter or they won’t bloom in the spring. This one is two years old. I’ve found they need to be kept wet, semi hydro has worked out very well, I’d plant them in sphagnum otherwise. I think bark will be too dry. I keep it wetter than any of my other orchids.

Like all orchids they need a good dose of fertilizer each watering.

No direct sunlight, keep above 60’F. (mine gets some direct sun very early in the morning, dappled light the rest of the morning, house lighting only after that. )

Fragrant at night, spring bloomer with fat canes, self fertilizing, typically grown in a basket. When well cared for can reach 2′ in height.

The leaves should get much longer as it grows 15″-16″ in length, the flower stem to about half that length. The flowers grow from the base of the plant, the leaves near the top of the canes. Older leaves drop off over the winter, sometimes only the roots survive the winter.

Blooms every spring, a few cold nights (55’F) are absolutely necessary to get it going. Newest bud, not yet open, appeared the first week of March. Last year I kept it inside on a windowsill. That’s cold enough for the phals and dends to bloom but not for this plant. This year I put it out in the greenhouse where the nights are much colder and I have two flower spikes.

Central American native first described in 1840. Popular Victorian orchid, I’m seeing it listed for sale more often.

It is currently a protected species. Grows on trees in wet, thick, forest or on rocks ~ 350′-2000′.

Introduced to growers in 1840 by George Baker

Chrysis is Greek for melting. The flowers self fertilize and tend to melt into a clump after blooming

Dendrobium spectabile

Like many house plants, these were no where, then all of a sudden everywhere. These just arrived a few weeks ago, so I may change this as I have some time to experiment with them.

These arrived at about 18″, the stalks will reach 36″ when it is full grown. There are no flowers or spikes but they are large enough to bloom. It may be next year before I see flowers. You’ll need a drafty windowsill to give the the 15′ temperature drop they need to go into blooming mode.

These are from Papa New Guinea, and like most island tropicals they grow in a very narrow temperature range, 70’F-80’F. I’d keep them inside, even in the summer.

I recently shifted all my orchids to a semi-hydro ( clay pellets ), they’ve all done extremely well so these are planted that way as well. They are in 6″ glass cubes, the bottom third is pellets, the plant roots are spread around the top 2/3 and clay pellets have been worked in between and around the roots. They were extremely root bound when they arrived in their 4″ pots.

Water and fertilize less in the winter, this is supposed to help encourage blooming.

I’ve read they need quite a bit more sunlight than other dendrobiums and most other orchids. I’ve placed them in a southwest facing window with very little shading ( in Houston ). We’ll see how it goes. They’ve survived the first few weeks but it’s been cloudy. This window is bright enough to burn other orchid plants but not Venus Fly traps or other carnivorous swamp plants.

These turned out to bloom as easily as other dendrobiums. Put them on a window sill so they’ll get the winter temperature drop and give them just a tiny bit more light than other dendrobiums. They will burn if given too much light. The flowers are heavily scented.

Psychopsis ( Oncidium Mendenhall)

I fell in love with these years ago, and it’s been a very long time since I’ve had one. Now I have four. The first two were lost in shipping by the PostOffice. The seller sent replacements, and three weeks later the originals turned up. The roots were dry but the plants were otherwise healthy. A few hours of soaking in water with rooting hormone and fertilizer, then a week planted in sphagnum moss, and they were as good as the two that hadn’t gotten lost. These are tough plants that clearly don’t mind a bit of neglect.

These orchids want low to medium light, I’m told they’ll bloom in light as dim as you use for your phalaenopsis, but cattleya light is better. The leaves on these are almost a dark solid green, with more light the leaves will get a brown speckling. I’m still experimenting to see how much light they can take you can see the newer leaves beginning to get some color as I increase the light. I put these in a AeroGrow Ultra LED garden, they are in a tray, planted in clay pellets (semi-hydro) and thriving.

Some growers say to let them dry a bit between waterings, others say never let them dry. After the PostOffice experiment I’m leaning towards letting them get a bit dry between waterings. Make sure the leaves and pseudobulbs stay firm, roots should be green to white, the greener the better.

I’ve taken to keeping all my orchids in clear glass containers so I can keep an eye on the roots. If you use bark and or sphagnum moss make sure there is no water sitting in the bottom of the container and use a shallow, wide container. If you use clay pellets ( semi-hydro ) plant the orchid so the roots are above the bottom third of the container and leave water in the bottom third of the container. I have these planted in semi-hydro, it hasn’t been very long but so far they are doing extremely well.

Each spike bears flowers one at a time, after the flower dies the spike will grow a bit longer, then a new flower will bloom on it. Flower spikes can reach 5′ in height. Flowers can be a couple inches or as large as 6″. Flowers will last about a month.

I find these to be very easy to grow, they bloom almost year round only stopping when the house air gets dry in the winter. They are easily propagated by division

Temperatures should be between 50’F and 90’F, 60′-80F is best.

The higher the humidity the better.

Psychopsis Mendenhall is a hybrid between Psychopsis Butterfly and papilio.

Psyche is Greek for butterfly, opsis for like

Psycopsis were first introduced to The Royal Horticulture Society in 1823 but Sir Ralph Woodford, Governor of Trinidad

Newly unflasked Paph Fairrienum

I’ve been so happy with the progress from the previous two flasks I thought I’d try another one. This one also came from eBay. These are crosses of Paph. fairrienums they should look like the photo but with slight variations. A large pot of these in bloom should be gorgeous. Estimated time to bloom is two years.

The flask contained about 25 seedlings.

It was an open mouthed flask so it only took a little coaxing to remove them.
I placed the whole group in a shallow container of water with fertilizer.
Because the agar was brown and the seedlings a bit yellowed I added a capful of hydrogen peroxide to the water.

After about 10 minutes the agar softened enough to break out the plants and sort them on to a clean towel.

A bit of rinsing of each plant under the faucet helped removed the remaining agar from the roots.

I dipped each seedling in rooting hormone, then placed it in the terrarium.
The terrarium has a couple of inches of sphagnum moss soaked in fertilized water.

Lastly they get placed in a bright window.

Now we wait. In the meantime, it should make an interesting terrarium to watch.
I’ll slowly leave the cover off the terrarium and let them adapt to the house humidity.
I’ll check each day to be sure the moss is damp but there is no fungus or mold.
When the container gets too crowded I’l moved them to community pots.

Oct 2014
These are doing well, I have them in a window that gets morning sun along with a fluorescent lamp. The cover is off the terrarium and most of them have started growing a 3rd leaf.

Feb. 2015
I murdered every last one of these. I recently acquired a Miracle Grow LED hydroponic garden. I’m going to try deflasking plants into there, then transplanting them into pots.

COC Deflasking Orchid Seedlings Several professional growers give their tips

Ghost Orchid Flasks (Dendrophylax lindenii)



8/13/14
I decided it was time to try something more challenging. So I ordered a couple of flasks of Ghost Orchids ( Dendrophylax lindeii ) on eBay.

The flasks arrived in a few days, everything looks wonderful.

I did have to break the flasks to remove the plants, not a big deal, wrap the flask in a towel and use a hammer.

After removing the orchids, I dropped them into a container of water with fertilizer and rooting hormone while I gently untangled them and removed the agar.

So far so good.

They are currently dispersed across 4 terrariums, worm castings on the bottom, sphagnum moss, then mulch, orchids are resting on the mulch.

For now I’ll keep the light levels low. The largest trick is to keep the humidity close to 100% and keep mold and fungus from killing the seedlings.

I use a light dose of fertilizer with rooting hormone to water my orchids, these included.



8/18/14
I’ve lost two of the ghost orchids to fungus, I’ve dispersed a few that didn’t look good into the carnivorous terrariums.

About a half dozen have grown their baby leaves, these two leaves are temporary and will fall off once the plants get settled.



Sept 12, 14
I admit to slaughtering most of the ghost orchids, of the half dozen to a dozen remaining most are showing new growth. They are in a large southwest facing window, in a not tightly sealed terrarium and I’m spraying them with water in the morning and evening.

Oct 6, 2014
These are tough, every time they start doing well, they start doing poorly a week later. I moved them from the southwest window to a spot under a bright LED which doesn’t get as hot in the afternoon. We’ll see how that goes?

Feb 2015
I killed all but one of the Ghost Orchids. The surviving one is floating on a piece of bark in a fish tank under an extremely bright light. So far it seems to be surviving.

Newly unflasked Dendrobiums

New try. After slaughtering the first two batches of dendrobiums I deflasked I decided to try another. This time the newly deflasked plants are being placed in an Aerogarden seed tray. It’s only been a day but so far so good.


Today (Aug 13, 2014) my order of Dendrobium Moschatum from eBay arrived. These were grown in a flask, unflasked by grower prior to shipping.

Much like cuttings started in water these will grow new roots to replace the ones they grew in the flask. For now they’ll stay in a terrarium to keep the humidity up. As they grow new roots and leaves I’ll start leaving the cover off eventually planting them up in pots.

I tried putting them worm castings and sphagnum moss in the terrarium and inserting the plants. They are so fragile now that wasn’t really working. I removed them and took each plant, made a ball of moss around the roots and inserted that into the terrarium.

I’m told newly unflasked plants do better when they are kept near their siblings? I don’t know, maybe so. These are closely planted in two terrariums sorted by plant size.

The terrariums have worm castings and sphagnum moss, they’ll be weakly fertilized with rooting hormone added as the terrariums need more water.

The biggest trick is to keep up the humidity but not let molds or fungus attack the new seedlings.

Aug 15th, leaving the cover off the terrariums for a while, the seedlings still look good, so I’ll start to harden them off.

Aug 26th, I’ve started leaving them outside in a mostly shaded area. So far I haven’t lost any plants. The stems are thickening up a little, no new leaves yet.

Sept 13th, all the orchids are still alive. They are not much, if any, taller, but the stems are noticeably thicker.

Oct 6, 2014 The seedlings are struggling and I’m not sure why. They are receiving bright morning sun, there’s a fluorescent lamp nearby, the cover is off the terrarium. The other newly un-flasked orchids in the container next to them are doing great.

Feb 2015. I killed all of these. Unflasking plants into pots is more challenging than I thought it would be.

But I have a new batch, they are in an AeroGrow garden, semi-hydroponic setup.

First Rays, semi-hydroponics for orchids