Friday, August 8, 2014

Mad Science Grants

http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=3445


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Orange Embers x Maronii - Flower-to-Flask

The seed pods from crosses I made in the spring are finally maturing.  I am gearing up to do a lot of flasking, so that I can get to them all before they dehisce.  So far, I much prefer the ease of "green pod" sowing, so I will try to do it that way whenever possible.

I thought I would use this post to show a sequence of photographs of the stages of one of these spring crosses up to this point.  The pod parent in this case is LC Orange Embers 'Firecracker':
LC Orange Embers 'Firecracker'
©2012 MadOrchidist.com

The pollen parent is the delicate looking Laelia Maronii:

Laelia Maronii
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
Both of these plants have the Mexican Species Laelia anceps in their background, so i would expect any progeny to be hardy and tolerant of a wide range of temperatures.  Why did I make this cross?  Well, to be honest, because they were both blooming!  I have finally started to make some crosses that deliberately factor into a larger breeding plan and direction (more on that later), but I am still practicing my flasking techniques too, so there are quite a few of these "practice pods" coming along as well.

As usual, after pollination, the flowers begin to fade and the ovaries begin to swell into pods.  Interestingly, I also made the reverse cross, with the Maronii as the pod parent, but it didn't take and no pod was produced.

Pods just beginning to swell
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
I pollinated these flowers in early March.  By late July, the fruits/pods were looking plump and ready for harvest - almost five months later.  I actually made three different crosses with this pod parent, but the one from this post is on the left.  Perhaps you can see in the next photo that it is beginning to yellow a bit.  This is a pretty good indicator that it will begin to dry and split soon, so it's time to get moving if I want to sow it "green pod."
Three pods on the Orange Embers parent
©2012 MadOrchidist.com

Speaking of that, here is a photo of the pod cut open, inside the glove box during flasking:
Seed Pod open in the glove box, showing fine seed
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
The seed was light, fairly loose, and dry-ish in there.  I think that bodes well for its maturity.  If it was still damp and green inside, that would probably mean that it wasn't fully mature yet.  Harvesting green pods is a bit of a guessing game.  If you pluck one too early, the seed may not be ready, and if you wait too long, it may split open and release the seed.

It turns out that seed capsule growth and timing is pretty much entirely determined by the pod parent.  This makes sense when you realize that the pod is made from "maternal" tissues and is not the product of the new hybrid gene combinations inside the seeds.  Any hybrid traits will only be in evidence in the offspring themselves, when and if they grow and flower.

Completed Mother Flasks
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
So, here are the two mother flasks I made with this seed.  I will be watching them closely over the next couple of weeks for germination and/or contamination.  I am always hoping for more of the former and less of the latter - fingers crossed.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Back to Work!

OK, I'm still here!  This blog and my orchid lab have grown a touch dusty, but that's about to change!

Cattley Resplendens
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
It was not my plan to let my pet project lie fallow for this long, but, as John Lennon said: "Life is what happens while you are making other plans."

Even though I have been absent from the blog for a bit,  I haven't been ignoring my orchids entirely.  Since my last post, the greenhouse has doubled in size and I have made some exciting new crosses and acquisitions.  I have seed pods bursting at the seams all over, and I am ready to get back into the gloves and do some flasking.

In my natural habitat!
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
Stay tuned for some great new posts.  I have repaired/upgraded my glove box and will be flasking new hybrids as well as replating some earlier efforts.

A spotted hybrid - clearly!
©2012 MadOrchidist.com

In the meantime, you can see photos of what's been blooming in my Flickr photo stream.

Thank you so much to everyone who has continued to discover, read, and comment on this blog in my absence.  It's great to know that I am not the only one interested in doing this kind of mad science at home!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Central Coast Orchid Show 2012

Well, hot on the heels (2 weekends later) of the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show is the Central Coast Orchid Show & Sale.  It is sponsored by the Five Cities Orchid Society and takes place in Arroyo Grande, CA.

Central Coast Orchid Show & Sale
 Volunteers from the Coastal Valley Orchid Society and I set up our display on Thursday, and the show is open to the public Saturday and Sunday.  Here is a quick preview of our efforts:

CVOS display preview
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
Bug Box and Bird Cage
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
The show's theme this year is "stepping back in time."  Our display is Victorian-(ish), and features an enlarged facsimile of Charles Darwin's 1862 orchid book: "On the various contrivances by which British and foreign Orchids are fertilised by insects,  and on the good effects of intercrossing," including enlargements of several illustrations.

I even brought in a selection of insects (the wooden box in the center of the photo above) from my personal collection, representing different kinds of possible pollinators.
Insect Collection
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
When I was at UCSB, I was required to assemble an insect collection for an invertebrate zoology class. I enjoyed it so much that I went right on collecting after graduation, and I still enjoy it to this day. Darwin was also an avid collector of insects (as were many other Victorians), and it seemed like a nice tie-in with the book and display.

We also included other period touches, including a Tiffany Dragonfly Lamp (very late Victorian).  Of course, it's a replica, or I'd never let it out of the house!  Other props include an actual antique candle table, authentic tea cups, and even a real chamber pot!
Detail of the CVOS display with Tiffany lamp and Orchids
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
Oh, did I mention that it's chock-full of beautiful orchids!
Wide Angle CVOS Display
©2012 MadOrchidist.com

Monday, March 19, 2012

Santa Barbara International Orchid Show 2012


Last weekend was the big spring orchid show in Santa Barbara.  I was there for most of four days (setup, judging, shopping, teardown, etc.), and I think I have a bit of an orchid hangover, but it was totally worth it!  The theme was "Orchidelic," (like psychedelic) so there was plenty of peace and love in the air.  Here are just a few pictures:

Orchidelic Volkswagen Beetle
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
Turnout was good despite the inclement weather outside.
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
Two views, from different sides, of the amazing display put in by Andy's Orchids
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
©2012 MadOrchidist.com

©2012 MadOrchidist.com

©2012 MadOrchidist.com

©2012 MadOrchidist.com
©2012 MadOrchidist.com

Orchids and Lava Lamps - Orchidelic!
©2012 MadOrchidist.com

My society put in a display, for which we received a third place yellow ribbon.  I am also a member of OSSB, who placed 2nd in our class.  If you are reading this and you are not a member of a local orchid society, I high recommend that you find one and join!

I brought in the lava lamps from my desk at work to add the right mood to our display:
Coastal Valley Orchid Society Display
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
My favorite:
One of the only Schomburgkias in the whole show - undulata 'Ft. Caroline'
©2012 MadOrchidist.com 
Perhaps the best part of the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show is getting together with other orchid people, and 2012 was no exception.  Some folks come from the far corners of the world, but there are plenty of experts right here in the area too.  Here is a nice shot of local orchid legend Paul Gripp and I (thanks to Frank Methman for the photo):

Paul and I at the show
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
And then, just as quickly as it began, it was all over . . .

The party's over . . .
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
I didn't take any pictures of the vendor area, but stay tuned for a post about all the cool orchids I picked up!



Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More Deflasking

Well, I finally got the rest of my Schomburgkia hybrid flasks potted up.  Here are a few photos:


Flask full of seedlings ready to come out
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
 It was easier to break this one than try to fish everything out through the neck.

A seedling flask without the flask!
©2012 MadOrchidist.com


Big seedlings with healthy roots
©2012 MadOrchidist.com


In all, the contents of four flasks (four different crosses) went into pots and into the humidity chamber.  I didn't expect them to fill the whole tank, but it's pretty packed in there:

A full house
©2012 MadOrchidist.com


Heat and Humidity
©2012 MadOrchidist.com

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What's Blooming

Just for fun, here are photos of some of the beautiful orchids that were blooming during the month of February.  March is looking like it could shape up nicely too . . .

This first one is really a gem, and the water droplets make for a gorgeous photograph:
SLC Bright Angel x Circle of Life
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
This Australian Dendrobium hybrid has beautiful deep maroon spots all over the outside of the buds, but almost none of that color shows up on the front of the butter yellow flowers:
Dendrobium Sheena
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
Here is a neat primary hybrid registered in 1904, Laelia rubescens x Laelia anceps = L. Maronii
It sure looks to take more after the rubescens parent, but the anceps shows a bit in the throat:
Laelia Maronii
©2012 MadOrchidist.com

LC Frank Shadle 'Highland' (pollinated on the left)
©2012 MadOrchidist.com

LC Orange Embers 'Firecracker'  (from the Gene B. collection)
©2012 MadOrchidist.com

As featured in a previous post, the Stonehouse was also showing off in February:
C/LC Stonehouse
©2012 MadOrchidist.com

OK, for this last one I'm cheating a little bit.  I took the photo, and I now have two of these plants (thanks again Gene!), but this bloom isn't mine.  It belongs to a division of the big Schomburgkia undulata at the Santa Barbara Orchid Estate.  The plant took best in show at the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show in 2006 and is one of my all time favorite species.  The big mother plant appears to be taking some time off, but several divisions were blooming, just begging to be photographed:
Schomburgkia undulata (or Laelia, depending who you ask)
©2012 MadOrchidist.com
Some great hybrids have been made with this species, and I think I'm going to try making one of my own when mine bloom next . . .