Friday, November 09, 2007

Pectecilis susannae

This is a very famous orchid. It is found in the monsoon belt of Southeast Asia and into S. China, with a very distinct dry and wet season. The natural habitat is seasonal grasslands, in soil pockets amongst rocks and grass. Rumphius named it after his wife in Flora of Ambon:

in memory of her [Susanna] who when alive, was my first companion and helpmate in looking for herbs and plants, and who was also the first one to show it to me

Currently it is very rare in the wild and equally rare in cultivation. It is rare in cultivation probably because of its very specific growth/dormancy requirements and growers tend to treat it like most other orchids which require year round watering. Like H. lindleyana in the former post, after flowering this species dies down to a tuber resting for couple of months before a new shoot will emerge from the soil. At this point, watering can be resumed. It likes to be grown in sandy clay enriched with high potash & phosphate. The mix must retain moisture and must be well drained. The plant grows vigorously for 3-4 mths before flowering developing a tall stem; the stem should be supported if necessary aovid toppling over resulting in unrecoverable damage to basal stem jointed to the tuber. Watering should be slowly reduce as leaves and flowers dries up to prepare for tuber development and dormancy. Some water should still be given to soften the mix and aid tuber development. Here we go, flowers taken back in Oct this year.

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