Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ahhhhh!! Vanilla orchids and Bromeliads!

Our vanilla orchid (Yes! vanilla is an orchid!!) is starting to bloom again!!! Beautiful! There is no fragrance to this flower that we can detect. Each individual flower lasts only one day. Then they wither and fall off the vine if they are not pollinated.

Horticulture staff enjoy attempting to pollinate this flower when possible! We do not have the natural pollinators in the Conservatory so pollination must be done by staff! See the pollen on the left side of the photo? It is the triangle shaped yellow bundle in this photo. It is removed from the flower with a small piece of bamboo and then placed on the sticky surface of the flower and pressed in place. The flower is only receptive to pollinating for about 4 hours in the early to late morning!

When a pollination attempt is successful, the beginnings of a "vanilla bean" can be seen! Look closely at this photo and you can see the old whithered flower still attached and the green swollen "bean" attached to it. It can take about 9 months to get a ripe "bean" after a successful pollination.

The vanilla vine has at least 8 flower bud clusters at this time! The flowers open about one flower every third day. This warm spring has been great for this vine in the North House!

And the bromeliads in the display in the Palm Dome are very happy too!

Bromeliads for the display are rotated through the display as needed. Staff and volunteers groom and replace plants at least weekly.

The bromeliads in Tropical Encounters started out as divisions of plants from the collection in the greenhouses. They were then mounted on the fallen tree in Tropical Encounters with fishing line. The company that created the fallen tree attached coated wire mesh to the top of the branches. Sphagnum moss was stuffed under the wire mesh and then the bromeliads were tied on to the mesh with the fishing line.

These have been growing on the fallen tree for just a few years!

The bromeliad collection is grown in the production greenhouses at the Conservatory. At this time, there are three benches dedicated to the approximately 400 pots of bromeliads . The bromeliads are watered about every 5-7 days during the spring and summer and less often during the winter/darker months. They are fed about once a month when they are actively growing.

Bromeliads are also grown in high light areas with plenty of airflow!

Watch the ever changing display of bromeliad plants in the Palm Dome as they are moved from the growing area to the display in the Palm Dome!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bonsai and the Japanese Garden

Today was the day to move the Bonsai from the dormant house to their outside location!

The weather is now warm enough for the evergreen and deciduous Bonsai trees to come out of the greenhouse. They are displayed outside, between the North Garden and the growing range. Look through the Parlor doors for a glimpse of these wonderful plants!

The Horticulture staff carefully move each tree to the growing area under the shade cloth.

The trees have been exposed to the lower outside temperatures in the dormant house. During the winter, temperatures in the dormant area can hover just above freezing. There are even days when snow can be seen falling through the open top vents!!

The Japanese Garden is looking fabulous!! The Garden will open Saturday May 1 at 10:00am!

The pool is full and awaiting the arrival of the Koi from the Sunken Garden.

The redbud is blooming!!!

And the crabapple is so fragrant!

Vinca is covering this area of the garden under the river birches.

Horticulture staff groom every inch of the garden in preparation for the opening on May 1.

This is the time of year to "candle" some of the evergreens. The new emerging growth is called a "candle". This is where the new needles are being formed. About one half of the candle can be removed by pruning. This reduces the height of the plant and creates a fuller specimen.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Spring Is Here!!

Spring is here!!! Actually, it has already felt a lot like spring for the past few months (at least here in the greenhouses)!

The greenhouses are full and very colorful! And the pansies are so fragrant!

The pentas for the Butterfly House are hot pink and red!

Production of the annuals (like these petunias) for summer plantings is going at top speed!

There are plants on the benches (like these hydrangeas) in full bloom that are kept as backup plants for the Sunken Garden plantings.

And some of the tropicals, like these wonderful bromeliads, are even blooming! These plants are awaiting their turn to go out on the display in the Palm Dome.

The Horticulture Staff are spending long hours watering, fertilizing and grooming the crops and collections to keep everything in top shape!

Besides the wonderful flowering plants, there are always those awesome "not flowering at this very moment" plants that deserve recognition!

The Victoria Waterplatters are growing in 100 gallon tanks in the production greenhouses, getting bigger daily. These are awaiting the time in early June when they will be placed in the large heated pool in front of the Visitor Center/Tropical Encounters Exhibit.

Since this blog was initially created in April 2008 to document the blooming of BOB, the Corpse Flower, it seems appropriate to post an update on this fabulous plant!! Well, BOB did a great job with the small inflorescence produced in April 2008. Yeah, BOB!! Unfortunately, that flowering also took the last reserves available to BOB to regrow.

So now we have BOB,too!!! BOB,too is currently not in the public areas of the Conservatory but spends the days growing in a small behind the scenes greenhouse.

BOB,too is about 12 feet tall with the base of the leaf (yes, it is a leaf and not a stem!) about 6 inches in diameter. The pot we are using for BOB,too is about 2 1/2 feet wide and 2 feet tall! BOB,too gets fed about one time a week during the spring and summer months and less often during the fall and winter months.

There is hope that BOB,too will go dormant this year and maybe, someday.....produce a bigger inflorescence than the infamous BOB!! We will be waiting!!