* The Plant that Survived the Pinatubo Eruption

Gestart door Kano, woensdag 29 september 2010, 13:25:24

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The Plant that Survived the Pinatubo Eruption

Manila Bulletin September 29, 2010,

The Vanda luzonica is a unique orchid species from the Philippines. It is worth conserving as its natural habitat, the Pinatubo volcano area, was devastated during the volcano's last eruption. Happily, however, residents in the area managed to acquire samples of the plants. It is now being propagated in gardens and in the laboratory of orchid collectors.

The plant is a very large orchid species of the Vanda genus. It has distinctive white and purple flower markings. It is a hardy plant, and can withstand long periods of dryness because it is accustomed to the dry season of Central Luzon, which happens from November through April. Originally, it was found growing on the trees found in the forests of Bulacan, Rizal, and Zambales.

The Vanda luzonica is a large epiphytic, upright, monopodial orchid, with a twisted or bent stem, about a meter long. Older plants become semi-pendulous and they can grow very tall, reaching heights of over 1.5 meters. Specimens this size can have many side growths. Its leaves are two-ranked, leathery, dark green, and sometimes twisted. The flowers are waxy, white with magenta blotches, and with a diffuse rose border. The sepals and petals are white with purple spots and markings near the tips.

The plant thrives in brighter locations and can tolerate direct sunlight. Still, it needs protection during the very hot months. Placing two to three layers of shade nets eight feet above the plants would suffice. While it can survive in dry conditions, it's still advisable to water the plant once a day or every other day, Keep the surroundings and companion plants moist to provide high humidity. A slight breeze now and then is also beneficial to the plant.

This plant is best potted in plastic or hardwood baskets (hanging) with broken charcoal, tree fern slabs, or in drift woods, with their root well exposed to the air. The roots are thick and will grow out of the pot or other container; hanging plants often develop a mass of pendent aerial roots. Fertilize plants by spraying with a dilute orchid fertilizer once every week for optimum growth.

It can be propagated by top cutting, using a sterile pruning shear in separating rooted plants. For commercial propagation, plants are reproduced through seeds in the laboratory using embryo culture technology.
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