20100628

Orchid Blossom- Next Up Vanilla?

Oh la la! This spring brought to life an orchid that a friend left in my care about 2 years ago. I keep getting the feeling that it's singing. It's bloom also led me to wonder, if I can grow and orchid and bring it to bloom in the desert might I also be able to grow vanilla? The stem is covered in beautiful transparent drops. I dont know what these are. Anybody?

6 comments:

Starsquid said...

There's many possibilities. Are the drops sticky? They could be excess nectar, as my Hoya plant likes to ooze nectar all over the place.

Or some plants have a sticky exudate near flowers. I suppose it causes the pollinators to stop for a bit and clean themselves while considering their options, nectar wise.

If the drops feel like water, then the plant is merely excreting excess water through it's pores. My philodendrons do that when they've been given a good watering- Little drops form at the egde of the leaves where specialized pores are located.

Wendy Jehanara Tremayne said...

the droplets are sticky, not likely water. is this nectar useful to us humans? do you know it's purpose to the plant?

Starsquid said...

Regrettably I've never dabbled in Orchid growing so I don't know the finer points of the plant's habit.

Since the droplets look like they're being exuded by the stem near the flower, and not nectar drops exuded from a flower... my guess is either it's a lure to attract crawling insects like ants to the flowers, or it's a protection mechanism against insects like ants. Sticky gummy residue preventing ants from reaching the nectar rich flowers. It's likely the latter since ants, crawling insects explore constantly, they wouldn't need a reason to find the flowers. Certainly the plant has a need to avoid having the flowers eaten before they can provide seeds.

Wikipedia has no explanation to offer either.

I'd say it's a sign of a healthy plant, whatever the case.

It might have a use to humans but I couldn't guess what that might be. Considering some Orchids can be toxic, I'd be hesitant to experiment.

mommyk said...

I'm pretty sure it's a sign of aphids. I think that the clear drops are their excrement. I just had to give my orchids a quick spray of water, dishsoap and vinegar because of aphids. Keep an eye out for the little buggers!

Starsquid said...

True... aphids do leave a sticky residue, but rarely in descrete drops like that.

Still, it's a good idea to check the plant, just to be sure, because it is possible, and you have had aphid issues in the garden.

Nat said...

We just pollinated, harvested, and cured our first Vanilla orchid in Hawaii! It smells so delicious cured! SInce it only took 8 PhD's to hike up into the valley 1 hr where it grows to pollinate and harvest it, we figured we'd need to sell it for $160 for the going rate. Know anyone who wants to buy it? ;-)

definitely check for aphids, as that honeydew is a common sign of them. Wipe and spray with a neem soap to get rid of them. At least orchids are easy because they have only a few large leaves to wipe down. Check for ants who cultivate the aphids for their honeydew like livestock.