10 Jul2013


I spotted this stunning cattleya orchid with twin blooms while shopping for vegetables at the Saturday FTI Market. I very rarely purchase cattleyas as I seem to have little luck getting them to thrive and bloom again. The vendor is a very amiable lady who loves her plants/orchids and raises them on a farm in Silang, Cavite, and I have repeatedly purchased herbs from her before. She mentioned that they were called cattleya “imperialis” — an apt name for an extremely regal looking pair of blooms. Cattleyas have always reminded me of my mom, so in this particular instance, I bought them despite the price, and the orchid now sits proudly in the center of the living room.


If you put your nose close to one of the blooms, you get an intensely sweet scent. It’s quite stunning really. I have sometimes read that orchids have no fragrance at all, and that is completely untrue, as some local varieties here in the Philippines can give off some very strong aromas (however, others do seem to be scentless). Reading up on cattleya care, it seems our treatment here with moss stuffed around the base is a no-no and suffocating the roots that need ample oxygen and circulation of air. We have since removed the moss, and only water every other day or so, to keep the roots moist but not overly so. There is another spike with hopefully 1-2 more blooms coming up, so if we are lucky, we will enjoy a total of say 4 blooms over a period of a month or so. The next challenge will be to keep the plant alive and hopefully get it to bloom a year or so from now… :)



  1. ConnieC says:

    Enjoy the sweet scent and the regal blooms while they last their relatively short blooming life. I got mine to flower once after a long wait and that was its last:(

    Jul 10, 2013 | 7:24 pm


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  3. Footloose says:

    This summons fragments that a high school teacher doled out extra points for if you recited them by heart…a thing of beauty is a joy forever…some shape of beauty moves away the pall from dark spirits…to see heaven in a wild flower… We opened a bottle of claret the other night and found myself mouthing O for a beaker full of the warm south… and the young people present at the table looked at me as though I sprouted a pair of horns.

    Jul 10, 2013 | 9:50 pm

  4. Khew says:

    With the exception perhaps of Vandaceous types, most orchids need a significant temperature differential to trigger blooming. While our tropical warmth and humidity are cozy enough for them to thrive, it encourages ‘laziness’ and ‘apathy’. Talk about becoming ‘troppo’. LOL. You’ll be amazed how ‘human’ orchids can be.
    So how do commercial growers get them to bloom so beautifully and regularly? Apart from hormones and whatever chemical tricks up their sleeves, they also have cold rooms as well as nurseries in the outskirts or hills to help with the required temperature differential. Our urban jungle is simply too static( 25C – 33C ) temperature wise. One gets lucky, however, during the monsoon when night and day temperature variations are more meaningful – perhaps as low as 20C at night after continuous raining for days followed by a high 34C on the occasional sunny, clear days. The nutritious rain water helps too.
    Worst of all, if the orchid had been forced to bloom. It means its natural cycle has been interrupted/confused and it will take another 2 or 3 seasons to get back its rhythm. So it hibernates to rest and recuperate. In the meantime, you can bet that its city dweller owner, through ignorance and impatience, will do all sorts to awaken it from slumber. The orchid dies as a result of all the extra food, water and God only knows what else.
    I would love to see a blooming Waling Waling on your blog one of these days.

    Jul 10, 2013 | 9:52 pm

  5. Connie C says:

    As always Footloose, thank you for your elephant memory and your gift of prose….and poetry, and your sharp wit and humor. Now you remind me of my English teacher too. How MM’s cattleyas draw out poetic memories!

    BTW Footloose, are you by any chance related to Oscar Wilde?

    Jul 10, 2013 | 10:50 pm

  6. Malou says:

    My mother loves orchids as did my late grandmother. They always saved the bloody water from washing fresh fish bought from the wet market with some of the gills and innards to boot and used that as our organic, chemical-free fertilizer for the orchids. For days after this nutri-boost, our house, with its windows open, would smell like a ‘palengke’ everytime there was a breeze but we didn’t really mind that much since the plants thrived and gave us blooms, sometimes nearly all at once.

    Jul 11, 2013 | 4:21 am

  7. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    Such beauties… I was able rebloom quite a few
    Cattleya ,when we live back home.I sure miss these flowers,Orchids are very affordable now here..They usually worth your money for one to two month of blooms,like a lot of you,these lovelies remind me of my mom.

    Jul 11, 2013 | 3:56 pm

  8. Thel from Florida says:

    Simply beautiful! Everyday I say “I Love you, thank you for being so beautiful” to all my flowers indoor and outdoor.

    Jul 11, 2013 | 10:41 pm

  9. EbbaBlue says:

    Before Manila Seedlings closed I bought 5 kinds of catleya plants, all with very nice blooms, brought them to Quezon province and they all died. Ang mahal pa naman non. Now the other kinds of local orchids, sus ang dami dun sa barangay na yon. Mostly the residents plant them in “tuod” woodings.

    Jul 13, 2013 | 1:21 am

  10. Footloose says:

    Memorizing lines of poetry now seems as extinct as writing legibly. Both too quaint for an age where memory is what you carry around in portable bytes and sentiments are hastily tweeted or texted via alphanumeric codes. But I, still try to commit to memory as much as my fading faculty can hold, am still on the look out for antique German writing implements and continue to do the things my fathers learned to do.

    Jul 14, 2013 | 8:09 am

  11. Risa says:

    Footloose, you may want to check out fpn-p.org in your search. This is a group of fountain pen enthusiasts in the Philippines. The site has a forum which covers vintage and new brands, repair and sources.

    Jul 16, 2013 | 1:25 pm

  12. Jay Martin says:

    Hello everyone! Can anyone please recommend a good store in Dangwa that has the widest variety of flowers with reasonable prices? Also, what flowers do well with crimson red roses? Thank you so much in advance to all who will share their thoughts! :-) I just urgently need to finalize the flowers that will be used at my uncle’s wedding on August 18.

    Jul 21, 2013 | 8:39 pm

  13. Jay Martin says:

    Anyone who has an idea of the prices of red roses in Dangwa this month?

    Jul 21, 2013 | 8:42 pm

  14. Romeo says:

    That is a very nice cattleya! Reblooming them however is quite daunting, however you should not miss the essentials. First, light – expose them to sunlight, how much of it is a skill you should learn. Most experts say, “as much as they can have without burning the leaves”. Test the cattleya leaves if they are warm to touch during exposure, it means they are near to burn. Move them to shade ASAP! The best however is to filter the sunlight if you wish to expose them the whole day. I place them under a tree that filters the sunlight, not totally blocking them, if no tree exists there, black net placed above them will do, try 2-ply first then decrease if your catts seem to need more. Now, if the foliage exhibit a light-green colour vs. the dark green, then it shows you are giving them right amount of light.

    After the light requirement, considering that they have developing pseudobulbs that are candidate for pregnant sheaths, fertilize weekly but weakly with bloom booster, foliar type for me is good. Twice monthly, with the use of a sprinkler, “flush” them with very clean water for a minute of more to flush out mineral deposits that accumulated in the whole pot. Remember that not all of the fertilizers are utilized, some are deposited and is unusable.

    Good tip, the fish-washings encourages blooming due to the minerals it contains. I have learned that Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate) sprayed weekly at 1 Tsp/gallon works wonders. I have proven it already since i experimented not giving Epsom and the sheaths produced are devoid of flower buds!

    Lastly, care for the watering cycle, as it may rot valuable pseudos candidate for blooms. Along with well-ventilated and lighted environment, your catts will not have reasons to rebloom.
    Best wishes!

    Sep 8, 2013 | 3:05 pm


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