Monthly Archives: October 2008

Aloe Vera – A.barbadensis Mill

I’m sure many of us are very familiar with these Aloe Vera plants. While researching for this entry, I found out that it actually belongs to lily family. The species also has many synonyms : A. barbadensis Mill., Aloe indica Royle, Aloe perfoliata L. var. vera and A. vulgaris Lam.

It has been suggested that the species is originally from Southern Africa and was introduced to China, India, Pakistan and various parts of southern Europe in the 17th century. Known for its medicinal purpose, Aloe Vera is a stemless or very short-stemmed succulent plant which can grow up to 60–100 cm. It spreads by offsets. The side of the leaf is serrated and has small white teeth.

From my experience, it is quite a hardy plant that prefers to be completely dry before re-watering. It is also resistant to many insects although mealy bugs, scale insects and aphid species may cause decline in its health.

Aloe Vera has been utilized by many for its healing benefit, mostly to cure injury and wound. The gel derived from the plant are used as a first aid for burns, injuries, eczema, sunburns, insect bites and fungal infection prevention.

Cattleya Orchid

It took me sometime to find the correct group which this orchid belongs to. Initially I was given the bulbs by my SIL and since I never see the flower, I was not sure whether it is the usual dendrobium or something else.

After researching further, I think it is really a Cattleya orchid. You see, with that group of orchid the basic description is like this:

This group of orchids have short thick stems topped with usually a single stiff leaf. The flowering spike emerges from the top of the short stem surrounded by a papery sheath (like a pea pod). This is burst open by the growing flowers within.

These are often quite compact plants that flower easily and are available in a mouthwatering range of colours. Some have beautiful scents too as a bonus. (Taken from easyorchids.co.uk)

From website orchid.org.uk:

The plants produce strong ‘pseudobulbs’ topped with one or more leathery leaves.

Each year a dormant bud at the base grows into a new shoot. This thickens to produce the current year’s pseudobulb.

The flowers arise from the axil of the current year’s leaf where a protective sheath usually develops, and come in a range of colours from white and pink to green and purple, depending on the parentage and genera. Some flower twice yearly.

For those interested to try their hand in growing Cattleya orchid, be warned that this kind of orchid is quite a tough plant but do not over water them. For feeding requirement, use high nitrogen feed to boost growth and high potash feed to ripen the bulbs.

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