Sweet Nia Rose

Walking into my dining room area today, I didn’t just see my sweet orchid sitting on the table, I smelled it. In advance. From several feet away. Glorious fragrance, just as if a huge dozen big red roses were bursting open in bloom.

If you look, can you see the shape of dancing ladies?

The orchid oncidium Nia Rose is just amazing at how much sweet tones of floral essence it can put out of such small blooms. Often called “dancing ladies”, the dainty and ruffled petals of these types of orchids resemble women in flaring skirts.

We picked up several new plants this year from Fort Collin’s nursery in nearby Colorado. Having gone for one, we came back with six. As one does. And this one was part of that bunch.

Zooming in shows so much more than you see than first glance.

Unfortunately a few days after arriving to our home already in bloom, I found it completely covered in aphids. Stems, blooms, the whole plant. Following online instruction, I used a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water to spray all over the entirety of leaves to roots and cut off the stem of blooms, regrettably. But it was for the greater good of saving the plant.

Surprisingly, it immediately put out this new stem of blooms with not an aphid to be seen. I look forward to re-potting this one just as soon as it finishes it’s bloom cycle and really see it take off a few months from now. What a delight!

Watching and Waiting…

I picked up this interesting phalaenopsis orchid from a Lowe’s store before I learned what this type of plant is. Having tried my hand at a number of orchids prior, it struck me as interesting how the spike rose from the middle of the leaves and crown and I brought it home. Later on, I learned this is the unfortunate malady of a few orchids: Terminal spike.

Dtps. Ox Red Eagle X Dtps. Fuller’s Black Strive ‘3428’ in terminal spike.

Terminal spike is essentially when the spike happens to grow out of the middle of the crown and leaves in such a way that no future leaves can grow, thus limiting the life of the plant. It will eventually die after this point.

There are different schools of thought on why orchids produce terminal spikes. Some say it is because of a deformity where the spike, is pushed into growing out of the middle of the leaves due to an unknown obstacle to growing out of the sides of the crown like it should (toughened exterior or such). The jury remains out on this, but it all seems to make sense based on what I have read so far.

Close-up of the orientation of a terminal spike growing from leaves.

That said, all is not lost. Several terminal spike orchids, in their last bids to live, will send out a keiki from the spike. If you are interested, you can find out more about these here. Some growers will apply a hormonal paste to the spike to encourage this growth so that they can clip if from the dying plant later to start a new plant. It is still a roll of the dice if it will work in each case, but one has nothing to lose in trying.

Heavy spike of blooms ready to open.

This lady seems to be working hard to thrive with what she has left so I think I will let her tell me how this is going to go. It just goes to show though, that you never quite know what you will end up with when you take home one of the “orphan orchids” from the discount section – sometimes you are in for a learning experience and pleasant surprise after all.

Winter Worries

In an earlier post, I introduced you to Winter the neighborhood stray cat. Winter has walked through our property on his or her way to adventures unknown since we moved into our home. Often just pausing a moment to stare into a window before heading on his or her daily journeys

Winter circa 2019 outside my office window.

In late 2021 we noticed Winter received some type of ailment or injury precariously close to the eye area.

Winter peeping through our window in October 2021.

Once the bitter cold Wyoming winter temperatures approached, we began to put out little snacks when Winter would come around and perch on the porches of our house. Often he or she would have to deal with a bigger bully cat nearby, but we got crafty trying to only put out the food when Winter was here and taking it back in when he or she departed.

To our dismay, the wound began to get noticeably worse. We were baffled what it could be: Injury, tumor, or something else all ran through my mind. I began to consider we may have to trap our wary visitor if humane treatment was needed, but this cat is not simply skittish; Winter is feral. This led me to consider just how traumatic and stressful for the animal a trapping experience would be.

We phoned our local vet who advised that unless the cat was in severe physical distress, it was best to let it try to recover on its own.

Winter in December 2021 served a private, back-porch snack to avoid a larger bully cat nearby.

Recently things started looking up since the above photo was taken, with the wound having decreased in overall mass. We are hoping to see it improve still more in time.

I researched online groups like Alley Cat Allies that advocate to help feral and stray cats. Interestingly, they note that many feral cats may be seen alone but likely survive as part of a group or colony. Also, feral cats are more bonded to the geography of where they live than a house or person they may visit (so while well-meaning people try to “keep” them, a feral cat will nearly always try to get back to its original territory). I found consensus from sources that unless a cat begins to warm to a person, or begins to show socialization, it will not likely end well for the cat to try to keep it. There are some ways you can help still, depending on your situation. (So glad we have organizations out there that put this kind of helpful information online for the rest of us!)

Being someone who wants to care for any hurting creature, it’s hard to see this little soul struggle with this injury and not able to welcome it into our home. (Our resident cat Fury cannot risk being with other animals due to her conditions). So we continue to put out snacks and water when its freezing or when Winter appears by the door. Once warmer temperatures arrive, our plan is to slowly reduce until we can revert our friendly visitor back to hunting on its own. Until then, we will keep a close eye on our little fur friend closely.

Winter circa early 2021 sunning on our back porch.