The Sarcoglottis sceptrodes I got from Al's in January was just starting to bloom when I picked it up. Then it kept starting to bloom. It kept starting to bloom so high I had to rearrange the plant so the flower spike could ascend two and a half feet or so through two shelves on my metal shelving unit. Once the flowers opened, I was less impressed with the plant. I mean, the individual flowers are okay and all, but they're green and small, and there aren't enough of them on the inflorescence to make a statement.
See? Nice stripes and all, but the colour doesn't distinguish it well enough from the rest of the plant, to be honest. Plus, some of the leaves died back after I removed the plant from a more congenial environment (Al's greenhouse), so it's not even that pretty below, either.
And yet, I decided to pollinate them. I ripped one flower off and opened it up to figure out how pollination works with these orchids. It's pretty easy--an insect (or The Indoor Garden(er)'s exploratory forefinger) approaches a flower, and a sticky thing attaches to whatever surface it touches. That sticky thing holds the anthers and pollen, which slides into a slot below a fold in another flower to pollinate it. So I grabbed a few sticky things and slid them in and out of the slots in the flowers. Almost immediately, I noticed the tips of the flowers withering--it's a sign of "something happened, probably fertilization." Or, at least, attempted fertilization. A lot of orchids do things like this, I believe, to inhibit fertilization or to prevent insects from trying to fertilize them again. They got what they wanted, they don't need any more pollen! I was initially heartened by the fact that most of the flowers hadn't entirely fallen off--if fertilization had been unsuccessful, I would imagine the withering would extend beyond just the petal region. But then it did. Now, all of these flowers have browned and seemingly dry-rotted off the spike. What teases!