<![CDATA["Our Belize Vacation" - Christina's Blog - Adventures in Belize]]>Fri, 15 Jan 2016 11:03:23 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[CATTLEYA AURANTIACA - BELIZE'S ORANGE ORCHID]]>Fri, 25 May 2012 16:37:54 GMThttp://www.ourbelizevacation.com/christinas-blog---adventures-in-belize/cattleya-aurantiaca-belizes-orange-orchidPicture
CHRISTINA'S "FLOWERS OF BELIZE" Series (Part Thirteen)

Brought to you by Black Orchid Management, Ltd.

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ORANGE ORCHIDS OF BELIZE
This orchid can be found in Belize, in the low mountain and tropical rain forests between 500 and 5000 feet.

At times, if you are hiking through the Belize rainforest, you will see these orchids.  They are so colorful and seem to decorate the rainforest, simply by its presence.  They are beautiful!

It is the most northern-growing species in the Cattleya genus family. This species is very adaptable and easy to grow.  Therefore it grows easily in natural temperatures ranging from extremely hot to extremely cold.

Plants can be found growing as exposed rock outcroppings, or along tree branches.

This flower grows vigorously, quickly forming a large specimen plant in a very short period of time.  It is a late winter to mid spring bloomer, with 2 to 12 fragrant flowers from the top of the new mature growth.   On occasion some flowers self pollinate, and therefore never open fully.

Flower size is about 1 inch wide. The flowers of Cattleya aurantiaca form at the top of a 6 1/2 inch stem. A total of two (2) to eleven (11) flowers top each stem. Some cultivars have flowers that do not open fully. Some flowers self-pollinate prior to opening on individuals from the northernmost parts of the species range. In mild climates this species does well naturalized in the trees.

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<![CDATA[THE BELIZEAN WATERLILLIE - Eye Candy Along the River's Edge]]>Thu, 19 Apr 2012 15:31:12 GMThttp://www.ourbelizevacation.com/christinas-blog---adventures-in-belize/the-belizean-waterlillie-eye-candy-along-the-rivers-edgePicture
CHRISTINA'S "FLOWERS OF BELIZE" Series (Part Twelve)

Brought to you by Black Orchid Management, Ltd.


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BELIZE WATERLILLIES
The Belizean waterlily is a hardy, native plant that floats its round foliage and produces a fragrant, multipetaled, white flower just above the waters surface. 

Each leaf of the waterlily lasts about 6 weeks. Flower showiness is legendary and each flower lasts several days, but flowers close in late afternoon and at night. Fragrant waterlily grows in standing water about 18 inches deep and spreads by means of rhizomes.

It can be prevented from spreading by planting it in a container without drainage holes and submerging the container into the water garden. This helps prevent the plant from invading the entire water garden. Although waterlilies require full sun for best flowering, this one will produce some flowers with only 4 hours of direct sun.

HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN WATERLILLIES - For your backyard pond or river/canal edge
1.  Plant waterillies in a container filled with garden soil or potting mix.
2.  A shallow and wide container is better than a tall, narrow container.
3.  Mix garden soil with one-fifth well-decomposed cow manure.
4.  Incorporate fertilizer - about one-quarter cup 10-10-10 per gallon of soil or media to help stimulate growth.
4.  Place a small plastic bag filled with sand at the bottom to keep it from floating in the pond - before filling the container.
5.  Plant the rhizome at the edge of the container so it can grow horizontally across the top.

PLANTING POINTERS
1.  Put a 1- or 2-inch layer of sand or gravel over the top - after the rhizome is planted in the pot to keep soil in the container.
2.  Place the container in about 6 inches of water until growth begins.
3.  Set the container, so that it is no more than 18 inches below the surface of the water.
4.  If the water is too deep, place a brick or concrete block under the container.
5.  Do not construct containers from treated lumber, since growth could be severely inhibited.

FERTILIZATION & UPKEEP
Once a month, apply an application of a slow-releasing fertilizer. Various companies make these tablets.  Placed the tablet, several inches below the sand or gravel layer at the top of the container. Follow the manufacturers directions to determine appropriate number of tablets.


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<![CDATA[BIXA ORELLANA - THE LIPSTICK FLOWERING PLANT OF BELIZE]]>Sat, 31 Mar 2012 04:33:29 GMThttp://www.ourbelizevacation.com/christinas-blog---adventures-in-belize/bixa-orellana-the-lipstick-flowering-plant-of-belizePicture
CHRISTINA'S "FLOWERS OF BELIZE" SERIES (Part Eleven)

Brought to you by Black Orchid Management

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Bixa orellana, also known as the Lipstick tree

Bixa orellana are well known for its seeds (which produce a red dye) and is often used as a spice or as food coloring.  Because of it predominate red color, it is  used in world famous Jamaican beef patties.

It is a small tree which bears pink, white, or purple-tinted flowers. The name Bixa orellana is derived from Francisco de Orellana, a 16th century Spanish explorer.

Bixa is known in Belize as the "lipstick tree" because Central and South American Natives used the seeds to color their bodies and lips. Red coloring on outside of seeds easily dyes bare skin. Several washings with soap are required before color can be removed.

Bixa orellana  is a shrub or bushy tree which ranges from 3 to 10 meters in height.  Its glossy, ovate leaves are evergreen with reddish veins; they have a round, heart-shaped base and a pointed tip.

With a thin, long stem, the leaves are between 8 and 20 cm long and 5 and 14 cm wide. The twigs are covered with rust colored scales when young and bare when older. 

Bixa’s flowers are pink, white, or some combination, and are 4 to 6 cm in diameter.  From the flower protrudes a striking two-valved fruit, covered either with dense soft bristles or a smooth surface. These round fruits,
approximately 4 cm wide, appear in a variety of colors: scarlet, yellow, brownish-green, maroon, and most commonly bright red.

When ripe, they split open and reveal a numerous amount of small, fleshy seeds, about 5 mm in diameter and covered with red-orange pulp, the embryo of which is poisonous.


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<![CDATA[FLOWERS OF BELIZE - HELICONIACEAE PLANT - Belize's Parrot's Beak]]>Sun, 05 Feb 2012 14:32:32 GMThttp://www.ourbelizevacation.com/christinas-blog---adventures-in-belize/flowers-of-belize-heliconiaceae-plant-belizes-parrots-beakPicture
CHRISTINA'S "FLOWERS OF BELIZE" SERIES (PART TEN)

Brought to you by Black Orchid Management, Ltd.

If you were to ask me what I like most about flowers, I will tell you, they make me happy.  They are beautiful to look at.  Have you ever seen someone gaze upon a beautiful flower and stay in a bad mood?  NEVER!  Flowers, lift our spirits, they can change our mood, they make us happy and it is the one way, that we can tell someone we love them, simply by handing them a flower.  Please follow me on my journey through the Belize rain forest jungle, to explore all the different flowers there are to see.  I sincerely hope you enjoy my series entitled "Flowers of Belize". 


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A BELIZE TROPICAL RAIN FOREST FLOWER
There are about 100 to 200 different species (heliconia family) of the heliconiaceae flowering plant - which is native to the tropics in Central and South America. 

The leaves of this plant are paddle-shaped, and they are related to the banana family. Heliconias are sometimes called "lobster claws" or "parrot flowers", "parrot beak", "parakeet flower", "and parrot's plantain", because of their beak-like "bracts" which can be orange, purple, red, yellow, pink, green or a combination of these. A bract is a leaf structure at the base of a flower.

The heliconia's flowers are tiny and found inside these bracts, which are so large and colorful that they almost hide the flowers altogether. This keeps the flower's sweet nectar tucked away so that only specialized birds can get to it. Some species of heliconia have upright facing flowers, and in some called hanging heliconia, the flowers dangle down from the main stem.  They are a close relative of the banana and bird of paradise.

Habitat:  Heliconias are found throughout Belize and are actually quite common in tropical rainforests. They are also often found as ornamental plants in gardens and landscaped areas. People enjoy their colorful, gravity-defying ornamentation.

Did You Know?  The heliconia, like the bromeliad, can also be home to other living things. Water collects in the bracts of the straight stems, which provides a habitat for many species of tiny aquatic organisms. Many other animals depend on the heliconia as well. Hummingirds and butterflies like to drink the sweet nectar from the heliconia’s flowers.

Heliconias are very beautiful and distinctive.  For this reason, they should be used as the dominant flower in any floral arrangement. They can be used with other tropical flowers or alone with foliages.

The flowers are available year round and the vase life varies from 7 to 21 days. The commonly available colors are red, yellow, pink, orange, green and white. These flowers are not fragrant, very chill sensitive, and very pretty to look at.

Heliconiaceae have simple, alternate leaves that are often very large. The leaves tear easily and plants that grow in the wild often display tattered leaves.  The leaf sheath around the stem, is often partly open at the top.

The bracts of upright-flowered Heliconiaceae harbor unique communities of insects, snails, and microorganisms.  These flowers look awesome in a floral arrangement.


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<![CDATA[GREAT WEEKEND IN BELMOPAN, BELIZE]]>Wed, 11 Jan 2012 02:21:40 GMThttp://www.ourbelizevacation.com/christinas-blog---adventures-in-belize/great-weekend-in-belmopan-belizeThis past weekend, our family went to Belmopan with friends.  We had absolutely the best time.  I wanted to share some of the photos. 
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<![CDATA[BROMELIADS OF BELIZE - Decorating a Tropical Rainforest ]]>Tue, 10 Jan 2012 22:10:46 GMThttp://www.ourbelizevacation.com/christinas-blog---adventures-in-belize/bromeliads-of-belize-decorating-a-tropical-rainforestPicture
CHRISTINA'S "FLOWERS OF BELIZE" SERIES (PART NINE)

Brought to you by Black Orchid Management, Ltd.

If you were to ask me what I like most about flowers, I will tell you, they make me happy.  They are beautiful to look at.  Have you ever seen someone gaze upon a beautiful flower and stay in a bad mood?  NEVER!  Flowers, lift our spirits, they can change our mood, they make us happy and it is the one way, that we can tell someone we love them, simply by handing them a flower.  Please follow me on my journey through the Belize rain forest jungle, to explore all the different flowers there are to see.  I sincerely hope you enjoy my series entitled "Flowers of Belize". 

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FLOWERING BROMELAIDS IN BELIZE
These fascinating tropical flowers, are native to Belize and decorate our tropical rain forests.  They come in a wonderful variety of sizes, shapes and foliage colors. They seem very strange and exotic, but one common fruit in this family is the  pineapple.  There are many varieties of Bromelaids, one for any given situation.  Some make very good indoor plants, while others can be quite spectacular grown in the garden. 

Many bromeliads are very colorful but this color comes from floral leaves or bracts which hold the smaller, less obvious flowers. Many bromeliads color more vibrantly when the plants are flowering.  Bromeliads are very hardly and grow easily in the Belizean rain forests.  

Here is a list of a few varieties of Bromelaids.  We will discuss some of these in the next few blog posts.

AECHMEA
The plants in this genus are mostly epiphytic. One of the best known is Aechmea fasciata or 'Silver King', which has long lasting, pretty pink flowers and is often used as an indoor plant.

ANANAS
The commercially grown pineapple, Ananas comosus is a member of this genus.

BILLBERGIA
There are around 60 species of Billbergia, which are colourful and well suited to growing in the garden around the base of trees. They clump up quickly to form good flower displays, although the inflorescence (flower head) on some species is short lived.

CRYPTANTHUS
This is a terrestrial group from Brazil, which needs plenty of room for root development. They are best suited to warm climates.

VRIESEA
Plants in this genus have interesting and varied foliage, and sword like eye-catching flowers. They are easy to grow and are good bromeliads for beginners to try.

TILLANDSIA
True air plants, tillandsias range in size from the tiny T. bryoides (1cm or 0.4") to the giant T. grandis which can grow up to 3 metres (9') tall. Also in this group is T. usneoides, commonly known as old man's whiskers or Spanish moss, which looks like spider webs hanging from the trees. Apart from its ornamental uses, this material can be used for padding in upholstery.

GUZMANIA
Members of this family have beautiful green foliage and colourful, big open flowers. The coloured flower spikes last many months.

NEOREGELIAS
Neoregelias and their many hybrids are very colourful and easy to grow. The inner leaves of many species turn a brilliant reddish colour just before flowering. The most commonly grown species is Neoregelia carolinae, also known as the 'Blushing Bromeliad'.

Bromeliads are hardy plants which can be grown outdoors in most areas. They're also worth a try in mountain regions but they need protection from cold and frost.  Bromeliads grow well in pots. They require a light, open potting mix with good drainage. When potting don't forget that the leaves hold water, so it's important to keep the central cup upright. Bromeliads can also be grown in the garden in a well-drained compost on top of the soil. They like warmth and humidity, but must have good air movement. Bromeliads like moist conditions but not too much water. Over watering may kill your Bromelaid, so please be careful. 


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<![CDATA[ELIZABETH & ANA TO BELIZE - Dinner & Ice Cream]]>Sun, 27 Nov 2011 12:06:49 GMThttp://www.ourbelizevacation.com/christinas-blog---adventures-in-belize/elizabeth-ana-to-belize-dinner-ice-creamPicture
We had friends from the States come visit Belize recently.  Elizabeth is from the US, and Ana is from France.  They are both here for a few months to do some volunteer work on the island.  We met them at the San Pedro airstrip and then took them out to dinner and ice cream. 

It was great seeing them and we are really looking forward to spending some time together real soon. 

Dinner was at the Blue Water Grill, which was absolutely fabulous!  Then ice cream at Manely's on Front Street, which was also great.   

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<![CDATA[FLOWERS OF BELIZE - The Ladies are Dancing in Belize - The Oncidium Orchid]]>Thu, 06 Oct 2011 21:13:32 GMThttp://www.ourbelizevacation.com/christinas-blog---adventures-in-belize/flowers-of-belize-the-ladies-are-dancing-in-belize-the-oncidium-orchidPicture
CHRISTINA'S "FLOWERS OF BELIZE" SERIES (PART EIGHT)

Brought to you by Black Orchid Management, Ltd.

If you were to ask me what I like most about flowers, I will tell you, they make me happy.  They are beautiful to look at.  Have you ever seen someone gaze upon a beautiful flower and stay in a bad mood?  NEVER!  Flowers, lift our spirits, they can change our mood, they make us happy and it is the one way, that we can tell someone we love them, simply by handing them a flower.  Please follow me on my journey through the Belize rain forest jungle, to explore all the different flowers there are to see.  I sincerely hope you enjoy my series entitled "Flowers of Belize". 

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THE ONCIDIUM FLOWER - Dancing Ladies
There are over 600 species of the Oncidium flower today, and it is one of the largest, most diverse flowers, found in the Orchid Family.  Colors range from bright yellow to bronze, white with pink, and glittering shades of dark red. Some have hundreds of blooms on flower spikes or branches over 4ft long!

Early explorers to Belize were spellbound by these golden fields of yellow, with their doll-like flowers - moving gracefully in the wind.  The first Oncidiums were called "Dancing Ladies", because of the way they wiggled in the wind as the breezes moved them. 

Because Oncidiums grow in many different habitats, they seem to be more accommodating in their growing requirements, than most orchids.  Most are excellent plants for "northern" growers whose temperatures are cooler during winter months.

In their natural habitat Oncidiums are what they call  (air plants), that is they grow on rocks and in trees - but never  on the ground. That's why you'll often see active roots growing outside the pot.  Mother Nature has also equipped Oncidiums, with a  natural water storage tank at the base of the flower.  This water tank, provides the flower with water, during long dry periods and in between rains in the jungle. 

With orchids, we always say "there's a place to grow them and there's a place to show them". This is particularly true for Oncidiums. During the growing season (fall and spring), these plants need several hours of direct sun every day, to build up the energy to produce a flower. Then, when the flowering cycle arrives, and the first couple of flowers open, you will then need to move your plant away from the direct sun to encourage - longer lasting flowers. Hot sun deteriorates Oncidium flowers quickly.  After the blooms have faded, cut back the flower spike or branches and move the plant back to a sunny spot to begin the next growth cycle.

In the language of flowers, orchids mean ‘love, beauty and refinement’. Orchids are found everywhere in Belize, tropical Asia, Central America, and Australia.  Some other colors you will find the Oncidium in, are:  blue, brown, cream, green, pink, purple, red, white and yellow.

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<![CDATA[CRAVING COCONUT PIE at El' Divino Restaurant (at Banana Beach Resort)]]>Mon, 26 Sep 2011 18:17:57 GMThttp://www.ourbelizevacation.com/christinas-blog---adventures-in-belize/craving-coconut-pie-at-el-divino-restaurant-at-banana-beach-resortPicture
COCONUT PIE
My sister and I, decided that we needed a piece of El' Divino's coconut pie.  So mom, shut down the computer, and we hopped into the golf cart and found ourselves standing at the restaurant at Banana Beach Resort. 

We're here for coconut pie (we explained), don't forget the Coconut Ice Cream my sister reminded the host.  Dinner was great, mom had a salad, I had a hamburger and Lauren had a chicken quesadilla.  Everything was delicious and tasty to say the least. 

When the waiters see us at E'l Divino, they all know we want "our usual table".  They'll scramble to make our table ready, even though there are other tables to choose from.  We just laugh, because it makes us feel special.

Here are some pictures to enjoy of our great meal at El Divino.  It is absolutely one of our favorites restaurants in town.  It's open year round, inside air conditioned seating, and when everyone else is closed...........El Divino is always open. 

I've never tried it, but all the adults seem to love "the only martini bar found here in town".   


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<![CDATA[BLACK ORCHIDS OF BELIZE - National Flower]]>Sun, 25 Sep 2011 14:42:46 GMThttp://www.ourbelizevacation.com/christinas-blog---adventures-in-belize/black-orchids-of-belize-national-flowerPicture
CHRISTINA'S "FLOWERS OF BELIZE" SERIES (PART SEVEN)

Brought to you by Black Orchid Management, Ltd.

If you were to ask me what I like most about flowers, I will tell you, they make me happy.  They are beautiful to look at.  Have you ever seen someone gaze upon a beautiful flower and stay in a bad mood?  NEVER!  Flowers, lift our spirits, they can change our mood, they make us happy and it is the one way, that we can tell someone we love them, simply by handing them a flower.  Please follow me on my journey through the Belize rain forest jungle, to explore all the different flowers there are to see.  I sincerely hope you enjoy my series entitled "Flowers of Belize". 

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BLACK ORCHIDS OF BELIZE
My mother loves black orchids, as they have become somewhat of a soft spot in her heart.  For those of you who didn't know, Belize's national flower is the Black Orchid. 

There are only 100 varieties of orchids found in Belize.  The flower is actually not black at all, but a purple, light yellow color.  It is one of the few Orchids here, that flowers all year long. 

The flowers are unusual, in that through the labellum is usually below the column in the orchids, in the members of Prosthechea family - the labellum forms a "hood" over the column.  This makes the flower effectively upside down, or non-resupinate. 

There are two main types of black orchids; terrestial (which grow on the ground) and epiphytes (which grow on trees).  Also, there are many more types of black orchids, like "Black Pam" and a few hybrides, all with names I can't pronounce. 

Black orchids are mysterious flowers. In reality, the black orchid is just and exotic and intriguing flower that is becoming a rarity as each day passes by, due to the continuous destruction of its natural environment.

Here are some Black Orchid Facts:
  • Family: Orchidaceae
  • Origin: Black orchids derive their name from the Greek “orchis”, which is the Greek word for testicle. Therefore, the black orchid was seen as a symbol of virility.
  • Sun exposure: Black orchids prefer partial sun exposure.
  • Height: Black orchids grow from 6 to 12 inches tall.
  • Soil: Soil containing pine bark, osmunda fiber and fir bark is best for growing blue orchids. The soil should have a PH balance and a suitable texture for growing blue orchids.
  • Leaves: Bright green in color, long, smooth and textured.
  • Blooming time: From July to September.
  • Maintenance: Black orchids are friendly flowers, they easily adapt to any environment. However, you should know that they prefer a warm temperature, not too hot, neither too cold.
  • Propagation method: Black orchids may be propagated using six methods: through division, by keiki, areal cuttings, meristem or tissue culture, which is a scientific method of propagating black orchids and last but not least, black orchids may be propagated through seeds or they can be obtained from dyeing white orchids with black dye. Also, white orchids can be dyed with black dye, becoming black orchids.

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