I have always liked the look of Spathoglottis, but until recently, I hadn’t seen one for sale at a sensible price. I knew I had appropriate conditions for them, so when I finally found some for sale at a German nursery I couldn’t resist ordering some. In fact, I got two plants, but one is much more advanced than the other, so I shall discuss the yellow one here. Spathoglottis is a genus of around 49 species distributed mainly in SE … [Read more...]
Orchid of the month
My name is Kevin Wigley and, as I have been invited to write a monthly article for the Orchid Study Group, I thought it might be good to introduce myself and give you all an idea of who I am and what I’m all about.
I suppose I must have been growing orchids for somewhere between twenty and twenty-five years now, so I guess that makes orchids pretty much a lifelong passion of mine. I won’t divulge my exact age, so let’s say I tick the 35-40 box when form-filling. I live in the Midlands, not far from, but not in Birmingham. During office hours, I work for a small family- run plastic moulding business, specializing in low volume parts for various other industries, ranging from aerospace to construction. I would love to be able to make a living out of my hobby, but in this modern age of cheap, imported plants and throwaway culture, I haven’t found a way of realizing this dream in a way that doesn’t seem to me a sell-out.
I don’t have a greenhouse (at least, not that I use for growing anything other than tomatoes). I grow my orchids in an adapted room in my house, under lights. This generally seems very agreeable to the orchids, and I think that my results are improving year on year. I rather fancy that were I to build a greenhouse in the future (which isn’t impossible), I would discover that it comes with a wealth of problems of its own, much the same as growing under lights does.
I am, by my own admission, very much an amateur orchid grower, and I don’t get involved with growing from seed and that side of things, as I’m far too impatient to wait for babies to grow to flowering size. Far better to leave that to people who know what they’re doing. I guess I must own probably three or four hundred orchids, mostly in the intermediate to warm-growing category, since there’s no point growing orchids that aren’t going to thrive for me, just because I think they’re pretty. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t killed my fair share of orchids through choosing plants inappropriate to my growing conditions. These days, I try (not always successfully) to exercise a little more restraint. I have a particular penchant for Coelogyne, and Dendrochilum, though my favourite tends to be whatever happens to be in bloom when I’m asked.
Hopefully, as we get to know each other a little better over the coming months, I’ll give more information on how I grow specific plants and on the growing conditions in my grow-room. It would also be nice to show that anyone of any age and ability can successfully grow orchids, and that there really is no secret mystique to this hobby at all.
A few years ago, I bought a plant labelled Coelogyne sparsa from the ubiquitous German nursery that I constantly talk about. I hadn’t seen this species for sale before, so I was quite excited to be able to get hold of it (C. sparsa is one of the ‘warm whites’ since my conditions are far too warm to grow C. mooreana and many of its hybrids). As my regular readers will know, this turned out to be C. chloroptera which wasn’t what I had … [Read more...]
Psychopsis papilio is one of those species that has a rather bad reputation for being difficult to grow, perhaps not unfairly. My plant is the more unusual ‘alba’ form, and was given to me by a friend, so I would feel especially guilty if it died through any fault of mine. He had it growing in a mixture of medium bark and perlite, which seemed to suit it under his culture conditions (he grows his plants slightly cooler than I do, so it … [Read more...]
Epidendrum Pink Cascade is a primary hybrid between Epidendrum ilense and E. revolutum. As far as I know, it is only available from Burnham Nurseries in Devon, and it is there that this hybrid was made. I am not sure exactly when this occurred, as information is rather scarce, but I don’t believe I’ve seen an adult plant yet (note the difference between a flowering size plant and a mature adult plant), but the young plants that I have … [Read more...]
Milmiltonia Sunset is rapidly becoming one of those hybrids that one can almost become tired of seeing. It’s everywhere - DIY outlets, supermarkets, garden centres, etc. Yet somehow, one only has to glimpse its beautiful flowers, and its ubiquity is instantly forgiven. My plant was from a DIY store and was very cheap for a multi-lead plant that even came with a decorative pot. The parentage behind this hybrid appears to be … [Read more...]
Coelogyne pulverula (still known to many as C. dayana) is one of the warmer growing species in the Tomentosae section of the genus. Allied to other similar species, such as C. rochussenii and C. tomentosa (formerly C. massangeana), it comes from similar areas (Java, Malaysia and Thailand). It grows easily and quickly in warm conditions, but tends to be absent from many collections because it does not flower until it has reached a large … [Read more...]
Coelogyne Lyme Bay is one of those hybrids that everyone seems to have heard of, but few seem to grow. This is a great shame, as it is easy to grow and flower, and appears not to grow too big. I have two plants carrying this name. One of these is a division of a mother plant from Burnham Nurseries (who first made the cross from selected forms of C. speciosa and C. usitana in 1996), and should probably carry the clonal name ‘Burnham’, … [Read more...]
This month’s orchid is a charming species of Coelogyne from section Lentiginosae that isn’t often seen, more’s the pity. I got it from a German nursery a little over a year ago, labelled as C. sparsa. It wasn’t until it bloomed a few weeks later that I realised I’d got a mislabelled plant (my search for C. sparsa carried on for a few more months and although I have now found a plant, I haven’t bloomed it yet, so I can’t be sure it is … [Read more...]
This species has been renamed several times, with some sources listing it as belonging to genus Panacria. For the time being, however, I shall continue to refer to it as Prosthechea. Prosthechea prismatocarpa came into my collection at Christmas 2016. Having seen mother plants blooming profusely at Burnham Nurseries earlier that year, I was delighted to hear that they had divided the latter and jumped at the chance of adding one to … [Read more...]
Epidendrum Plastic Doll is a striking primary hybrid between E. pseudepidendrum and E. ilense. A single glance is enough to tell you that E. pseudepidendrum is the dominant parent here; in fact, the same is true even more generations down the line. All you can really see of E. ilense in this hybrid is a delicate fringing on the lip. Both parents are quite large-growing species, and I expect the hybrid to reach at least three feet tall. … [Read more...]
Promenzella ‘Sunlight’ is a primary hybrid between Promenaea xanthina and Warczewiczella marginata. There is some doubt as to its exact parentage since, according to some sources, ‘Sunlight’ is a hybrid between P. ‘Limelight’ and P. xanthina. I haven’t been able to get to the bottom of the mystery yet, which I find infuriating. However, it is safe to say that if the name Promenzella is correct, then the Warcsewiczella parent has brought … [Read more...]
Dendrobium Golden Aya is a very attractive primary hybrid between D. aphrodite and D. capillipes. Vegetatively, the plant falls between its parents, and most closely resembles a hybrid from the D. nobile group, with comparatively soft leaves that are mostly deciduous after a single season, and tall, quite thick canes covered in leaf sheaths. I got this plant from Chantelle Orchids at a show several years ago. It was just coming into … [Read more...]
Brassavola nodosa has to be one of my all-time favourite orchids. I have had my plant for quite a while, and I have no idea where it originally came from. The species hails from Mexico to as far south as Colombia and northern Venezuela, and grows at low elevations (below about 500m) in mangroves and occasionally, on exposed cliffs. When I first got it, I mounted it on a piece of Buddleja wood and got good results for several years. … [Read more...]
Pabanisia Eva’s Blue Amazon is an unusual primary hybrid registered in 1995 that is seldom encountered. The parents are Acacallis cyanea x Pabstia jugosa. This hybrid comes with a fearsome reputation, since its Acacallis parent is considered fickle to grow, but that hasn’t been my experience so far. Acacallis cyanea also has a reputation for only lasting a couple of seasons in cultivation, though it is possible that selective breeding … [Read more...]
Coelogyne lawrenceana is a beautiful species which has become well known for having large, well displayed, pleasantly scented flowers (some of the largest in the genus). Although well regarded as a species in its own right, it is also present in quite a few of the hybrids, where it contributes towards long-lived, large flowers, as well as (in some cases) more upright flower spikes giving a sequential display. The species hails from … [Read more...]
This month, I feature a lovely Miltonia that I obtained via eBay from the Quinta da Boa Vista, Madeira. It came with a few more Miltonia species and hybrids back in January 2016. After having spent more than a fortnight in the post (most of which seemed to have been at a depot in Portugal), the plants arrived in superb condition and none the worse for their ordeal. The information available on Miltonia Queen Ann is really scant, but … [Read more...]
Galeandra is a small genus of epiphytic orchids from the American tropics, centred on the Amazon region. They enjoy intermediate or warm conditions (some species grow terrestrially with some elevation). They are not commonly grown, which is a shame as they are quite small and seem easy to grow. They have strict growing and resting phases, and should be treated somewhat like Catasetum (to which the genus is allied), with heavy watering … [Read more...]
Anyone who reads this column regularly will realise that the author has a bit of a soft spot for Coelogyne. I can’t deny it - I love them. This month’s article showcases a species that it has taken me some considerable time to track down, at least at a price I was willing to pay. It came from one of my trusty contacts in Germany, and was a nice-sized plant. Also, it was clearly a division, rather than a seedling, so I (rightly) assumed … [Read more...]
Bulbophyllum and their relatives form an entire group of orchids that, on the whole, I find almost impossible to grow. I have never succeeded, and the plants have defied my numerous attempts to grow them. However, as is often the case, Bulbophyllum Valley Isle Queen appears to be the exception that proves the rule. From what I can gather, the hybrid was made in 2006 and is the progeny of B. Jersey (B. lobbii x B. echinolabium) and B. … [Read more...]
Encyclia tampensis is a delightful species of orchid that originates from Florida (Tampa bay, hence the name) and the Bahamas. I obtained the alba form of the species from a German nursery a couple of years ago. The plant is quite small and fits easily into a 10cm clay pot. I prefer to use a clay pot for this species because, much like other Encyclia species, it particularly resents having stagnant roots and seems to do better when … [Read more...]