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
Click link to view previous Orchid of the Month articles.
Orchid of the Month – February 2016 – Paphiopedilum x leeanum.
Orchid of the Month – March 2016 – Brassolaeliocattleya Young min Orange
Orchid of the Month – April 2016 – The Epidendrum floribundum conundrum.
Orchid of the Month – May 2016 – Eulophia guineensis.
Orchid of the Month – June 2016 – Phalaenopsis mannii
Orchid of the Month – July 2016 – Phalaenopsis tetraspis
Orchid of the Month – August 2016 – Miltonia spectabilis
Orchid of the Month – September 2016 – Prosthechea cochleata hybrid
Orchid of the Month – October 2016 – Coelogyne Rebecca Howe
Orchid of the Month – November 2016 – Cymbidium ensifolium cultivars.
Orchid of the Month – December 2016 – Coelia bella
Orchid of the Month – January 2017- Encyclia cordigera
Orchid of the Month – February 2017 – Coelogyne usitana
Orchid of the Month – March 2017 – Phalaenopsis Sweet Memory ‘Liodoro’
Orchid of the Month- April 2017 – Coelogyne X Neroli Cannon
Orchid of the Month – May 2017 – Asconopsis Irene Dobkin ‘Elmhurst’
Orchid of the Month – June 2017 -Warczewiczella discolor (formerly Cochleanthes discolor)
Orchid of the Month – July 2017- Coelogyne Bird In Flight
For this month, I am featuring a primary hybrid that I got as a seedling two years ago. It has grown strongly, if slowly, and has now produced flowers for the first time. Coelogyne Bird In Flight has C. usitana as its pod parent and C. lawrenceana as its pollen parent. The hybrid falls somewhere between the two, with neither being too dominant. The pseudobulbs resemble those of C. usitana, but the overall shape and size of the plant is smaller (C. usitana is quite a large species, despite my having read in various places that it is small or miniature) due to the influence of C. lawrenceana. Thankfully, the more creeping habit of C. lawrenceana hasn’t come through, and the hybrid seems to be nice and clump-forming (making it easier to accommodate in a pot).
I was quite surprised to see a flower spike developing, as I wasn’t expecting flowers until the plant was a little larger, maybe in a year’s time. As is very characteristic of its lawrenceana parent, the spike was painfully slow to develop. To add to the suspense, the first two flower buds blasted, and I wondered whether I would see flowers after all. The third bud did open, and it was well worth the wait. The pendulous habit of C. usitana is very dominant in its hybrids, and this is no exception, although the spike has lost a lot of its length and the rachis is not quite so zig-zag in shape. I am pleased that the spikes produce a succession of flowers, as C. lawrenceana tends to produce only one or two flowers per spike. The current spike will have produced four flowers (though two didn’t open) before it runs out of steam, which bodes well for decent flower counts in the future. The flowers themselves are large, well-coloured, especially on the lip, and carry a light pleasant fragrance, which is always a plus point for me.
As is the case with seedlings, other growers may have plants producing quite different flowers to those on mine, but overall, I am very pleased with it. The plant has reached flowering size, while comfortably fitting into a 12cm pot.