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
Orchid of the Month – August 2017 – Coelogyne speciosa
Orchid of the Month -September 2017 – Encyclia tampensis var. alba
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 allowed to dry out thoroughly between waterings. As a rule of thumb, provided the leading pseudobulb is nice and plump, the plant is receiving sufficient water. Although I stated my plant is quite small, it is, nevertheless, flowering size and even mature specimens of this species don’t get very large. The pseudobulbs are only an inch or so high, are rounded to slightly conical in shape and are quite shiny beneath the persistent leaf sheaths. As Encyclia species, allegedly, have a reputation for attracting scale insects, I generally remove dried leaf sheaths from around the pseudobulbs, although it has to be said that there are other genera in my growroom that scale much prefer, and I don’t think I’ve ever found a single one on any of my Encyclia. At least this keeps them tidy, and I assume it allows more light onto the plant too. The leaves are long, upright, narrow, V-shaped in cross-section and quite thickly textured, with usually only one per pseudobulb. The plant is well adapted to bright light, receiving only light shade in its native habitat. It appears not to need such high humidity as do many other orchids, and thrives where air movement is strong. It also enjoys warm or hot temperatures, and is thus an ideal candidate for my growroom.
Flowers are produced in a raceme from the top of the newly matured pseudobulb. The typical form of the species is quite variable, but the flowers typically have a greenish background with varying degrees of overlay in the form of chestnut markings. The lip is usually white with a purple ‘splodge’ in the middle. My plant produces mid-green flowers with a pure white lip, and no purple ‘splodge’. To my eye, the colour of the alba form of the species is more striking than the regular form. The blooms are not large in themselves, but are a nice size compared with that of the whole plant. The inflorescences are sparingly branched, bearing usually no more than 15 – 20 flowers, although several inflorescences may be produced as the plant readily develops multiple lead growths. An added bonus with this species is that it is delightfully scented, particularly in bright light. The scent is very sweet but not cloying or overpowering. Flowers last in good condition for around three weeks, possibly more if kept cool.