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
Orchid of the Month – October 2017 – Bulbophyllum Valley Isle Queen
Orchid of the Month – November 2017 – Coelogyne pandurata
Orchid of the Month – December 2017 – Galeandra baueri
Orchid of the Month – January 2018 – Miltonia Queen Ann
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 its parentage is M. Purple Queen (spectabilis x russelliana) x M. Anne Warne (M. x bluntii (a natural hybrid between M. clowesii and M. spectabilis) x M. spectabilis). This parentage looks complicated, but there are only really three species involved here (depending on how you view M. spectabilis and its various incarnations), the greatest influence coming from Miltonia spectabilis at 62.5%*.
I have noticed with Miltonia in general that while they very much dislike drying out at the roots, it is still important to make sure that they are well drained. When I first got this plant, I put it in a 10cm shallow pot (a Streptocarpus pot, actually) in medium bark chips, but this kept it far too wet, and although the roots didn’t die on me, the plant has grown much faster and larger since I put it in a 12cm aircone orchid pot with extra crocking at the bottom (I use broken-up polystyrene as one has to be careful with polystyrene peanuts because some are made of corn starch and dissolve as soon as water is added). Since doing this, the plant has come on leaps and bounds and is producing a nice root system despite the fact that I did not change my watering regime.
You can see from the flowers, while they are smaller than the species, the influence of M. spectabilis is nonetheless very strong. I assume that M. spectabilis var. moreliana has been used here since the purple is very deep and covers the whole flower. Note also the deeper purple veining on the lip. There is a slight fragrance, spicy and quite pleasant. There are two flowers per spike. I expect the flower count to increase as the plant gets older, but I don’t expect a large number since M. spectabilis produces only one, or rarely two, flowers per spike. I am pleased to see that while M. spectabilis has had a strong influence on the flowers, this hybrid hasn’t inherited the lengthy rhizome that makes M. spectabilis so difficult to contain in a pot. Furthermore, the plant has plumper pseudobulbs and is generally faster growing and more robust than M. spectabilis.
The plant wasn’t quite flowering size when I got it (despite being listed as such), but it grew two extra (much bigger) pseudobulbs before putting out a spike. As it is, I still think the plant has some growing to do before it fully reaches adult size.
* The author acknowledges Blue Nanta for this data.