Orchid of the Month

Kevin Wigley

Kevin Wigley

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
Orchid of the Month – February 2018 -Coelogyne lawrenceana
Orchid of the Month – March 2018 – Pabanisia Eva’s Blue Amazon
Orchid of the Month – April 2018 – Brassavola nodosa
Orchid of the Month – May 2018 – Dendrobium Golden Aya
Orchid of the Month – June 2018 – Promenzella ‘Sunlight’
Orchid of the Month – July 2018- Epidendrum Plastic Doll

Orchid of the Month – August 2018 – Prosthechea prismatocarpa

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 my collection.

According to several sources, this species is a cool to cold grower from the cloud forests of Costa Rica and Panama, and so, as I grow at warmer temperatures, it was with some trepidation that I decided to invest.  It has grown well in my warm conditions, with excellent root growth. The only difference I can see by growing it warm is that it blooms significantly earlier than do those at Burnham Nurseries (early May, as opposed to July/August). The new pseudobulbs produced in my care have been shorter and fatter than those it had previously, but I put this down to differing light levels. Leaves are long and strap-like, and rather thick for a species of Prosthechea. It is rather a large plant and not as amenable to houseplant culture as P. cochleata or similar taxa.  My plant already occupies a 20cm pot and has only just reached flowering size. Add to this the rather wide spacing of the pseudobulbs, and it is easy to understand why it isn’t more widely grown.

Having said all that, when it blooms, it is simply magnificent. The flowers appear from the top of the newly completed pseudobulb, as is usual with Prosthechea. Individual flowers are only a couple of centimeters across, but there are about thirty flowers per spike, which all open together and are really very eye-catching. They are reported to be fragrant, but I couldn’t detect any scent from my plant. Blooms are very long-lasting, and the last of them persisted until early July.

Prosthechea prismatocarpa