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...]
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.
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...]
An Unusual Form of Coelogyne speciosa – or is it? I have several plants of this species, some of which I may have discussed before in previous posts. The plant I discuss today was purchased as the hybrid Coelogyne Pocahontas, but once a flower opened, it was clear that wasn’t what I had bought, and I have since had my money returned from the nursery concerned. The plant is nice and healthy, however, and is not the same as any of the … [Read more...]
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 … [Read more...]
I bought this plant from Burnham Nurseries with some trepidation because I have never done well with this genus in the past, and I know I have killed this particular species before now. There seems to be conflicting information on the internet regarding its care, with advice varying wildly between the need to keep it both on the dry and wet side, and between both growing it warm and cool. I only have facilities for one set of growing … [Read more...]
For this month, I am featuring Asconopsis Irene Dobkin ‘Elmhurst’, a cross between Phalaenopsis ‘Doris’ and Vanda miniata (syn. Ascocentrum miniatum). I purchased this plant just over a year ago via mail order from Schwerter Orchids in Germany for a very reasonable price. I had grown it in the past with some success, but this hybrid does come with something of a reputation for being fussy and difficult to grow - if you research this … [Read more...]
For this month, I feature a hybrid between Coelogyne fragrans and Coelogyne speciosa. I got this plant in November 2015. It was quite a young division at the time, but it grew quite quickly and this is its second flowering for me. The overall habit of the plant is very much like Coelogyne speciosa, but maybe with a slightly longer rhizome and a slightly more slender pseudobulb. It seems to have inherited its parents’ vigour, and has … [Read more...]
This month, I feature a real favourite of mine for a variety of reasons, namely, Phalaenopsis Sweet Memory ‘Liodoro’. This hybrid is rather unflatteringly known as a ‘novelty’ hybrid, simply meaning that it isn’t one of the large-flowered, blousy hybrids one usually finds at a garden centre, although I have found plants of Phalaenopsis Sweet Memory ‘Liodoro’ in garden centres before now (usually lurking on the reduced price bench, … [Read more...]
This month, I’m featuring a lovely species which isn’t the easiest to get hold of, but seems quite easy to grow. Coelogyne usitana is a comparatively new species to cultivation, only having been described in 2001, after being discovered in the Philippines and named after its discoverer, Vimoor Usita. The newness to cultivation goes some way to explaining its scarcity, and I expect it will become more common in collections in the future. … [Read more...]
Encyclia cordigera is probably the most showy species in the genus. Three colour forms exist, with my plant being intermediate between the fully pink and fully green forms. The fully pink form used to be known as Epidendrum atropurpureum, while the semi-alba form I have used to be known as Encyclia randii (or sometimes E. cordigera var. randii). As I understand it, all three colour forms are now known simply as Encyclia cordigera. This … [Read more...]
After returning from a very pleasant few days away earlier in the month, I found that the flowers I had been watching develop on Coelia bella had opened at last. I have been growing this plant for a while, and it has finally reached flowering size. This species seems to need to reach quite a size before blooming. It originates from Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, and can be found at a range of elevations, giving the plant good … [Read more...]