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...]
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.
I had managed to convince myself over the years that I didn’t like cymbidiums, which is a thinly veiled way of saying that I have never been able to grow them with any degree of success. Most modern Cymbidium hybrids require conditions which we are no longer able to provide for them in our centrally heated homes, meaning that they really don’t make good houseplants and are totally unsuitable for my hot grow-room. This is a pity, because … [Read more...]
I have a real penchant for Coelogyne species and hybrids. This particular one is truly lovely. Its parents are Coelogyne speciosa var. incarnata (the green form of the species) x Coelogyne rumphii (a species that I grow, but haven’t bloomed yet, as it is a little young. The plant looks very much like both its parents, with each hen’s-egg-shaped and sized pseudobulb bearing a single broad leaf which persists for several seasons. The … [Read more...]
For this month, I thought I’d feature a hybrid that I have been growing for quite a while. I picked this up at one of the larger orchid shows from a German nursery that was exhibiting there. Sadly, the name of the nursery escapes me. They did, however, tell me that there were quite a lot of seedlings from the cross, and that most of them had taken on the colouring from the Prosthechea cochleata parent (green). Only three plants came out … [Read more...]
Miltonia spectabilis is a truly lovely species when in flower, but is definitely not grown by enough people. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that the whole genus Miltonia is overshadowed by the practically impossible to grow and ubiquitous Miltoniopsis. Secondly, the plants are sprawling, badly behaved and untidy. There is a little confusion over the whole Miltonia spectabilis complex, and some authorities now … [Read more...]
I have always been a fan of Phalaenopsis, but until quite recently I grew only hybrids. I think I had read somewhere that the species were difficult to grow, so I avoided them. These days, although I grow a few species of Phalaenopsis, I find them no more difficult than the hybrids. Of course, many of them are also not as showy as hybrids, but I tend to prefer plants of ‘botanical interest’ to those with big, blousy flowers anyway. This … [Read more...]
I have a lot of time for Phalaenopsis, both species and hybrids. They are easy to grow (at least, most of them are) and very rewarding. I’m aware that a lot of growers are rather sniffy about Phalaenopsis, presumably because they have become so common and are so often sold without names. I will say that I prefer them to have names, but it’s not the ‘be all and end all’ if I like the flower. Many of the species seem as easy to grow as … [Read more...]
This month, I thought I’d feature an orchid that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Eulophia guineensis has been a favourite of mine for quite a few years, and after I started to re-build my collection six years ago, I made sure I found one. Well two, actually! The entire Eulophia genus is grossly underrepresented in many collections; these plants have a somewhat fearsome reputation as being fussy and difficult to bloom. This may … [Read more...]
For my plant of the month article for April, I thought I would present you with a bit of a mystery. Maybe my readers can help me shed some light on this. I purchased this plant from an orchid show a few years ago labelled as Epidendrum floribundum. I've always rather liked Epidendrum, Encyclia and other Cattleya relatives. I admit that when I purchased it I had no idea what it would look like in flower. When I got home, I did a bit of … [Read more...]
Believe it or not, I was given this Cattleya (along with quite a few other orchids, including a very large blue Vanda) by a friend a couple of years ago. It bears a Chantelle Orchids label, and when I first had it, was potted in very compressed Sphagnum moss. I believe Chantelle imports her orchids from her brother’s nursery in Taiwan, and the moss is the only medium that can be brought through customs. Anyway, the root system was nice … [Read more...]
Paphiopedilum x leeanum is an attractive and easy to grow British-bred primary hybrid between Paphiopedilum spicerianum (pollen) and Paphiopedilum insigne (seed), first made in 1884. Flowers have some variability, but mostly fall between their parents, the pouch being reddish brown, the petals greenish with longitudinal brown stripes, and the dorsal sepal white with a green base and reddish speckling. Foliage is uniformly green and sits … [Read more...]