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 purple, and I got the last one. Clearly, the plant is around three quarters Prosthechea cochleata and most strongly resembles it.
There are a few hybrids around that are similar to this cross, but with Prosthechea green hornet and Prosthechea lancifolia being crossed onto Epicattleya Miva Etoile. I have the P. Green Hornet cross in my own collection, from a different nursery. The blooms are a little smaller and not so twisted. I can’t say which I prefer because I like them both for different reasons Both hybrids are vigorous and free flowering, though. I also like the fact that they both seem very flexible as far as temperatures go. I grow my plants warm, but some growers have their Prosthechea species and hybrids growing cool, and they seem to do equally well. Hybrids with P. cochleata seem rather variable as regards flowering time. Sometimes, they flower once new growth is completed, but just as often there is a delay of several weeks or even months before flower spikes emerge. I’d blame temperature, but all of my P. cochleata species and hybrids do the same and one plant might perform differently at one time or another.
This hybrid grows much larger than its parent and is a vigorous grower. After the plant had finished blooming, I divided it up into several pieces. I have two left, both of which are now in bloom. Looking back, I divided the plant up too small, and it has taken some time for the divisions to reach flowering size. Lesson learned. One of the most unusual characteristics of this hybrid is that on larger plants the flower spikes develop branches, and my divisions are now reaching the size at which they begin to branch. This is the only Prosthechea cochleata hybrid I have ever seen that is capable of this. I would very much like to know from which species in its background it inherits this characteristic. Flowers are produced sequentially from the tip of a seemingly ever extending spike with usually four or five flowers open at a time per spike. The larger the plant, the more flowers the spike will produce before it eventually runs out of steam. Individual flowers last for a couple of weeks, but overall flowering time can turn out to be very long indeed, and larger plants are almost constantly blooming.
Yet another taxonomic conundrum- (Ed.)
According to the Kew Monocot Checklist, both plants formerly sold as Encyclia (now Prosthechea) cochleata – the well-known Cockle-shell Orchid and Encyclia (Prosthechea) lancifolia (cream with a red-striped lip) are now considered to be conspecific, with P. lancifolia assigned to P. cochleata var. cochleata. Others, however, consider the latter to be P. trulla.