Putting orchids back in the forests

Commercial orchid growers from America are working with Costa Rica’s Monteverde Conservation League (MCL) to re-introduce native orchid species to the wild.

We found both Cattleya skinneri (the national flower) and Cattleya dowiana in full bloom as we traveled the countryside, and it was nothing short of a religious experience. …Much to our surprise, however, the orchids were not growing in the cloud forests along with the other impressive and diverse biological varieties as we were expecting. Instead, the cattleyas had been removed from the jungle trees and were now blooming in local residents’ yards

…In Costa Rica, laws have been passed recently that make it illegal to collect wild cattleyas. This action, though well-intentioned, is too late, because the plants are almost extinct in the forests.

Kudos to Chadwick & Son Orchids Inc. They’re in business to make money, to be sure, but also because they love orchids.

Continue reading “Putting orchids back in the forests”

Cattleya Portia, or Porcia?

Cattleya Portia, or Porcia? For a while I thought they were the same thing — just two different spellings. The mystery is solved:

Cattleya bowringiana’s contributions to hybridization, however, go well beyond the coerulea. Its two most famous contributions are Cattleya Portia, its hybrid with the autumn-flowering, large-flowered species Cattleya labiata, and Cattleya Porcia, its cross with Cattleya Armstrongiae (Hardyana x loddigesii). Both C. Portia and C. Porcia are intermediate in size between their parents. They are beautifully colored, vigorous growers with tall heads of flowers and they make an impressive display. They are considered by many Cattleya experts to be among the finest and most spectacular Cattleya hybrids ever bred.

Cattleya Portia was registered by James Veitch & Son in 1897 and C. Porcia by H.G. Alexander in 1927. Both have received many awards from the RHS and AOS. Cattleya Porcia ‘Cannizaro,’ which received AMs from the RHS in 1936 and the AOS in 1951, actually received an FCC/AOS as late as 1988 in recognition of its excellence.

Thanks, Jocelyn Bertrand of Beaver Valley Orchids!

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

First, the ugly.

The first blooms on my phrag. Sargentium x (besseae x Grande) (*I think* — thank the raccoon for that) are deformed things. I’m told it may be a dud plant, or it may be due to the semi-hydro method that I’m growing it in. I’m going to wait, and if the third bloom is deformed I’m going to cut off the whole spike and repot the plant in a different medium.

Time will tell if it’s the medium or the plant itself.

The bad? The bad is my dog. I will elaborate.

IMG_0890This is my lovely cattleya Portia var. coerulea, purchased in spike from John Marcotte last month. One of inflorescences came off, and so I took it with me to Kitchener last weekend as a parental offering, evidence that I am doing something worthwhile with my life 🙂 Well, I stopped at a store on the way, and Jake took the opportunity to jump into the front seat while I was gone. On TOP of the carefully wrapped flowers.

Hi Mom, missed you, here, have a squished orchid.

The Good: Pescatoria Dayana.

IMG_0888I bought this nice-sized plant from John, also last month and just before my close encounter with the deer. When I got it home I repotted it in semi-hydro, and put it in a shady nook just under the cattleya and beside the humidifer. In fact, the humidifier blows on the leaves of the plant, and it seems to love it. A couple of leaves have yellowed at the tips, but I put that down to the shock of the repotting and change of environment. A week or two ago I noticed the start of a spike, and voila! It bloomed this morning. I was actually kind of surprised that the accent colour is closer to blue than rose. I like it very much, though this morning there was a gawd-awful musky/musty smell coming from the grow room, and I sure hope this little fella isn’t the culprit. I was in a rush to get to work this morning so I didn’t stop to investigate.

Cattleya Portia var. coerulea

Two of the five inflorescents on the cattleya Portia var. coerulea have bloomed, they look especially pretty beside the pink bougainvillea blooming in the corner of my grow room.

The last picture shows an unknown variety of stanhopea that I picked up at John’s sale. You can see two inflorescents coming out of the bottom of the cage it’s sitting in — for obvious reasons, this particular type of orchid can’t be placed in a regular pot, because the blooms would get trapped trying to emerge from the bottom. This plant will bloom in the next day or two. I used to think stanhopea’s were ugly orchids, but I think “bizarre” is a better description of them. And they do have a lovely scent when they open.

I know for a fact mine aren’t….

(Excerpt from today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Q. I’ve heard that some orchids are immortal. What’s the oldest known orchid? Colleen C

A. There are 30,000 naturally occurring orchid species around the world that have evolved for millions of years. The earliest recorded man-made orchid hybrid in the Western world dates back to 1853 and is a cattleya. It is thought, however, that the Japanese and Chinese growers were hybridizing several centuries earlier.
An individual orchid plant can live a long time if taken care of – hundreds of years or more since orchids do not have a “life span.” We have a cattleya in bloom right now that was bred in 1898 and is still going strong.

Arthur Chadwick is president of Chadwick & Son Orchids Inc. His column appears the fourth Saturday of the month. Reach him at 1240 Dorset Road, Powhatan, VA 23139, (804) 598-7560 or by e-mail info@chadwickorchids.com . Previous columns are on his Web site, www.chadwickorchids.com.

Darkness awaits…

c_percivallinanaWhile on the hunt for that miltonia I talked about a few days ago, I had an email chat with a wonderful grower named John, who sold me several interesting orchids last year. I asked him what it would take to induce flowers on my c. percivaliana var. semi-alba, and here’s what he told me:

“In regard to the C. percivalliana, as a matter of fact, yes, there is something that you can do to persuade it.  That species blooms around Christmas.  The trigger is the long nights, beginning about right now.  So, be sure that you give it short days and long, uninterrupted nights.  That means total darkness for at least 12, preferably 14 or 15 hours.  It needs this treatment for about 4 to 6 weeks.  Soon after, if not already by then, you will see buds coming up inside the flower sheaths.  Good luck!”

Hmmm, a dilemna. I love coming home from work to an entire evening of light in my grow room, where I sit and stare and poke to wind down from a day at the office. Turning the lights on later in the day won’t work, because there are too many windows in the room. So, I sucked it up and re-set the timer to go off at 8pm. In a couple of weeks, I’ll (gulp) set it off to go off at 6pm. Until Christmas, when I hope to have not only cattleya but also lots of blooms on my Epiphyllums as well (Christmas cactus) as a result of the “dark” treatment.

I know — I’ll start setting it later on the Solstice (Dec. 21st). It’ll be my own personal indoor solstice celebration.