Monday, December 31, 2012

Orchids of the Holiday Season

There is something about greenhouse orchids that flower during the darkest days of the year that I find particularly refreshing and invigorating.  While I love all the classic plants of the holiday season, it is the orchids that I look forward to the most.  While there are probably many reasons for this, these plants are linked to fond recollections of visiting Pandy's Nursery and Greenhouse / Christmas paraphernalia mecca at Christmas time,   When I was a teenager it didn't get any better; the area's best selection of orchid hybrids, flowering and fruiting citrus standards of seemingly infinite variety, and the finest selection of cyclamen to be found anywhere and were fodder for my fledgling interests in "rare plants". These are great memories to be reminded of and I would grow these plants for no other reason than that.  That being said, interests change, grow, mature and become more sophisticated, and it is not likely that Pandy's carries any of those plants mentioned below! Merry, Merry, Merry to all.

How can you beat this Dendrobium for Christmas colors?  This is Dendrobium lawesii from J & L orchids.  The parents are bicolor forms of the species, but I love the scarlet red of this seedling.  What's even better is that the flowers last for months and the individual canes can reportedly repeat flower for up to 10 years.

A closer view of Dendrobium lawesii.  One of the seedlings I got from J & L is a beautiful white and raspberry bicolor.  I would suspect that if I self-pollinated this red-flowered specimen I would get segregating seedlings in the F2 generation that are bicolored.  Something to do in my (lack of) spare time.  Did I mention that the flowers last for months, and months, and months?

One of the hallmarks of Christmas is Laelia gouldiana.  This rare Mexican species is reportedly extinct in the wild and exists only in a semi-cultivated state in a Mexican village, and apparently only oen or two clones exist.  Like other naturally epiphytic  Laelias and Cattleyas in my collection, this species rapidly dwindled in size when I tried to grow it in a container, but started growing well after being mounted.

Laelia gouldiana.  My original plant came from Andy's Orchids

Sophronitis cernua also does much better mounted.  Even this diminutive species produces very long roots that are better adapted to traipsing only a piece of cork or tree limb than being confined in a container.  

Another view of Sophronitis cernua.  I just love this plant.  I haven't purchsed any orchids in a while, but I think I might need to add some more Sophronitis species to my collection...

Here is another interesting Mexcian species, the maybe miniature Barkeria whartoniana.  One of the best features of most, if not all Barkerias is the extensive root systems they make that are beautiful  their own right.

A form of Paphiopedilum insigne.  While not strikingly beautiful, this species is a reliable bloomer.  Most of my Paph collection consists of Parvisepalum types, which flower so infrequently that I feel like I should alert the press whenever one flowers.

A little bit showier is Paphiopedilum farrieanum.  A reliable and easy plant to grow and flower.

A final view of Pahpiopedilum farrieanum

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