The genus Grammatophyllum is often referred to as the giant orchid
or tiger orchid. This is due to the massive size it can grow to or the
colouration of the flowers. Pseudo bulbs grow up to three metres in
length. The plant is a vigorous grower which can double in size after
just one year and has a very strong root system and it is known as
the largest orchid in the world.
It is endemic to south east Asia where it prefers warm to hot conditions
and grows in full sun or strong light. The multi flowered arching
racemes display waxy blooms are green, yellow or brown flowers covered
with purple spots.
The dendrobium pansy orchid is quite different in form to the regular phalaenthe type dendrobium which is its relative.
The diference between the two is the lip on the pansy type is substituted by another petal and the sepals tend to be broader which gives an overall flat round shape not unlike a normal garden pansy flower. This peloric shape gives it the name ‘ The Pansy Orchid ‘
This hybrid form was registered in 1988 by the D’Bush Orchid Nursery. Subsequent breeding has led to little success as the perloric form regress in the prodigeny .
( Photos courtesy of Gary Yong Gee)
This beautiful orchid is native to Madagasca and is very spectacular when in flower. The better the growth you are rewarded with more flowers. The plant can grow to about one meter in height and about sixty centimeters wide.
Flowers are very waxy and as a consequence can last for a couple of months. There are not a lot of roots compared to other monopodial orchids but they are usually quite thick and consequently draw moisture from the atmosphere.
The plant objects to instability and should not be repotted unless absolutely necessary, so culture should be in either large media or preferably attached to a permanent base.
High humidity is preferable and intermediate to subtropical climate is good conditions to grow this orchid. Watering should be abundant in summer but lesser in winter.
Fertilizer is preferred in the growing cycle but seldom during winter.
The interesting aspect of this orchid is the long nectar bearing spur which can exceed thirty centimeters in length which requires a special moth with a long proboscus to pollinate the flower.
(Photo courtesy Gary Yong Gee.)
This delightful orchid species is native to South America growing principally
in Brazil, Equador and Peru. The plant enjoys high humidity, suitable for
temperate to hot climates but prefers shady conditions. It has no pseudo bulbs
so requires moisture at all times but not soggy plant mix. A medium of
sphagnum with an addition of perlite to keep the mix a little more open is
desirable. Flowers are about five to six centimetres wide and about eight
centimetres high. The clear white segments are contrasted by purple striations
in the labellum. Fertilize lightly but withhold when the plant is resting.
The Theymitra orchid is sometimes referred to as the Sun Orchid, this is because the flowers have a tendency to close up on cloudy day and at night.
They are terrestrial, perennial, sympodial and deciduous plants which are endemic to Australia and grow in the southern and eastern seaboard of the continent.
The growth emanates from tubers which have very fine roots to produce a raceme of many flowers which are quite different to other orchids. This is due to almost all segments being the same size.
Plants can be grown in a very free draining mix of compost in very bright warm sunny conditions, flowering occurs in spring to summer. Colours range from pink, blue, purple yellow and red, some have small spotting.
This plant is native to New Guinea and while it prefers a very warm climate with high humidity
it is quite comfortable growing in an intermediate to temperate area. The flowers are borne in clusters
close to the pseudo bulb as illustrated in the photo. Colours are white, off white or pale purple with
an orange labellum.
The blooms are very long lasting, can remain for months, are perfumed and are heavy to waxy substance.
The plants like plenty of water in summer, drying out between watering and tend to like less water in the
Plants can be either potted or grown on a mount.
Photos courtesy of Gary Yong Gee
These African species are quite interesting and tend to differ somewhat in cultivation from other orchids. One point of note is that if the plant is getting adequate nourishment caused by the fertilization of nitrogen then it looks like any other orchid in growth. But if it gets insufficient nourishment then it will develop roots that grow upright and tends to form a catchment area for plant litter which in turn decomposes and subsequently feeds the plant.
It is a very hardy grower and can grow pseudo bulbs up to nearly a meter in length and if left will form into a very large plant. It is so hardy that it can stand long periods of drought and in domestic cultivation if grown in pots it should have at least one to two months of no water during winter so as to prepare the plant for its next flowering.
The plant demands very high light and will grow well outside in a subtropical climate. The flowers are very attractive and the spotting can be quite varied, hence the reference to the plant sometimes called ‘ the leopard plant ‘.
This unusual shaped flower is quite varied to the generally accepted form of orchids which makes it different. It is a warm grower as it comes from the tropical regions of Sumatra and New Guinea and likes to be kept quite moist.
The large hooded dorsal sepal tends to cover the tiny labellum and petals, the ventral sepals twist below from the centre of the flower. Although the flower looks somewhat ungainly it is unique and interesting.
The plant prefers somewhat shaded conditions and does not seem to have a resting period. The flower has an unusual scent which some people do not enjoy.
Photo courtesy Petrens Orchids.
Arpophyllum giganteum is one which emanates from an area stretching from Mexico to Venezuela and as a consequence prefers a mild to warm temperate climate.
It prefers to grow in a bright position but does not like full sun and enjoys being kept moist but not wet. The plant blooms in late winter to spring displaying a long conical head of small purple flowers neatly displayed fully around the tall central stem.
The pseudo bulbs are thin and reedy, topped with long strappy leafs. Potting mix can be varied but as a general guide bark and perlite, straight bark or even spaghnum moss are acceptable growing mediums.
The plant is considered to be quite easy to grow and because of its unusual compact perfectly aligned floral head display it is sought after by orchid enthusiasts.
(Photo courtesy of Gary Yong Gee)
Diuris longifolia is an Australian native (more commonly known as the donkey orchid) which is endemic to the south east area of west Australia. I derives the common name due to the shape the petals which appear to look like donkey ears.
It is a terrestrial orchid and seems to prefer sandy loam soils but it is known to grow in heavier soils throughout its habitat. It is a tuberous perennial which grows approximately fifteen centimetres with the flower extending to about the same height.
Due to colouration on some flowers people refer to this as the pansy orchid because of the purple overlay over the yellow segments.
It is a very interesting plant but can be somewhat difficult to grow in bush house cultivation.
(Photo courtesy of Gary Yong Gee)
This beautiful species orchid from South East Asia is admired by all who see it for not only its beauty but its fascinating long pendulous tendrils which makes it quite unique in the orchid world.
The name is derived from the Greek legend of Medusa as the flower shape appears to represent her hair which was snakes.
It can be grown very successfully in warmer temperate climates where it enjoys higher humidity, good air circulation and moderate light. It does not like to dry out so should be kept mist and sphagnam moss would be an ideal growing medium.
( Photo courtesy of Gary Yong Gee)
The plant is native to Mexico and Central America including Columbia Peru and Equador and has an unusual flower sometimes referred to as the monkey face orchid due the shape of the flower which resembles the face of a monkey. It is one of the Pleurothallids, (Pleurothallis, Dracula and Masdevallia) which are quite spectacular in both their colour and shape and are favourites among orchid growers, the reason being the variety of colours including black, orange, white. brown,pink and can be a solid colour or have spots or stripes.
Light should be restricted to similar conditions to that of Phalaenopsis or Paphiopedulums as too much light will show yellowing of the leaves. Good air movement is required as well as humidity but not warmth as they prefer cooler conditions. Plants can be repotted at most times during the year and they like to have moist conditions rather than be allowed to dry out as in other orchids. Sphagnum moss is an ideal media to grow them in. They are not heavy feeders and fertilizer should be used at half the rate on a monthly basis.
The individual flower make up is quite different because the sepals are dominant and have long tails while the petals are rather small and somewhat insignificant. Plants grow from a small rhizome but do not have pseudo bulbs which is the reason they require moist but not wet media to grow well. If you are fortunate and live in a less than temperate climate you should be able to grow and flower these unusual and fascinating orchids.
Photo courtesy of Gary Yong Gee
This orchid is uniquently different in that it must but grown in a basket or slatted wooden pot as the flower spikes grow down in the media and protrude through the bottom of the container as illustrated in the photo. Many years ago it was not understood why the plant in Kew Gardens never flowered. One day the pot was accidently broken and the flower spikes were observed trying to penetrate unsuccessfully through the pot.
The Stanhopea genus is native to South America and consequently likes to grow in tropical conditions. Given warmth and humidity it is relatively easy to grow and flower but likes to be moist and not dry out in summer. Grown under fifty to seventy percent shade cloth with good air movement would be ideal for these to do well.
Any general purpose balanced fertilizer applied fortnightly in the growing warmer months would be adequate.
Unfortunately the flowers last just for a few days and are renown for their strong perfume which some find unpleasant. But they are quite spectacular and colourful and are worthy of a spot in the greenhouse.
Max. schunkeana was placed on the species bench and although not usually seen at meetings is one of interest because of its unusual colour.
It is really dark purple-red but to the eye it looks black which is highly unusual in the very colourful world of orchid flowers.
As it originates from Brazil in South America it prefers warm to cool conditions, higher humidity and likes to be kept moist but not wet.
Flowers are approximately one centimeter wide and appear from the base of the pseudo bulbs in spring to summer.
A general all purpose fertilizer is satisfactory every couple of weeks throughout the year.
Can be grown successfully in sphagnum moss or a finer bark mix but not over potted bearing in mind they tend to spread out in growth.
This fascinating orchid is not difficult to cultivate and get to flower. If you can procure one from a nursery you will have something uniquently different in your collection.
PLANT: Bulb. Wilmar Galaxy Star
GROWER: C. and H. Baker
HOUSING: Grows well in a shade house with seventy percent shade cloth cover. Enjoys good ventilation and air movement.
FEEDING: Could be described as a heavy feeder, fertilize weekly with alternate applications of higher nitrogen and potassium fertilizer in summer and monthly in winter.
POTTING: Tends to have a spreading growth and easily outgrows normal pots. Does better if potted in shallow saucer shape pots where it will multiply as it spreads. Can grow into an attractive specimen with many flowers.
COMMENTS: This would be an ideal plant for new growers to have in their collection as it is hardy, grows well in tropical and subtropical climates.