Monday, December 30, 2013

New Eulophia hybrid success

In April this year I was approached by a fellow orchid grower and chairman of a local orchid club from Pretoria to sow a cross that he had performed earlier in the year. The cross was Eulophia streptopetala X E. petersii (click on the names to see the flowers of each species). I had raised Eulophia species before but this was going to be my first primary Eulophia hybrid and I was interested to see how they performed comparatively in vitro. The seeds arrived on 30th April and I processed them the same evening. Within 3 weeks germination had begun and almost all of the seeds germinated. This was a good start and as they formed into individual protocorms I selected the fastest growers and replated these again to new media. Eulophias are not generally easy to grow in vitro compared to other orchids. They are often very difficult to get their protocorms to differentiate shoots and roots and over time the protocorms just become necrotic and die if the correct requirements are not given at the correct times. I have had significant results using normal germination media (P6668 equivalent) as well as the same media for the initial re-plate with some banana. Once the protocorms are large enough to be able to produce good healthy individual roots and shoots I move them onto a carbon-free BM-1 for shoot and root differentiation for 4 months or so. This I find works best for Eulophias, better than any other combination.
I finally got to meet my now friend from Pretoria this afternoon to hand over his flasks of his new babies. The hybrid he has produced is a fast-grower and is nice and tough.The seedlings are ready for potting up and this has taken only 8 months to the day from seed. This is quite significant growth by most orchid standards but this is exceptional for a Eulophia! Usually eulophias are very slow and very lazy in vitro. Given the fast growth, this new hybrid should produce flowers within only a few years I hope. I was fortunate to be able to keep some of the seedlings for my own collection. My friend intends registering his hybrid with the RHS once it flowers. I am looking forward to seeing the blooms in future. What a lovely little plant it is!
Eulophia streptopetala X E. petersii germinating


Pre-treatment with KSi before potting up

Individual seedling ready for potting up

Potted up

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sobralia macrantha? first flowering, Phal cornu cervi STILL flowering!

My Sobralia macrantha? flowered recently for the first time. I had nearly forgotten about this plant always sitting in the background never seeming to do much. This year however it seems to have finally settled into its environment. Apart from the many flowers now it is also sending out many new shoots. The only odd thing is that my plant produces two flowers on each terminal inflorescence. The species article on IOSPE suggests that this species only carries a single bloom on each terminal inflorescence. So, my identification might then be incorrect, or this plant may be a hybrid. The problem is that it never came with a label so I have always been waiting for it to flower to have it identified. Any comments are appreciated.
Sobralia macrantha? just starting to open

Sobralia macrantha? 30 minutes later

Sobralia macrantha? open

Sobralia macrantha? flower no.2
My Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi var. chataladae is still in bloom! It has had flowers since June this year - that is 6 months already! It is now also sending out more buds from the same inflorescence as well as an additional spike from the side of he plant! I wish all my plants were as happy as this little one.
Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi var. chataladae still in bloom

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Settling in after the move

My plants and the family are slowly settling in after the move to our new home in Vermont. The move was stressful on the whole family as well as all of the plants. Orchids really are a fussy bunch when they get relocated! At least this time it was Spring going into Summer so the temperatures were a little more forgiving.
Unfortunately a couple of my plants did not do at all well after the move. My prize Bonatea speciosa for one was initially drowned after all the abnormally heavy rains we had in November that cause all the local flooding in the Western Cape. After the drowning it was hammered by the legion of slugs and snails that came out of nowhere after all the rains! Many of us orchid growers here suffered swift defeat with the large numbers of snails and slugs. I for one conceded and brought out the big guns... snail bait. I really don't like using it much if I can help it but the damage caused to my B. speciosa justified swift action. The Bonatea should recover but I reccon I have lost the full year's growth including all the pods I had produced.

Bonatea speciosa before the move
Habenaria rhodocheila yellow/orange
A close relation to my Bonatea, Habenaria rhodocheila is flowering now in my collection for the first time. I purchased two colour varieties from Nollie at Plantae and the yellow or light orange variety is open while the not-so-pink but rather darker orange to peach one should open its first bloom in the days to come. The relation to Bonatea is quite obvious when looking at the flower characteristics and I am hoping to use some frozen B. speciosa pollen to see if I can get a potential cross to take on both colour varieties. It would be good to get the characteristics of colour from Habenaria and the scent of the flowers from Bonatea combined into a hybrid if possible. We will have to see what happens.
I seldomly take on outside flasking requests anymore due to time constraints and a shortage of space but over the last year I did some flasking of two new hybrid Eulophias for a friend. The first, a combination of E. streptopetala X E. petersii has shown significant hybrid vigour and growth. I potted up a few into a seedling tray recently to see how they get on. The other hybrid is a combination of E. streptopetala X E. keithii (E. adamanensis). Eulophias from seed are by no means easy (= much frustration and production of grey hairs) but the medium I am using specifically for these is working very well. Other seedlings I have recently hardened off include a rather odd little Trias or Bulbophyllum species from Thailand which was purchased as Rhynchostylis gigantea alba seeds... It certialy isn't Rhynchostylis at all but is very similar to other Trias species I have done before. I will have to wait to see what this one turns out to be in the years to come. Until then it's anyone's guess. Other species include Angraecum eburneum, A. sesquipedale, Phalaenopsis sanderiana and various Dendrobium species.
Eulophia streptopetala X E. petersii
Trias or Bulbophyllum species?
Others species blooming at present include Coelogyne tomentosa, Ascocentrum (now Vanda) ampullaceum orange (also purchased from Nollie at Plantea), Maxillaria variabilis and Polystachya zambesiaca. I eally enjoy this little Polystachya. It is as tough as nails and very forgiving but the flowers are hairy and have a somewhat upside-down Dendrobium-like appearance to them.
Coelogyne tomentosa
Ascocentrum (Vanda) ampullaceum orange
Maxillaria variabilis
Polystachya zambesiaca