BOP Orchid Show

The Bay of Plenty Orchid Society’s annual show was held yesterday and today. Champion plant (and an Orchid Council of NZ Award of Merit) went to Brascidostele Gilded Treasure ‘Mystic Maze’ grown by Jeanette Hewer of the Waikato Orchid Society.

Reserve champion was Miltonopsis Linda Lingle ‘Pink Cadillac’, grown by Leroy Orchids of Auckland (sadly, I didn’t photograph that plant, my error).

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Champion: Brascidostele Gilded Treasure ‘Mystic Maze’, grown by Jeanette Hewer. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Leroy Orchids’ display is always eye-catching with its bursts of colour (even though I missed the Reserve champion plant!).

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Cattleya Lucy Chua, grown by Leroy Orchids of Auckland. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Cattleya Itsa Blue ‘Moonwalker’, displayed by Leroy Orchids. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Cattleya Mahuea ‘Lee’s Baby’, displayed by Leroy Orchids. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Something unusual came out of this show – an OCNZ Award of Distinction (AD) made to an orchid without a flower! Judges say this colour combination on the foliage is rarely seen and were impressed enough to make the award to grower Carl Christensen of Napier.

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Macodes petola is one of the ‘jewel’ orchids grown for their foliage. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Carl also showed this Doritis pulcherrima with its delicate flowers. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Barry Curtis of the Tauranga Orchid Society brought along his Aliceara Sweetheart Jewel ‘Everglades’ that had long, swooping spikes of flowers. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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The eye-catching colour combination of Oncda. Volcano Hula Halau ‘Volcano Queen’, grown by Helen McDonald. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Miltonia Mayflower Maymour x Goodvale Moir ‘Golden Wonder’, grown by Elizabeth Bailey. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Paphiopedilum Wossner Rothperle, shown by Diane Hintz on the BOP display. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Oncidium Irish Mist ‘Greenish’, shown by Ninox Orchids of Whangarei. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Orchid names: Loddigesii

Orchids containing the name loddigesii are named for a family that pioneered the collection, growing and sale of orchids in Britain in the 19th century.

(Joachim) Conrad Loddiges (1738–1826), a German who trained in horticulture in The Netherlands, emigrated to England and opened a plant nursery after purchasing a small seed and plant business from a fellow German émigré in 1771. The first Loddiges nursery catalogue appeared in 1777 and was trilingual (English, Latin and German).

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Joachim Conrad Loddiges, pictured in England. Image: Geni

The nursery rose to prominence during the early 19th century under Conrad’s son George (1786–1846), who published from 1817-33 The Botanical Cabinet, a serial collection of 2000 coloured plates of rare plants introduced into its hothouses and gardens from around the world.

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Maxillaria galeata from The Botanical Cabinet. The Mexican orchid is now known as Gongora galeata. Image: Wikimedia Commons

In 1818 the company erected the first gigantic, steam-heated palm house – 24 years before Kew got its famous palm house (later, when the nursery closed, all 300 Loddiges palms were sold to Joseph Paxton for his Crystal Palace and The Great Exhibition of 1851). The technology that Loddiges used for the building and the steam-heating system was revolutionary and – much to the of visitors – included ‘artificial rain’. By 1823 the nursery covered 6ha and probably contained the greatest collection of plants in the world!

At the time, the loss of plants being discovered around the world and sent to Europe was dramatic until the invention of Wardian cases – in effect, transportable greenhouses. “Whereas I used formerly to lose nineteen out of twenty of the plants I imported during the voyage, nineteen out of twenty is now the average of those that survive,” George is reported as saying. The inventor of the Wardian case, Dr Nathaniel Ward, was a customer at Loddiges Nursery and in an experiment to prove the value of the cases in 1833 he and George loaded two with ferns and grasses and sent them on the exposed deck of a ship to Sydney where they arrived in perfect condition. The next year the cleaned cases were filled with native Australian plants which had previously not survived shipping and successfully sent to Loddiges Nursery.

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Habenaria orbiculata (now Platanthera orbiculata) from The Botanical Cabinet. Image: Wikimedia Commons

By the 1820s Conrad Loddiges & Sons Nursery had established an international reputation for tropical orchids. It was the first British nursery to employ collectors and was probably the first British firm to cultivate orchids commercially. Many orchids appeared in The Botanical Cabinet and by 1839 George Loddiges  produced the firm’s first orchid catalogue, including 1024 different species in 25 genera. In 1844 the last orchid catalogue was published by Loddiges, including 1900 species.  Read more about The Botanical Cabinet here (opens as a pdf).

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At the time The Botanical Cabinet was published this orchid was Maxillaria deppii, but today is Lycaste deppei. Image: Wikimedia Commons

George Loddiges also linked the nursery into the scientific circles of the day, becoming a Fellow of the Microscopical Society (FMS), Fellow of the Linnean Society (FLS), Fellow of the Horticultural Society (FHS), and Fellow of the Zoological Society (FZS) in London. The nursery’s influence spread to the imperial gardens of St Petersburg in Russia and the first Botanical Gardens at Adelaide in South Australia in 1839, by John Bailey who started with Conrad Loddiges in 1815.

However, in 1852 the once-thriving business closed, partly due to rising land prices (Hackney Town Hall now stands on the site), partly due to rising air pollution as London encroached and partly due to competition. After closure, the nursery’s orchid collection was sold by auction in 1856 and 1857. Read more about the nursery here.

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Stelis tubata from The Botanical Cabinet has many synonyms, including Physosiphon loddigesii and Pleurothallis tubata, but today is known as Stelis emarginata. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Several botanists named orchids to honour Conrad and George, including Acropera loddigesii (1833, now Gongora galeata) which George introduced from Mexico; Cattleya loddigesii (1821); Octomeria loddigesii (1837, now Octomeria graminifolia); Cycnoches loddigesii (1832) and Dendrobium loddigesii (1887?).

 

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Summer-flowering Sarcochilus

Sarcochilus hirticalcar, the ‘harlequin orchid’, is a tropical species discovered in 1966 in the far north of Queensland that has been used to produce a range of summer-flowering Sarcochilus since about 1976.

Australian Sarcochilus breeder Neville Roper (1952-2015) liked Sarco hirticalcar for the attributes it brought to hybrids:

  • Extending the flowering season into summer and seemingly encourages its offspring to produce several flushes of blooms throughout the year.
  • Excellent flower substance with very thick, long-lasting flowers that generally resist reflexing.
  • Contributing a variety of colours (green, yellow, red) to its offspring and also allowing or even enhancing colour inheritance from the other parent.
  • When combined with a partner having full-shaped flowers such as Sarco hartmannii the progeny mostly adopt the improved shape of the other parent rather than the sparse form of Sarco hirticalcar.

Writing in 2008, Neville noted that the best hybrids then were Riverdene (registered 1976), Topaz (2002), Velvet (1998), Nicky (1982), Cherry Cheer (1997), Elise (2001), Bessie (2006, one of Neville’s own hybrids) and Duno Nicky’s Twin (1998).

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Sarcochilus Cindy in Elizabeth Bailey’s shadehouse. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Elizabeth Bailey has been growing Sarco Cindy (Sarco Elise x Sarco Velvet) in Tauranga “for years”, having imported the flask herself from Australia when she used to travel across regularly to visit family. She made contact with a garden centre in Perth and before a trip would write inquiring for things she wanted, returning the favour by taking flasks the garden centre wanted from Sydney to Perth (plants moving between the states had to do a full biosecurity clearance).

She grows the summer-flowering Sarcochilus the same as any other member of that family and agrees with Neville’s general description (above) of hybrids using Sarco hirticalcar, saying her plants flush with flowers again later in the year.

Elizabeth notes that three of her Cindy plants are from the same flask – two (pictured above) have almost identical flowers, while the third has blooms of a much darker, solid colour.

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What we grow: Bifrenaria

Bifrenaria are a South American species of orchid with about half the 20 or so species coming from Brazil.

The sweet scent of the flowers of Bif. harrisoniae, which are on short stems at the base of the pseudobulbs, becomes apparent in the late afternoon.

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The flowers of Bifrenaria harrisoniae. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The American Orchid Society website says of this orchid: “In its natural habitat it can be found on east-facing rocky cliffs at 200-800m. The plants grow exposed to sun and wind but their roots anchor them firmly by penetrating cracks in the rock face. There is near perfect drainage, constant air movement, and bright light. Temperatures range from 14°C-27°C and quite a bit cooler in the months before flowering. Rainfall is concentrated in the warmer months and after the blooming season (late spring-early summer). Humidity is high year round.

“Bifrenarias not only can grow lithophytically but they also grow over water where there is a steady year round supply of humid air, irrespective of rainfall. We should bear in mind that these tough orchids like it humid and breezy even when water is being withheld.”

The AOS recommends watering heavily while plants are growing, then withholding water once pseudobulbs have matured, and growing the plants cooler. High humidity year round with good air movement.

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Bifrenaria tetragona in a local collection. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Bif. tetragona also has a distinctive scent but nowhere near as sweet as Bif. harrisoniae! It is grown in much the same way as Bif. harrisoniae and flowers in late summer.

Apparently, Bifrenaria don’t like being disturbed so repot only when absolutely necessary and only when new growth is starting – each division should consist of two or more pseudobulbs. A mix of bark with a little coarse sphagnum and some perlite is recommended.

A balanced fertiliser mixed at quarter to half the recommended strength should be applied once a week during active growth. After new growth is mature, use a fertiliser with less nitrogen and more phosphorus to allow the new growth to harden before winter and to promote better blooming the following season.

In winter reduce water to occasional misting or light watering and eliminate fertiliser  for about 2 months. Gradually resume normal water and feeding as new growth starts. Successful growers report these plants should not be treated too well in winter. They suggest water and fertiliser be restricted to every second or third time that Cattleyas are watered and fed. The pseudobulbs should shrink and even shrivel a bit during the
winter rest, and plants should be placed where they will receive maximum light.

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OCNZ Special Merit Award

Congratulations to our vice-president and newsletter editor Barry Curtis who has received a Special Merit Award for Outstanding Culture from the Orchid Council of New Zealand for the plant that was Grand Champion at last year’s Bay of Plenty Orchid Show in Te Puke.

There are many plants of Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann ‘Buckleberry’ among our members but it’s unlikely anyone has ever flowered it like Barry who had dozens of blooms on the plant (it’s notorious among our members for being easy to grow but difficult to flower).

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Just some of the flowers on Barry Curtis’ Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann ‘Buckleberry’ at last year’s BOP show. There were just as many buds coming as there were flowers open. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Other awards in the latest OCNZ newsletter:

Orchid of the Year and Species of the Year: Phragmipedium caudatum ‘Jacquis Dream’. Grown by Thomas Petrie, Hastings.
Cymbidium of the Year: Cymbidium Radiant Ruby ‘Aussie Gem’. Grown by Ninox Orchids, Whangarei.
Cultural Award of the Year: Fredclarkeara After Dark ‘Leroy’. Grown by Leroy Orchids, Waitakere.

The newsletter notes that you don’t have to wait for an orchid show to have a plant awarded. “If you have an orchid that you think is worthy of a quality or cultural award you can contact your local judging panel. The panel chair will arrange a time and a group of judges to assess your plant. The judging section on the Orchid Council website.

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What we grow: Promenaea

By Sandra Simpson

My Promenaea orchids have come to me through the club’s annual auction and were not an orchid I knew anything about before putting my hand up to bid! (And that’s the fun of the auction.)

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My Promenaea, possibly crawshayana. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The initial plant purchased in 2015 seemed very overgrown in its pot, which had a lot of green moss in the top of it. I eventually worked up the courage to carefully remove the plant which divided fairly naturally into four pieces and repotted them all into bark. One piece died immediately!

The other three have hung on and now seem to grow, although I find that watering too often from the top seems to induce leaf rot (a more experienced grower says she waters all her orchids the same way – from the top – and hers are fine). Mine stand in shallow plastic containers of water in a well-lit part of the shadehouse (no direct light).

I was delighted to see a lovely display of Promenaea at the 2016 Taranaki Orchid Show,  as the only one I’d seen until then was my unnamed one!

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Promenaea Michael Wilson (registered in 2002 with the RHS) at the Taranaki show. Photo: Sandra Simpson

In the Zygopetalum Alliance, the 20 (about) species of Promenaea are native to Brazil and are cold to warm growing, although apparently most favour cool. All species are diminutive and grow as epiphytes in moist forest – care should be taken not to allow plants to completely dry out. The American Orchid Society recommends potting in a medium that retains moisture and nutrients for their fine roots, so ponga fibre might be just the ticket.

Flower spikes come out from the base of the pseudobulb and – in a decent specimen – cluster around the base of the plant.

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Promenaea Golden Leopard (registered in 2013) at the Taranaki show. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The name comes from the 4th century BC and was the name (Promeneia) of the oldest
priestess at the Greek temple of Dodona.

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What we grow: Cattleya loddigesii

By Conrad Coenen

In its native habitat in Brazil Cattleya loddigesii grows at elevations of about 600-1200m  either in trees (epiphyte) or on rocks (lithophyte).

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Conrad Coenen’s Cattleya loddigesii. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The plant was given to me by a friend in the Waikato about 12 years ago and came in a large clay pot which it was growing out of and over. In the early spring I replanted it into a hanging wire basket with sphagnum moss as a liner and placed some broken terracotta pottery pieces at the base. The basket was filled with number 4 Kiwi Orchid bark from Taranaki.

It has stayed in this same basket all this time and has again filled out and grown over its container but has grown happily over this period. As it resents disturbance, Catt. loddigesii lends itself to being grown as a specimen plant.

My plant grows high up in the orchid house and receives ample soaking water during its summer growing phase, three to four times a week. It’s fed with either Yates tomato fertiliser or, indeed, any liquid fertiliser. I like to change its diet frequently and use side dressings of blood and bone and slow-release Nutricote – in the spring applying one tablespoon of both products.

During winter, water is given twice weekly with one watering combining a fertiliser (whatever is available).

It is a remarkably hardy species and has tolerated temperatures down to 2°C in the winter  and up to 36°C in summer.

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Photo: Sandra Simpson

A bifoliate Cattleya (meaning it has two leaves on every pseudobulb), Catt. loddigesii was the first Cattleya to be introduced into European greenhouses – its name comes from the 19th century Loddeges nursery of Hackney (London), England where it was initially named Epidendrum violaceum.

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