I visited a commercial grower this summer and fell in love with a beautiful blue orchid that they had grown from seed. It was just a display plant and not for sale. Where can I get something like it? The flowers were very dainty. Vivian A.
‘Seed grown’ orchids of any kind are rare these days because most plants are mass produced or ‘cloned’ in order to maintain a consistently high level of quality. ‘Seed grown’ means that two parents are cross pollinated and the results are unknown. Typically, the offspring quality resembles that of a bell curve – most plantlets are average, while a small percentage is either good or bad.
‘Blue’ orchids are even rarer because they occur infrequently in nature and have proved to be recessive breeders. Even when two blue parents are bred together, many of the babies are not blue. This is true of our most recent celebrity Cattleya orchid, Lc Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who is currently the First Lady of France. We literally have to wait seven years in order to see each plant bloom, and then select the prized blue ones for her formal presentation. So far, over half of the flowers have been a very respectable shade of lavender, however, we are after le coup de bleu!
It would probably be worth a call to the commercial grower where you first saw your blue seedling and try to get the genus and hybrid name. Then perhaps a comparable substitute can be found.
I received my first Phalaenopsis hybrid as a gift about a year ago. The plant came in a thin clear plastic pot sitting inside a clay pot. Was I supposed to re-pot it or leave as is? The roots are winding around the inside but not coming out. Mary Lou M.
The fact that the roots are visible inside the plastic pot and actively growing is a good sign. The media (probably sphagnum moss) is fresh and conducive to healthy growth. Re-potting the plant while in bloom is never recommended because the blossoms fade prematurely.
The clay pot that came with the plant serves two purposes. It acts as a rustic decorative container while adding weight to a sometimes top heavy orchid. Additionally, when the time comes to physically transplant, this terracotta pot will most likely be used. The secret to successful re-potting is to use the smallest container that the root ball will fit into. While it is tempting to use a larger pot that might allow for several years growth, invariably the freshly potted orchid never gets ‘established’ or roots well – then loses its vigor.
The question of ‘when’ to re-pot is best answered by observing the media. When the moss no longer has a spongy feel to it and more closely resembles either ‘gook’ or ‘crust’, then its time has come. Usually one to two years between media changes is suggested.
I am blooming my Vanda for the 6th straight year. This time, however, one of the flowers is a ‘double blossom’ – two blossoms back to back on the same stem. Is this normal? John H.
Double blossoms, double lips, fused petals, peloric sepals, inverted columns, etc are all deformities that can occur as random variations in all orchid genera from time to time. In most cases, the aberrations are once in a lifetime and never seen again. If, however, the deformities repeat themselves regularly or are just too unsightly to bear, then gently composting the plant is a viable option.