Monday, January 23, 2017
Epiphytic Orchids Versus Cold Rain
Laelia anceps var. veitchiana 'Fort Caroline' blooming on my tree here in Southern California. It was raining! I shot the video through a window screen. In the neighbor's window there's a Phalaenopsis watching my Laelia.
Every day the Phal dreams about growing on a tree... but not in California. Phals are by far the most common orchid so it's a terrible travesty that they can't grow on trees here. I'm sure that there are probably one, or two, exceptions but Laelia anceps is a much better bet.
A few years ago I picked up my anceps from the raffle table at the Orchid Society of Southern California (OSSC). Ben Boco had been nice enough to donate it to the society. Check out another of his Laelia anceps blooming on his tree...
Even though anceps is a great orchid for California... there's definitely room for improvement. I'm guessing that they really don't take advantage of our winter rain. Where they come from it rains during the summer and rarely rains during the winter. Here in California it's the opposite.
There aren't any epiphytic orchids that are native to Mediterranean climates. The only exception MIGHT be Polystachya ottoniana...
However, there are certainly quite a few epiphytic orchids that have no problem growing when it's cooler. For those of you who grow orchids outside in SoCal (or similar climates)... this time of year you can identify your cooler growers by checking to see which of your orchids have active root tips and/or new shoots. These will be the orchids that are actually taking advantage of our winter rain. In theory, they could be crossed with more warmer growers in order to develop crosses that grow and bloom year around...
I think it's a pretty awesome goal to have far more productive epiphytic orchids so let's compile a list of species and hybrids that are happy to grow during winter here in SoCal and similar climates!
Here are some other links that should hopefully be of some interest...