Few would deny phalaenopsis the title
of king in the realm of orchid pot plants. In the last
few years, however, contenders for the title that are
gaining popularity around the world have emerged - the Oncidiinae
history of these intergeneric (more than one genus
involved) combinations is quite long, going back to the
first hybrids of Odontioda (Odontoglossum x
Cochlioda), Vuylstekeara (Miltonia x Odontioda) and
Odontonia (Miltonia x Odontoglossum), created by
hybridizers in England and Europe in the early 1800s.
Those early hybridizers did the world a favor in
popularizing not only odontoglossums (commonly called
odonts) but, among others, the above-mentioned
intergeneric combinations. The principal drawback to the
majority of those beautiful hybrids, however, is the
necessity for cool temperatures year round, which limits
their easy culture to only a few parts of the world.
In recent years, we have witnessed the emergence of
temperature- tolerant Oncidiinae, a descriptive term that
I apply to those plants that will thrive in temperatures
from 45 to 100 F. Pioneering work on this line of
breeding was done by the late W.W. Goodale Moir of
Hawaii, who registered 273 Oncidiinae intergeneric
hybrids in 46 different combinations. Building on
Goodales foundation, Helmut Rohrl of California,
George Black of England, this writer (all protegés of
Goodale), and a few others, have been engaged over the
past 30 years or so in a continuing exploration of the
limitless possibilities within this alliance.
In the past several years, it
has become apparent that certain select clones contain
plants, to wit: strong, compact growth, beautifully
colored or patterned flowers, strong, erect-to-arching
inflorescences, long-lasting flowers (usually a month or
more on the plant), ease of culture, low-light
requirements (allowing easy home cultivation on a
windowsill or under fluorescent lights), and, of
paramount importance, the ability to grow and flower well
in warm or cool climates.
of inflorescence is important, for while a hobby grower
with lots of room might enjoy a plant with a 5-foot
inflorescence, the general public purchasing a pot-plant
orchid will prefer a more manageable one, say 12 to 24
inches in length. Lighter or darker colors will be
popular in different countries of the world with local
tastes changing slightly over the years. In general,
colors must be clear and well defined (not muddy).
Flowering seasons will vary, with many clones blooming
more than once per year, and at any time. Eventually, the
large commercial growers will determine which clones will
bloom at what times of the year under their conditions
naturally, or if they can be manipulated to flower when
they want them to.
It would be impossible to
discuss all of the potential heirs who would claim the
royal title Prince of Pot Plants within the Oncidiinae,
but I have selected 8 whose attributes meet the courtly
requirements mentioned, as well as possessing that other
characteristic so hard to define, which I call
"character." To me, a plant with character is
one that, among other things, stands out as immensely
pleasing to the eye at first observation. Generally, that
plant will have a superior balance and conformity when
considering the plant and flowers as a whole.
the near future, look for the mega-stores with garden
departments to be offering a number of these Princes of
Pot Plants along with their Phalaenopsis.
Fall In Love Lovely Lady (Vuylstekeara
Memoria Mary Kavanaugh x Odontioda Helen Steed
Geyserland 4n), a newly registered tetraploid
cross, was made by Andy Easton of Rotorua, New Zealand.
We bloomed this clone in May 1999 in Belle Glade,
Florida, with nine 4-inch flowers of heavy substance on a
24-inch arching inflorescence. Easton has made some fine
temperature-tolerant hybrids, although it seldom gets
really warm in Rotorua.
Miltassia Aztec Toni,
HCC/AOS (Miltassia Cartagena x Miltonia
Minas Gerais), blooms late summer to autumn. It produces
five to seven 4- to 5-inch flowers, well spaced on
12-inch inflorescences. This older but spectacular hybrid
was made by the late Goodale Moir of Hawaii.
Degarmoara Everglades Sunshine
Pure Gold, AM/AOS (Miltassia Green
Goddess Everglades x Odontoglossum
Somelle), can bloom any time of the year, producing six
or seven 4-inch flowers per inflorescence.
Miltonidium Super Spot
Everglades (Miltonidium Kal x Oncidium
Illustre) is one of our most striking hybrids, bearing
showy flowers on a strong-growing, yet compact, plant.
The branched inflorescence, which may reach 30 inches in
length, bears 15 to 25 2-inch flowers that command
Jungle Cat Burma Ruby (Colmanara
Jungle Monarch Everglades, HCC/AOS x Odontoglossum
bictoniense) bears 18 to 25 2-inch flowers well spaced on
beautiful, erect and branched 24-inch inflorescences. We
were pleasantly surprised with the intense color
saturation in this cross. The Colm. Jungle Monarch
parent is one of our best breeding plants for vigor,
habit of inflorescence, flower presentation and
production, but its color, while interesting, is somewhat
dull. The Odm. bictoniense parent took care of
that problem in this case by contributing more than the
expected amount of deep red coloration.
Vuylstekeara Saint Mary
Everglades, HCC/AOS (Vuylstekeara
Memoria Mary Kavanaugh x Odontioda Saint Clement),
was made by Tom Perlite of Golden Gate Orchids in San
Francisco, California. This is one of the
temperature-tolerant vuylstekearas that contain the
tetraploid form of the warm-growing Brazilian Miltonia
spectabilis in its background. Twenty-inch-long
inflorescences bear seven or eight 4-inch-plus
Dancing Matador Everglades (Miltassia
Limbo Dancers x Odontioda Matador) produces 12- to
15-inch spikes with four or five 3-inch flowers on each
spike. It can bloom any time of the year. Made by George
Black, a Royal Horticultural Society judge in England who
spent most of his life in the Caribbean.
Odontonia Tropical Heat Wave
Everglades, AM/AOS (Miltonia
spectabilis var. moreliana
4n x Odontoglossum Hyperry), is a fine hybrid made
by the superb grower and hybridizer
Bob Hamilton, of Berkeley, California. The clone
Everglades produces eight to nine 31/2-inch
flowers on sometimes branched inflorescences. I named
this cross (with Hamiltons permission) Tropical
Heat Wave as a reminder that this Odontonia will
grow and flower in the heat. We are just blooming several
new tetraploid clones of Milt. spectabilis var.
moreliana, which resulted from colchicine work done for
us by our good friend, the late Don Wimber, PhD.