Thursday, 22 December 2016

Bloom Event - Phragmipedium sedenii

As many of my readers might remember, I have given away or sold the vast majority of my slipper orchids, so there are only a few plants left. I have held Phragmipedium sedenii back because although my two plants are very healthy indeed, the ink on the name tags has rubbed off and I can't tell what they are. Both are named cultivars of P. sedenii, but that's as much as I know. I originally got he plants on eBay so my first point of reference was to find the record of sale, but unfortuantely the records don't go back that far and I also couldn't remember who the seller was. As luck would have it, I can't tell the difference between the two flowers now both plants are blooming either so they will have to go by the name P. sedenii and nothing else. My two plants appear to be rather paler pink than I might expect from P. sedenii but this could easily be down to the temperature.

Whatever its called, its worth waiting for. Previously when this bloomed, the flowers were mis-shapen and didn't open properly. I never worked out why and this time round the flowers are perfect. I guess I'll never know. I used to grow these standing in an inch of water and they did fine. This year, though, I have been growing them slightly drier (by drier I just mean not standing in water) with my warm growing Cymbidium species and this seems to suit them even better as growth seems faster.

There are three flower spikes across the two plants and there seems no difference between the height of the spikes either. The plants are relatively compact (for a Phragmipedium) and clumpy with only a minimal desire to climb (P. schlimii hybrids have been terrible for this in my experience)

It is a pity that only one or two flowers are ever open at a time because this could be spectacular rather than just graceful and elegant (despite the atrocious photography). Once they get large enough to produce multiple spikes they should put on quite a show.

As a primary hybrid between P. schlimii and P. longifolium it is no surprise that there are a lot of cultivars out there and that no two plants are the same (unless they have been divided) so I'm not going to worry too much about the naming of them. They are growing in rockwool cubes, though I imagine there is no reason they wouldn't grow equally well in bark chips. I tend to use inorganic medium for these plants because the constant wet conditions would mean very frequent repotting if I use an organic medium like bark chips or sphagnum moss. The inorganic medium never breaks down and so should never need changing. It is advisable to be careful with feeding when using inorganic media as the fertilizer salts can build up in the pot. This is another reason for not growing them in water and watering instead from the top and allowing water to flow through the pots. Excess salts are then leached away before they can damage the roots and blacken the leaf tips.

All in all, this is a vigorous, flexible hybrid that seems well suited to a wide range of growing conditions. Highly recommended.

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