Saturday, 7 January 2017

Bloom Event - Coelogyne Green Dragon

This is one of those plants that I get VERY excited about. I've had this orchid for two years now (as of early 2017), and this is its second blooming for me. I paid quite a premium to be the proud owner of this hybrid, which is quite rare. The hybrid was made by Burnham Nurseries in 1992 and is a cross between C. tomentosa and C. pandurata. It really seems to inherit the very best qualities from its parents, with the long pendulous flower spikes bearing around 15 flowers from C. tomentosa and the wonderful colouring and size from C. pandurata; the flowers are a good couple of inches across.

Gorgeous, isn't it? Now before I gush too much over this, it does have its negatives. The first of these is that the flowers only last about a week. Possibly if I had moved the plant (a herculean task in its own right) into a cooler room I might have got longer out of them. At time of writing, the flowers have gone over already. In some ways, the transience of the blooms makes one appreciate them all the more while one can. There is a slight fragrance to them, but not enough to fill a room, and it is rather nondescript.

The second detractor to this hybrid, and probably the main reason it isn't more widely grown, is its size. This is one of those properly gargantuan Coelogyne, with the plant standing a good couple of feet high (pot not included). This is definitely not what you might call a windowsill orchid. When you add into this the habit of the plant, you have something that can be difficult to accommodate. Although there are worse behaved Coelogyne than this (rochussenii, I'm looking accusingly over the top of my glasses at you), they do at least stay small(ish). On a plant of this sort of size, a semi-climbing habit and long internodes between pseudobulbs makes for a plant that is hard to contain in a pot. My plant is already in a large basket (you can read the whole sorry repotting saga here. This plant now really needs potting on again but I don't feel inclined to do the same as last time but with a bigger basket Particularly while the plant is pushing out new growths and, more especially, flowers, I have great trouble keeping it damp enough and I think it would benefit from being in either a more water retentive medium or a large pot with solid sides rather than a basket. So jury is out at the moment.

I'm not in too much of a hurry to disturb it though, as I am pretty sure it sulked for almost a year before it flowered. I put the plant in its basket in February 2016 and although it has produced and matured two sets of pseudobulbs since then, this is the first time it has produced flowers. When jotting down some initial notes to put together this post, I noted that its blooming is rather intermittant. I wonder whether this is acutally due to my repotting the plant rather than an inherent reluctance to bloom. I would expect flowerbuds to come from the centre of each emerging new growth, but they don't always appear (luckily it is very obvious very quickly if flowers are on the way).

When I put this plant in its basket I removed a backbulb so it would fit and put it aside in the growroom. It sprouted and now I have a second plant, albeit one several years away from blooming. Notice I have two flower spikes from two growing points. One of them has come from a bulb further back on the plant so I'm hoping that the lead growth will wake up too and give me a third lead. As I remember, one side of the plant does wake up a little earlier than the other side so I'm still hopeful that I'll get another growth this season.

This plant does seem to grow fast and is capable of producing two or even three pseudobulbs per lead per year. This is a blessing and a curse, of course as the plant can correspondingly flower two or three times a year but needs almost constant potting on. First world problems, eh?

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