Wednesday, 18 January 2017

New Plants - Coelogyne from Orchideengarten Karge, Germany.

Ever since I found out that the Coelogyne usitana x Coelogyne speciosa (salmonicolor variety, now known as C. speciosa 'Burnham' in the UK) hybrid had a name, I've been keen to get some more of those hybrids. The above plant's actual name is now Coelogyne Orchideengarten Joachim, and it actually came from Schwerter in March 2016, so I've had it almost a year now, and have successfully bloomed it. It posesses all the hybrid vigour you might expect and seems to take rather after Coelogyne usitana in its size and spread, though produces multiple growths much more in the style of Coelogyne speciosa.

It turns out that there are several of these hybrids that have only been recently registered, and I finally tracked down the nursery to Orchideengarten Karge, in Germany. The website is all in German (as you'd expect), and they haven't got round to writing an English version yet, but Google translate does all the work for you, and if you actually contact them via email, you will find their English to be excellent (and certainly better than my German). They were courteous and very helpful all the way through the ordering process and seemed keen to know when the plants had arrived and whether I was happy with them or not.

The whole ordering process went without a hitch. They even send orders from overseas on Mondays so the parcels have the best possible chance of reaching their destination that very week. Had it not been for the unbelievable incompetence of Parcelforce, the orchids would indeed have arrived that week. As it was, I had the worry of sharp frosts (around -8C) while waiting over the weekend for the parcel to be delivered the following Monday.

I needn't have worried about the plants though. Apart from looking like they'd been drop-kicked repeatedly from the diving board of an Olympic swimming pool by Parcelforce during its multiple trips back to depot, they survived the trauma remarkably well.

"So," I hear you ask, "What did you get?"

Firstly, Coelogyne prolifera. I know, after going on and on about these random hybrids people are making, I still manage to order a species. It was quite cheap, however, and I've yet to see it for sale in the UK.

This one I have had to speedily re-pot because it had been shaken out of its pot in transit. I should point out here that the packing of the plant itself was excellent, but it is almost impossible to take into account the contempt with which delivery companies handle our parcels ("Logistics" indeed!). The plant has two lead growths (one of which has been damaged, unfortunately), and two flower spikes from mature pseudobulbs. Coelogyne prolifera is not like many other Coelogyne species, and flowers are produced from both new and existing flower spikes (hence the name). The flowers are small (around a centimetre or less) and yellow. It will never be a showstopper, but will be an interesting "botanical" for me to grow. It is listed as needing cooler temperatures than I have, but I am confident that it will be adaptable enough to do well for me. It appears to have a somewhat rambling habit with some space between pseudobulbs so it will need regular potting on.

Second is one of those hybrids I was talking about. Its official name is Coelogyne Orchideengarten Sabine. The actual cross, after a little digging, is Coelogyne speciosa x Coelogyne Memoria Wilhelm Micholitz. If you read this blog regularly, you will already know that I grow both of its parents already, and that they both grow very easily and flower regularly.

As you can see, the plant arrived in bloom, but the flowers have not travelled well and have since fallen. I shall wait until new flowers are produced before attempting more photography on it. The influence of Coelogyne lawrenceana can bee seen in the height and shape of the pseudobulbs, while the white colouring of the blooms has carried over from Coelogyne mooreana. Coelogyne Memoria Wilhelm Micholitz is a lovely hybrid and can be seen here. How the crossing of Micholitz onto Coelogyne speciosa (the pod parent - when you read the cross of a hybrid, the pod parent is always stated first, the pollen parent second), I can't say for sure but it looks like it will flower sequentially and on droopier spikes. An interesting hybrid. Whether it will be equal to or greater than its parents remains to be see.

This plant has now been repotted as well. Both this and the following hybrid were growing (quite happily I must stress) in sphagnum moss. While this works for many growers (sphagnum moss is the only growing medium allowed if you intend to ship plants outside of the EU), it doesn't seem to work for me, so it had to go. I realise that the prospect of completely changing potting medium seems drastic to a lot of people, but I really have no fear of doing it. Sphagnum moss stays much too wet for plants in my collection (at least for plants above a certain size), so there would have been no benefit to waiting for new roots to start to form and it probably would have been more damaging to do so. This was a week ago and I don't actually think the plant has really noticed (a good sign). I separated off a baby plant (possibly a separate seeding, so it may be slightly different from the main plant) and have potted that as well, though I suspect it'll be some time before it reaches blooming size.

The third and final hybrid is the one I have been most excited about. It is called Coelogyne Orchideengarten Clara and is, at least to me, a very interesting hybrid. The cross is Coelogyne Lentil Soup x xyrekes. Coelogyne lentil soup is a hybrid between C. speciosa and C. lentiginosa. I have to say I wouldn't mind getting hold of Coelogyne lentil soup, either, but the nursery who made the cross (Orchideengarten Karge once again) haven't got it listed for sale. The other parent, Coelogyne xyrekes, is quite hard to find for some reason (it should be noted that Coelogyne is a very underrated genus and many lovely species and hybrids are still quite difficult to locate), and is near the top of my list of species to find. It is relative of Coelogyne speciosa (part of the so called speciosa group) and is quite similar to it but it has nice bronzed young foliage and much stiffer foliage.

As you can see, another good sized, robust looking plant. This one had just started to suffer in transit, and small patches of rot had started to appear on some of the newly emerging foliage. These have, luckily, dried out and I don't think I need worry any longer. a flower spike remains, and there is a bud forming so hopefully it won't be long before I see a flower. You may notice I speak as though I don't know what the flowers will be like, even though there are plenty of photos on the seller's website. This is because these plants are seedlings and will all be subtly different. There are several lead growths and several new shoots emerging on this plant and I suspect there is more than one seedling in there, though I shall not attempt to separate them out. You really can't see from the photo but the lovely bronzed new foliage of Coelogyne xyrekes has come through beautifully in this hybrid and I think the plant is very attractive indeed even when not in bloom.

This plant has also been re-potted into bark chips and also appears not to have noticed. It looks like it has inherited a good clumping habit, and should flower well. I was immediately told by a friend that Coelogyne xyrekes has smaller flowers than Coelogyne speciosa but since Coelogyne speciosa has almost the largest flowers in the genus, that wouldn't really be much of a surprise. Besides which, with hybrid vigour and Coelogyne speciosa in the background (albeit only a quarter), who knows? Size isn't everything, anyway.

There are a couple more of these hybrids on Orchideengarten Karge's website, one of which is Coelogyne Lyme Bay. I would be interested to know whether they have propagated plants supplied by Burnham Nurseries (who first made the cross) or whether it is a re-make. I would favour the latter. I'm half tempted to get one of their plants so I can compare it with my plant from Burnham Nurseries. It looks from the pictures as if the lip is lighter on the German plants, but that could be down to several factors, only one of which is genetic. As I understand it, Burnham Nurseries selected the plants that had the darkest lip and propagated from those. I have no idea what happened to the other seedlings that were produced and, presumably, flowered. Until my plant blooms again, I can't know for sure how dark my plant is but I understand it to be a division of one of their awarded plants so it should be a good one (if dark lips is what you look for in such a hybrid).

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