Behind-the-Scenes at Orchids Forever

By Mark Bir, HF&G Horticulturist

Orchids Forever, featuring thousands of orchids in our indoor gardens and glasshouse, recently opened at the botanical garden. Get a behind-the-scenes look at a few of the orchids featured in our annual flower show with HF&G Horticulturist Mark Bir.

Odontocidium Catatante ‘Pacific Sunspots.’ Orchids can come to our windowsills as species straight from the wild. Or they can stop first in a human’s greenhouse, who cross-pollinates them with other orchids and grows their seed into hybrid progeny. And like this Odontocidium, by the time they reach us those hybrids can be complicated!

Laeliocattleya Gold Digger ‘Orglades Mandarin.’ Orchid genes are both diverse and quite willing to hybridize “across the fence” with orchids from seemingly disparate genera.  This Laeliocattleya is one such “complex hybrid” (that’s the parlance) and has genes from Laelia, Cattleya and Guarianthe orchid genera.

Phalaenopis nameless hybrid. Our common Phals are intraspecific hybrids, meaning their parents include several Phaleonopsis species and their hybrid progenies.  Many aren’t even given names, just production codes!  Phals are a very big business; ours start as propagules in Holland that are shipped to our grower in Oberlin (BTW, America’s largest orchid grower) grown forward, then shipped to us in full, gorgeous bloom.

Paphiopedilum (Magic O x ‘Remake’) x (Stardust Tree x Blenhill ‘Indomitable’). There are about 40,ooo wild orchid species worldwide.  And there are about 20,000 horticulture-derived new hybrids introduced to market every year.  Wow—so that’s how this Paph got its complicated and positively goofy name!

Dendrobium Frosty Dawn x Peng Seng. Here’s a hybrid of a hybrid.  Dendrobium Peng Seng hit the market with a bang a few years ago and now some of it’s good-lookin’ children are making the grade, like this Frosty Dawn x Peng Seng.  Actually, in this instance both parent and child look pretty much the same to me!

Miltonidium Pacific Waters ‘Paul’s Pride.’ Miltonidium is another complex intergeneric hybrid, of Miltonia and Oncidium orchid genera.  In mammalian terms that might seem like a hybrid of a dog and a cat!  But being that there are some 40,ooo wild orchid species, we humans have found it necessary to sort them into at least 880 genera, while genes across many of these nomenclatural boundaries are more closely related than our words might suggest.

Miltoniopsis ‘Morris Chestnut.’ Hybrid Miltoniopsis result from the crossing of a high-elevation Miltoniopis with a low-elevation relative.   And this ‘Morris Chestnut’ shows good traits of both: showy flowers alongside warmer and more home-suited temperature requirements.

Orchids Forever is open now through April 1th. Reservations are required. Make your reservation online today.