Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A small pendent Dendrobium hybrid, Dendrobium Adastra x Den. parishii

Dendrobium Adastra x parishii
Dendrobium Adastra x parishii
Dendrobium Adastra x parishii
Dendrobium Adastra
Dendrobium anosmum
Dendrobium cucullatum
Dendrobium parishii
I brought this small Dendrobium hybrid at a huge Spring orchid show in 2009 that was held at Plaza Las Americas, the largest Mall in the Caribbean.  One interesting feature of these shows is that every year a few new and interesting plants are brought in, sold in quantity, and then never seen again for sale.   Because this has happened a number of times I am always on the lookout for orchids that I know are rarely exported.  This little Dendrobium is one of those rare and exciting finds.
This little plant combines the genome of three of the most outstanding species of Dendrobium of the section Dendrobium.  This orchid is the result of the cross of Den. Adastra (anosmum x cucullatum) and Den. parishii.   It is interesting to note the flower of this hybrid doesn’t resemble too closely any of the parents and has a unique charm all of its own.  One surprising characteristic of this plant is its small size.  The canes of my plant are between 12 and 15 inches long, pretty small considering than a local anosmum can easily produce five foot canes and I have some clones of cucullatum reach more than six feet long with ease.  It appears that the influence of the parishii parent has resulted in a reduced cane length in this hybrid.  But I must confess the size of this plant might have also been influenced by the way I culture it. 
One vexing problem I have had with parishii derived hybrids is their vulnerability to cane rot under my local conditions, something that also plagues my parishii plants.  However not all my parishii hybrids are equally affected, those that are in baskets with excellent drainage fare the best, those in pots fare poorly.  Because I didn’t want to lose this plant to rot I put it in a tiny basket with just enough moss to give the roots something to hold but not enough that it would stay sopping wet for hours.  As a result the root ball of this plant is comparatively puny for its size.  But since after three years under my care it has now shown itself to be quite hardy I plan to move it to a larger basket where it will be able to develop a larger root ball.  Unfortunately it has shown no inclination to produce two canes at the same time as anosmum sometimes does and its quite stingy producing keikis having produced just two so puny that I will wait until they have two canes to remove them.
As far as culture goes I grow them like I grow my anosmum except that this one is kept in a shadier location until I have more plants and can test them for resistance to several hours of full sun exposure.  Indications on growing anosmum are located elsewhere in this blog, a link can be found at the bottom of this blog page.   Compared with Adastra, anosmum and cucullatum this orchid is a relatively slow grower.  The canes sometime have slight sidewise twists, an odd feature that none of the parental species show under my care.
The flowers of this hybrid have a better shape and presentation than the flowers of any of its parents and the pink color is outstanding.  But sadly they are not scented and they are produced in limited numbers.  The relative small flower count might be due the way I grow it so the flower number will probably increase significantly if I expose it to more sun but that will be tested in the future.   Personally I would love to see a flower with the shape and color of this one but with a size comparable to the flowers of anosmum which can be four inches wide.  I sometimes wonder what would come out if someone would cross this plant with Dendrobium primulinum var. giganteum which has an enormous lip with a spectacular orange coloring in the center.  Alas it is a fantasy at this moment but, you can always dream!

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