Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vanda merrillii Ames & Quisumb. 1932, a collector's item for those that value Vanda species

A freshly opened flower of var. inmaculata
A fully maure flower
Top view to show the degree of reflection of the petals
Variety rotorii
Variety rotorii
Vanda merrillii is native of the phillipine island of Luzon where it grows at altitudes of 1,500 feet.  This orchid has been a long time member of my orchid collection and has shown itself to be a hardy survivor of both overwatering and neglect.  My plant has grown at its best when cultivated in an area where there is high humidity and when it has been fertilized every week with a weak solution of fertilizer.  My problem has been that I usually don’t fertilize plants that are not growing and sometimes forget to fertilize this Vanda too.  That has resulted in slow growth, leaf loss and sparse flowering.  So my recommendation on this plant is to water it generously and to keep a conscientious schedule of fertilizing it.  This orchid seems to prefer a slightly shadier light regime than my other plants of this genus, I give it only a few hours of sun in the morning and light shade the rest of the day.
The flowers are produced in the spring and are long lasting. They are highly colored but unfortunately the petals twist back shortly after the flower opens giving it the appearance of a diver doing the swan dive.  Different clones differ in the amount of twisting, some only twist the petals back slightly others twist them back so much they end up almost parallel.  There are several color forms of this species that vary in the amount of red or yellow in the flower and even some that have a very dark color.  In Puerto Rico I have seen plants of the variety rotorii and some that might have been var. inmaculata but that were not labeled as such.  Plants of var. rotorii are noted by their rich red color that covers almost all the flower.  Plants of the var. inmaculata show extensive yellow areas in the basal portions of the sepals and petals with the areas of solid red color confined to the margins of the floral segments.  I think this plant will grow well in most areas of Puerto Rico, however to get a good flower show out of this Vanda you need to make sure it get the watering and fertilizing regime that it prefers.  This plant is rarely seen in local orchid collections.  I regard it like a collector’s item for those growers that appreciate the particular charms of the various Vanda species over the generally huge size and roundness of the most commonly available hybrids.


Stan said...

Dear S. Valentin,
I would very much like to purchase a V. merrillii. Can you advise me as to where I could get one?
Stan Baker
Richmond, Virginia

Ricardo said...

I don't know who sells them in the USA. Perhaps RF orchids, or Motes orchids may be able to help you. The Orchid Mall an internet site might be worth a look.