Meet the Sarcochilus Hybrids

Posted July 28th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, Growing, Photos, Watering

Sarcochilus Red Hot Kiss, orchid hybrid flowers, spotted flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Mother's Day Show, San Mateo, CaliforniaSarcochilus Kulnura, orchid hybrid flowers, white red and yellow flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Mother's Day Show, San Mateo, CaliforniaSarcochilus George Colthup x Sharon, orchid hybrid flowers leaves and plant, Peninsula Orchid Society Mother's Day Show, San Mateo, California

Would you like like to meet some charming, attractive Australians? Sarcochilus orchids are brilliant Aussie gems. They’ve been hybridized Down Under for a while, but until recently, there weren’t many hybrids available in the USA. Increasingly, I see more of them on sale and at orchid shows. This post includes 15 different varieties which were displayed at last spring’s Peninsula Orchid Society Show. The photos represent a sampling of the colors and markings that hybridizers have created so far. They boast crystal whites, bright yellows, stunning reds, and rich purples. Some have dazzling spots, and others have artistic splash patterns.

Sarcochilus orchid hybrid flowers, yellow and white flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Mother's Day Show, San Mateo, CaliforniaSarcochilus orchid hybrid flowers, reddish-purple spots on yellow and white flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Mother's Day Show, San Mateo, CaliforniaSarcochilus (Kulnura Vibrance x Kulnura Dazzel) 'Woodside' CCM/AOS, purple and orange flowers, orchid hybrid flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Mother's Day Show, San Mateo, California

Sarcochilus Kulnura Candy '106', light red spots on white and yellow flowers, orchid hybrid flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Mother's Day Show, San Mateo, CaliforniaSarcochilus Kulnura Famous '0417AG', peloric flowers, orchid hybrid flowers leaves and plant, Peninsula Orchid Society Mother's Day Show, San Mateo, CaliforniaSarcochilus Autumn '0427BM', light yellow flowers with reddish brown spots, orchid hybrid flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Mother's Day Show, San Mateo, California

It’s no surprise that these plants resemble small Vandas, since they’re related and can hybridize. Most of these crosses are made from only a few species, including the vigorous Sarcochilus hartmannii, which I’ve grown for years. (I don’t breed or hybridize mine. I’m just happy that it blooms.)

Sarcochilus orchid hybrid flowers, red orange and white flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Mother's Day Show, San Mateo, CaliforniaSarcochilus Kulnura Sugar '0427BW', orchid hybrid flowers, white purplish-red and yellow flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Mother's Day Show, San Mateo, CaliforniaSarcochilus orchid hybrid flowers, reddish-purple orange and white flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Mother's Day Show, San Mateo, California

Sarcochilus Parma 'Lemon Cent' x Madge 'One', orchid hybrid flowers, white and yellow flowers with leaves in background, Peninsula Orchid Society Mother's Day Show, San Mateo, CaliforniaSarcochilus Kulnura Dragonfly 'Emma Jane' AM/AOS, orchid hybrid flowers, reddish-purple spots on orange and white flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Mother's Day Show, San Mateo, CaliforniaSarcochilus Kulnura Harrow, orchid hybrid flowers, white red pink and purple flowers, Peninsula Orchid Society Mother's Day Show, San Mateo, California

Sarcochilus orchids are compact growers. In the wild, they live as air plants (epiphytes) or rock plants (lithophytes.) They enjoy cool temps, high humidity, good air movement, regular watering, and morning sun. They’re great for growing outdoors in mild, foggy climates like the San Francisco Bay Area, and can do well indoors on a cool windowsill. They must grow very well in the little town of Kulnura, Australia, north of Sydney. I’ve heard that an important Sarcochilus hybridizer lives there, and that’s why lots of these beautiful orchids bear this town’s name.

Explore Tropical Orchids Online

Posted July 22nd, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Books

Species Orchidacearum is a free, online, serial publication, dedicated to tropical orchids. Peer-reviewed botanical works fill the five volumes already published, all highlighting Colombian orchids. Each volume details about a dozen species with scientific descriptions, photos, and maps. Check out the varieties covered so far. The goal of these publications is to promote universal access to this info.

The Search for One of Florida’s Most Rare, Endangered Orchids

Posted July 15th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News

Florida’s native Cigar Orchids have been vanishing for decades. Habitat destruction and overcollection of wild plants have decimated their numbers and endangered them, even in Big Cypress National Preserve. Fortunately, scientists like conservation ecologist Hong Liu are working to save them. She’s trying to find Cigar Orchids, or Cyrtopodium punctatum, to figure out how to protect them. It’s not easy to find rare plants in the 729,000 acre (295,000 hectare) preserve, even with a swamp buggy and the help of orchid lovers on social media. “If we see one plant, that’s a good day,” Liu said. “The majority of the searches, we see one or two. That’s the norm. That’s how sparse this population is over the huge size of Big Cypress.” After analyzing their data and presenting it to the park service, they plan to continue their work to conserve these breathtaking orchids.

Read more about this conservation work at NationalParksTraveler.org.

Summer’s Off to a Colorful Start in Our Garden

Posted July 8th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, General Gardening, Photos

Prosthechea vitellina, AKA Encyclia vitellina, orchid species flowers and buds, Yolk-Yellow Prosthechea, Manuelitos, bright orange and yellow flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCoelogyne mooreana, orchid species flowers, white and orange flowers with water drops, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia coccinea, orchid species flowers, bright pink flowers with water drops, pleurothallid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

After a sunny spring, the summer fog has arrived, and it’s keeping our plants happy. Start the garden tour with the orchids in the first row of photos: a brilliant yellow and orange Prosthechea, a white and orange Coelogyne, and a hot pink Masdevallia.

Sarcochilus hartmannii, orchid species flowers, white red and yellow flowers, large boulder orchid, ravine orchid, Australian native species, growing outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaAristea major, blue flowers with yellow pollen, South African iris relative, growing outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaLupinus arboreus, Coastal Bush Lupine and bumblebee, Yellow Bush Lupine, Tree Lupine, yellow flowers, Pacifica, California

There’s one more orchid, the white blooms in the first photo in the second row. They’re from my very reliable Sarcochilus. It didn’t have many flower spikes this year, probably because I neglected to repot it last year. It’s definitely next on my repotting list. In the next picture, our Aristea isn’t an orchid, but its tall spikes carry dazzling blue blossoms.. One of our new native plants, a Coastal Bush Lupine, is already attracting bumblebees to its yellow flowers.

Epiphyllum cactus flower, close-up of lower half of flower, large bright red flower, growing outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaHoliday cactus flowers, christmas cactus, easter cactus, bright pink flowers, red edging variegation on leaves, growing outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaPurple and red fuchsia flowers and buds, growing outdoors in Pacifica, California

The final row of photos includes spectacular cactus flowers, and a happy fuchsia. They’re all giving our garden a colorful start to summer.

July Orchid Events

Posted July 1st, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events

Australia and New Zealand have busy schedules this month, but there are events above the equator, too, including San Francisco’s Orchids in the Park, July 30-31. Stay safe with vaccinations and masks at indoor events.

July 2 – 3
Victorian Country Orchid Clubs Challenge, Laidlaw Park, 78 Partick St., Stawell, Victoria, Australia
July 2 – 3
Blue Mountains & Penrith District Orchid Society Winter Show, Girl Guides Hall, Great Western Hwy. & Nepean St., Emu Plains, NSW, Australia
July 2 – 3
Cumberland Orchid Society Show, North Rocks Shopping Centre, North Rocks Rd., North Rocks, NSW, Australia
July 2 – 3
Milton Ulladulla Orchid Society Show, Civic Centre, Princes Hwy., Ulladulla, NSW, Australia
July 2 – 3
Illawarra District Orchid Society Show, Senior Citizens Hall, Benaud Crescent, Warilla, NSW, Australia
July 3
Orchid Species Society of Victoria Sales Day, St. Timothy’s Primary School, 21 Stevens Rd., Vermont, Victoria, Australia
July 8 – 9
Eurobodalla Orchid Society Show, CWA Hall, Queen St., Moruya, NSW, Australia
July 8 – 10
Townsville Orchid Society Gala Show & Sales, Emmaus Hall, Ryan Catholic College, Morindo Dr., Kirwan, Queensland, Australia
July 9
New Zealand Orchid Society Winter Show, Western Springs Gardens, 956 Great North Rd., Western Springs, Auckland, New Zealand
July 9
Hawkes Bay Orchid Society Winter Show, Clive Hall, 162 Main Rd., Clive, New Zealand

Read the rest of this post »

The Pollinator’s Guide to Orchids

Posted June 27th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Misc, QuickPost

Did you know that birds can’t smell sweet scents, so orchids instead use bright reds, oranges, yellows, or purples to attract them? The brilliant minds of Smithsonian Gardens have made a great resource about orchid pollination. The charming webpage explains how birds, moths, butterflies, bees, wasps, and flies fertilize flowers. It also includes beautiful photos, info about orchid basics, and an interactive map showing species diversity around the world.

More Wonders of the San Francisco Botanical Garden

Posted June 21st, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Photos

Rhododendron occidentale, California Azalea, Western Azalea, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaBee on purple flowers, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaRedwood grove, redwood trees and ferns, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Protea flower, large red flower, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaMonkey Puzzle Tree, Araucaria araucana, Chile Pine, piñonero, South American tree species with pointed triangular leaves, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaLeucospermum erubescens, Oudtshoorn Pincushion, large unusual flower, red orange and yellow flower, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Celebrate today’s summer solstice with more photos from our recent visit to San Francisco Botanical Garden. I already blogged about three of the most amazing plants we saw, but of course, the rest of the gardens are stunning, too. There were California natives, like a gorgeous California Azalea, and giant Coast Redwood Trees. South African Protea and Leucospermum flowers resembled Dr. Seuss creations, as did the pointy, South American Monkey Puzzle Trees. A young leaf, which looks like an alien hand, emerged from an enormous Gunnera.

Chilean rhubarb, Gunnera tinctoria, young leaf unfurling which looks like a closed hand, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaCamellia flower and leaves, red and white flower, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaStrybing Arboretum, McBean Wildfowl Pond, pond surrounded by trees and shrubs, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Cineraria flowers, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaStrybing Arboretum, large trees, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaWhite wisteria flowers hanging in a wooden arbor, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we’re starting summer with a heat wave. Even on the coast, where fog and ocean breezes usually moderate the temperature, we were above 86°F (30°C) before noon this morning. Hello summer.

Protect Ecuador’s Valley of Orchids

Posted June 18th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News

The Rainforest Trust and the Orchid Conservation Alliance (OCA) are working hard to save endangered orchids. Both groups are trying to raise emergency funds to purchase properties next to Ecuador’s Dracula Reserve. New mining activities are destroying nearby rainforests and threatening the entire area, which is a biodiversity hotspot. This Valley of Orchids is home to hundreds of orchid species, and there are frequently more discoveries. Nearby property owners want to sell their land to these conservation groups, rather than the miners, but time is of the essence. Please donate to the Rainforest Trust and the OCA if you can. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law. A large donation to the OCA allows the donor to pick a name for a newly-identified orchid.

Wonders of the San Francisco Botanical Garden

Posted June 14th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Photos

Puya alpestris, Chilean Rock Bromeliad, Sapphire Tower, metallic blue flowers with orange pollen, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPuya alpestris, Chilean Rock Bromeliad, Sapphire Tower, tall flower spike with metallic blue flowers with orange pollen, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPuya alpestris, Chilean Rock Bromeliad, Sapphire Tower, metallic blue flowers with orange pollen, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

San Francisco Botanical Garden, also known as Strybing Arboretum, is full of wonders. Whenever we go, Dave and I always expect to enjoy lush growth and plentiful blooms. But on a recent visit, it seems the gardens went above and beyond their usual magic. There weren’t any orchids, but we were astounded by some stunning plants. Three of them are highlighted here. The first row of photos above shows the amazing metallic-blue flowers of the Sapphire Tower, or Chilean Rock Bromeliad, Puya alpestris. The tall, colorful spikes held the flowers right in front of us, at perfect photographing height. I’ve seen Puya blooms before, such as this one from the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley, but these were much more striking.

Monkey's Hand Tree, Chiranthodendron pentadactylon, árbol de las manitas, weird hand-shaped red and yellow flower, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaMonkey's Hand Tree, Chiranthodendron pentadactylon, árbol de las manitas, weird hand-shaped red and yellow flower, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaMonkey's Hand Tree, Chiranthodendron pentadactylon, árbol de las manitas, weird hand-shaped red and yellow flower, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

In the second row, there are bizarre blooms from a Monkey’s Hand Tree. The species is native to Guatemala and southern Mexico. This specimen grows arched over a pathway in Strybing’s Succulent Garden. I’d never seen the tree in bloom before. The large, red flowers are certainly fascinating and weird.

Sequoia sempervirens, Coastal Redwood albino form, very rare albino redwood, white redwood tree leaves, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaSequoia sempervirens, Coastal Redwood albino form, very rare albino redwood, white redwood tree leaves alongside regular green leaves, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaSequoia sempervirens, Coastal Redwood albino form, very rare albino redwood, white redwood tree leaves alongside regular green leaves, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

The third row of photos can’t compare in color to the first two, but it shows quite an oddity: a very rare albino redwood. Few of these mutants are known to exist, but there’s one in Strybing’s Redwood Grove. The white leaves can’t photosynthesize, so they must grow attached to a parent tree with green needles. These were growing as small suckers at the base of a large tree. Unfortunately, I suspect that some visitors were plucking them. It’s possible that these ghostly plants help their parent plant to filter toxic heavy metals. They’re just a few of San Francisco Botanical Garden’s marvels.

Spate of Orchid Thefts in England Puts Rare Species at Risk

Posted June 7th, 2022 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News

Orchid thieves have been busy in the UK, destroying native species in the process. Burnt-tip Orchids and Late Spider Orchids are both rare and endangered in England. Dozens of them have gone missing. Orchid experts believe that the plants may have been “stolen to order” by foolish and selfish orchid collectors, who don’t care about the damage they’re causing. The stolen species will likely die after being dug up and replanted.

Other orchids are already extinct or highly endangered in the UK because of habitat destruction and illegal poaching. True orchid lovers don’t steal plants from the wild and threaten rare species. Never take flowers or plants from the wild, or buy plants which have been removed from the wild. Use caution when photographing plants, and remove location data when posting photos on social media.