25.7.11

It Had to Start Somewhere- Vanda Species


V. sanderiana

Vanda species and hybrids have a roller-coaster ride of popularity. Every few years they seem to become
fashionable again, and I often wonder if the attraction is linked to a nursery's availability of the plants......

I recall the first time I saw a really blue Vanda
rothschildiana ( sanderiana x coerulea) at an orchid show in Milwaukee. I was smitten from the first second I saw it. If I had known that I would some day live in Miami, where Vandas grow almost without care, I would not have tried so hard to grow it in a greenhouse in the chilly northern states.

I saw some of the terete and semi-terete hybrids as well, such as V. Nellie Morley and V. Josephine Van Brero.  Their round flowers with such solid texture were a far cry from the open, thin-textured flowers of some of the species.


In the last 30 years or so, there have been some revelations in Vanda breeding, largely due to growers in the Miami / Homestead area, as well as a number of Hawaiian growers. Amongst other growers, RF Orchids, Motes Orchids, Ruben in Orchids, and several private growers in both states have been instrumental in bringing new hybrids to the shows and sales for consumers to ogle. These newer hybrids use a number of smaller species, suitable for growing in smaller greenhouses and collections. While I like the big V. sanderiana hybrids, they need to be rather sizable before they flower, whereas V. denisoniana makes a more compact hybrid. For this blog, I'll focus on the older "stud" hybrids and the species which made them.



V. coerulea

There are 2 basic groups in Vanda breeding- the strap leaf group and the terete group. The most important parents for large-flowered hybrids are V. coerulea, V. tricolor and V. sanderiana.  There seems to be a running debate about where Vanda hybrids were first made, but I believe Asia had the first programs via the Singapore Botanical Garden, as well as private hybridizers. Hawaii and Florida came into the game in the last 40 years or so.  




V. Rothchildiana
( coerulea x sanderiana)




In the world of terete hybrids, there are rather few species with which to make hybrids that perform as we need them to. For this group, V. ( now Papilionanthe) teres and V. hookeriana were the important parents.The plants grow vigorously, but need a LOT of light to flower well. This trait makes them suitable for only the warmest areas of the US, but highly suitable for  humid and rainy tropical areas. We are lucky in the South Florida regions where we can grow such a vast array of orchids outdoors so easily. I fear that we take the climate for granted, and lose touch with the giant diversity available to us.

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens 


V. teres








V. hookeriana






V. tricolor


V. 'Miss Joaquin'
( teres x hookeriana)
one of the most famous and
successful of all hybrids


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