Neofinetia falcata, public domain image from here.
This very attractive little Vandacious orchid seems to be a potential problem for me. It is small, attractive, fragrant, white flowers and is basically my kind of orchid. So it would make sense that I might get one… But wait! I think I forgot to mention that this orchid is also incredibly varied. So lets back up a few sentences… I get one, which is green and has white flowers. Then I get one with variegated leaves. Then I get one with white flowers with maybe a red or purple spur. Then… I’d already be out over (potentially well over!) a hundred dollars with little end in sight. There’s a list of a few of the forms you can find here. There are fantastic pictures around the net as well.
I would likely try to end up with at least one each of an example of Pine Needle Growth (more smaller leaves), Princess Leaf (narrower leaves), Samurai Growth (More strongly downwards pointing), &/or Fukurin Variegation (variegation down margin or center of leaf). Some of the pink flowered forms are very nice (Neofinetia falcata var. Shu Ten Nou `Little Gracie’ JC/AOS is just amazing). Not mentioned at the page I linked earlier but there are also varieties with differently coloured root tips (purple I’ve seen pictures of or green being more common) and some extra colour to the leaves (as in Neofinetia falcata var. ‘Kaioumaru’). This blog has some amazing Neofinetia falcata pictures showing a diversity in this species I had never seen before I started writing this post. Traditionally they are grown in fancy pots which themselves may be pricey. I would likely have to hold off on this instead growing them in less fancy green plastic pots with larger drainage holes cut in the bottom.
Neofinetia falcata, Creative Commons licensed image by KENPEI from here.
The care of this orchid is interesting as well, and a perfect example of a confusing list of guidelines for plant care that make perfect sense when you look at the natural growing environment for the plant. The plant grows on deciduous trees. Ok, so what does that mean? Well, the fact that the trees are deciduous at all mean it must get fairly cool during the winter – these orchids can tolerate temperatures approaching freezing though strongly not encouraged. The plants should be getting more light during the winter as well – I presume an unheated but above freezing garage with a south window might work? My garage not only freezes but faces north and has no windows so it doesn’t really make much difference for me! Depending on how much growth slows (some people have mentioned that their plants grows throughout the year and flower through the year in which case watering should continue) fertilizer should be cut out and water cut way back – if you still see growing tips on the roots then keep watering, if there’s no growth then don’t water as much. When growth starts again in the spring increase water and fertilizer.
Assuming you can manage the winter months growth of these plants doesn’t seem too tricky… Not something I want to start playing around with before I’ve got the orchids I already have figured out. Though the potential is certainly there I doubt I will ever be willing to cough up the cash for a collection of these plants, or in some cases even the price of a single plant.
There could be a big problem here but I think it will be fairly easy to keep myself down to only 2-3 of these plants total. From here: ‘Amami Island’ has green leaves, large white flowers born in numbers up to ten on a spike. Vigorous and large (to 12″), somewhat more forgiving than the smaller forms, excellent starter plant. ‘Gojyo Fukurin’ Has green leaves with white margins, large white flowers and nice smell – again on the larger size (8″) and more vigorous than many. ‘Shutenno’ (Red Emperor) has green leaves with many red/pink fragrant flowers on a large (8″) vigorous plant. These forms should all be fairly common and relatively inexpensive while covering many of my favourite aspects of the species.
That said I will not be getting any until probably the Feb 2011 SOOS Show – I need to figure out the species I already have before jumping into more challenging ones. I will look at them