365 days of orchids – day 398 – Cymbidium hookerianum
Cymbidium hookerianum is one of our favourite orchids. Its dramatic arching spikes of large brightly coloured flowers are really arresting and as one of Sikkim’s charismatic orchids it is a plant we enjoyed finding in our trips to the Himalayas.
Our largest plant has produced two spikes this year and the first is now fully out in flower. Paige is holding the plant in our photo as she is working with Martha to lead on our link project with the Cheshire Home, Timsbury. Paige and Martha will soon be hosting a visit to the Greenhouse and Mendip Studio School by Cheshire Home residents and in the longer term will be helping the Gardening group at the Home to develop their own orchid collection. The girls are particularly keen that Cymbidium hookerianum should be the flagship species for the project.(more of this story later in the year)
Cymbidium hookerianum is a really cool growing species and we have seen it in Sikkim from 1500-3000m altitude. We have observed that plants flower profusely on dead trees suggesting that the species benefits from additional feeding during the growing season as well as good light. We grow the species in our Temperate section with a winter minimum around 6C which the plants relish. In our experience the species will grow warmer but will not flower as reliably.
I heard people today describing this time of year as miserable but I had to disagree – with Cymbidium hookerianum in flower this time is full positively joyful. The flowers also have a nice scent described by one of my pupils this week as “green”. The large flowers are pollinated by large bumble bees.
Another positive for the species is the name. Hookerianum honours Joseph Hooker, one of Britains great exploring botanists. If you haven’t read Hooker’s Journals I highly recomend reading them, and then exploring Sikkim for yourself.
As you are probably aware we sowed 500,000 seeds of this species on January 4th and we hope to have seedlings available for sale in about eighteen months.