This lovely autumn flowering Pleione species has an interesting story to tell.
I first came across Pleione x lagenaria on the cover of my Pleione book (Cribb and Butterfield, 1999, The Genus Pleione, Kew Publishing) with its blush pink flowers and stunning lip in red, white and yeallow. The book (which is a good read by the way) records Pleione x lagenaria as found from Assam (in an area now in the state of Meghalaya) and describes the authors as more or less convinced that the Pleione x lagenaria is a natural hybrid between Pleione maculata and Pleione praecox.
A good friend and expert Pleione grower, Ian Robertson, was keen to see if this was true and sent us seed of his cross between the two species. The seed did well in our propagation lab and we were pleased to give Ian several flasks of seedlings. The plants you see here are some of those seedlings given back to us by Ian.
The flowers of Pleione x lagenaria look quite similar to Pleione maculata (below) which we have seen growing in Sikkim at around 1500m in mossy wet forests.
The pink petals of Pleione x lagenaria come from its other parent Pleione praecox which we found growing abundantly in Sikkim at around 2000m in cool wet forests (much cooler than the P.maculata habitat)
and the bulbs of Pleione x lagenaria are more similar to the bulbs of Pleione praecox, beautifully purple with green spots.
Overlap between the species must be fairly rare but is recorded where Pleione x lagenaria is found.
As we have seen both species growing as epiphytes on very mossy trees we have followed Ian’s method of growing our plants in moss filled baskets which we keep very wet all summer and then much dryer now the leaves have fallen. Interestingly the leaves fall as the flowers open as a reminder not to get the flowers wet as they damage easily.
All in all we are delighted to have this interesting orchid in our collection and will be making a sib cross to see what diversity appears in the next generation of seedlings.