Oncidiinae Intergenerics
The new princes of pot plants  - Text and photographs by Milton O. Carpenter

Reprinted from the August 2000 issue of Orchids
-- The magazine of the American Orchid Society

Few would deny phalaenopsis the title of king in the realm of orchid pot plants. In the last few years, however, contenders for the title that are gaining popularity around the world have emerged - the Oncidiinae Intergenerics.

The history of these intergeneric (more than one genus involved) combinations is quite long, going back to the first hybrids of Odontioda (Odontoglossum x Cochlioda), Vuylstekeara (Miltonia x Odontioda) and Odontonia (Miltonia x Odontoglossum), created by hybridizers in England and Europe in the early 1800s. Those early hybridizers did the world a favor in popularizing not only odontoglossums (commonly called odonts) but, among others, the above-mentioned intergeneric combinations. The principal drawback to the majority of those beautiful hybrids, however, is the necessity for cool temperatures year round, which limits their easy culture to only a few parts of the world.

In recent years, we have witnessed the emergence of temperature- tolerant Oncidiinae, a descriptive term that I apply to those plants that will thrive in temperatures from 45 to 100 F. Pioneering work on this line of breeding was done by the late W.W. Goodale Moir of Hawaii, who registered 273 Oncidiinae intergeneric hybrids in 46 different combinations. Building on Goodale’s foundation, Helmut Rohrl of California, George Black of England, this writer (all protegés of Goodale), and a few others, have been engaged over the past 30 years or so in a continuing exploration of the limitless possibilities within this alliance.

In the past several years, it has become apparent that certain select clones contain plants, to wit: strong, compact growth, beautifully colored or patterned flowers, strong, erect-to-arching inflorescences, long-lasting flowers (usually a month or more on the plant), ease of culture, low-light requirements (allowing easy home cultivation on a windowsill or under fluorescent lights), and, of paramount importance, the ability to grow and flower well in warm or cool climates.

Length of inflorescence is important, for while a hobby grower with lots of room might enjoy a plant with a 5-foot inflorescence, the general public purchasing a pot-plant orchid will prefer a more manageable one, say 12 to 24 inches in length. Lighter or darker colors will be popular in different countries of the world with local tastes changing slightly over the years. In general, colors must be clear and well defined (not muddy). Flowering seasons will vary, with many clones blooming more than once per year, and at any time. Eventually, the large commercial growers will determine which clones will bloom at what times of the year under their conditions naturally, or if they can be manipulated to flower when they want them to.

It would be impossible to discuss all of the potential heirs who would claim the royal title Prince of Pot Plants within the Oncidiinae, but I have selected 8 whose attributes meet the courtly requirements mentioned, as well as possessing that other characteristic so hard to define, which I call "character." To me, a plant with character is one that, among other things, stands out as immensely pleasing to the eye at first observation. Generally, that plant will have a superior balance and conformity when considering the plant and flowers as a whole. 

In the near future, look for the mega-stores with garden departments to be offering a number of these Princes of Pot Plants along with their Phalaenopsis.

Vuylstekeara Fall In Love ‘Lovely Lady’ (Vuylstekeara Memoria Mary Kavanaugh x Odontioda Helen Steed ‘Geyserland’ 4n), a newly registered tetraploid cross, was made by Andy Easton of Rotorua, New Zealand. We bloomed this clone in May 1999 in Belle Glade, Florida, with nine 4-inch flowers of heavy substance on a 24-inch arching inflorescence. Easton has made some fine temperature-tolerant hybrids, although it seldom gets really warm in Rotorua.

Miltassia Aztec ‘Toni’, HCC/AOS (Miltassia Cartagena x Miltonia Minas Gerais), blooms late summer to autumn. It produces five to seven 4- to 5-inch flowers, well spaced on 12-inch inflorescences. This older but spectacular hybrid was made by the late Goodale Moir of Hawaii.

Degarmoara Everglades Sunshine ‘Pure Gold’, AM/AOS (Miltassia Green Goddess ‘Everglades’ x Odontoglossum Somelle), can bloom any time of the year, producing six or seven 4-inch flowers per inflorescence.

Miltonidium Super Spot ‘Everglades’ (Miltonidium Kal x Oncidium Illustre) is one of our most striking hybrids, bearing showy flowers on a strong-growing, yet compact, plant. The branched inflorescence, which may reach 30 inches in length, bears 15 to 25 2-inch flowers that command attention.

Colmanara Jungle Cat ‘Burma Ruby’ (Colmanara Jungle Monarch ‘Everglades’, HCC/AOS x Odontoglossum bictoniense) bears 18 to 25 2-inch flowers well spaced on beautiful, erect and branched 24-inch inflorescences. We were pleasantly surprised with the intense color saturation in this cross. The Colm. Jungle Monarch parent is one of our best breeding plants for vigor, habit of inflorescence, flower presentation and production, but its color, while interesting, is somewhat dull. The Odm. bictoniense parent took care of that problem in this case by contributing more than the expected amount of deep red coloration.

Vuylstekeara Saint Mary ‘Everglades’, HCC/AOS (Vuylstekeara Memoria Mary Kavanaugh x Odontioda Saint Clement), was made by Tom Perlite of Golden Gate Orchids in San Francisco, California. This is one of the temperature-tolerant vuylstekearas that contain the tetraploid form of the warm-growing Brazilian Miltonia spectabilis in its background. Twenty-inch-long inflorescences bear seven or eight 4-inch-plus flowers. 

Beallara Dancing Matador ‘Everglades’ (Miltassia Limbo Dancers x Odontioda Matador) produces 12- to 15-inch spikes with four or five 3-inch flowers on each spike. It can bloom any time of the year. Made by George Black, a Royal Horticultural Society judge in England who spent most of his life in the Caribbean.

Odontonia Tropical Heat Wave ‘Everglades’, AM/AOS (Miltonia spectabilis var. moreliana 
4n x Odontoglossum Hyperry), is a fine hybrid made by the superb grower and hybridizer 
Bob Hamilton, of Berkeley, California. The clone ‘Everglades’ produces eight to nine 31/2-inch flowers on sometimes branched inflorescences. I named this cross (with Hamilton’s permission) Tropical Heat Wave as a reminder that this Odontonia will grow and flower in the heat. We are just blooming several new tetraploid clones of Milt. spectabilis var. moreliana, which resulted from colchicine work done for us by our good friend, the late Don Wimber, PhD.

Milton O. Carpenter is president of the American Orchid Society. A portrait of his award-winning Degarmoara Kramer Island ‘Everglades’, AM/AOS, is the September subject in the Society’s 2001 calendar. - 1101 Tabit Road, Belle Glade, Florida 33430.
milton@ evergladesorchids.com

Learn how to grow Oncidiinae Intergeneric Hybrids - click here

Copyright © 2000 American Orchid Society. All rights reserved.

|Home| |Newsletter| |Culture| |Gallery| |Articles
|Vendors| |Shows| |Meetings| |Links| |Contact Us|