Monday, February 25, 2008

Sobralia orchids

"Bruce Rogers has a passion for...Sobralias-- the... tallest [not all...] orchids in the world...
Rogers has been raising, hybridizing and decorating with orchids for morethan 25 years, but it's the Sobralias(sew- BRAIL-eyah [Well, EnglishLatin...]) that have captured his heart...
at next weekend's Pacific Orchid Exposition... He will bring manyexamples... which he says will thrive in California gardens....[Bruce said :] it was love at first sight. I had little glimpses of themfrom afar, illustrations from books and magazines. My first encounter witha blooming plant left me speechless... Years ago, I was asked to decorate alarge urn as a backdrop for a statue unveiling. I used a large eight-footSobralia rogersiana in full bloom, and stood aside ready to receive praiseand compliments. No one there had ever seen a Sobralia before. Peoplethought I had tied Cattleya orchid flowers onto a bamboo plant so well thatthe wires could not be seen. No one believed it was a real plant!...Sobralias... grow very well here and can be found in older gardens andestates...the flowering season lasts all summer and into the fall. They can be grownboth in pots and in the ground, in sun or shade, rain or shine. There areSobralias for every microclimate that occurs in our area, from the warmerareas to the cooler spots. Sobralia macrantha seems the most adaptable withblooming plants reported from the top of the Santa Cruz mountains to theflats of Fresno, the hills of Marin to Santa Rosa and everywhere south....The scarcity of Sobralias has kept them from the public eye. While theyhave been in private and civic gardens for many years, availability hasalways been a problem, as they are difficult to raise from seed and takefrom four to eight years to raise to flowering size. Sobralias only have asmall window for dividing, which also hinders propagation.
After working with several local laboratories with little success, my...friend Terry Root and I decided to form a nursery business specializingonly in Sobralias... after much work we now have production numbers thatcan begin to satisfy demand....Once established, Sobralias are as tough as a jade plant or any othergarden plant. They can take dirty water and dirty air. The only thing fussyabout them is they can only be divided or repotted when showing both newgrowth and new roots...
There is no other orchid genus that is so diversified in terms of size [?],from Sobralia elegans, which grows less than a foot tall to Sobraliaaltissima, which is over 40 feet tall. The most popular group, the fieldtype with species such as xantholuca, macrantha veitchii and their hybridsgrow from 2 to 6 feet tall. There are new hybrids, which grow from 2 to 4feet, making them ideal for patios and gardens....I often tell people that Sobralia flowers are so big, you can use them towrap gifts, as tablecloths, or as clothing for small children. The modernSobralia field types have huge Cattleya-looking flowers from one to 10inches across, with some species such as Sob. rosea and Sob. rogersianahaving flowers as large as dinner plates. When you read orchid reports fromVictorian times, you read about even larger Sobralia flowers and onewonders what is now extinct in the wild [in the literature / smile...]....Sobralia flowers and plants are divided into two groups: the ephemeralgroup, where the flower lasts only one day, and in some cases just amorning, and the field group, where the flower lasts from three to 10 days.With both types, the individual canes carry many flowers that are displayedsingularly, so the overall display lasts for many months with a matureplant carrying multiple canes. Some ephemeral species such as Sob.klotzscheana carry 20-plus flowers and bloom for over a year, although thejasmine scented flowers last only a day. The longest lasting flowers in thefield group are probably Sob. undatocarinata and Sob. pulcherrima, with10-day flowers, with five to seven flowers per stem, which give you twomonths of heaven. We are breeding for flower longevity also, and speciessuch as these are very intriguing building blocks....Although I have seen them grown beautifully in full sun, I prefer morningsun or filtered shady afternoon sun. Water drainage must be perfect.Sobralias love water and when in active growth, it is hard to over-water.They also love fresh air....When... grown outside, pests leave these alone except when they are inflower. Snails and slugs will travel miles and lie, cheat and steal to getto the flowers... Either use a safe product like Sluggo, or take a littlecopper garden tape and wrap the stem below the buds or new growth. Whengrown inside as a house plant in dry conditions, one must watch for mites,but this is seldom a problem in California....with Sobralias it's all about the roots. A strong root system is key forsuccess. You might hear from old garden talk that they need to be pot-boundto bloom well, but that is because usually a pot-bound plant will have agood root system. They do not have to be pot-bound, they just need goodroots. If growing outside, plant Sobralias in raised beds and pre-checkyour drainage....Sobralias are like women [and men...], there are many kinds... To pick asingle one as a favorite is impossible, so here are my three favorites.Sobralia fimbriata is an ephemeral type with beautiful dark green pleatedleaves. The 2- to 3-foot plant blooms twice a year with pastel flowers witha beautiful fimbriated (fringed) lip. The fragrance is incredible andunique. It is the only orchid flower that I will pick and carry with methrough the day just for the fragrance. Sobralia rogersiana var. Bolin ismy obsession. Sobralia callosa is my favorite miniature. Perfect littleflower, perfect little plant. It is truly a jewel of nature....I was not bitten by the orchid bug. I was assaulted by the orchid bug many,many moons ago. I've been growing, hybridizing and decorating with orchidsfor over 25 years. I began my professional career in the late 1970s whenthe city of Atlanta Parks Department hired me to work with its orchids inthe greenhouses in Piedmont Park. Returning home to the Bay Area, I washired by the Rod McLellan Co. as the head grower for the boardingdepartment and to hybridize Vanda orchids. In the early 1980s, I left tostart Bruce Rogers Orchids, an orchid consulting and management companybased in San Francisco. In 2002, I joined Terry Root of the Orchid Zone andco-founded OzGardens, a business devoted exclusively to hybridizing andgrowing Sobralias...
They will be available at the Pacific Orchid Exposition from severalvendors and at the San Francisco Orchid Society sale table. This isprobably the best venue in the world for Sobralias right now with speciesand hybrids, ephemeral and field types and both mature plants andseedlings. Sobralias can be found at nurseries such as BerkeleyHorticulture Nursery, Flora Grubb Nursery and Sloat Nurseries in Marin andSan Francisco. Large specimens can also be found at Living Green in SanFrancisco. In San Jose, Serene Orchids has Sobralia seedlings... expect topay around $15 for a seedling in a three- to four-inch pot...
in the entrance exhibit. We will have a few of the giants like Sob.calloglossa and Sob. cattleya and a few of the miniature and mid-sizedhybrids. Elleanthus is a close relative to Sobralia, with identicalfoliage, but pine cone-shaped flowers, and they should have flowers (butthe really big flowers don't come along until summer)...
Growing orchids is one of the few socially acceptable art forms that mencan get involved in and their masculinity is never questioned [except by...]."
URL : http://www.mercurynews.com/lifeandstyleheadlines/ci_8342105
photo : ["Sobralia mirabilis"]
http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site568/2008/0223/20080223__orchids23~1_Gallery.JPG

2 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Hello,
I live in Constanta - Romania and I can't find sobralias to buy online from European Union, can you please share a few sites where I can find them for sale?