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Culture

THE FIRST TIME

Text and Photography by Brenton McGee

Pure Sarah seedling

All hybridisers can remember the time they were first shown how to cross-pollinate orchids. This event is usually followed by a frenzy of exchanging pollen with everything in sight and a long wait to review the results. Several seasons later the first flowerings are viewed in a more sober light and a wish that a little more thought had been applied. So much time wasted.

Pure Sarah seedling

Occasionally however, guided by luck or blind instinct, everything goes spectacularly right. Such was the case in my first efforts at cross-pollinating cymbidiums. In flower at the time was a particularly early and striking form of Cym. Sarah Jean 'Ice Cascade'. This particular plant varied considerably from the remainder of the batch of 'Ice Cascade' we were growing, the flowers were larger, more rounded and full in the petal, the spikes were longer, and it was flowering in June! At first we thought it was the tetraploid form but subsequent comparisons showed that, though tetraploid, it was significantly different again. Eventually we named it Cym. Sarah Jean 'Frosty'. Flowering nearby at the same time was a particularly fine specimen of Cym. Pure Destiny 'Ultimate' 4n and at some stage I must have looked at them both and thought nothing more complicated than, "They should go well together".

Pure Sarah seedling

Essentially a remake of Cym. Pure Sarah, the resulting seedlings have been outstanding. We have flowered over three hundred of them and found them remarkably consistent in quality and size. The colour is predominantly pure white, with variations of ivory, cream and the occasional lemon or pale green shades. The flowers are almost intermediate size, well rounded and obviously tetraploid. The arching spike of Cym. Pure Destiny has combined with the pendulous Cym. Sarah Jean to produce a wonderful range of arching to fully pendulous spikes with only a few uprights.

Pure Sarah seedling

An extra bonus has been the productivity. Multiple spikes are normal at first flowering and many have carried seven and eight spikes tightly packed with clean white blooms creating a sensational effect. They have the power to charm all those who view them and they are eagerly snapped up as soon as we release them onto the sales bench. Of course several selections have been cloned to be available in coming seasons, but presently there are still over one hundred seedlings to flower this year. Almost every plant to flower to date has excellent commercial potential. It goes to show that every rank amateur amongst us can produce a successful crossing, guided by nothing more than a vague hint at the possible characteristics of future offspring. Everybody should try it sometime. Just for fun!

Pure Sarah seedling


Hybrid Seedlings
Mericlones
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