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Excerpts from

VOLUME 78, NO. 4—October, November, December 2014


Miniature Orchids: A Baker’s Dozen
Mary E. Gerritsen, Ph.D.
6 pages, 10 photos

Cattleya wittigiana

Cattleya wittigiana
©Ron Parsons, Grown by Mary Gerritsen

When I first became interested in orchids, I grew a mix of different species and hybrids. Like many hobbyists, my small greenhouse seemed to shrink with every new acquisition. However, I realized there was always room to squeeze in another miniature. The plants in my collection began to drift to the smaller side and in what seemed like no time at all my greenhouse was populated with hundreds of smaller orchids, nearly all of them species.

About five years ago, I started working on a book on miniature orchid species with my friend and co-author, Ron Parsons. As my journey into the fascinating world of this subset of the “orchid universe” intensified, I really began to truly appreciate the amazing variety and beauty of the miniatures. In this article I’d like to highlight my “baker’s dozen” of what I believe are highly desirable miniature species and how I grow them.

In our books (A Compendium of Miniature Orchid Species, Vol 1&2, Redfern Natural History Productions 2013), we defined miniature orchids as those species with an overall plant size (individual growth) of less than six inches (15 cm) tall, not including the inflorescence. Under this definition, the inflorescence could be of any size and or length. Further, this definition did not exclude those species that rambled or formed mats. While seemingly strict, these size limitations still circumscribe thousands of different epiphytic, lithophytic, and terrestrial species...

Cattleya coccinea and Its Hybrids
Peter T. Lin
8 pages, 28 images

Plant, C. coccinea ‘Tokyo Wonder’ AM/AOS
Plant, C. coccinea ‘Tokyo Wonder’ AM/AOS
©Peter Lin

Cattleya coccinea is a charming miniature species known for its brilliant orange red flowers. It is native to tropical mountain rainforests in Brazil, growing as epiphytes on trees at an elevation of 2,800-5,500 feet (855 to 1,675 m). The climate is cool and bright, with temperatures sometimes reaching the 80’s (27°C), with a dip in winter into the high 30’s (3°C). Humidity is high throughout the day with fog often at night...

Miniature Dendrochilum Species
Jim Cootes & George Tiong
11 pages, 35 images

Dendrochilum cootesii
Dendrochilum cootesii
©Jim Cootes

In recent years, the genus Dendrochilum Blume has become increasingly popular with orchid enthusiasts around the world. A number of explanations may be postulated for this phenomenon, the primary reasons being that the majority have a neat growth habit, and are mostly easy plants to grow which can quickly become specimen sized.

The islands of the Philippines have the largest number of species in the genus, with approximately 110 taxa; next is the island of Borneo with 82 species; followed by Sumatra with 79 members. Presently, there are some 278 accepted species, and around 294 if recognised varieties are taken into account. The one common feature of all these islands is high mountains, which is the habitat preferred by this genus. To take it a step further, it would also appear that the majority of the Dendrochilum species are endemic to the particular country, island, and in some cases even that mountain, particularly if it is isolated. In this article, all the species mentioned and illustrated are native to the Philippines...

Breeding Small Lycastes
Henry Oakeley
8 pages, 30 photos

Lycaste campbellii ‘Minnehaha’ flowering profusely.
Lycaste campbellii ‘Minnehaha’ flowering profusely.
©Karen McBride

I spent a lot of time in the last century making hybrid lycastes; looking at my photos now I wonder how many have survived. Even looking at the photos, I wonder if they will survive, or will they go out in a skip when my executors clear the accumulated records of over 50 years of growing lycastes. Fifty thousand 35mm slides of orchid species and hybrids from Australia to Venezuela, orchid hunting in Latin America, and the world’s great orchid shows do need a good home. So here are a few pictures and a little introduction to “small” Lycaste hybrids, defined as having flowers about five cm across (two inches) and on short scapes so the flowers come out around the level of the pseudobulbs. Floriferousness, long flowering times, and strong colours are sought for; good shape—basically wide sepals and petals which do not reflex or have wavy edges—is also desired. These small-flowered plants have a built in advantage in exhibiting; the flowers are phototropic, opening towards the light, which (as the pseudobulbs provide a dark background) means they all face outwards around the plant and do not need staking...


Miniature Paphiopedilum Hybrids – An Update
Harold Koopowitz
8 pages, 24 photos

Five siblings of Paph. John Yates

Five siblings of Paph. John Yates
©Harold Koopowitz

Standard complex slipper orchids are bred from Paphiopedilum insigne and its close relatives. They are the result of nearly a century and a half of hybridizing activity by orchidists around the world. Modern standard complex slippers have very wide and rounded petals set in circular flowers. I want to make miniatures that look like modern complex slippers but only much smaller.

Miniature versions of the various standard orchids have always been desirable as they allow one to maximize the numbers of plants that can be grown on windowsills or under lights. Both miniature phalaenopsis and miniature cattleyas have received a very large amount of attention from the hybridizers and a considerable range of these plants is readily available. Miniature slipper orchids, on the other hand, have received relatively little consideration, despite the fact that a large number of dwarf species are readily available for the breeders to use...


Miniature Orchids of China
Holger Perner
11 pages, 32 photos

Paphiopedilum rungsuriyamum

Paphiopedilum rungsuriyamum
©Ono Achima

With about 1388 species of orchids in 194 genera, China has a lot to choose from (Wu & Raven, 2009). Even if restricted just to miniature orchids, there are enough species to consider to fill the pages of a small volume. Here I will, therefore, restrict myself to a selection of species from two genera, Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilum


Tom’s Top Twenty Windowsill Wonders
Tom Mirenda
9 pages, 20 photos

Dendrobium laevifolium ‘Sam’s Choice’

Dendrobium laevifolium ‘Sam’s Choice’
©Eric Hunt, grown by Golden Gate Orchids

I have been hopelessly addicted to orchids for a very long time now, and over the years, in my early gypsy-like existence, grown them in every conceivable space that became available to me. I’ve grown orchids on windowsills, outside on decks and patios, under lights, in terraria, under lath, in hobby greenhouses, and in commercial state-of-the art facilities. All of these spaces have both their advantages and significant drawbacks. While I certainly can’t claim to be the best orchid grower out there, as I’ve unquestionably had more failures than successes under my belt, failure has always been my best teacher and has bred in me some understanding of my own limitations as well as the limitations of certain species. Success, on the other hand, while wonderful, exciting, and inspirational, is in the end, far more dangerous...


Hybridizing Mario’s Way
Mario Ferrusi
7 pages, 24 photos

Masd. decumana “Marsh Hollow’ AM/AOS

Masd. decumana “Marsh Hollow’ AM/AOS
©Jay Norris

In early 1980, my dear wife Conni said to me, “Why not try growing orchids instead of cacti? My aunt grows them in Santa Barbara, California.” Little did she know what she was setting herself up for! This was a challenge to someone who, from an early age, tried many things: raising chickens, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs until I found tropical fish, which led to a forty-tank setup and the breeding of many different types. Then came Chinchillas for about ten years.

My first orchid was a Phalaenopsis seedling in a three-inch pot. Then came a setup including lights and one plant became 23 plants. Masdevallias did not hit me until a year or two into the hobby.

Not content with simply growing orchids, the lure of creating a new cross beckoned me. Then I made a very common beginner’s mistake. I crossed two flowers because they were in bloom. With no thought to what would result, Masdevallia (Masd.) barleana was crossed with Masd. wagneriana. The pod opened November 22, 1985. I sent it to a local grower that was flasking orchid seeds and had him make far more flasks than space to grow them. I ended up with so many seedlings that I just started giving them away. When the first one bloomed, I made my second mistake. I registered the hybrid with my daughter’s name, Masd. Ilia Lin. Who knew I would be making so many more hybrids and I might want that name for something extra special?...