Phragmipedium Jason Fischer
Phragmipedium Jason Fischer was first made by Jerry Fischer of Orchids Limited. It is a result of crossing P. besseae with P. Mem.Dick Clements, which is a hybrid of P. besseae and P. sargentianum. P. Mem. Dick Clements was the most successful of the first generation of breeding for red colour, so it was natural to recombine it with P. besseae which has both great colour and shape. Jason Fischer is probably the most famous outcome of this type of breeding, due to its improved form and intense red colour.
Both P. besseae and P. sargentianum grow in subtropical areas on east-facing slopes or stream side peat bogs. Annual rainfall is high and seepage supplies moisture to the roots during dry periods. The plants receive afternoon shade.
I obtained my plant 3 years ago from a German nursery. I grow it in intermediate – warm temperatures, in fairly bright light, with good air circulation and humidity above 50%. I keep the plant very moist at all times and water frequently with rainwater. I always ensure that growths dry out by evening to try and prevent rot. I use Dyna-Gro 7-9-5 as fertiliser with an electrolyte concentration of around 300 microsiemens. I feed at every watering in summer, less in winter. My plant has thrived under these conditions.
The main problem with P. besseae hybrids is that the new growths grow up and out of the compost and as a result the roots on the new growth dry out. My solution was to repot and bury the old growths so that the new roots were covered by compost. This seemed to work and it has produced 2 flower spikes this year. After some experimentation my preferred compost for Phragmipediums is rockwool cubes. They are water retentive and allow good air circulation around the roots.
Phragmipediums are relatively pest free. The main problem is bacterial and fungal rot. My Jason Fischer has remained rot free until a month ago when one leaf was affected. Despite good air circulation and ensuring that growths are dry by evening I have not managed to prevent rot. It is important to be constantly vigilant for rot as it can spread very rapidly and if treated early the plant can usually be saved. Treatment is to cut out the affected portion of the leaf or remove the whole leaf or growth for basal rot. Apply cinnamon liberally to the remaining growth or leaf and keep the plant drier until the rot is under control. The compost can also be watered with a Physan solution. My Jason Fischer seems to be responding to treatment so fingers crossed! Hilary Hobbs
Phragmipedium Silver Rose x schlimii
Silver Rose is several lines of breeding involving just 2 species – schlimii and besseae, and then this is crossed back to schlimii. Obviously the first cross is from the 2 species, which creates Hanne Popow, itself a very pleasant hybrid halfway between the 2. This is then crossed back onto besseae, creating St. Ouen, another lovely small flower with a stronger influence of besseae. If you then cross St. Ouen with Hanne Popow you get Silver Rose. The final product is made up of 69% schlimii and 31% besseae, and the final influence is of course towards schlimii.
I obtained this plant from Malcolm Perry 2 years ago when he last spoke at Sheffield (Nov. 2013). It was growing quite vigorously with 3 leads which soon became four. It was divided just over a year ago into 2 halves, and has continued to grow at pace ever since. The first flower spike started flowering in October, and is now on its third and final flower alongside the second flower on the second spike. It is grown in rock wool with a sphagnum topping in intermediate conditions and is dunked in mineral water at least twice a week, and fed very infrequently. John Garner
This species was discovered in 1981 and come from Ecuador and Peru. Discovery of such a brightly coloured, showy flower led to a significant increase people growing Phrags. At the time, few orchidists knew how to grow these plants, and most grew them like Paphiopedilums so that they didn’t have enough light or water.
In nature, these plants grow in rainforest environments next to mountain streams. They like pure water and a lot of it. I get the best results with rainwater delivered by an aquarium pump; filtering back into a tank under the bench but many people set them in a dish of water. It’s impossible to overwater these plants unless you put them completely underwater so that the leaves can’t breathe. Watering at least daily is an absolute necessity. Grow besseae in a potting mix that retains a fair amount of moisture, such as sphagnum moss or Rockwool. Fine fir bark can work well too, but I have my own special mix. Although they grow on the ground next to streams in nature, I wouldn’t use a typical terrestrial orchid potting mix, as besseae tends to be a lithophyte and grows in moss, leaf litter, and so forth, which more closely resembles how an epiphytic orchid would grow.
Blooms appear at any time of year, though they bloom most in spring or when temperatures are cool. Flowers will appear one at a time, appearing sequentially on the flower stem and lasting a couple weeks each. An inflorescence can last 3 or more months on a happy plant. Larger specimens may stay in bloom continuously.
Temperatures should be intermediate, 70-80°F (21-27C), dropping 10-15°F (6-8C) at night. Provide high humidity, about 70%. Use some fans since they like a breeze; otherwise you’ll get various sorts of rot and other diseases showing up. (If you see a leaf rotting, remove it immediately and swab nearby parts of the plant with Methylated Spirits to sterilize the plant’s surfaces.) Charles Ford