Peak Summer Blooms of Cymbidium finlaysonianum with 6 spikes in our backyard

Cymbidium finalysonianum or also called as boat orchid is again in bloom, But for the first time we were rewarded with 6 spikes and its blooming season spanned mid- March 2021 to past May 13, 2021.

Cymbidium Finlaysonianum Peak Summer Bloom

Cymbidium finlaysonianum orchid flowering season tend to peak during the hot and dry season from early March to early June in the western part of the country. But it can vary in some regions of provinces where rainy season would gradually tapers off.

There is not secret, This once a year bloom is much awaited and anticipated by many growers. Its yellowish flowers are long and quite impressive when grown en masse. The flowers had also some color shades and some variations.

This is also the hottest recorded heat index and peak high temperature in many parts of the country.

3rd inflorescence

The orchid started showing its inflorescence during second week of March and gradually its flowers began to develop. This one is mounted on Manila palm ( Adonidia merrillii) for a number of years. The first inflorescence grew 54 inches with 23 flowers, then 1 week later another one which grew 56 inches with 30 flowers, 3rd inflorescence grew with 27 flowers, then 4th inflorescence grew 32 inches and with 18 flowers, the 5th inflorescence grew 40 inches with 24 flowers, the 6th and last inflorescence is 60 inches long with 32 flowers.

4th inflorescence

Since it is very hot in Metro Manila with average day time temperature hitting between 33 to 36 degrees C, The flowers usually wilt within two or three days after it bloomed. But having over 150 flowers in indeed spectacular.

Cymbidium Finlaysonianum Care and Fertilization

small pieces of cloth with slow release fertilizer are mounted on top of the roots of Cymbidium finlaysonianum 1st inflorescence

During its growing season which coincide with the onset of the rainy season in western part of the country. We would put several slow release fertilizer ( ratio is 20 to 30 pieces per small cloth) and mount them on top of the root this orchid.

Since the orchid is quite big and over 25 years-old, we would put between 5 to 6 small cloth then mount them near the roots of the specimen orchid.

4th and 5th inflorescence

Then alternate every week with weak doze of water soluble fertilizer 20-N, 20P, 20K diluted into 1/4 to 1/2 strength, normally after watering the orchid. Then, try to apply some trace elements, calcium nitrate and epsom salt in small quantities once every two weeks intervals.

Try to spray the diluted water soluble fertilizer in the underside of the leaves and leaves too, whenever possible. In some instances having a companion plant like ferns particularly Asplenium nidus or Asplenium musifolium ( pakpak lawin/ dapo, paipaimo, dapong lalaki, dapong babae, manalo/ manalu) Davallia ( rabbit foot fern) would increase humidity around its roots and helps in retaining water.

3th which withered off , 4th, 5th and 6th inflorescences

The slow release fertilizer, water soluble diluted fertilizers and other trace elements would help fertilize the ferns hence maintaining a symbiotic relationship between the orchid and other plants. In some cases, insects like bugs, cockroaches, moths, garden spiders and geckos are observe making a small ecosystem or micro- climate.

Repeat the procedure of putting slow release fertilizer sewn in small pieces of cloth after 3 to 4 month intervals after all its content were flush out, This would be around late July or early August ( same formula balance) when the rainy season is on its peak. By the end of September or early October when the small cloth bags have leached out the nutrients. We would change the formulation to 10N-13P-13K for the slow release fertilizer and at the same time the formulation of water soluble fertilizer, 10N-30P-30K in preparation for its blooming season. By mid-November or early December, most of the nutrients coming from the slow release fertilizer have already leached out completely.

This is also the time that we try to reduce watering and completely stopping any form of fertilization for this orchid species. Drying is important for this species to induce its blooming season from early March to early part of June. This will depend on your respective local climatology chart posted by the Philippines Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration ( PAG-ASA ).

Metro Manila and western part of the country is usually classified under type 1- with Two pronounced seasons: dry from November to April and wet during the rest of the year.

But thru years of growing and observation, Majority of our Cymbidium finlaysonianum blooms between mid- March to early June. The orchid species is commonly grown in Novaliches, Fairview, White Plains, Corinthian Gardens, Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City and in many parts of Metro Manila.

Cymbidium finlaysonianum orchid is sold in Eaton Centris (Sidcor) sunday market, Baclaran Plant Bazaar , garden centers and sometimes peddled by ambulant orchid/ plant sellers.

The larger specimen Cymbidium finalysonianum can have dozens of inflorescence during the duration of its blooming season. Hope that this small practical care and fertilization will inspire new growers of this wonderful species.

The smaller and more compact type Cymbidium finlaysonianum had also started to bloom. Happy Growing to all !

Note: all photos are taken by the author

Blooms of Vanda Lamellata in our Backyard

Vanda lamellata is one of the most common native vandas and orchid in the country. It used to be commonly cultivated in many homes in northern parts of Metro Manila and in the provinces about 10 or 20 years ago.

Vanda lamellata, Dendrobium crumenatum ( dove / pigeon orchid), Cymbidium finlaysonianum, Aerides quinquevulnera , Phalaenopsis X Intermedia , Dendrobium anosmum and Dendrobium aphyllum (sanggumay, salome, lesser sanggumay, fairy sanggumay, dainty sanggumay , latigo) are just some of the native orchids which are regularly collected by native Aetas in the foothills of Sierra Madre range.

Some are found growing semi-naturalized in coconut plantations, acacia and fruit trees like macopa, mango trees, lansones, jack fruit among others.

While Vanda lamellata also found growing on limestone cliff, mangroves and lowland trees.

Vanda Lamellata

Vanda lamellata orchid is sometimes called mango orchid, since it is often seen growing in old mango trees, tamarid and even in large acacia trees.

Despite having small flowers, a grower is compensated for having a wonderful citrus smell. This is commonly peddled by ambulant vendors in many parts of Metro Manila and in surrounding provinces by inserting large Vanda or Mokara flowers.

They would trick some unsuspecting buyer believing that the Vanda is of hybrid origin and thus commanding higher prices.

Vanda lamellata attached to a Christmas palm by the author

This orchid species is found over a wide range of habitat from southern Ryukyus islands, Taiwan, Orchid island , Batanes, Marianas, Philippines and even in Borneo. The orchid thrives in high lighted areas or in full sun near the sea on cliffs or coastal beach forests on branches and tree trunks occuring at elevations of sea level to 300 meters.

There are different types or flower forms of these wonderful Vanda species. Among the highly collected ones are Vanda lamellata variety debutante, Vanda lamellata var. boxallii ( which is also found in Taiwan and Ryukus islands of Japan) Vanda lamellata var. calayana Valmayor & D.Tiu 1983, found in Babuyan and Calayan group of islands. Vanda lamellata var remediosae Ames & Quis. 1933 originally found in Southern parts of the country like Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan. Vanda lamellata variety flava is yellowish type, This type is highly coveted among orchid collectors since it is rare in cultivation.

There are different range of color forms and markings of Vanda lamellata.

Sources, References and Bibliographies:

The Complete Writings on Philippine Orchids Quisumbing

Orchidiana Philipiniana Vol 1 Valmayor 1984

The Orchids of the Philippines Cootes

Philippine Orchids by Reg S. Davis and Mona Liza Steiner, Vanda lamellata pages 225 to 227

Color Forms of Cymbidium Finlaysonianum and Arrival of Rainy Season

There were some backyard growers of Cymbidium finlaysonianum who posted their blooming orchids in different Fb group and social media sites since late May 2020.

We were again rewarded with the blooming of Cymbidium finlaysonianum clumps which were mounted in living Manila Palm (Adonidia merrillii) for several decades. The first specimen clump bloomed late April 2020.

Color Forms of Cymbidium finlaysonianum

One can spot the different color forms of the Cymbidium finlaysonianum from the actual orchid grown and photographed by the owners.  This also coincide with the blooming season of this species.

It was last June 11 when PAG-ASA , the local weather bureau officially declared the start of the rainy season in the western part of the country.  This marks the transition to hot humid dry season to the wet season. The transition happened when we experience more rain showers in April and May which signals the onset of the transition period.

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The first specimen Cymbidium finlaysonianum started to send spike late April with 20 flowers and then another spike with 23 flowers bloomed within two week interval.

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pale yellow form ( first inflorescence) 

This is the larger clump and having pale yellowish flower. The blooming season was late April to early part of May 2020.

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pale yellow form ( second inflorescence)

The orchid species had been growing in our garden for at least 30 years. Another clump with smaller more compact leaves and smaller inflorescence developed on the last week of May and the bloom lasted only until June 8. Before the last flower wilted because of the intense heat, Another much longer inflorescence develop with at least 15 flowers.

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Cymbidium finlaysonianum ( second clump with smaller flowers and compact growth)

We also noticed that the Davallia fern or rabbit foot fern had also grown luxuriantly. With a combination of slow release fertilize attached to base of the clump, weekly weakly regimen of fertilization program can also help boost the growth of both the orchid and fern. Some local growers would also plant bird’s nest fern near the orchid, which can enhance the aesthetic beauty of the mounted orchid.

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A neighbor sometimes would collect small amount of cow dung ( manure) dry them for at least 3 to 4 months in semi-shade. She would apply it once in a while in their Cymbidium finlaysonianum especially during its growing period.

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Cymbidium finlaysonianum with reddish lip grown in Morong, Rizal province ( photo courtesy of Mr. Gelo T. DL)

An FB friend from Morong, Rizal province posted his wonderful specimen clump of Cymbidium finlaysonianum which had more reddish lip and darker yellowish flowers compared to the ordinary clone. He told me that it was rescued from his grandmother’s ancestral house and could be at least 30 or so years old.

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Cymbidium finlaysonianum grown by Mrs. Anita Are

Another backyard grower and lifetime member of the Philippine Orchid Society is Ms. Anita Arcebal Are who gladly shared her specimen sized Cymbidium finlaysonianum growing in a living tree within her garden for several decades in Baras, Rizal province.

A Cymbidium finlaysonianum variety flava  with pure white lip is grown by few growers. The orchid grows a little slow compared with ordinary forms.

Bibliographies and Sources:

Personal communication with growers like Ms. Anita Are, Mr. Gelo T. DL and Mrs. Fe Nanguil

The Complete Writings on Philippine Orchids Vol 1 Quisumbing 1981; The Complete Writings on Philippine Orchids Vol 2 Quisumbing 1981 drawing

Second Print 1982, Manila pages, 86 to 91: Davis S. Reg and Steiner Mona Lisa: Philippine Orchids ” A detailed Treatment of Some One Hundred Native Species” printed by M& L Licudine Enterprises, Dongalo, Parañaque, Philippines 

Orchidiana Philipiniana Vol 1 Valmayor 1984
The Orchids of the Philippines Cootes 2001
Teo, Chris K. H. Cymbidium Pages, 44 to 49; Native Orchids of Peninsular Malaysia 1985, 2001, Times Media Private Unlimited.

Timely bloom of Cymbidium finlaysonianum

It is the height of the dry season in most of the western part of the country. It is also the  blooming season of one of the most common Cymbidium species in the country.

The inflorescence of Cymbidium finlaysonianum is pendulous, can reach lengths of over one meter or so, bears up to 30 well-spaced blooms about 5 cm in diameter. This is one of the most commonly seen orchid species, anywhere in the Philippines.
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Cymbidium finlaysonianum -pale yellow form
The one featured above is a Cymbidium finlaysonianum grown in our backyard for about 30 years. ( probably given by a distance relative or neighbor). While a smaller form is growing on another Manila Palm ( Adonidia merrillii) for several years was bought from an ambulant vendor some 25 years ago.
The orchid species was originally collected by an Englishman named Mr. Finlayson and Company in Cochin- India in the early part of the 19th century. The species was dedicated to him by Lindley who described the plant in 1832.
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Cymbidium finlaysonianum naturalized on a moringa tree (malunggay) Samonte road within Barangay Nagkaisang Nayon, Novaliches, Quezon City.
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Cymbidium finlaysonianum naturalized on a narra tree within Quezon Memorial Circle.
Cymbidium finlaysonainum commonly grown in the country had at least 3 to 5 color forms. The common ones have yellowish-brown sepals and petals, and a white labellum with red blotches and two yellow ridges. The flower had a slight fragrance especially during the first few days of its opening.
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Cymbidium finlaysonianum and probably Cymbidium atropurpureum naturalized on a kalachuchi tree in University of the Philippines ( Church of Risen Lord chapel) in Diliman, Quezon City.

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Cymbidium finlaysonianum naturalized on a coconut palm in Tanza, Cavite province.

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brownish pale green form

Another form is the brownish greenish color form found in an old ancestral house in Tanza, Cavite province.

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Cymbidium finlaysonianum with large petal and darker color ( photo courtesy of Plantchaser)

There was another dark yellow colored flowering type with fuller petals and sepals collected in the provinces of Nueva Viscaya, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Quezon and Ifugao.

I featured Pozorrubio Orchidarium Farm of Mrs. Remedios “Remy ” Rodis Santelices in 2009 which had a couple of blooming Cymbidium finlaysonianum variety flava ( yellowish form) in Pangasinan.
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Cymbidium finlaysonianum variety flava ( photo courtesy of PlantChaser)
 The more sought after form was Cymbidium finlaysonianum variety flava or yellowish sepals and petals with pure white labellum. I think i have seen some being sold before in Pangasinan and there are some orchid growers in Metro Manila, Antipolo, Bulacan, Laguna, Davao and Bukidnon regions.
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Cymbidium finlaysonianum with Davalia fern in Liliw , Laguna province.
Cymbidium finlaysonianum used to be commonly cultivated in many areas until few years ago when gardeners grew tired of growing these orchid species.
There were a lot of folklore surrounding the growing of this species in many parts of the country.
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Cymbidium finlaysonianum grown on tree fern slab in Santa Fe Orchidarium in Nueva Viscaya  province.

Timely Bloom

This is a timely season for the blooming of the Cymbidium finlaysonianum, It had rained for almost 8 times and This specimen plant rewarded us with 3 spikes with between 25 to 30 flowers.

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Cymbidium finlaysonianum naturalized on Manila Palm within Chapel of the Holy Sacrifice within University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

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Cymbidium finlaysonianum featured by Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPOST) in 2004

Cymbidium Species

There were at least 11 known species with some color variations found in the country and is divided into epiphytes /lithophytes and terrestrial growing.

Cymbidium aloifolium, Cymbidium atropurpureum, Cymbidium chloranthum and Cymbidium finlaysonianum, Cymbidium bicolor  Lindl. subsp pubescens. which are found growing on trees, while i have seen some orchid grown or mounted on rocks, man-made grottoes, adobe rock or even on hollow block walls.

We got Cymbidium finlaysonianum and Cymbidium atropurpureum grown on a Manila Palm for several decades.

Cymbidium aliciae, Cymbidium dayanum,Cymbidium cyperifolium, Cymbidium ensifolium subsp. haematodes , Cymbidium lancifolium, Cymbidium macrorhizon are classified as terrestrial.

While Cymbidium macrorhizon had a special relationship with symbiotic fungus, the only time it is ever seen is when it flowers.

Bibliographies and Sources:

Plant Chaser

Personal communication with growers

Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology ( issue June 2007) : http://asbp.org.ph/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/907-3032-2-PB.pdf

The Complete Writings on Philippine Orchids Vol 1 Quisumbing 1981; The Complete Writings on Philippine Orchids Vol 2 Quisumbing 1981 drawing

Second Print 1982, Manila pages, 86 to 91: Davis S. Reg and Steiner Mona Lisa: Philippine Orchids ” A detailed Treatment of Some One Hundred Native Species” printed by M& L Licudine Enterprises, Dongalo, Parañaque, Philippines 

Orchidiana Philipiniana Vol 1 Valmayor 1984
The Orchids of the Philippines Cootes 2001
Teo, Chris K. H. Cymbidium Pages, 44 to 49; Native Orchids of Peninsular Malaysia 1985, 2001, Times Media Private Unlimited.

Summer Blooms of Cymbidium Finlaysonianum

Cymbidium finlaysonianum is one of the native orchid species which never fails to disappoint us. This specimen clump had been with us for more than 25 years. This was bought by my mom in the early 1990’s from an ambulant vendor selling her last few remaining stocks of orchids.

Cymbidium finlaysonianum clump with 19 flowers on 1 spike

This specimen orchid were first grown on a driftwood during the first 5 years after my mom brought the orchid home. When the driftwood rotted away. We decided to tie the orchid on a Melia azedarach (Paraiso tree) growing in our backyard. This orchid spend at least 10 years or so mounted and flowering every year. When the tree died sometime in 2010. We re-attached the the large one on to a Manila palm ( Adonidia merrillii) sometime around 2011. It took more than 2 years before the main orchid started to bloom again. The flowering season for this orchid species became erratic ( it may be due to the change in growing condition) until a couple of years ago, when it would bloom at least once a year. We have given some divisions to  neighbors and friends, but unfortunately most of the divisions that we gave died out in their collection.

This particular orchid had a compact growth habit and would have small flowers compared to other Cymbidium finlaysonianum that we have in our house. This species blooming season is from March to May, but sometimes this can bloom late February or early June depending on the weather pattern.

A short drying period is necessary for the orchid species to initiate flowering. In our case, Some of our orchid clump would flower twice a year after a short dry season and after the rainy season.

Cymbidium finlaysonianum with second flower spike

This orchid had rewarded us with two spikes ( 19 flowers) and ( 15 flowers) before the first spike had faded away, the second inflorescence started opening. Due to the intense heat, Most of the flowers do not last more than a week. There is a third spike which is expected to open by Easter.

Cymbidium finlaysonianum with 3rd flower spike

Gathering and Viewing Parties

I have seen some blooming -sized orchid planted in pots at the backyard of my aunt during my kindergarten days. She bought some of her orchids from ambulant vendors way back in the late 1980’s while some was brought from the province. This was some sort of a “BIG Event” in her house whenever these orchids were in bloom. Most of her orchids were grown on big earthenware pots and can be brought inside the patio area for easier viewing.

This would rival Epiphyllum oxypetalum (Queen of the Night, Queen for a Night, Dutchman Pipe ) whenever the plants were in bloom.

This orchid species use to be commonly cultivated in many houses within the subdivision that we live. Most are left untouched by the owners which were grown attached to coconut palms, manila palms, caimito, duhat, jackfruits and driftwood.

Unfortunately, New generation home owners prefer orchid hybrids or other flowering plants. Some older residents which grew tried of growing them would neglect the orchids and a lot of them would end up dying.

Cymbidium finlaysonianum flowers are smaller than the usual form. a big one is only 1.5 inches across ( about 4cm) this one had a flower spike of 26 inches long.

Initially thought that this was Cymbidium pubescens or Cymbidium bicolor, until few years ago when i have shown some flower samples to fellow orchid hobbyists and collectors. They told me that this is the compact type Cymbidium finlaysonianum or small flowering size ones.

Habitat

Cymbidium finlaysonianum is the most widely distributed of all the Cymbidium species and it has been recorded from India, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, the People’s Democratic Republic of Lao, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, throughout the islands of Indonesia, Borneo, Maluku, Sulawesi, and throughout the Philippines.

Cymbidium finlaysonainum is found elevations from sea level up mid-level altitudes between 1,300 to 1,400 meters.

This orchid species would be seen growing in coconut plantations and semi-cultivated fruit orchard. Sometimes growing lithophytes on limestone rock formations.

There are some color variations in this species, While the highly prized Cymbidium finlaysoniamum variety flava sometimes called variety alba. Is seldom seen in cultivation.

Cymbidium finlaysonianum with 2nd inflorescence ( 15 flowers)

Care and Fertilization

Most of our Cymbidium finlaysonianum orchids are grown attached to living palms and on forks of trees.

Fertilization should only be done during the active growth periods, normally 2 weeks after blooming. We would use water soluble fertilizers at 1/4 strength of what is on the label usually 20N-20P-20K every week.  Applying some calcium nitrate, trace elements and epsom salt once every two weeks on very small quantity diluted on lukewarm water, then further diluting them on 10 liters of water. We would water first the orchid early in the morning or late afternoon before applying any fertilizers.

Try to put 25 to 35 pieces slow release fertilize sewn on old cloths then tie them few inches above the main orchid roots. This orchid species tend to be heavy feeders especially during their growing season. ( normally 2 weeks after they bloom- between late March, April to late October) towards late October or early November, We would adjust the fertilizer formulation to ( 10N-30P-30K) in preparation for the dry season.

As cooler weather approaches, reduce watering slightly, By early December, we would decrease watering to two or three times a weeks and stopping the application of any form of fertilizers.

Cymbidium finlaysonianum have evolved water storage organs (pseudobulbs) to withstand periodic, or months of dry season in their native habitats. The larger the pseudobulbs, the longer a period of dryness the orchid clump can withstand. For this reason, it is recommended that plants in cultivation be allowed to go nearly dry in between watering.

We would also flush our orchid at least once every 10 days using ordinary tap water to remove the built -up of salts and other fertilizer residue.

Once a while, we would also water our orchid from rice washings ( hugas bigas), but orchid experts forbid this practice since there are fungus and water mold which would kill the orchid. Hence, we would minimize the use of hugas bigas.

Etho-Botanical and Economic Importance:

Cymbidium orchids and its hybrids were long sought after orchid in the world. The Chinese were cultivating them long before Jesus Christ was born. Flower arranger and florist would use their large flowers for several occasions.

Some believe that growing them gives them good luck ( depending on the person or ethic group ) One ethnic group in the Philippines (Aetas from Zambales region) uses the leaves of the Cymbidium finlaysonianum as rope or accessories.

A neighbor also believe that growing them within one’s property could deter tiktik from entering one’s house.

In Borneo, people keep plants of this species in their houses to ward off evil spirits. Also sprinkling chewed roots of this species over an elephant is thought to cure it.

Landscapers would also use the beautiful orchids to cling on old trees and palms in big subdivisions,farms,resorts and local parks.

This is also often seen being peddled by some aetas or ambulant orchid vendors. sometimes misnaming or mislabeling the orchid as Vandas or inserting the orchid with Vanda hybrid flowers or Mokaras.

Sources and Bibliographies:

Personal interview with backyard growers

The Orchids of the Philippines , Jim Cootes 2001

Orchid of Malaysia and Singapore ,Gunnar Seidenfaden, Jeffrey J. Wood, Richard Eric Holttum ,  Olsen and Olsen 1992

Page,148 Philippine’ Book on Orchids, Golamco Andres 1991, Jemma Inc ( ISBN 971-8636-54-4)

Orchidiana Philipiniana Vol 1 Valmayor 1984; Orchidiana Philipiniana Vol 1 Valmayor 1984

The Complete Writings on Philippine Orchids Vol 1 Quisumbing 1981

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