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Why are Phrag so Expensive?

This is a discussion on Why are Phrag so Expensive? within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; To me anyway. I went to the store yesterday to buy some fertilizer and saw ...

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  1. #1
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    Default Why are Phrag so Expensive?

    To me anyway. I went to the store yesterday to buy some fertilizer and saw some phrags in bloom on display. Oh boy, the price are well out of my reach...sigh. Anyway, I found a phap being sold at the back of the lorry and its labeled Armeniacum. The pic on the label is bright yellow, small flower with roundish pouch. Because the price is well within my budget, and as a consolition for myself, I bought the plant. I googled armeniacum, and found a description of the plant, but not much about its care. I am convinced that this is Phap Armeniacum because there are 2 "runners" (rhizomes?) poking out of the side of the pot.

    Has anyone have any experience growing this plant? Its growing in a mixture of bark and stones. This is my first time to have a plant growing in this kind of media.

    Any tips would be much appreciated. Thank you very much.

    Tanya

    Here the pic of the plant.( sorry for the quality, no digital cam, only webcam )
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    The foliage looks like a Paph. armeniacum. Blooming-size it appears too. It's not a hard grower, just keep it evenly moist and give it bright but filtered sunlight. *Blooming* it is the challenge. I've never bloomed mine, and perhaps never will, but people tell me that a month of 50 degree temps in winter will help the process. I think the consensus is that this is the single most difficult to bloom species in section parvisepalum. But it'll be worth it if it blooms!

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    *Blooming* it is the challenge. I've never bloomed mine, and perhaps never will, but people tell me that a month of 50 degree temps in winter will help the process. I think the consensus is that this is the single most difficult to bloom species in section parvisepalum. But it'll be worth it if it blooms![/QUOTE]
    Oh my... no wonder it was so cheap!!! Lol. If you are having difficulty getting this kind of plant bloom, I can't think how can it be possible for me. Temp here sometimes get as low as 50 but only for a few days. Maybe I should chuck this thing in the fridge and see what happen...lol

    Thanks for the info, Jmoney. I'm a bit disappointed with the plant, but its ok, I'll consider it as a challenge. I just hope I wont get tired of it. ( at least I've learned a lesson today).

    Tanya

  4. #4
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    I also have a hard time getting it to 50, which I think is one major reason why I haven't bloomed mine. (That and the fact that my particular plant seems to be averse to maturing growths, opting instead to keep throwing stolons). Someone told me that sticking a mature plant in a fridge overnight will help it bloom, even if it's only one night. I haven't tried that yet, but I can tell you that the species can tolerate 40 degrees easily (preferably without frost, but I think it can even tolerate a light frost without sustaining much damage).

    Different clones also vary in terms of ease of blooming. I believe mine was originally a collected plant (it was a gift), which are usually more reluctant to bloom than those that are seed-grown. Take it as a challenge--you might be pleasantly surprised one day!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jmoney
    The foliage looks like a Paph. armeniacum. Blooming-size it appears too.
    The force is strong with this one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jmoney
    I also have a hard time getting it to 50, which I think is one major reason why I haven't bloomed mine. (That and the fact that my particular plant seems to be averse to maturing growths, opting instead to keep throwing stolons). Someone told me that sticking a mature plant in a fridge overnight will help it bloom, even if it's only one night. I haven't tried that yet, but I can tell you that the species can tolerate 40 degrees easily (preferably without frost, but I think it can even tolerate a light frost without sustaining much damage).

    Different clones also vary in terms of ease of blooming. I believe mine was originally a collected plant (it was a gift), which are usually more reluctant to bloom than those that are seed-grown. Take it as a challenge--you might be pleasantly surprised one day!
    I am planning to keep this one outdoors all winter without providing any protection from the occasional rain. If that still wont work I will consider sticking it in the fridge and see if it work. We will never know if we don't try it would we?

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    In response to your initial kind-of question, I believe phrags are expensive in part because they're so hard to reproduce. Meaning, you can't (I don't think) mass produce them with single cells in a petri dish like you can lots of other orchids, and cuttings of stems, like with dendrobiums, don't work either. You actually have to grow the plant from scratch, or from a division, which takes longer.

    Am I right?

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    I think there are many reasons why slippers in general are on the expensive end. With regards to phrags, it took a good amount of chromosomal work to bring us these hybrids, since the old breeding programs pretty much hit a brick wall after a generation or two. The corollary of that is the demand for phrags--the phragnut will pay extra for phrags bred from the Eric Young Orchid Foundation. Some of them are tetraploid and useful for breeding, and they are uniformly superior.

    Phrags tend to grow much faster than paphs, although they cannot be cloned (which is why divisions of awarded slippers can fetch exorbitant prices).

    Paphs grow much more slowly than most genera, and there are also fertility issues with them at times. I think the combination of that slow maturity (upwards of 7-10 years from seed for some of the big multiflorals) and the sheer demand from the paphnuts out there (who, me?) set the prices high.

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    Thank you so much for the info, guys. I always thought that phrags cost a lot more because of their blooming habit and the number of blooms they produce. I said this because most vendors (at least on those I usually visit) will actually count the flowers on the plant before telling me the price...lol. Now I know better.

    I am learning something new almost everyday and its great!!

    Tanya

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    I think that phrags cost more because they are currently a very "hot" plant....and all the kovachii publicity could only help the market. Phrags should really be cheaper than paphs....for the most part, they grow to maturity faster, proliferate faster, and are easier to avoid killing. There is really no excuse for some phrags like pearcei (equadorense) to sell for more than $10 a growth....a healthy plant will grow so wildly that it can be divided once or twice a year and still bloom regularly. As for armeniacum, they are easy to keep alive, relatively...but as everyone said, hard to bloom...they need bright light, yet cool conditions...not too hot in summer, and cold in the winter. From what I gather, growers in the Pacific norhwest have the best luck blooming armeniacum and the other parvis. I keep mine as cold as possible...relatively shaded in the summer...outdoors from early april to first frost, usually mid-Nov here in NYC. I've only bloomed it once...on a plant I had had for over a decade. interestingly enough, it was a very warm fall...so warm that very few other paphs spiked at all. It took over 6 months to develop to full bloom, but well worth the wait, despite its small size (for an armeniacum, which can be very large...) Unfortunately the plant died the summer after blooming. Take care, Eric Muehlbauer

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