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Merit Badge Plants

This is a discussion on Merit Badge Plants within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; ...

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  1. #1
    Sue's Avatar
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    Default Merit Badge Plants

    Louis was talking about this on a different thread, and I figured rather than completely hijacking Gail's introduction thread, I'd just start a new one.

    First a definition:
    Merit Badge Plant: a plant which is reputed to be so exacting/demanding/bitchy that it almost impossible to grow unless you are wealthy enough to make it its own enclosed entire ecosystem, or are brave and pure of heart, or something like that.

    What I'm curious about is what plants fall into this category, and what successes and failures you all have had in growing them. I was especially intregued by Louis' description of some plants in this category as just plain ugly or unremarkable, and I'm curious which those might be (Cyp. acaule?).

    I'll start. The two that come to mind for me are Dracula (any) and Polyrrhiza lindenii – oh, and that Lepanthes species with the cool leaves, and Calypso bulbosa. And of course any Cypripedium.

    I tried a Dracula bella a while ago. It suffered a slow death. Most likely it was not getting enough humidity, although I think it may have been a root rot problem. I have a couple more which I just got in a trade, and they're doing really well. Blooming . . . may be a different question.

    I've also tried Polyrrhiza lindenii a couple times. The first time it did really well in a particular setup, with a ultrasonic humidifier, under lights. Then I moved, and it died. I tried a second time. It did quite well outside for the summer. Then I had to move, and it died. I'll probably try it again when I don't intend to move for many years. Feh.

    I also tried Cyps. I got a couple in a trade. They were dormant. One never came out of dormancy, and the other grew for a while before becoming very very dead for reasons I never determined. I don't think I'll be going out of my way to try them again, although having slippers in the garden would be really fun.

    I'd love to see a Calypso bulbosa in person; the pictures I've seen are stunning. I understand that they're totally dependent upon beneficial fungi, and can't really be cultivated at all. I remember at some point reading about how somebody bloomed one by keeping it in ever larger sterile flasks with agar medium. Crazy.

    Oh, and I totally forgot about Disa. From what I understand you pretty much have to be batsh1t crazy to try a Disa, but I think that might just be hype. However, they look like red Star Trek spaceships, so that's a plus.

  2. #2
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    I don't even do terrestrials. Our weather here is too freaky and I don't have the time to dig them up or pull them in for the winter.

    I also can't do Polyrrhiza. I had a mature plant which bloomed all of twice for 5 years until it died but I can't keep a seedling alive to save my life.

    As any older grower recognizes, you only grow what you can grow, or was that Yogi Berra?

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    I've still got a Polyrrhiza lindenii seedling which is still alive (!!) after 5 months. Frankly, I'm shocked. (Bad joke could be inserted here--Ghost orchid refusing to give up the ghost --but I'll spare everybody...)

    I'm personally not a big fan of "bronze" colored flowers--they look brown-dead to me even when they've just opened--so any "bronze" colored things that need futzing and fussing with, ultra-cold spells, dessication periods, updigging, pH lows of 3 or highs of 9 can just remain right where they are in their natural colonies to be hmmed and aha! d over by taxonomists or collectors of such nefariobilia--I'm just not interested. And if I have to pay big bucks for the privilege of killing one of these slowly--forget it. Keep the thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lja
    I'm personally not a big fan of "bronze" colored flowers--they look brown-dead to me even when they've just opened--so any "bronze" colored things that need futzing and fussing with, ultra-cold spells, dessication periods, updigging, pH lows of 3 or highs of 9 can just remain right where they are in their natural colonies to be hmmed and aha! d over by taxonomists or collectors of such nefariobilia--I'm just not interested. And if I have to pay big bucks for the privilege of killing one of these slowly--forget it. Keep the thing.
    Which are these nefariobilious bitchy bronze species of which you speak? I want ugly details! I think the low pH might refer to Cyp. acaule, but it's not bronze-colored (although it is fairly ugly), and I'm not sure what the rest of these details refer to.

    This does remind me of Bulbophyllum lemniscatoides. Incredibly cool fantastic flowers, but the plant needs a dry dormant shriveling period. I got one which was dormant . . . it never came out. I think what happened was that I started watering it after I just couldn't stand it anymore, it started to rot, then I dried it off and it just dried up and died.

    Oh, and the ultra-cold rest reminds me of Coelogyne cristata. Beautiful flowers, grows like crazy all summer (mine tripled in size each year), but wants near freezing temps with near full sun and very little water over the winter in order to bloom. A whole lot of nuisance. I'd still have mine though if it weren't for the fact that the squirrels here in MO tore the thing to little tiny nuggets. The squirrels in TN didn't bother it a bit, but those were rural squirrels. These are hardened suburban squirrels.

    Anyhow. Ugly details!

  5. #5
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    I don't dare.

    Actually, those details weren't meant to describe any one species, but rather any flock of prissy things that can't take a good cold shower every once in a while and enjoy it, damn them. LOL!

    "Bronze....."


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