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Flowering time in Adelaide generally begins in late October with the southern forms opening first and extends well into the new year with some of the hybrids like Cym. Little Black Sambo and Cym. Kuranda.The darker ‘Sparkesii’ forms are the latest to open around mid to late November. I find the hybrids to be very long lasting in my growing area, often staying in good condition for more than two months. I do not know of many orchids that possess this longevity of blooms at this time of the year when they are subjected to such high temperatures.


I attempted some pollinations during the last flowering season to see whether I could, perhaps, eventually produce some improvements or greater variety of colour and markings within the species. I tried about 20 reverse crosses using a variety of clones. So far about 30 pods are still swelling approximately ten weeks after pollination.

There are not many hybrids around using Cym. canaliculatum but the grexes of Cym. Little Black Sambo (canaliculatum x madidum), Cym. Pied Piper (devonianum x canaliculatum) and Cym. Brown Beauty (canaliculatum x pumilum) are well worth having in your collection. I have three distinctly different clones of Cym. Little Black Sambo. I imagine the differences in flower colour has come from the various clones of Cym. canaliculatum used.

Another interesting hybrid is Cym. Australian Midnight (atropurpureum x canaliculatum) with its very dark flowers and late flowering (December/January in Adelaide). When crossed back to Cym. canaliculatum (= Son of Midnight) the resultant flowers are much improved in shape and just as dark. These hybrids are grown in the same area as the species and treated similarly.

Cym. James Webeck (canaliculatum x suave) is a hybrid I have never been able to obtain so I thought I would try to make it myself. I had previously been told by a number of respected hybridists and experienced growers that Cym. canaliculatum is a notoriously poor pod parent while being a good pollen provider. With this in mind I made another 20 reverse crosses using three different Cym. suave clones and the same Cym. canaliculatum plants as before. To my amazement, after ten weeks, every attempt on various Cym. suave plants had aborted and only about five dropped from the variousCym. canaliculatum plants. I realise that they still have a very long way to go to reach maturity and anything could happen during the interim period but the initial signs are, at least, promising. So much for ‘expert advice’!

The accompanying photos are of some clones that have flowered in recent years in my orchid house.
Last season was particularly good in Adelaide for reasons unknown to me. Perhaps it was that many plants matured their season’s new growth rather early last year with a longer than usual dormant period to follow. I cannot think of any other feature that was different about the season or my culture.

So, if you like a challenge and are not too heavy-handed with the hose, try a few Cym. canaliculatum varieties . You will surely be rewarded with some exquisite blooms in a great variety of colours and forms at a time of the year when most Cymbidium hybrids are all but finished.

Good growing.

Roger Herraman

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