Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Growing Papilionanthe hookeriana, the Kinta Orchid

The Kinta Orchid used to be so common that it was called the Kinta Weed. It used to thrive in the ponds created by tin-mining activities in the Kinta Valley. Now it is rarely seen in the wild. In nature it was associated with floating islands of aquatic vegetation formed by Hanguana malayana, a monocot with erect clusters of large leaves 1 m or more tall. The orchid has long slender stems and these stems were supported by the leaves of the Hanguana. The orchid inflorences would emerge when the orchid stems were about level with the tips of the Hanguana leaves.

In cultivation, Papilionanthe ochids including 'Miss Joachim' the national flower of Singapore, is tied to wooden posts. I have done this with the Kinta orchid, using posts 7 ft tall. However, the orchids, now 4 - 5 ft tall, are not flowering. I wonder if they need to overtop their supporting posts before they will flower. Does anybody have experience with this?

I am growing these orchids on the 30,000 sq ft rooftop Secret Garden of 1 Utama. The garden is open Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 6 pm. Entrance is free. Yesterday I conducted a tour for a visiting group of Canadian garden feature writers and publishers, and they were very impressed. Canadians have probably the best gardens in the world, in Vancouver, so if Canadian garden feature writers say they are impressed, we have reason to celebrate.


hooi giam said...

Dr.Ng, I thought the species you called the Kinta weed is Vanda hookeriana. Is papilionathe the new genus name?
I was told this is still common in some areas in Perak.Vanda Ms Joachim,Singapore's national flower is actually a natural hybrid of V.hookeriana and another Vanda(teres, I think).A friend has this Vanda hookeriana and his couple of plants flowers almost all the time. I was told that it needs a lot of sun and loves to be in a humid area at the same time,similar to its natural dwellings.
Do you know who sells Vanda hookeriana?
Wonder if you still have any more seeds of your passiflora eludis to spare? I have a plant from seeds but it is not flowering, although its only a year old.Any comments?

hooi giam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr Francis Ng said...

I am afraid the 'correct' name is Papilionanthe.

Does your friend actually grow it in a pool of water? How tall is the post on which he fixed the plants?

My original passionfruit continues to fruit profusely and a cutting from it also fruits profusely but plants grown seeds have performed badly. If you live in KL I can give you a cutting.

hooi giam said...

Thanks for the info on papilionathe.
My friend planted this orchid in full sun on the pond and it flowers all the time.

I am intrigued by your roof top garden and the use of horticulture carbon.
I live in Penang.
But a visit to your roof top garden and your offer of passiflora cuttings is enough a reason to make a trip to KL!

Autumn Belle said...

Dr. Ng, I am very impressed by the job you have done at 1-Utama secret garden and rainforest. The most awesome plant has to be the giant victoria amazonica. Do keep up the good work. I just found your blog and I really want to tell you that I am very proud of you. I just love all the plants and concept of the secret garden and I have gone there 3 times. I hope you do not mind me writing about them in my blog.

Outskirt Outreach said...

Dear Francis,

Aha, I got the name wrong too. It's strange that yr hookeriana is not flowering. The ones I see in the wild are bursting with flowers all year round. They don't need to be tall to flower. I think a great deal of sunlight will solve the problem.

Here are some pics I took last year when I found a wild hookeriana patch in Ipoh's outskirt http://outskirtoutreach.org/blog/vanda-hookeriana-orchid-hates-to-get-its-feet-wet/

I have signed up to visit Secret Garden with my son on 26th Sept Saturday. I hope the venusta is doing well. Mine has conked out; lowland weather too hot. Good news is, the tongkat ali seeds I brought back from Sapulut has germinated.


Dr Francis Ng said...

If anybody wants a guided tour of the Secret Garden, I can be contacted at 019-3920012 to fix dates. Preferably Saturday mornings.

Please do help publicise the Garden and Rain Forest any way you like. Sometimes people get to the roof top when they press the UR (upper roof) button on the lift by mistake. You should see the shock on their faces as they come out of the lift into the garden!

For those interested in the use of charcoal in gardening (and saving the environment as a bonus), there is a good article in the 'Science and technology' section of the Economist of August 2009 page 69: "A new growth industry?"

Dr Francis Ng said...

Oops, sorry. My phone is 019-3820012

hooi giam said...

Yes, I was one of those people who 'accidentally' pressed the lift button some time back to the roof top while on one of my trips to KL from Penang. At that time, it was being built and the workers told me it was not open to the public yet but they did let me have a look. I was quite impressed, more with the roof top garden than the one below.
Anyway, will you be conducting a tour this Saturday afternoon or sunday morning? Also, is your offer of a passiflora plant cutting still valid?I will be coming from Penang.

Dr Francis Ng said...

I will be at the Secret Garden 19 Sep and 27 Sep at 10 am to conduct tours. Both days are Saturdays. The Secret Garden is only accessible by the lifts closest to the Rainforest. Call me at 019-3820012 if you cannot find the way.

Dr Francis Ng said...

Oops, Sorry. It should be 19 and 26 Sep (not 27, which is Sunday).

Autumn Belle said...

Dr. Ng, I wish to thank you very much for the highly informative and interesting guided tour with you around the Secret Garden last Saturday, Sept 19th. I have learnt a lot from your expert advice and commentary. I think this is a very good idea where you are willing to take time off your busy schedule to unselfishly share your knowledge with members of the public. You have given us a glimpse of your new book and I think it is full of information and well illustrated. What I regret most is that I do not have enough money to buy it. Once again, thank you very much.

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generic viagra said...

I have never heard about this orchid before, describe it a little bit please, that indicates you will have a lot of visitors from other parts of the world.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ng,
I'm so glad I came across this blog while frantically searching for help to save my dying V.Hookeriana cutting. Here in Canada its winter n cold. I have the cutting under a grow light, but its starting to go black from the base upwards. Please help!!

Dr Francis Ng said...

It is normal for this orchid to die at the base. The important thing is to keep it alive at the top and to ensure that the root tips look fresh and healthy. If the environment is too dry the root tips will dry up and that is not good for the plant.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dr.Ng for responding. it gives me hope on saving my orchid. Since it is a cutting it doesn't have any roots as yet n that is why I was so worried. Btw, do you know of any sellers to ship orchids to Canada? I would love to purchase some. Thx.