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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

McBean's Orchids: New at Hampton Court ‘09

Posted by Graham Rice on 07 Jul 2009 at 08:59 PM

The number of new indoor orchids being created around the world is difficult even for the experts to keep up with but here at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show McBean's Orchids are introducing one that looks to be a bit special.

Phalaenopsis 'Tzu Chiang Balm' is a great plant for those of us who are not seasoned orchid growers. First of all it's a Phalaenopsis (moth orchid) and these are about the easiest of all indoor orchids to grow. It's also small, and reaching only 30-38cm/12-15in in height allows it a place in the smallest rooms and on the narrowest of windowsills; it's altogether more manageable than the more common larger types.

'Tzu Chiang Balm' is also a lovely and subtle colour. The flowers are about 5-6.5cm/2-2.5in across, in an intriguing yellow tone shaded in purple with pretty speckling and purple spark on the lip. It's a compact plant, the leaves are neat and compact as well, and the flowers are not crowded, but the spike branches well creating very long flowering period.

I asked judywhite, author of the forthcoming Bloom-Again Orchids and a former trustee of the American Orchid Society, about this new style of orchid.

"Fragrant Phalaenopsis are among my personal favourite kinds of orchids," she told me. "In fact I devoted an entire entry just to them in my new book. Everyone should grow at least one of these easy winners on the windowsill. And the new hybrids that not only smell great but also are small enough to fit just about anywhere - well, that's an incredibly winning combination."

Raised in Taiwan, white and yellow and pink flowered plants in the same style are on the way. The scent in plants such as these is derived from several species in the background that have good fragrance, including P. stuartiana and P. amboinensis, and the other breeding is with short multifloral types such as P. mannii and P. equestris which bring the neat, branching habit.

You can buy Phalaenopsis Tzu Chiang Balm here at the Show, for mail order availability contact McBeans Orchids.



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