When it comes to orchid purchases, I’m not a particularly impulsive person. Which is a direct counterpoint to my beloved husband, and I credit his speed of reaction to securing a few fine plants in the intense “shopping enthusiasm” that often occurs when an orchid show just opens. In the case of this Cymbidium Geno’s Gem, however, I was the one who plucked the beautifully blooming division from the sale table as the vendor’s hall just opened at the local Cymbidium society show. The heydays of California Cymbidium growing, when people queued for an hour or two before the show opens have passed, but it is still one of the more spirited orchid purchasing experiences that I have encountered.
After we purchased the orchid, I learned that Cymbidium Geno’s Gem ‘Emerald Fire’ is a mericlone of the Grand Champion at the 2007 Santa Barbara International Orchid Show. Quite a distinction in Cymbidium cultivation.
We don’t generally purchase mericlones, but one can see why this particular Cymbidium was cloned for its outstanding flower quality. This season, our plant was a golden shower with five spikes in a one gallon pot. That being said, I certainly prefer divisions of the mother plant, in recognition of the individual genetics of an orchid that has not been “post-processed” in a laboratory for commercial distribution. Mericlones drift away from what we enjoy about growing orchids, and into the realm of commodification. Sometimes the original breeder is the beneficiary of the financial gain from their hard work, but nothing stops “cloning pirates,” as one breeder described them, from creating orchid mericlone merchandise from someone else’s efforts.
Cymbidium Geno’s Gem ‘Emerald Fire’ undergoes a distinct color shift as the flowers mature. As you can see in the photographs below, they open with a tawny hue, and lighten to a bright yellow after a few weeks. Temperatures also influence the bloom color. Colder weather, as was present in the development of the flower spikes in the first two photos, will increase the protective (red) anthocyanin pigment present. Yes! These are the exact same Cymbidium in the exact same growing area.
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My vision to create orchid portraits emerged from my appreciation for the “whole orchid.” So many photographs of orchids focus only on the flower. But orchids are not flowers: they are entire plants and living beings. Connect more deeply with the many dimensions of orchids …