The incredible Phragmipedium kovachii!
Posted by Jason Fischer on Mar 14th 2019
Hello all! I’d like to write a blog about what many consider to be the most impressive Phragmipedium of all time, the kovachii. And since I’m stuck at the Denver, Colorado airport for 2 days due to the massive blizzard, I figured now is the perfect time to sit back and type away.
This species has the largest flower of all the Phragmipedium (15 to 20cm plus across) and its hybrids also carry over the impressive size. It is a fairly new Phragmipedium in the orchid world, discovered in Peru in 2001. For those interested in investing in a beautiful and somewhat challenging Phragmipedium, I will share some grow tips that have worked for me.
This species itself has proven hard to grow, and can take up to 8 years to flower from seed! Typically, I have found once the seedlings have made it to 8 inches in leaf span, they are much easier to maintain. The initial seedling stage is when they seem to grow the slowest, however, the patience is well worth it once you have seen the flower in person. So far, I have found them to grow best in Grodan Grow Cubes, or Precision and Classic Orchiata bark mixed, with about 50% perlite and charcoal. Use clean water such as reverse osmosis, distilled or rain water, and supplement with fertilizer 3 out of 4 times you apply water. Never let them go dry, as they are very thirsty growers which receive seeping water at the root system 24/7 in the wild. Once a good root system is established, you can start to put shallow saucers (1/4” to 1/2” depth) of water under the pots as they will demand more and can wick up water as they need. If you have the ability to provide moving water by using an ebb and flow system, you will see maximum speed in growth from this species. Keep the pH between 6 and 7 for best results. And lastly, if you really want to go the extra mile, you can purchase and use the O2 Grow super oxygenator. This high boost of oxygen results in a 20% growth speed increase after we tested a wide variety of orchid genera.
Check out the video above that we made on our best kovachii, the ‘Tesoro Morado’. I have used this parent in breeding the species and hybrids as much as possible, and by this summer we should have the first seedlings with ‘Tesoro Morado’ available for purchase. In addition, keep an eye out for hybrids made with this wonderful parent as well. Currently, we do have a few size options of kovachii available. Yes, they are expensive, however, my hopes are to get more price options with the higher production of the next batches of kovachii seedlings.
Well, the snow is still blowing sideways and I am dreaming of returning to the greenhouse, eventually.