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Is spontaneous hybridization possible?

Posted by drosariony CA (My Page) on
Sat, Apr 24, 10 at 18:47

I bought a Miltonia orchid when it was in bloom last year it looked like a typical Miltonia when it re-bloomed last month the flowers looked like a cross of another orchid I had that was also in bloom and the original Miltonia flower. Is this possible?

I wish I could post pics but not sure how.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Is spontaneous hybridization possible?

What you are describing is not hybridization. Hybridization in the classical sense is the process of fertilizing one orchid with the pollen of another orchid. The fertilized orchid then produces seeds, the plants resulting from which are the hybrids.

Hybridization does not affect the genetic make-up of the parents and doesn't result in the flowers of the parents changing to look like a cross of the two.

This is not to mention that you can't just cross any two random orchids and expect fertilization to occur. The plants have to be related enough (usually at the level of genus or subfamily/tribe). Not to mention that I don't think there are many orchids which grow quickly enough to germinate from seed and reach maturity/bloom within a year. Most take at least a couple of years, some take significantly longer and that's in ideal growing conditions.

There are a few possibilities that I can think of off the top of my head. First, growing conditions during bud formation can affect flower quality and color. It's possible that the miltonia was raised and initiated its first blooming in very different conditions than it gets in your care, and thus, now that it has flowered for you, the flowers have changed as a result of the new conditions. There's also the possibility that the flowers came out deformed this time (usually due to environmental conditions, but possibly due to virus or other pests). Also, sometimes when you buy plants you end up with two different seedlings in the same pot. It's not all that common in my experience, but it does happen. If your miltonia was a seedling (versus being a clone) then the two seedlings will not look exactly alike, and in fact, could be quite different from one another. Depending on where the plants originated from, there's even a possibility that somehow two different species/hybrids ended up in the same pot.

I think the fact that it looks like another orchid of yours is just a coincidence. Photos of course might help clear this up a little better.


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RE: Is spontaneous hybridization possible? (photo info)

Oh, I missed the most important piece of information....

To post pictures, sign up for a photo sharing site like photobucket or google picasa. Then you have to upload your photos to that website. From there, the sites provide links that you can copy and paste here.

Generally they have very good instructions for doing this, much better than I can provide, and fairly easy to understand. Personally I use Picasa because you can download the software onto your computer OR you can use the web interface to upload photos and auto-generate the image links.


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RE: Is spontaneous hybridization possible?

Thanks digitalphrag! I don't think it was improper caring of the orchid. I'll post the pictures up so you can see. It may be that there were two separate plants.


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Orchids

This is the orchid I was talking about. Are these miltonias? The flowers that grew from this plant last year looked more like the typical miltonia you would normally see.

Photobucket

Photobucket


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RE: Is spontaneous hybridization possible?

That looks like a miltonidium (a bi-generic cross between an oncidium and a miltonia). It's definitely got some Milt warcsewiczii in the background, hard to tell what else is in the cross.

If the original flowers were significantly different from that, then you almost certainly bought a pot with two different plants in it.


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Is spontaneous hybridization possible???

Also, it definitely doesn't look like it has received improper care, quite the opposite. The plant and flowers are in great condition!

What I really meant is that conditions like temperature, light, water, and feeding can sometimes alter the size, quality, and color of blooms on orchids. Not necessarily poor conditions, but if for instance a plant was previously grown in cool conditions at the greenhouse, and you purchased it in bloom, then the flowers will reflect that. If you grow in warmer or drier conditions, the next time it blooms, the flowers might be lighter in color or darker in color, petals might be longer, shorter, broader, narrower, etc depending on the species.

However, the differences are not going to be so extreme as to cause a miltonia to look like a miltonidium (or vice versa) which is why it seems more likely that you have two entirely different hybrids in one pot.


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RE: Is spontaneous hybridization possible?

Many years ago I bought a Dendrobium miyakei from a very respected grower. It cascaded out of a basket and eventually bloomed yellow. The following year it bloomed both yellow and purple.

Recently I bought a Dendrobium speciosum compactum with 16 canes for $50. When I got it, I unpotted it to re-pot it as I always do with new plants, to discover it was 2 equal plants. I was not happy as these plants take a long time to bloom and one plant with 16 canes is a completely different story than 2 plants with 8 canes each. Probably 3 to 4 years for them to bloom vs 1 year for the larger plant. I complained to the vendor and wanted to return it or get a replacement. She agreed to a replacement and while I was on the phone took the replacement plant out of it's pot and once again it was 2 plants. She refunded half the money and we were both satisfied.

Recently I bought a bunch of adult Cat hybrids, many described as having 4 or 5 adult pbulbs, some is bud, a few boasted having a whopping 8 or 9 pbulbs but no sheaths or buds. Most of the latter when unpotted proved to be 2 plants.

Last year I bought a bunch of 2 year old plants straight out of 2" pots ready to move up. About 10% of them were 2 plants which I separated as they were up-potted.

The above represents both the intentional and the accidental placement of 2 plants in one pot.

The first case of the D miyakei was obviously intentional as the 2 plants were not the same. No accident here. The grower's worker bees had a few hundred little plants from compots and they placed 2 in each basket in order to produce a larger plant sooner, giving them a sales advantage. Bigger plant sooner means a bigger bottom line. Obviously a stray from a different strain got mixed up with the other seedlings. The D spec is probably also a case of intentionally placing 2 plants in one pot for sales appeal as there were 2 specimens in a row from the same grower but it could be accidental.

The last 2 cases and maybe the second case represent the difficulty encountered in moving plants out of a crowded community pot into single containers. Often 2 little plantlets are accidentally kept together. I have been there and occasionally left them together on purpose as sometimes there is no way of separating them without destroying one of them. Leave them together and make a bigger plant sooner. Nothing wrong with that.

These accidents will give you 2 identical plants in one pot, no problem unless you have to wait 3 years for a 'slow to bloom' D spec to get around to it. Your case of having 2 different plants in the same pot is obvious the result of an intentional act by the grower. I would take them out of the pot and separate them, you got 2 for the price of one!

It's all in good fun, most important thing is not take any of this too serious, after all it's all a just game. Saw a sign on the back of a redneck pick up truck once that read; 'Fishing is not a mater of life or death, it's much more important than that.' Let's not take orchid growing there.

Nick


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RE: Is spontaneous hybridization possible?

Thanks digitalphrag for all of your help. Didn't know how it was possible to have two totally different flowers from the "same" plant but now I know. You were very helpful!

And Nick thank you as well. Not taking things too seriously with my plants as this turned out to be an accidental hobby. When I first bought my first orchid it was as decoration for my home. Due to improper care the two that I bought subsequently died also. It wasn't till my fourth that I was able to keep it alive and when it re-bloomed I was hooked.

Very happy with my plant and have no plans on separating them.

Thanks again!


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RE: Is spontaneous hybridization possible?

You are welcome. Always a pleasure knowing I've helped someone along in their orchid addiction!

Generally it is better to separate your orchids into individual pots, but if you're not having any problems and it doesn't bug you to have two different plants in the pot, it's perfectly fine to leave them that way. Besides, separating them at this point will probably set them both back a bit in their growth, which is something you want to avoid. Not to mention that it really only becomes necessary when the two plants require different growing conditions or if you're planning to enter the plant in a show.

Also, the fact that the bulbs and leaves on the two plants are indistinguishable from each other (I'm assuming) probably means that the other plant, which was in bloom when you got it, is also an intergeneric. In other words, it's probably not a pure miltonia, it's probably also crossed with oncidium or brassia. Otherwise, I'd expect that the difference in bulbs and leaves would be noticeable. You should definitely post pics of the other plant when it blooms so we can give you a better idea of what you've got.

Happy growing!


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