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ORCHID SPECIES CULTURE Charles and Margaret Baker Vandopsis gigantea (Lindl.) Pfitz. AKA: Vanda gigantea Lindl., Vanda lindleyana Griff., Fieldia gigantea Rchb. f., Stauropsis gigantea (Lindl.) Benth and Hook. f. ORIGIN/HABITAT: Plants are found on Langkawi Island, which is just off the northwest coast of Malaya, with reports of early collections as far south as Melaka. Distribution extends northward through peninsular Thailand, the Tenasserim Range in Burma and Thailand, through northern Thailand and into southwestern China. Habitat elevations in the southern parts of the range have not been reported, but topographical maps indicate the highest point on Langkawi Island is 2887 ft. (880 m). In peninsular Thailand, plants reportedly are normally found growing on rocks in the hills close to the sea. In China, plants are distributed in Guangdong, Guangxi, and southern Yunnan Provinces. They grow on trees or cliffs in forests at 800-4900 ft. (250-1500 m) and are usually found in association with ants' nests. Grant reported that in Burma the plants were abundant in the shady jungles around Tavoy. In other regions, plants are found in full sun. CLIMATE: Station #48603, Alor Setar, Malaya, Lat. 6.2N, Long. 100.4E, at 13 ft. (4 m). Temperatures are calculated for an elevation of 2000 ft. (610 m), resulting in probable extremes of 93F (34C) and 54F (12C). N/HEMISPHERE JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC F AVG MAX 83 85 86 86 83 82 81 81 80 80 81 81 F AVG MIN 64 64 66 67 68 67 67 67 67 67 66 65 DIURNAL RANGE 19 21 20 19 15 15 14 14 13 13 15 16 RAIN/INCHES 2.5 2.2 5.8 9.0 10.7 7.8 7.7 10.4 12.8 11.9 8.1 5.2 HUMIDITY/% 71 66 70 75 79 79 79 79 82 84 83 77 BLOOM SEASON * ** * * * * * DAYS CLR @ 7AM 5 4 5 2 0 1 1 1 1 1 2 5 DAYS CLR @ 1PM 2 2 2 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 2 RAIN/MM 64 56 147 229 272 198 196 264 325 302 206 132 C AVG MAX 28.3 29.4 30.0 30.0 28.3 27.9 27.3 27.2 26.7 26.7 27.2 27.2 C AVG MIN 17.8 18.0 19.1 19.7 20.2 19.7 19.7 19.7 19.7 19.7 19.1 18.6 DIURNAL RANGE 10.5 11.4 10.9 10.3 8.1 8.2 7.6 7.5 7.0 7.0 8.1 8.6 S/HEMISPHERE JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN Station #56985, Mengtze, China, Lat. 23.3N. Long. 103.4E, at 4262 ft. (1299 m). The record high temperature is 97F (36C), and the record low is 28F (-2C). N/HEMISPHERE JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC F AVG MAX 65 67 77 83 85 82 82 81 81 75 73 67 F AVG MIN 45 49 55 61 66 67 68 66 63 59 54 47 DIURNAL RANGE 20 18 22 22 19 15 14 15 18 16 19 20 RAIN/INCHES 0.2 1.0 1.2 1.5 5.4 6.9 10.2 9.3 2.9 2.7 2.2 0.5 HUMIDITY/% 68 69 62 61 64 74 78 79 74 74 71 70 BLOOM SEASON DAYS CLR @ 7AM 13 11 13 11 7 2 2 3 5 4 12 14 DAYS CLR @ 1PM 12 10 10 11 3 1 1 1 2 2 7 13 RAIN/MM 5 25 30 38 137 175 259 236 74 69 56 13 C AVG MAX 18.3 19.4 25.0 28.3 29.4 27.8 27.8 27.2 27.2 23.9 22.8 19.4 C AVG MIN 7.2 9.4 12.8 16.1 18.9 19.4 20.0 18.9 17.2 15.0 12.2 8.3 DIURNAL RANGE 11.1 10.0 12.2 12.2 10.5 8.4 7.8 8.3 10.0 8.9 10.6 11.1 S/HEMISPHERE JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN Cultural Recommendations: LIGHT: 3000-4000 fc. The reports of various writers indicate that plants probably adapt to a wide range of light levels. Strong air movement should be provided at all times. This is particularly important for plants grown in higher light. TEMPERATURES: The data from the Malaya station indicates the warmest conditions under which this species should be grown. Throughout the year in this region, days average 80-86F (27-30C), and nights average 64-68F (18-20C), with a diurnal range of 13-20F (7-11C). In the southwest China habitat, summer temperatures are about the same as in Malaya, but there is a marked seasonal variation with much cooler temperatures in winter. Although cultivated plants should adapt to conditions within this range, they are usually grown in the warmer conditions indicated by the Malaya data, and some growers report that plants are very sensitive to cold. HUMIDITY: In Malaya, humidity averages 80-85% from late spring through autumn but drops to 65-70% for 3 months in winter. Conditions in the Chinese habitat average about 5% drier year-round. The winter conditions in China are not only drier, but they last for 1-2 months longer. WATER: Rainfall in both regions is very heavy during the growing season. This is followed by a pronounced dry season in winter. The heavy rainfall season is much longer in the Malaya habitat, and the winter dry season lasts only about 2 months. In China, rainfall is heavy for only 4-5 months from late spring to early autumn, and the averages in winter are very low for 3-4 months. Cultivated plants should be kept evenly moist while actively growing. Water should be gradually reduced in autumn after new growths are matured. FERTILIZER: A balanced fertilizer mixed at 1/4-1/2 recommended strength should be applied every week while plants are actively growing. Many growers prefer to switch from the normal balanced formula and make an application of high nitrogen fertilizer early in the year when plants are actively growing. They may then make an application of a high phosphate or "bloom booster" formula in late summer or autumn in order to promote flowering. REST PERIOD: In the Malaya habitat, there is little seasonal variation in temperatures. However, in southwest China, winter days average 65-67F (18-19C), and nights average 45-49F (7-9C), with a diurnal range of 18-20F (10-11C). A winter dry season is common to both regions, but the one in the China habitat is longer and drier. While rainfall is low, additional moisture is available from heavy deposits of dew. Cultivated plants should be allowed to dry out somewhat in winter, but they should not remain dry for more than a few days. Occasional mistings on sunny mornings between waterings may help keep the plants from becoming too dry. Remember that the cooler the temperatures, the less water the plants will need. Fertilizer should be reduced or eliminated until new growth starts and normal watering is resumed in spring. In the habitat, light is highest during the clear days of the winter dry season. Growers report that plants do not bloom in Singapore, which has a warm, uniform climate. GROWING MEDIA: Plants may be mounted on tree-fern or cork slabs if humidity is high and plants are watered at least once daily in summer. Several waterings a day may be necessary for mounted plants during very hot, dry periods. Because most growers find it difficult to keep mounted plants moist enough, they are usually grown in hanging pots or baskets using a very open, fast draining medium Coarse chunks of cork bark, fir bark or charcoal are frequently used. MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: The bloom season shown in the climate table is based on cultivation records. In nature, plants bloom in spring and summer. Plant and Flower Information: PLANT SIZE AND TYPE: A large, pendent, branching epiphytic plant that may grow into huge clumps. It is normally much smaller in cultivation. Collectors reported that one plant was too large to be carried on an elephant. PSEUDOBULB: The plants do not have pseudobulbs, but their stems are about 12 in. (30 cm) long and may be up to 1 in. (2.5 cm) thick. LEAVES: To 24 in. (60 cm) long, but usually about 14 in. (35 cm). Only a few yellowish green leaves are carried on each stem. They are about 2.4 in. (6 cm) wide and are extremely heavy and rigidly leathery. INFLORESCENCE: About 14 in. (35 cm) long including the 4 in (10 cm) raceme. The pendulous to strongly arching inflorescence emerges from the stem at the base of leaves near the middle of the stem. FLOWERS: 6-18 blossoms are carried on each raceme. The flowers are about 3 in. (7.5 cm) in diameter and often last for several months in perfection. They are very thick and heavy-textured and are vaguely fragrant at times. The broad, fleshy sepals and petals are pale yellow with red-brown blotches that appear as rings with lighter colored centers. The yellow lip has sidelobes that are suffused with purple and a high white keel down the middle. HYBRIDIZING NOTES: Chromosome count 2n = 38. REFERENCES: . Grant, B.  1966. Orchids of Burma and the Andaman Islands. Hanthawaddy Press, Rangoon, Burma. Reprint, Twin Oaks Books, Greenfield, Wis. Hamilton, R. 1988. When does it flower? 2nd ed. Robert M. Hamilton, 9211 Beckwith Road, Richmond, B.C., Canada V6X 1V7. Hawkes, A.  1987. Encyclopaedia of cultivated orchids. Faber and Faber, London. Holttum, R. 1964. A revised flora of Malaya. vol. 1, Orchids. Government Printing Office, Singapore. Kamemoto, H., and R. Sagarik. 1975. Beautiful Thai orchid species. Orchid Society of Thailand, Aksornsampan Press, Bangkok, Thailand. Pridgeon, A. ed. 1992. The illustrated encyclopedia of orchids. Timber Press, Portland, OR. Seidenfaden, G., and J. J. Wood. 1992. The orchids of peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Published in association with The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Botanic Gardens, Singapore. Olsen & Olsen, Helstedsvej 10, DK-3480 Fredensborg, Denmark. Williams, B.  1973. Orchid growers' manual. 7th ed. Victoria and Paradise Nurseries, London. Reprint, Weldon & Wesley, Codicote, Herts, United Kingdom, and Verlag J. Cramer, Lehre, West Germany. Veitch, J., and Sons. [1887-1894] 1963, 1981. Manual of orchidaceous plants, vols. I-II. James Veitch and Sons, Royal Exotic Nursery, Chelsea, London. Reprint, vol. I, A. Asher and Co., Amsterdam, The Netherlands; reprint, vol. II, Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun, India. PHOTOS/DRAWINGS: . Copyright 1997, Charles O. Baker and Margaret L. Baker Sheet version 546363 ......................................................................... 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