Can experienced growers guess flower quality based on seedling or plant appearance?

Slippertalk Orchid Forum

Help Support Slippertalk Orchid Forum:

BrucherT

ST Supporter
ST Supporter
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
Messages
552
Reaction score
112
Location
Chicago
Wondering how you folks who produce flasks, or purchase large numbers of seedlings, choose which to keep vs. those with which you choose to part? Is it simply a matter of choosing the most vigorous, “good looking” plantlets? Can one, in fact, become experienced enough simply to KNOW, reliably, what plants from a batch, flask of compot will produce extraordinary flowers?

I bought a Paphiopedilum venustum a few years ago because I liked the particular snakeskin pattern of its leaves. It was sold as a compot, ostensibly meaning (to my understanding) that it consisted of plants from the same grex potted up together. The growth that attracted me was a monster; it’s the fastest-growing Paph in my collection and just LUSCIOUS. The compot turned out to have 3 plants, total; I separated them all and potted them up; one was a real runt and just went to heaven before you could say “Inococur” (this was long before I had that miracle potion, which may save my tiny eBay kovachii, but I digress); the second small growth has survived for three years and looks lively enough but the differences between the two purported siblings, under the same care and conditions, is striking as you can see.

I am regularly seduced into irresistible eBay seedling bargains and I’m guessing I’m not alone in that...the allure of retail therapy will be my destruction, I’m sure. But I’ve begun to wonder, what are my chances of getting a plant like Big Brother here, vs. this tiny sucker? Wondering if what is being sold are seedlings that are predisposed to straggling?

In removing the plants for these photos, I note that Big Brother has an obvious new bud, right on time; the plants have now been in my care for over 3 years. Little Brother actually has something poking from his fan as well, too tiny to tell but it appears a bit pointy like a bud as well, maybe? Possibly? Could a venustum this little actually bloom? That’d be frickin’ adorable. I’m sure some of you could tell as surely as time. Took the best photos I could.
 

Attachments

ehanes7612

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
4,335
Reaction score
40
Location
seattle, wa
nope, no way to tell
besides..'superior looking' flowers is not a evolutionary trait but entirely subjective to the human eye
people who consistently grow high quality flowers are blooming out many many plants from the same cross...most are average quality
 

Ray

Orchid Iconoclast
Staff member
Moderator
ST Supporter
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
3,230
Reaction score
193
Location
Oak Island NC
Sure, folks can "guess", but they're usually wrong...

I'll disagree with Ed a little bit, as the subjective judgement leads to "forced evolution" that we call "selective breeding".

I do know that 4N plants in some genera do display differences in physical characteristics, compared to 2N, but I have not read much discussion about that in slippers.
 

ehanes7612

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
4,335
Reaction score
40
Location
seattle, wa
well, you can do selective breeding with previously bloomed plants that forces the evolution (in vitro) but there is absolutely no scientific statistical data that is conclusive for superior flowers (as in awardable caliber) using parents that have great flowers..just a lot of anecdotal opinions, and even the anecdotal contradicts as there are plenty of examples of great parents being used that 'seems' to produce crap, but who knows ...maybe these were from a small sample size of survived plants. It's just very difficult because of the time it takes paphs to flower. Even Rex x MM from the early 90's is skewed just because the amount of breeding done with these parents produced much more offspring than any breeding before hand and the concurrent 2nd and later generation offspring as well. The only conclusion you can draw from breeding with regards to characteristics of plants is survivability at different stages..this is fairly easy to reach some informed conclusion.
 
Last edited:

Ray

Orchid Iconoclast
Staff member
Moderator
ST Supporter
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
3,230
Reaction score
193
Location
Oak Island NC
Cool it, Ed. I agree with you, and was merely pointing out that favored characteristics may not have naturally evolved, as your post suggested.
 

littlefrog

Hop-meister
Joined
Jun 10, 2006
Messages
1,096
Reaction score
38
Location
Mid Michigan
I mostly agree that you can't tell flower quality from looking at a seedling, but there are some characteristics you can tell from a well established seedling. Most consistent of which is vinicolor - a vinicolor paph will have dark coloration at the base of the seedling, apparent pretty soon out of flask (often in flask). 'Back in the day', when these things were uncommon, you could pay 5-10 times as much for a seedling with a dark base. No cross would produce 100% vini (it was more like 10% if you were lucky I think), so those were the ones people would pay for.

I might argue that vigor is the top quality in any seedling, you aren't going to get a good flower on a poor growing plant, and if you do you probably won't get a second flowering. :)

Venustum can bloom on a pretty tiny plant. That might not be a good idea if the plant is at all struggling.
 

SouthPark

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2018
Messages
52
Reaction score
11
It certainly is a lucky dip at the moment. One should ponder over just how many seedlings that have been disposed of in the process of limiting the numbers for keeping. Maybe in the millions or billions.
 

BrucherT

ST Supporter
ST Supporter
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
Messages
552
Reaction score
112
Location
Chicago
Thank you everyone! I love Slippertalk, I learn so much every day! Thanks!
 

BrucherT

ST Supporter
ST Supporter
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
Messages
552
Reaction score
112
Location
Chicago
It certainly is a lucky dip at the moment. One should ponder over just how many seedlings that have been disposed of in the process of limiting the numbers for keeping. Maybe in the millions or billions.
Inconceivable what’s been lost just to compost. Rentoul’s books repeatedly lament “where are they now?”
 

BrucherT

ST Supporter
ST Supporter
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
Messages
552
Reaction score
112
Location
Chicago
I mostly agree that you can't tell flower quality from looking at a seedling, but there are some characteristics you can tell from a well established seedling. Most consistent of which is vinicolor - a vinicolor paph will have dark coloration at the base of the seedling, apparent pretty soon out of flask (often in flask). 'Back in the day', when these things were uncommon, you could pay 5-10 times as much for a seedling with a dark base. No cross would produce 100% vini (it was more like 10% if you were lucky I think), so those were the ones people would pay for.

I might argue that vigor is the top quality in any seedling, you aren't going to get a good flower on a poor growing plant, and if you do you probably won't get a second flowering. :)

Venustum can bloom on a pretty tiny plant. That might not be a good idea if the plant is at all struggling.
Thank you! So, would you cut off the bud? I don’t know if I have the courage....
 

littlefrog

Hop-meister
Joined
Jun 10, 2006
Messages
1,096
Reaction score
38
Location
Mid Michigan
I probably would cut it off. But I have a few thousand plants so I'm not as attached to each individual one. You could also let it open to see how it looks and then cut it off after a few days. Cutting it now saves resources the plant can use later. However, all plants are programmed to bloom and in theory they should be able to survive it, if your culture is good and your plant has roots it should be OK to just let it bloom however long you want to let it bloom.
 

BrucherT

ST Supporter
ST Supporter
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
Messages
552
Reaction score
112
Location
Chicago
Ok thank you Tom. If it is a bud and not another leaf, I’ll probably just have to let it bloom. I have a few dozen plants (loving my stuff from you, will see you at Hausermann’s open house!) and every flower is an achievement. Seeing you and Terry’s and Sam’s stuff makes my head spin. It’s such an important learning experience, really puts stuff in perspective. Ray convinced me to try Leca culture and I’m enjoying it; after your besseae flavum lost its growth, (I’ve decided was due to hot temps in my home), I was in a panic to save it, pulled it out and was amazed at the gorgeous roots...which are now doing well in LECA along with a new 3-leaf growth. Just an update. I cherish the plant and your story of acquiring it.
 

ehanes7612

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
4,335
Reaction score
40
Location
seattle, wa
Cool it, Ed. I agree with you, and was merely pointing out that favored characteristics may not have naturally evolved, as your post suggested.

yeah...you read my statement as being 'hot tempered'? ...hmm..weird...just giving clarity
 

Latest posts

Top