Cypripedium subtropicum - signs of seedling life

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Aug 28, 2006
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Cyp subtropicum is a dream plant for Cyp growers. Years ago, I, like many others, was able to obtain some seed which germinated but the seedlings never thrived in flask and I lost them. A couple of years ago Wenqing Perner offered deflasked seedlings. The seedlings were of excellent quality. Like most seedlings that I pot for the first time, I put 5 seedlings in each of two deep 6 inch pots, filled with medium perlite. My seedling pots sit on the edge of a raised bed and are irrigated every morning for 10 minutes (computer controlled) so the medium stays quite moist but with a lot of air. I water weekly by hand using Miracle Grow powder - the kind with microelements - at 1/2 recommended strength. I also purchased 10 more seedlings last year that are kept in pots next to the first ones. All the seedlings have been in their pots outside all year since they were obtained. No growth at all has been observed since the seedlings were obtained. I carefully dig through the medium every 6 months or so to take a look at a couple of the seedlings. All of them look very healthy each time with not even a hint of growth, certainly no sprouting. I often refer to them as my "plastic Cyp's." Note that all of these seedlings remain outside all through the winter. Really low temperatures tend to reach 27 or 28 F a few times each year. Last winter we had an all-time record snowfall of 3 inches that stayed on the ground for nearly two days - the neighbors were horrified by the apocalypse.

The seedlings all survived our evil summer this year - several days well over 100 F. The Cyp beds are nicely shaded (and when high temps are 90 F or higher the irrigation runs in the morning, at noon and at 5 pm to maintain cool temperatures).

So, 10 seedlings (minus a couple that were dug up by animals) have not grown in 2 years and 10 have not grown in 1 year. November is the rainiest month here on the Puget Sound each year with an average of 7 inches. This is a La Nina year so there is more rain. From Nov 1 through Nov 20 there has been 19 inches of rain in our garden, 7 inches one day alone. About 4 days ago, I was checking the beds to make sure I didnt have any plants that needed to come in since frost was predicted. I was shocked to find 3 Cyp subtropicum seedlings sprouting. There were two in one of the 2 year pots and one in one in the other. I dug around a bit and found several other seedlings with no sign of sprouting and one that may be. I have posted images of the seedlings. The taller one is 39 mm in this image. It is 46 mm today. The middle one here is now about twice the height as when the image was made. The third one has been nipped on its tip, probably by a slug - we have giant slug races every day and this time of year there are millions of young sliming about. It is also growing well.

I dont know what stimulated growth at this time of year. Perhaps it was the artificial monsoon? I took a look at the annual rainfall in Malapo County in Yunnan China, which is home to a robust population of Cyp subtropicum. The monsoon is active in the late spring to early summer. From papers I have read that describe the local population of Cyp subtropicum, they sprout around April when high temperatures are in the low 80s. In the winter, I see lows in the upper 20s to around 30 F for several days so they are rather similar to our WA lows.

Certainly these seedlings should not have sprouted at this time of year. I plan to leave them outside except when temperatures are expected to be in the low 40s or lower so I will be running in an out.

At any rate, I can now say that I have seen living, growing Cyp subtropicum, so we have some progress!


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Hopefully the past growth was concentrated in the roots and not above. Or maybe they are very slow when young?

Slugs this year ate some of my phal and jewel orchids, until I put them in hanging baskets. The slugs around DC can get up to 4-5 inches. But no banana slugs.
I had a bad slug attack one time, and after fighting them for a while, I pulled out the “big guns” - a 50 pound bag of table salt - and scattered it around the greenhouse floor.

No more slugs, AND no more weeds, including a rabbits foot fern that liked to germinate everywhere.

It was, fortunately, not a permanent poisoning of the gravel-over-soil floor.
Very interesting. Also the fact they survived such a hot summer .... how many days did you have at that peak temperature?
I forwarded the link of this post to Mrs. Wenqing Perner. She is really glad about your success, and asked me to add some links to her Facebook page, where she described some of the experience from growing the seedlings, as well as 2 pdf files from chinese experts sharing results of their research about Cyp. subtropicum!

Best greeting from Wenqing Perner.


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Thanks for that Jean! So great to see some success with this species!

Yes, Wenqing and her partners are also involved since some years to try to repopulate the in-situ places ...
so 2 challenges ...

(and there are some people that had chance to look somewhat closer at their work .. :) )

yes, a real challenge

best greetings
My experiments have shown that the seedlings in Germany can only be kept alive in a sterile environment.
This species itself does not have enough protection against infection germs. It needs Mycorrhiza partners to survive.
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That is great, I have chance to see them growing in their habitat at some different locations so If you want to ask any more information a bout this species in their habitat, you can send me MS and I can provide as much as I could.
What we need is 5 kg of substrate with mycorrhiza fungi from the original location where the species grows.
The first step is to propagate the fungus, which could be extremely time-consuming if it is an ectomycorrhizal fungus

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