Where have all the Phrag. Jason Fischers gone?

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Phragmipedium besseae was officially recognized as a new species in 1981 and when legal importation of the species became available, it was intensely used for breeding.

Phrag. besseae has a mostly orange to orange/red flower. Phrag. sargentianum's flower has a lot of yellow/green/brown but the longer, thin, droopy petals have a color that comes close to red on some plants. When besseae and sargentianum were bred, Phrag. Memoria Dick Clements (MDC) was created and then registered in 1992 by J.R. Edwards.

I think MDC was a surprise because the whole flower was often pretty red. The shape of MDC was usually not the best, but the hope was born for a flat, roundish, red flower. A group of breeders did the obvious thing, which was to cross MDC back to a besseae that had good shape and was as red as possible.

In 1996, Jerry Fischer of Orchids Limited in Minnesota won the race to grow, bloom, and RHS register this new hybrid, naming it after his second son, Jason Fischer. Jason is now a co-owner of Orchids Limited.

Many growers produced Phrag. Jason Fischer and awards came quickly. There are currently 113 total AOS awards for this hybrid, with 21 of these being FCCs, which I think is still the highest number of FCCs of any orchid hybrid. I think the earlier FCCs were not as strong as more recent ones, but the flower was unique so the judging standards evolved.

In the last decade, tetraploid versions of besseae and MDC have become available and recent tetraploid Phrag. Jason Fischer may have the best flowers. I purchased a Jason Fischer seedling from Orchids Limited made from tetraploid parents (MDC ‘Rocket Flash’ x besseae ‘Rob’s Choice’) and I think that monocotman has previously posted pictures of his plant from this cross. A plant from this cross received an FCC. Here is a picture of a flower from my plant.

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I think it has become increasingly difficult in recent years to find a Jason Fischer to purchase. I could find only 1 offer on ebay for Jason Fischer and the flower did not look very nice. Orchids Limited currently has no Jason Fischers for sale, Seattle Orchids is “out of stock”, while Woodstream has some smaller seedlings.

One reason for the decreased availability of Phrag. Jason Fischer is the number of prominent Phragmipedium breeder/growers who are no longer active, including Piping Rock, Orchid Zone, Orchidview, and Fox Valley. However, I have also been told that it can be difficult to create new batches of Jason Fischer. Finally, the arrival of Phrag. kovachii created a new Phragmipedium craze and the demand for these hybrids may have caused decreased demand for, and production of, Jason Fischer and related hybrids.

However, Phragmipedium Jason Fischer (and closely related hybrids) is probably still the standard for the reddest flower in the orchid world so grow yours carefully if you have one. It is not easily replaceable.
 
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Obviously this is a USA-centric point of view: The market for deep red Phrag hybrids was already stagnating and waning even before kovachii hybrids hit the market (legally) at relatively affordable prices. As amazing as Phrag. Jason Fischer and its ilk are, there often isn't/wasn't enough reason for hobbyists to own extensive numbers of these types of plants unless it's really their thing (ERIC).

So when something arguably even more exciting came along (i.e. new types of consistently large flowered hybrids), it seemed to put a bit of a damper on demand for the old school small flowered Phrags, regardless of their color. It didn't help that Jason Fisher and similar hybrids were/are apparently difficult to produce and thus (again arguably) fairly expensive.

If you are looking for to purchase Phrag. Jason Fischer, I saw some listed in the latest Woodstream price lists (you need to email Bill and ask to be added to the mailing list if you're interested b/c he doesn't keep the website up to date). Although I haven't made a visit to Looking Glass Orchids since 2018 or 2019, at the time Russ had quite a large number of different clones of this hybrid for sale, so it might be worth checking into if you're on the hunt.
 
Obviously this is a USA-centric point of view: The market for deep red Phrag hybrids was already stagnating and waning even before kovachii hybrids hit the market (legally) at relatively affordable prices. As amazing as Phrag. Jason Fischer and its ilk are, there often isn't/wasn't enough reason for hobbyists to own extensive numbers of these types of plants unless it's really their thing (ERIC).

So when something arguably even more exciting came along (i.e. new types of consistently large flowered hybrids), it seemed to put a bit of a damper on demand for the old school small flowered Phrags, regardless of their color. It didn't help that Jason Fisher and similar hybrids were/are apparently difficult to produce and thus (again arguably) fairly expensive.

If you are looking for to purchase Phrag. Jason Fischer, I saw some listed in the latest Woodstream price lists (you need to email Bill and ask to be added to the mailing list if you're interested b/c he doesn't keep the website up to date). Although I haven't made a visit to Looking Glass Orchids since 2018 or 2019, at the time Russ had quite a large number of different clones of this hybrid for sale, so it might be worth checking into if you're on the hunt.
I agree with you. After initial enthusiasm, many hobby growers probably tried, and failed, to grow them successfully. That reduced the demand to a much lower level. The loss of a number of great breeder/growers reduced supply. Maybe we are in balance now.
 
Although I own several hundred phrags, I don't think I have Jason Fischer... I have found fox valley fireball and sunset magic to be reliable substitutes, and better bloomers. I have a sunset magic that is better in every aspect than any Jason Fischer I've seen that I've been breeding with. Probably tetraploid.

MDC has fallen a bit out of favor, or at least has become uncommon,and a good breeder of phrags lost his best breeding plant... I'd be happy to remake Jason Fischer but I sent him my MDC. Maybe he is doing it.
 
Although I own several hundred phrags, I don't think I have Jason Fischer... I have found fox valley fireball and sunset magic to be reliable substitutes, and better bloomers. I have a sunset magic that is better in every aspect than any Jason Fischer I've seen that I've been breeding with. Probably tetraploid.

MDC has fallen a bit out of favor, or at least has become uncommon,and a good breeder of phrags lost his best breeding plant... I'd be happy to remake Jason Fischer but I sent him my MDC. Maybe he is doing it.
Almost relegating Jason Fischer to role of “founder of a movement” (for round, red Phrags under 11 cm) that has successors that are easier to grow and bloom? I know that Orchids Limited really liked Scarlet O’Hara, Robert C. Silich, and Red Wing as further manipulations of Jason Fischer - all very red and well shaped. My Fox Valley Fireball was not as red as my Jason Fischer but was a little bigger flower.
 
I’ve been struggling with this since I started trying to rebuild a nice besseae hybrid collection. I basically spent the last year learning to grow a few old favorites and kovachii hybrids…(jury still out but I’m having good success so far…) and building a wish list. The list has changed as I’ve realized I need to look for more newer crosses. Orchids Ltd and Woodstream have had some nice stuff but there just are so few vendors now. I believe OL is redoing a lot of crosses but still small.

I am finding it easier to get newer crosses that I wanted in the late 2000s like Robert Jan Quene. It’s sad that some crosses just aren’t out there tho. Still looking for a Winter Fire…
 
For what it’s worth, my tetraploid JF from the fishers has been a slow grower. The colour of the bloom is good but they are small. The polyploid kovachii crosses are much faster to blooming and have way bigger flowers.
 
For what it’s worth, my tetraploid JF from the fishers has been a slow grower. The colour of the bloom is good but they are small. The polyploid kovachii crosses are much faster to blooming and have way bigger flowers.
David, we agree. The sibling from this JF cross that we have that got an FCC with a 10.5 cm horizontal NS but I don't think mine can get to that. I think kovachii just took over the orange/red/coral/pink Phrag world because the flowers are larger and some of the plants probably grow faster, although they are much larger plants.
 
I love this post! Phrag Jason Fischer is one of my favorite hybrids and besseae is my favorite species. When I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I traveled to Castroville regularly for work and always allowed a long stop at OZ when Terry still owned the nursery and then John. As many of you know, Terry also loved besseae, producing likely hundreds of thousands if not over a million plants during his tenure. His selective breeding of the species produced some incredible results with plants far exceeding what was considered the standard. Those outliers were oftentimes used as parents for the next generation besseae and further hybridization. The JF’s that Terry produced were equally incredible and like the besseae, were legion in numbers. There were literally thousands of them!

Then, they were all gone. All the good plants were sold off or stolen (rumor mill told me this) and never seen or heard from again. I can only think of a couple exceptions of Terry’s besseae breeding that has been used recently. One of those is the ‘Mega’ clone. It was used with another likely relative ‘Zephyrus Mega’. Thus far the results that I have grown and flowered have been dissappointing. Really past that, the OZ clones I see are older generations in other breeding projects. Pretty much all of the besseae from OZ were treated for ploidy. Some of the plants were 4n and some not. It is here where things get somewhat sloppy when it comes to JF. Assuming that the MDC’s were all 2n plants, the resulting JF’s were 3n.

Also the intensive line breeding of the OZ besseae produced lower seed counts and crippled plants as seen with crosses like the above mentioned one. Dont know what I’m really getting at here other than just downloading thoughts in my brain. But perhaps if we want to revive Phrag Jason Fischer we should start fresh from the beginning? It should not take THAT long! Haha. Also use that super dark red sargentianum ‘Really Red’!

Tyler
 
Littlefrog Rob had a ton of the last OZ besseae…all those Haven x Smokin(?) etc…hard to believe these are all gone…

I was figuring the polyploid issue also has a lot to do with the scant JFs.

I have a memory in the back of my head about the Fishers saying recently on IG that they were remaking new generations of certain Phrags but I can’t recall which plant prompted the comment.

Haven’t even started looking for a yellow besseae because finding red has been hard enough!
 
Littlefrog Rob had a ton of the last OZ besseae…all those Haven x Smokin(?) etc…hard to believe these are all gone…

I was figuring the polyploid issue also has a lot to do with the scant JFs.

I have a memory in the back of my head about the Fishers saying recently on IG that they were remaking new generations of certain Phrags but I can’t recall which plant prompted the comment.

Haven’t even started looking for a yellow besseae because finding red has been hard enough!
Reading all the comments, it looks like a combination of (1)loss of important breeders (2)difficulty in making new JF type plants, and (3)the rise of kovachii hybrids markedly diminished the availability of new round/red/flat besseae-dominant hybrids like JF. I think the demand may be matching the supply, but those who are still looking for these hybrids have a difficult time.
 
Littlefrog Rob had a ton of the last OZ besseae…all those Haven x Smokin(?) etc…hard to believe these are all gone…

I was figuring the polyploid issue also has a lot to do with the scant JFs.

I have a memory in the back of my head about the Fishers saying recently on IG that they were remaking new generations of certain Phrags but I can’t recall which plant prompted the comment.

Haven’t even started looking for a yellow besseae because finding red has been hard enough!
Woodstream had selfings of P. besseae flavum ‘Broadwaters’ his AM/AOS plant. I had a division of the original and killed it!! That hurt!! I got two selfings and finally figured out how to grow them. Both bloomed with really nice flowers on first bloom! He might still have some. Here is the selfing
 

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My avatar is one of those OZ besseae. Went through a very warm summer many years ago and I think I've lost all of them. I might still have one of that 'Haven' x "smokin' grex left somewhere. But if I recall it has never really grown well after the summer of death.

You might be surprised how many yellow besseae are out there. Chuck released several flasks a few years ago. I have two really good ones that I don't let out of my sight, but if asked nicely (by somebody who has been on slippertalk at least as long as I have... :) ) I might be able to find one or two seedlings. I don't know that i have more than one or two though. Not even sure about one, until I bring plants indoors next week.
 
Bill has some on the Woodstream Fall lists. I got a seedling last year but, it was made with a parent that has leaves that don't fully open, very problematic. I will add a group of red besseae hybrids to my collection; I just hope I live long enough to see them bloom.
 

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I remember getting bored at work and heading off to the Zone. I can vividly remember the thousands of besseaes in in bloom.


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I believe this Jason Fischer sold to the Japanese for an ungodly large sum.
 
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