Marriott Orchids

Fine breeder of Complex Paphiopedilum orchids with an emphasis on pinks and whites...
also, select species and primaries.

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About Slipper Orchids

Paphiopedilum is the "lady slipper orchid".
Characterized by a cup-like lip, called a pouch, their native habitat is the jungles of the Far East and Indonesia. They are related to our own North Carolina lady slippers. These plants have flowers of heavy substance and their blooms will last from one three months. They come in a fascinating array of colors and forms.

Paphiopedilums (genus Paphiopedilum) – often abbreviated as Paph (and known among orchid enthusiasts as paphs) are flowering plants in the orchid family.  The genus Paphiopedilum contains nearly 100 accepted species.   Paphs are also commonly referred to as  "lady's-slippers" or "slipper orchids" due to the unusual shape of the pouch-like labellum of the flower.  Mother nature added this unique feature for a good reason....As insects fly into this pouch seeking nectar or water, they are  temporarily trapped.  To exit they have to climb up past the flower's staminode, this assists in hybridizing the flower.   Slipper orchids are native to South China, India, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, and come in a large range of sizes, colors, and shapes.

Most Paphiopedilum species are semi-terrestrial and grow naturally among humus layers on the tropical forest floor, while a few are found on limestone cliffs near the oceans edge.   The leaves can be short and rounded or long and narrow, and some have a mottled pattern.  The plants grow in stages. As new growths mature, older growths will slowly die off.  A new growth will  bloom when it is fully mature, producing a raceme (bloom spike) between the stiff fleshy leaves.  They typically bloom once a year, and large plants with multiple growths can have a multitude of blooms.  Blooms with heavy substance can often last several months.  Large plants can be divided and some plants are alive today are over 100 years old.  The roots are typically thick and fleshy and, when properly planted, form a tight lump.   The key to successfully growing paphs is to keep them in conditions that resemble their natural culture:  indirect light, a bark based growing medium, light fertilization and appropriate watering (water thoroughly then let it dry out every 5-7 days).

There are many books available about the early history of orchid collecting and "orchid hunters".  These are fascinating stories and illustrate how truly addictive orchid collecting can be.  Enjoy! 

Paph hybridizing
All new cultivars originated, at one time, with just 2 species.  When 2 species are bred together, the resulting hybrid is called a "primary hybrid" - this can also occur in nature if 2 species are cross-bred.  As the parentage becomes more complex (with the species parents falling farther and farther back genetically), the result is a 'complex paph".   These large,  round, full petal paphs are also nicknamed "bull dogs" or 'bull dog paphs".   The goal for each cross may be different - it may be a lager, fuller flower; a new, unique color; a 'perfect' miniature bloom; higher flower count or longer bloom time;  but to be award quality, a bloom must exceed the merits of it's parents and be outstanding in it's own right.
Paph orchid breeding is a blend of art and science...and it requires an amazing amount of patience!First , a breeder will select  plants that have outstanding characteristics that they want to see carried down to the offspring.  They must be able to envision what the offspring from a cross of will look like.  (Cross a yellow/green with a spotted red --- what will you get?)  Skilled breeders acquire decades of experience and knowledge about which plants carry forward specific traits, what colors are proven to be more dominate  and which parent plants are the best breeders.  (Some beautiful plants are poor breeders or even sterile.)  Once a cross is made (the pollen from a plant has been applied to the staminode of the male parent plant)  - patience is required.  If fertilization occurs then a seed pod will slowly form.  This seed pod will mature on the plant for up to a year.  (Typically about 9 months.)  Once fully mature, but before it dries out and turns brown, it must be cut off and sent to an orchid flasking lab.  The orchid lab will open the seed pod in a sterile environment and sow the seed in a flask with a sterile auger based growing medium.  Here the seeds will (hopefully) germinate and, over the next 1-2 years reach a 'seedling' stage that can then be sent back to the greenhouse and potted out.  Any number of problems can occur in this process - the seed can be sterile and won't germinate at all, the flask can become contaminated and the resulting mold will kill the offspring, or only a very small percentage of seed germinates and you only have 2-5 plants from the cross.  A typical germination rate for Paphs is 60%,,,this means that out of 100 seed pods send to a lab, only 60 will result in viable offspring. Once the seedlings come back to the greenhouse, more patience is required, as they will take another 3-5 years to reach blooming size.  So from concept to conception and then to being able to see the results of your cross will take 6-7 years! 

Judging:  For more information on showing, and judging orchids - visit The American Orchid Societies web site:
Any orchid owner who knows the parentage of their plant can bring it for AOS judging.  Simply bring your orchid to a judging center at the designated time and place. If you are new to orchids, or are unfamiliar with the process of receiving an award for your plant, a good place to begin is at your local orchid society. At most meetings, members display their blooming plants at 'show table'.   This is not an AOS judging event, but It is a great place to learn about the various orchid types and see how plants are evaluated for quality. In the United States, plants are judged at AOS judging facilities across the country and at AOS orchids shows - check with the American Orchid Society for information on where and when judging events are held in your area.  A panel of judges review and will select (nominate) for point scoring those plants they feel have the potential to be awarded.  The bloom will be evaluated and rated on: size, shape and color. The number of flowers per stem as well as the substance and texture of the flower are also important aspects.  The bloom will be compared to it's parents to determine if it has exceeded their merits, and it will be compared to others of it's own cross.  Judges will point score the plant based upon a 100 point scale. A plant needs to receive at least 75 points to receive an award. Flowers scoring between 75 and 79 points will receive a Highly Commendable Certificate (HCC/AOS). If scored from 80 to 89 points, it will receive an Award of Merit (AM/AOS). The finest flowers, scoring 90 points or higher, will receive a First Class Certificate (FCC/AOS). These are few and far between!


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Please note that all photos have been taken by Hadley Cash of Marriott Orchids 
and are of Marriott Orchid's stock.  As such,  permission from Marriott Orchids 
is required before  reproducing or using photos for any reason.  Thank you.

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