Orchid Hybridisation Programme
The orchid hybridisation programme in the Singapore Botanic Gardens was initiated over 80 years ago by Professor R.E. Holttum. His first hybrid, Spathoglottis Primrose (S. aurea x S. plicata), flowered in 1931.
In collaboration with orchid lovers like John Laycock, he produced hybrids such as Aranthera James Storie (Arachnis hookeriana x Renanthera storiei) and Arachnis Maggie Oei (Arachnis hookeriana x Arachnis flos-aeris), both of which became important cut-flowers for many years. Oncidesa Goldiana (Gomesa flexuosa x Oncidium sphacelatum), commonly known as ‘Golden Shower’ or ‘Dancing Lady’, was also produced by the Gardens. It flowered in 1939. This hybrid was a great success and its popularity continues to this day. One can find it in almost every flower shop throughout the world. To date, the Gardens has registered more than 630 hybrids. Our breeding programme focuses on two major groups, dendrobium and vandaceous orchids.
Vandaceous species commonly used for breeding are from tropical Asia. These showy species are used to produce hybrids for landscaping, the cut-flower trade and as pot plants.
The more popular genera include:
One of our breeding objectives is to produce fragrant orchids. The strap-leaf vandas are known for their fragrance and most recent hybrids are sweetly scented.
Terete leaf vandas are very free-flowering in the tropical sun. An example is the national flower of Singapore, Papilionanthe Miss Joaquim (previously known as Vanda Miss Joaqium).
Hybrids of Renanthera are floriferous and their colours are vivid. An example is Renanthera Singapore Botanic Gardens. Renantanda is produced when renantheras are crossed with vandas. These hybrids usually have big and showy flowers. An example is Renantanda Istana.
Less attractive, but extremely exotic are the scorpion orchids of Singapore and Malaysia. The white scorpion orchid, Arachnis hookeriana, can no longer be found in the wild in Singapore, but lives on in its numerous progeny. Arachnis hookeriana produces very long-lasting flowers with thick textures. It has been used extensively for breeding hybrids for the cut-flower trade such as arandas and arantheras.
Paraphalaenopsis is a rare and small genus endemic to Borneo. It is a member of the tribe Vandeae.
The genus comprises four species:
- Paraphalaenopsis denevei
- Paraphalaenopsis laycockii
- Paraphalaenopsis serpentilingua
- Paraphalaenopsis labukensis
Finally, we have produced hybrids with exciting new colours as such orange and red antelope dendrobiums and a dark chocolate-coloured Vanda which even smells like chocolate.