The end of the rainy season here in Kyushu, Japan usually falls on the first or second week of July, and also marks the peak flower season for one of Japan’s most celebrated orchids, Neofinetia falcata. I grow both wild forms, known as fuuran (often misrepresented as furan) and the selected varieties called fuukiran (again, usually called fukiran). Luckily, they require little assistance from me since I don’t repot as much as I should, letting nature do most of the work. Still, each year they grace my garden with lovely flowers.
Here is a sample from this year.
'Benisuzume' - the cute little pink flowered form. I've been growing this plant for 10 years now. Flower count is just so-so, but still a nice display.
'Tamakongou' - this little guy was planted on a tree fern "swing" a few years back. It is doing fairly well and with time it should get pretty huge. Nice flowering this year despite any significant care on my part.
'Seikai' - I've grown this clump for around 8 years now - slow growing variety, but then again most Neos aren't what you'd call "fast". Two flower stalks this year made it to flowering. A must have for the Neo collector.
'Seikai' - A close-up of the flowers - truly one of the more interesting flower forms for this species and definitely not a product of hybridization.
A wild form of fuuran, meaning "wind orchid", that is mounted on another tree fern swing. After struggling for the first few years, it is finally flowering pretty well this year.
This variety is called 'Kurume Tora'. I bought it at a local show and suspect it is not widely known or recognized. It has a very light pink blush to the flowers and the new root tips are a beautiful purple pink.
'Oonamiseikai' - meaning "big wave blue ocean' - origin in Hyogo Prefecture sometime in the mid 1800's. Characterized by broad, curved leaves and large flowers that point slightly upward. Good grower and bloomer that can attain huge specimen size.
'Tenshin' - a so called elephant nose flower due to the odd, elongated spur that extends out from the flower like a moth's proboscis. Said to have originated in Shikoku, it is now very commonly produced by seed and is relatively cheap and available. Not hard to grow or flower, though it's "nose" is often distorted into curled shapes rather than extending out nicely.
'Eboshimaru' - originating in Kyoto, this is a large, bean leaf type that is very vigorous in growth and can attain large clumps. In general this one produces more leaves than flowers, at least in my experience, but is a truly lovely plant. This year the flowers are fewer than normal.
Another wild type of Neofinetia falcata (fuuran) growing in a plum tree (Prunus mume) in my side yard. This plant has been established for 10 years now and always flowers well.
'Senzai' - orginating in Kyushu, this is an extemely dwarf bean leaf type. The flowers tend to present themselves upward, have stout flower parts (known as plum-petaled) and a thick, hooked spur. Once these plants commanded very high prices, but since they are true from seed, the market is now flooded and their value is much lower these days. This picture is from 2010 since the flowers were marred by insects this year. The plant is perhaps twice as large however.
'Manjushage' - a beautiful three spurred variety that has decreased in price over the last 5 years due to successful propagation by seed. This plant is said to be from Amami Island stock, which I can believe since it flowers a bit later than most fuukiran in my collection - a trait typical of most Amami types. My plant's flowers have a slight purple blush on the spurs.
A closer view of the flowers of 'Manjushage'. In this shot you can see how the spurs curve forward in lovely arcs.
'Amami Fuuran' - large, warmer growing varieties hail from the Amami Islands, just north of Okinawa. These plants tend to grow into large clumps faster than most Neofinetia falcata, flower later (early August here) and in my experience are also a bit more frost tender. This clump was set back badly by the cold winter of 2010/11. As you can see, it has recovered nicely.
While this wasn’t a banner year for my plants, they still looked pretty good this season.