I read a quote today..."There are as many styles of beauty as there are visions of happiness." Before your eyes lies a type of beauty that lies way beyond visions of happiness, in my honest opinion. It's almost unattainable, but oh so mysteriously real. What could be so black and almost metallic, making my flora loving heart skip not one, but two beats?
Welcome to the sensual world of an orchid hybrid known as Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl'. I discovered this beauty at the Huntington Botanical Gardens Orchid Show last year. Growing this plant and watching it produce these mind-bogglingly beautiful and beguiling black flowers has made me a confirmed flora futurist. I've never seen anything like it. Have you? Well, the horticulturalists at Sunset Valley Orchids in Vista, California have definitely blinded me with some serious science. Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' is a masterpiece. It was love at first sight!
Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' is a hybrid cross between genus of the orchids Catasetum, Clowesia, and Mormodes. It produces interesting thick bamboo shoot-like pseudobulbs that produce large pleated straps of tropical foliage. The foliage is deciduous and begins to drop off as late autumn/early winter dormancy sets in. This hybrid is fairly easy to grow as long as you follow some strict rules. When the plants begin to shed their leaves, STOP ALL WATERING. The decrease in water will encourage mature pseudobulbs to extend 2 to 4 pendant inflorescences with as many as 15 to 22 flowers on each of them!
And as you can see the flowers are spectacular! They'll last up to 6 or 7 weeks before falling off in a beautiful black shower of rich robust blossoms. I grow mine in a mix of fine bark, sphagnum moss, and perlite. It prefers bright light and warm indoor conditions. Does great on the mantel of my living room. When it breaks dormancy and new growth occurs in spring, resume watering and fertilize regularly. 1 tablespoon of fertilizer per gallon of water should create the right mix. These plants can die easily if overwatered so take care to keep moisture fairly even during growth periods and let them dry out when foliage begins to yellow and drop. If pseudobulbs get really shriveled during dormancy, give them a teeny tiny sip of water once or twice a month to sustain their vitality. Remember the lack of water encourages remarkable flowering. So if you have an appetite for something excitingly exotic, treat yourself to the mystical magnificence of Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl'. Tell Sunset Valley Orchids The Plant Provocateur sent ya!