March 2, 2008

Japan's Orchid Grand Prix

A courtesy guide attempts to control the crowds at the worlds' largest orchid show.

Perhaps my collegue, Jessica summed it up best, " I wish I had a hobby that could fill a stadium". I felt bad for her, after spending long hours working, attending focus groups with screaming kids, walking and walking and walking for hours and shopping for trends during our stay in Tokyo, I then convinced her to spend a few hours on Saturday afternoon at what is essentially the Orchid world Olympics for orchid enthusiasts - the Japan Orchid Grand Prix International Orchid show, held annually in the Tokyo Dome Baseball stadium.

Imagine, baseball during the summer, and in February, orchids.

This is my second business trip to Tokyo that happened to coincide with the Grand Prix, so I was incredibly lucky, for the show is amazingly enourmous, and there are things to be seen at this show that are not seen at any other orchid show around the world, mainly the native Japanese orchids the Calanthe, Neofinetia and dendrobium moniliforme, that should be familiar to anyone who reads this blog, since I happen to have some remnant of a Japanese gene in me, that makes me pine for these tiny unpretentious orchids which Jess said, looked like dead plants. I will show more of these in the next posting, since there were far too many to incude here.

This massive 6 foot or more wide specimen of Coelogyne crista fma. hololeuca 'Pure White' is  a plant that I have seen here three times. This year, it is larger than ever. I must try to remember to try growing one like this - on a portable shingled roof section.

Coelogyne cristata fma. hololeuca 'Pure White'
Growing on a very interesting and somewhat rustic wooden structure which looks a bit like a piece of a roof, this massive Coelogyne cristata, reportedly an easy-to-bloom species for a cold greenhouse, reminded me that mine has never yet bloomed. this plant, however, what about 6 feet in diameter and
literally covered in fowers. I do know that I must let the plant become cold, near freezing in the winter, and allow it to dry out for the winter, but although it is full and lush, I never get any flowers. So if anyone out there has any advice, please let me know. Perhaps it is a fertilizer issue?

Only Japan could host such as show, since no where else is there such a passion for specific plants. As flower shows around the world (and especially in the United States) experience lower attendance numbers, this flower show fills the largest stadium in the worlds' largest city, and keeps it packed for an entire week and with long que lines, makes a clear statement of the level of horticultural passion that exists in this amazing country. Plant enthusiasts are everywhere in Japan, but it seems no one is as enthusiastic as the orchid enthusiasts are. As Jess said, "after flying halfway around the world without hassle, it took an orchid show guard to search and frisk me. I mean, come on, this is just a flower show! What we're they thinking..that I was going to smuggle in my purse? A vial of aphids or a bomb?"

Orchid cookies for sale.

Imagine seeing these Phalaenopsis at your local Home store! I could not get over the length of the stems and the bumber of flowers. The Japanese have a specific way in which they train their phalaenopsis.I could have done without the foil though.

Incredible Dendrobiums, which remind me of when I lived in Hawaii and we grew them on our clothes line, of course, they never loked like these. New hyrbids, grex's and crosses are selections that look nothing like their parents.

An award winning dendrochillum species specimen plant which I forgot to identify. Spectacular.


  1. What a cool opportunity to attend the biggest Orchid show. Your pics are beautiful.......they have some stunning orchids that I had no idea even existed. Wow.

  2. Dear Matt,

    I really adore your blog(s), your garden, your greenhouse, your turtle, your secret sources and you. A warm bravo from Paris .

    paradis express

  3. I am very jealous! I only got to go to the World Orchid Conference you get to go to the orchid show of the Universe!! Have a great time. Glen

  4. Hey Matt. Sounds like an issue with fertilizer/water quality/or light intensity with regards to your Coelogyne. I find them very sensitive to salts in water and respond best to RO water. Also, the 'lushness' you describe could mean that it's getting just enough light to grow well but not initiate flower spikes. Which fertilizer are you using?

  5. wow, this sure beats the new york botanical gardens orchid show!


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