Potinara

Potinara is a great example of the confusion in naming orchids, and THAT is a great reason for not letting it get you “bent out of shape.”


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The Potinara is a cross of FOUR different genus’ of orchids (Brassavola x Cattleya x Laelia x Sophronitis), and I think all agree there is Cattleya in them.  However, some Cattleya’s are no longer Cattleya’s, and some Laelia’s are no longer Laelia’s, and some Sophronitis’ are no longer Sophronitis’, etc.

Confused yet? If you want to learn more about this interesting, but confusing topic, read this article by Richard Pippen, Ph.D Professor Emeritus, Western Michigan University.

The bottom line? ENJOY your orchids, don’t develop ulcers over them! Besides, how do you REALLY know that the tag on your plant is accurate in any event? I’m scrupulous about tags. I photograph them and store the picture with that EXACT plant so that even if a tag is lost, I often have the ability to identify it by going through the photos of the plants that I THINK it might be, and I can even pick out a plant sometimes just by unique growth characteristics. But even THAT isn’t perfect. For example, I recently purchased SEVERAL Pot. orchids from a grower. I would SWEAR I never got the tags mixed up, let alone lost. But this one (pictured here) just bloomed for the VERY FIRST TIME. Okay. so that in itself is a thrill. But then I started “googling” the orchid and it was absolutely the wrong color. No doubt about it. ALL of the specimens I found of this exact plant were uniformly another color combination and very consistently so. Then I started “googling” the other Pot. I purchased, which has NOT bloomed yet. THAT is the plant that should have this flower. So…… I either screwed up and mixed the tags of these two plants (possible because I repotted them – up a pot size – when I purchased them) or…. the nursery had them backwards. Probably me… but you get the idea. If you know in general how to care for the plant and you are successful at it, and you enjoy the blooms… well, there you have it! Who cares what name it is, anyway? This is one of the most beautiful and most photographed orchid I have ever had. I keep trying to capture the incredible depth of the red with orange throat and the spectacularly subtle faint orange brush strokes that radiate out from the core and up the pedals.

The Potinara – or what has been called Potinara (and I suspect if you shop for them in many instances names won’t have been changed/updated) – is an easy-keeping orchid. They have a lot in common with the Cattleya, which is a beautiful, easy-to-keep orchid with large, lovely VERY colorful blooms, thick stems and thick flat leaves just like Cattleya. In fact, if you saw a true Cattleya and a true (?) Potinara next to each other not in bloom you would think by their physical structure that they were closely related, perhaps even the same orchid. That’s how close they are visually. In terms of ability to keep healthy, happy, and in bloom, I think they are essentially the same as well.

I have two others that have not yet flowered. One has brilliant yellow pedals with a bright red throat.  The other has mottled orange pedals with a red edge to the throat. I can’t wait to see them!

WATER: Water regularly. Just like Cattleya’s. My twice per week flush in the sink is perfect for mine, year ’round.

LIGHT: High light. These plants stay in our bay window that faces North-West and receives high light all day and direct sun in the very late afternoon when the worst of the heat is out of the light.

MEDIA: Coarse bark. I repot once every one to two years.

TEMPERATURE RANGE: Normal household temperature ranges. I can’t speak to its ability to survive either extreme, but it does fine in our normal household range of low- to mid-60s as the winter lows and low- to mid-80s as the summer highs in the house.
CARE: Like the Cattleya’s, its main rhizome grows along the surface of the bark with the stems and leaves protruding vertically.  It’s a very easy keeper. Like the Cat’s, it can attract mealybugs. But if you keep an eye out for the tell-tale white “fluff” and give the plant a quick spray with dormant oil at the first sign, they will be trouble-free for years!

BLOOMING: Develops beautiful flowers with VERY vivid colors. The Pot.s seem to have slightly smaller flowers than the pure Cattleya’s in my experience. But that may just be the ones I have selected.

REPOTTING: Every year or two in pure coarse bark. Cut the primary rhizome if you can leave a minimum of three viable leaves on the pieces and pot them up separately. Needs to be wired down. Will not be terribly stable in pure bark without wire clips. When repotting, put the CUT end as close to an edge of the pot as you can physically get it, and leave as much room as possible in front of the growing tip of the rhizome. It will continue to grow in that direction until it reaches the edge of the pot again, and if you don’t repot at that time the rhizome will start growing out of the pot over the edge.