by Delfina de Araujo

  Since the first artificial hybrid (done in 1853 and registered in l856), a Calanthe (*), bloomed, the man has never stopped in his purpose of playing the part of the Creator.
The result of this search is more than 100.000 artificial hybrids registered and this number increases every year due to the high degree of compatibility between different species or even different genera.
The primary hybrids are result of the cross between two species of the same genus or different genera since they are compatible between them. The process is simple: The pollen of a flower is put into the stigma of another flower, if the fecundation is well succeeded, soon after the ovary starts to swell and months later (time of maturation depends on the genus and on the species), the pod became matured and delicate seeds (sometimes millions of them), looking like powder should be put in a nutrient solution to allow suitable conditions to germinate.
The plants thus obtained can be successively re-crossed with one of the species involved or another species or even with another hybrids in an arithmetical infinite proportion. The hybrids are registered at the Royal Horticultural Society (The International Registration Authority for Orchid Hybrids), so, in this way, at any time, we can follow the tracts of every species involved , even though it is a complex hybrid of many generations. The hybrid has also two names (like the natural species), however the second name is no presented in italic nor latinized.
In crosses of species of the same genus, the name of the genus does not change, for example, Cattleya guttata and Cattleya aurantiaca, which gives Cattleya Chocolate Drop.

Photo/Foto: Sergio Araujo
C. guttata
Photo/Foto: Sergio Araujo
C. aurantiaca
Photo/Foto: Sergio Araujo
C. Chocolat Drop


When the cross involves species of different genera, such as Brassavola X Laelia, for example, the name is modified and the genera obtained is named Brassolaelia. The Brassolaelia Morning Glory, for example, is the result of crossing Brassavola nodosa X Laelia purpurata.
With the successive crosses, another names should be created such as Potinara, which is the result of crossing Brassavola, Cattleya, Laelia and Sophronitis. For those hybrids involving many genera, in order to avoid a very big name, the rule is form a new name and adding "ara" at the end.
Every species contributes with an unique characteristic that influences the final result of a combination which takes times to be achieved. We never know the result of a crossing until we have the first blooming, even so, in the same lot of plants coming from the same sowing seed, the result can vary a lot. That is why, hybridizers always keep, at least 50 seedlings of the same sowing because they know exactly that there can be a great variety in the plants (shape and color), as children of the same parents, they look like but they are no identical to their parents nor their siblings.
To get a plant with identical flowers, we should use meristem culture, that is the only way to get an exact replica of a plant.
Remake a hybrid from different matrixes (mainly with different varieties or cultivars) can result in rather distinct flowers. In spite of a careful selection of the matrixes, the result is always a lottery and the search for the perfection never ends because another hybridizers can repeat the same hybrids with another matrixes (aiming the improving) or cross one hybrid with another to get another plant and this for successive generations.
The hybridizing allows the crossing of species to obtain plants that will never naturally exist because they come from different habitats, bloom in different season or they do not have the same pollinator.

Why do hybrids?

It could be mainly by commercial reasons such as: the possibility of having blooming plants in different times of the year, anticipation or postponing of the blooming season, make the cultivation easier (those plants are not so exigent like the species), the reduction of the waiting time for blooming, more vigorous and resistant plants, the diminution of the size allowing to cultivate more plants or in a reduced place, long lasting blooming, better adaptation to adverse conditions of temperature by making them more tolerant to hot or coldness (by crossing of species from hot climate with those intermediate conditions).

Or it would be the eternal search of the human being for the beauty, trying to repeat the best characteristics of the matrixes, to get a best shape of the flowers, more shining colors, frequent blooming, amplification of the possibilities of different colors and different shapes, as well as the enlargement of the size of the flower.

The doubt remains. Why do hybrids?

Let us put aside all those commercial points of view, all those divagations and let us enjoy the work of two hybridizers who stand out in Brazil.

The first one in the past (although recent) and the second, in the present:

Rolf Altenburg, from Florália, because when we talk about Cattleya hybrids, we should mention him, due to the great performance he did, between the decades 50 and 80


Roberto Agnes, from Aranda, who works with Cattleya, but also with Oncidium.

However they are not the only ones, we also have or had: Waldemar Silva, from Orquidário Brasil (more than 100 híbridos, from l953 to l981), Sergio Barani, more than 70 hybrids, Roland B. Cooke, from Orchid Castle, more than 40 hybrids, Alex Sauer (10), Orquidário Quinta do Lago (4) , Álvaro Pessoa (10) and Florália.

(*)Calanthe Dominyi (Calanthe furcata x Calanthe masura), at James Vietch & Sons, by John Dominy

Antoine des Épinards, translated by Raimundo Mesquita (Orquidario volumes 8/3 e 4, volume 9/2),
Orchidées, de David Menzies, Solar
Orquídeas de Jack Kramer, editora Salamandra
Orchid Growing in the Tropics, Orchid society of South East Asia.

Photo/Foto: Sergio Araujo
Roberto Agnes, Aranda' s Director.

ON: Roberto, you have recently registered approximately 100 hybrids of Cattleya almost creating a dynasty to which you gave the name of Samba tothe big part of them. The results are coming out and one of the seedlings, a Slc. Samba Princess, blooming for the first time, deserved a HCC/AOS, in 2000, in São Paulo Orchid Show. In order to give us an idea of how works the hybridization procedure, could you tell us what was your purpose when you crossed Blc. Williette Wong with Blc. Toshie Aokie 'Pizzaz' to do Blc. Hans Kunning?

ROBERTO: I wanted to get a plant very close to Blc. Toshie Aoki, without being Blc. Toshie Aoki itself and inject a new blood. In order to give a new strengh to the growth, I used Blc. Williette Wong, which is 50% Blc. Toshie Aoki and cross it again with Blc. Toshie Aoki.

  What happened? The plants grow easier, bloom all year round and they go on with yellow and red lip, as I intended to do. In some plants, the red is almost a velvet and in some, there are those two yellow eyes that remind the influence of Cattleya dowiana  var. aurea which has those two wonderful yellow eyes in the throat. It is simple like that, I just wanted to go on with this llineage yellow e red but with a plant more vigorous than Blc. Toshie Aoki without losing the color and the shape of its flowers. Those plants blooming during the summer (January, February and March, in south hemisphere) when you don't have so many varieties of Cattleya and enduring the heat, which is a very important quality.
We cultivate those plants in Guapimirim where the heat is fantastic, such last year when we had 10 days, with 40, 42 º C, every day, inside the greenhouses.
Photo/Foto: Roberto Agnes
Blc Hans Kunning
  The plant endures well this heat, blooms, the flower opens and gets firmly under this heat without withering.
This is more or less the way I could find inside the place I cultivate.

ON: And this was your aim when you did those crosses ...

ROBERTO: This is my aim, always trying to facilitate, always looking for an easier plant to be cultivated with a wonderful flower.

ON: And blooming in different season of the year...

ROBERTO: Yes, I have a variety of blooming seasons, the plants don't bloom at the same time.
I admit that I like sowing seeds because it gives a wide possibilities range. I like to play with the plants. Of course, I do not get any plant to cross with any plant, first I try to ivestigate and see what had worked and what had not. It is no use to think that I will cross this yellow with this purple and get all those imaginary colors. If you are using a recessive plant with a super-dominant plant, you will have just a color. I think that if you work a little you can succeed in making a cross that will give a wide range even regarding to blooming season, for example.

ON: You said that the sowing seed gives a wide varieties range, however , if you just use plants with the characteristic of Cattleya aurea or dowiana var. aurea, as you wish (small yellow yes) in the cross, even so, there is a risk to get a flat flower, without this characteristic (yellow eys)?

ROBERTO: No, if you use two plants with this characteristic, of course, you are strengthen the two yellow eyes.

ON: So if you cross it again, it will bring this characteristic?

ROBERTO: For example, the Blc. Williette Wong had those two eyes and the Blc. Toshie Aoki had an entirely red lip. So you will have a division in the progeny, a percentage will have those yellow eyes and another, doesn't.
The same thing happens to Blc. Samba Eyes (provisory register), which has Cattleya intermedia  var. aquini in two generations before. What happens? Thirty per cent of those plants will be flamed.
The name Samba Eyes is because it reminds two eyes, the petals are marked...
Photo/Foto: Roberto Agnes
ON: It looks like a mask.

ROBERTO: Exactly, it seems to be a mask, however this is n illustrative photo, it is the best I obtained, some of them will not be so well defined and some will not have the aquinoid. That's why I think it is funny cultivate from sowing seeds.
If you buy a meristem, you look at the photo and you know that the plant will exactly like the photo. I like to buy a lot of 50 seedlings of a cross because you can have from the most fantastic things until a thing that brings you to think: "- It is unbelievable that so much wonderful matrixes can result in such a rubbish".
It happens and happens with everyone.

  ON: And Potinara Samba Passion?

ROBERTO: I got a plant called Slc. Orient Amber 'Florida' which is orange and cross with Bc. Pastoral that blooms for Mother's Day. I wanted a soft colored plant, blooming at Mother's Day and I finished for getting a plant that blooms all year rond.
I have plants blooming in May, June, September because I used two plants that flower in different season of the year.

ON: You used Bc. Pastoral alba...

ROBERTO: Yes. All of them have passion-fruit colors, straw-colored, wide petals due to Bc. Pastoral and very big flowers with a touch of salmon color in the lip.

ON: The colors are very soft.

Photo/Foto: Roberto Agnes
Potinara Samba Passion

  ROBERTO: I liked the result very much and that is another way to be investigated.
I did a series of plants which I call pink such Bc. Samba Sensation. I got a Bc. Turandot 'Guaxupé', using a good Brazilian plant and crossed it with Bc. Pink Sensation. The flower is interely pinkish with a touch of yellow in the lip.
I like those soft colors too. I think it is wonderful when you have a well defined color.
I hate dirty colors in orchids, many times, you look and ask to your self: "- What color is this?"
You can't define it very well.
If you have a pastel-color, it should not be a mixture of different colors, you should know exactly what color is it, you should be able to identify the color and not stay wondering: "- Is this orange, or it is dirty yellow or it is brown mixed with yellow?"

Photo/Foto: Roberto Agnes
Bc. Samba Sensation

I don't want this. I want that the person identifys, this plant is passion-fruit color, milk shake of raspberry, it should have a defined, an identifiable color.
This is very important when you made those pastel tones.
That is what I am trying to do because there are many lilac, many purple plants but too few plants which I call true pink . Even under the light, it reamins true pink. To me Bc. Turandot 'Guaxupé' is one of the best specimen of pink plant did in Brasil and I used, in my opinion, one of the best in USA: Bc. Pink Sensation. The result is all that I supposed, limpid pink with much yellow in the lip giving a very beautiful contrast.

Photo/Foto: Roberto Agnes
Slc. Samba Princess
For example, my next way is already done, it is Bc. Samba Sensation crossed with
Samba Princess, going on with producing pure pink flowers with yellow lip.
I am antecipating what will be my next generation.
  ON: And Blc. Samba Saga?

ROBERTO: One of the parents, Lc. S. J. Bracey, had aldready this color or similar, however it was not so accentuated, there was already this red edge, those filigrees around, it has been crossed with Blc. Saga which flowers are entirely yellow, however they also have an intense red.
With this cross, the red filigree around , this edged has been intensified, as it was my purpose.
Brief, the flowers are, in general, ochre-orange colored and the lip is almost always dark red.

Photo/Foto: Roberto Agnes
Blc Samba Saga

Photo/Foto: Roberto Agnes
Samba E lf
ON: Which is the cross of C. Samba Elf ?

ROBERTO: It is a cross of C. aclandiae and C. Enid 'Butterfly' and the firsts seedlings carry medium size flowers.
The flowers are almost always white with dark pink lip in a reduced size plants due to the first matrix.


ON: And what about Potinara Samba Laranja?

ROBERTO: It has elongated stem carrying up to 5 oragen wonderful flowers.

Photo/Foto: Roberto Agnes Pot. Samba Laranja

  ON: Can you change the color and the shape, when you did a hybrid?

ROBERTO: No, when make a I cross, I do not change the color nor the shape. I choose two plants assuming they will bring me a certain result however there is no manipulation in the cross. You make a cross thinking that the flowers will be in a color or in a certain shape, etc. You should know how choosing well your suas matrixes to get the result you look for.

Hybrids by Roberto Agnes/Aranda
Photo/Foto: Roberto Agnes
Pot. (Twenty Four Carat x Blc. Olmec Treasure)
Lc. Samba Crown
Photo/Foto: Roberto Agnes
Pot. Samba Jewel

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