Luiz Filipe Varella was born in Porto Alegre city, state of Rio Grande do Sul, is a lawyer, graduated by the PUC/RS. Two reasons were fundamental for making him an orchid lover: le photo and his passion for the Atlantic Forest existing in his hometown. First he fell in love for the bromeliads he found along side the BR 101 road and orchids come almost by chance when he kicked, involuntarily, a small branch with a clump of Capanemia superflua with an inflorescence about to open.
foto/photo


ON: Why did you start to cultivate orchids? Which was the magic moment of attraction?
LF: In fact, before the orchids, there were the bromeliads I used to see in Florianópolis. By this time, I started to notice the quantity of bromeliads in the trees alongside the road, mainly Vriesea and Aechmea, then I noticed the quantity of Tillandsia we could found in just a one branch, sometimes (T.gardneri, T.geminiflora. T.stricta, T.aeranthos. T.mallemontii...).

This got my attention and I started observing and to taking notes of the differences between the species, blooming season as well as the different colors and form varieties.

Capanemia superflua
In excursion through the Rio Grande do Sul mountains, I I noticed that although there were also many bromeliads, the species were not the same because the climate is completely different.
I started to photo orchids, spending films and films (the digital camera came later) and try to identify the plants. Then I discovered that in internet there is a good material for this. Soon I noticed that there were much more besides the bromeliads in all those trees, there were a lot of orchids mainly micro-orchids.
Capanemia superflua was the first that really fascinated me; in a walk along the road in Canela, in the mountain, I kicked, involuntarily, a small branch with a clump of Capanemia superflua with an inflorescence about to open.
I always have this plant, my first micro-orchid.

Capanemia superflua
ON - Besides this, was there another influence (person or fact) ?
LF - There were two fundamental reasons: the photography and the passion for the places where there are really a lot of orchids.– The Atlantic Forest, in the slopes of Geral Mountains, in the northeast of the state of Rio Grande do Sul and southeast of the state of Santa Catarina, in the top of the mountains of Rio Grande Sul and Santa Catarina, the primitive woods are still there. Gathering those three elements - photo, mountains and wood - I have been definitively seduced. How wonderful is to photograph a blooming plant in the habitat. I have an increasing list of species that I have seen in the nature. All along those years and due to the search of more information and novelties, I got friendship that brings me knowledge, happiness and new experiences. The participation in the group of discussion about orchids and bromeliads in and the personal contact with a lot of people are really important. As well as the meeting with the Orchid society from Rio Grande do Sul, where I have been attending since 2006.
Contributing with photos to the sites like the one by Jay Pfahl and help with plants to the Orchidstudium Project are also really a reward.
There is another interesting thing, the attempt to identify species. I become almost crazy trying to do this or comparing varieties. One of those doubts came some months ago trying to identify a Rhinocidium (Oncidium) – would be a R.macronyx or a R.longicornu? I was sleepless until to be sure that it was a Rhinocidium macronyx.
In the toil of those battles, I visit sites, consult books as a fool and send e-mail to the group of discussion. And it is good when the identification finally comes. How good is to get a tag and to write the name of the small plant (even though , sometimes, still in doubt, I put a question mark. It happens, for example, with most part of Octomerias and Stelis).
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ON:
How long have you been cultivating orchids?
LF: Eight years since my first Capanemia superflua.

ON: How many plants do you have?
LF: It is hard to say. The only thing I can say is that I don't have all I want to have. May by, there are 110, 120 genus, distributed among 300 different species. I have everything annotated but it is a "floating" control due to the enormous quantity of variety, synonyms and non identified plants.
If we consider Pleurothallis and Oncidium as unique genera, without the new genera derived from them, those two would be the genera with more species in my collection. I also have a lot of Maxillaria.


Baptistonia (Oncidium) fimbriata

Baptistonia (Oncidium) riograndense

Brasilidium (Oncidium) enderianum

ON: How long do you spend taking care of your orchids daily?
LF: We should calculate the real time and the virtual time. The real time is the one I effectively spend dealing with the plants or taking photos. It takes, at least, a hour in the morning and more one hour (may by a hour and half) distributed along the day. During the summer time it is better because the day starts earl and ends later.
The virtual time is the one I spend in the internet, reading e-mails and books, seeing photos of the plants. It is hard to calculate how long I stay in those activities.
ON: You prefer micro-orchids. Why?
LF: First of all because they always are the plants I most find in the nature. Every place I go, they are always there even inside Porto Alegre city it is still possible to find Pleurothallis, Octomerias and Oncidium. Besides, I love to photograph and even more, I love macro-photo and the micro-orchids are a big deal for this.
Myoxanthus or Stelis's flowers, for example, only can be entirely seen if we do a macro photograph.Capanemia gehrti or Barbrodria miersii's flowers can hardly be seen with the naked eye and need a tool like macro photograph. I should also consider that, at this moment, I do not have too much room, I cultivate my plants at home and there is no way to cultivate big plants without sacrificing my family's room. I intend to move plants to a better and bigger room but for the present it is not possible.


Myoxanthus lanchophyllus

ON: Among your plants, do you have a favorite one?
LF: If I should to choose a genus, it would be Oncidium, in special those from Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. With all those new genera to shelter Oncidium, I opt to point out the “small cigars”, nowadays gathered inside the genus Baptistonia. But may be my favorites plants are Capanemia superflua, because it was the first I collected and Ornithophora radicans, another one that I have been seen in the nature and which first specimen I rescued from the certain death provoked by fungus and since then has been paying me with a very quick growing and assured blooming in summer.


Carenidium concolor var ottonis
(Oncidium ottonis)

Carenidium (Oncidium) hookeri

ON: Which are the climate conditions in your place?
LF: It is Porto Alegre climate with its known characteristics.
This winter, for example, is rainy and cold and there were many very dry summers. If some plants like it, others suffer a lot. On the other hand, when one says that in Porto Alegre, sometimes, you can have all seasons in the same day, it is true! It happens a lot in May or September, when the mornings are cold and during the day, the temperature raises a lot and drops again at night. Thus, we should take really care with the water and the sun. We also have many misty days, very high environmental humidity and for some species it is very good. In spite of all this, very often, I move the very delicate plants, during the day depending on the evolution of the climate.


Aspasia silvana e Aspasia lunata

ON: What could tell us about your cultivation, the kind of substrate, kind of pot, watering and fertilization, luminosity? Do you have a cultivation tip to share with us?
LF: Substrate and watering vary according to the plant, to the luminosity and even to the pot. All thing I learnt by observing the plants themselves. Observing them is very important. Observation and patience. I lost many plants for mistake or for trying to hasten the cultivation but each mistake taught me something. And the rules come from this apprenticeship. One of them that I consider, may be the most important: Observing the plant in its habitat and trying to reproduce it in some way.
Another rules we go on learning: clay pot retains less humidity, plastic pot, more. Gathering too much plants makes easy the presence of fungus, the plants needs air and ventilation. Environmental humidity does not mean soaked substrate. Be careful since the first sign of slugs because when you see them the damage is already big. Plants like Sophronitis, Dracula and Masdevallia need conditions close to those they have in the habitat. Ludisia discolor needs less luminosity then the other plants. Maxillaria, many of them thrive well without care. The species of Capanemia and Ionopsis are delicate. Pleurothallis, Stelis, Dryadella and Octomeria, except for some exceptions, are cultivated with humidity and a very little sunlight. Brassia does not tolerate coolness, Cymbidium loves it. Many Oncidium do not go well in pots. Epidendrum and Encyclia tolerate direct sunbeam.Brassavola, Dendrobium, Phaius and Arundina, too. A Stanhopea should be potted in order to allow the inflorescence grown down as well comes from the bottom of the substrate. Rodriguezia decora or Renanthera will look for room to climb.
Brief, each plant is one plant.
Substrates I tried many, sometimes successfully, sometimes, a disaster. Some substrates are well for some plants and for another, they are not. Pine tree "heart", for example, is good to Oncidium flexuosum, Oncidium bifolium and Dendrobium nobile, but awful for Cattleya intermedia. Slices of coconut are very good however they should be small for thin roots.
Regarding the organization of the plants, as I do not have a large room in my place, I use iron shelves ranged in the walls which do not receive direct sunlight for long time and where the plants are not damaged by the wind. As we know, for the most part of micro-orchids, strong sunlight and wind are really not interesting. As I live in a hill, I face both things. So I choose the best places and use those shelves and use a special cloth to protect them in order to filter only the sunbeam during the most prejudicial hours.
The most part of the micro-orchids are not big plants so there is no danger to have conflict between the different shelves; If an Epidendrum, for example, grows a lot and becomes too big, I move it.

Besides, it is possible to adapt properly those plants with pendent inflorescence (Gomesas, for example), I place it in an appropriate places with those with racemes inflorescences (as many Oncidium)
and can also hang in the same shelves those orchids which are place in pine
tree "heart', tree fern supports or logs and different branches).Of course, it is a repetitive exercise of observation, move-move and accommodation, however is there something better than to touch the small plants? Sometimes I see myself speaking alone with my plants.

ON: One said that orchidophilia a soft manifestation of madness. Have you done any "orchidophilic" insanity?
LF:I don't have any "orchidophilic" insanity to tell and I don't know if one day I will have because I have children and we should have a certain good sense. However, I have been walking a lot looking for plants and taking photos, soon or later, I will have a story to tell. I have already spent a little more with a book or plants and I think it should be considered as a little madness, nothing immoderate. An interesting thing I have been done is to look on Google Earth small roads in the region and going there looking for new places but it is difficult to do the same way delineated in the computer and I become lost, sometime. It happened twice last summer... Of course I have already fallen from trees and rocks, I hardy failed to lose my camera trying to photo an Ornithophora radicans. Without to tell about almost bogging my car in the mud. But may by the biggest madness is the idea about a project involving book, CD and site with orchids from Rio Grande do Sul. This a planned madness.
If someone want to know my orchids, go to http://fotos.terra.com.br/album.cgi/*mineralist

ON: Thank you very much, Luiz Filipe.


Dryadela edwalli

Dryadella zebrina


Photos: Luiz Filipe

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