Orchid Wise

Cymbidium Primary Hybrid – Cym. Toni Benton

In this series of articles we showcase the somewhat lesser known area of Cymbidium history. The Cymbidium Primary Hybrid. Cymbidium Primary Hybrid’s are the result of crossing two Cymbidium species plants, and these crosses have created some stunning plants. And it is where all of our modern hybrids have originally come from.

Cymbidium Toni Benton is the Primary Hybrid crossing of Cymbidium erythraeum x Cymbidium iridioides

This Cymbidium Primary Hybrid was registered with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) by Royale Orchids in Australia in 2012.

Royale Orchids stood out as one of the most popular Cymbidium Orchid nurseries in Australia for many years. Kevin Hipkins, a well-known and highly skilled Australian Cymbidium hybridiser and breeder, crafted numerous outstanding crosses over the years. Among his notable creations is the renowned Cym. Death Wish line. With a keen vision, Kevin cultivated exceptional Diploid and Tetraploid plants for decades. He oversaw at least 40 Australian Orchid Council awards for Royale Orchid Cymbidiums. And his passing in 2018 was felt by the whole Australian Orchid community.

It’s intriguing as to why it took so long for this particular Cymbidium Primary Hybrid to come to fruition. However, I’m very grateful Kevin pursued the cross!

There are three methods to achieve this primary hybrid crossing. Cym. erythraeum presents itself in three distinct varieties: the Indian form (Cym. erythraeum var erythraeum), the Chinese form (Cym. erythraeum var flavum), and Cym. erythraeum var erythraeum f. album, a green alba coloured flower. In this instance, this cross utilised the Indian form, which happens to be my personal favourite among the non-albas.

The outcome is a lovely delicate diploid flower.

It is noticeably smaller than Cym. iridioides yet more akin in size to Cym. erythraeum var erythraeum, albeit darker, like Cym. iridioides. These flowers typically span about 7cm-8cm across. They inherit the long, narrow foliage characteristic of Cym. erythraeum var erythraeum, but under favorable conditions, can develop reasonably large bulbs. Blooming in mid to late Autumn, it graces my shade house a little earlier than most Cymbidium Primary Hybrids, aligning closely with Cym. erythraeum var erythraeum’s flowering time. It is a sight that’s always welcomed, and announces the season to come!

One potential drawback of this plant might be that its spikes often fail to lift the bottom flowers clear of the foliage, a common issue with arching spikes. Nonetheless, it’s a keeper for me!

The accompanying images depict my plant during its 2024 flowering, though they don’t quite capture the true depth of its colour. The brown hue appears much darker in reality, creating a striking contrast against the green leaves. My plant received more than ample sunlight prior to flowering this year, intensifying the colour considerably. These flowers certainly don’t go unnoticed amidst the foliage!

Cym. Toni Benton is not a common plant in Australia, and is harder to find than most. I have only ever seen the crossing using Cym. erythraeum var erythraeum in the flesh, so I’m curious to see other versions. Cym. Toni Benton also has no registered progeny at this stage, however I will have some new crosses available in the future, so watch this space!

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