Polystachya pachychila – 365 days of orchids – day 1031

It is hard to know when to post this pretty species from tropical Africa as the flowers are produced successively over a very long period but they are probably at their best today.

This is a small flowered African species and we have seen it growing in Nyungwe National Park Rwanda on our five expeditions to work with schools and colleges  from 2013 – 2016.

The photo below shows the species growing on the trunk of a small tree on the edge of Kamaranzivu swamp. (1200m) in Nyungwe National Park.

This shows a plant growing in moss which provides a constant dampness during the wet season though the moss will dry for a while in the dry season (summer) The colour of the leaves and stems also shows that the plant grows happily in almost full sun although other plants were found in more shaded spots.

In cultivation we grow the species in Warm Asia and keep it watered throughout the year. The plant flowers over a period of months as successive small flowers are produced from the flower spike. Although small the flowers are covered in attractive red spots, as are the flower spikes making this a rewarding species to grow.


Oncidium excavatum – 365 days of orchids – day 1030

This very stately Oncidium is a terrestrial species found in Peru and Ecuador where it grows on steep banks from 2400 to 2800m altitude in cool forest. Like many of the terrestrial oncidiums it has long upright flower spikes to present the flowers above surrounding vegetation and the flowers are clustered near the top of the branched spikes.

We have grown the species in pots and baskets in both our cool Americas and warm americas sections and conclude that for us it grows best in Warm Americas (minimum 15C) in good light and in baskets with  plants watered throughout the year. Flowering reliably happens in the autumn and the long lasting flowers will still be with us into December.


Lepanthopsis prolifera – 365 days of orchids – day 1029


In contrast to yesterday’s large flowered cattleya we have one of our smallest flowered orchids today. This tiny flowered species which is endemic to North Eastern Colombia arrived in the school greenhouses as a ‘weed’ on Pleurothallis sclerophylla and has since expanded into a ball and produced many offspring.

The 2mm deep red flowers are produced in sprays on a 1cm spike and usually line up back to back so that flowers look two ways. The plant is in flower for much of the year but I am sorry to say we often forget it because the flowers are so small.

From our experience this miniature is easy to grow mounted when kept cool and wet.




Cattleya perrinii – 365 days of orchids – day 1028

This is a medium sized plant with flowers 12cm across that are very large for the plant. This lovely orchid is native to the Mata Atlantica coastal forests of eastern Brazil. It is found at around 800m, in habitat we have visited, where it grows as a lithophyte or epiphyte in seasonally dry forest that experiences wet warm summers and cooler dryer winters.

The flowers are best looked at from above (photos above) as the plant is clearly attracting pollinators that fly over the flowers.

 View from the side.

Our plants usually produce between two and four flowers on a strong stem and have a single stiff leaf on each bulb. The natural habitat suggests that plants need intermediate temperatures (min 14C) but we find that plants do well both in Warm Americas (minimum 16C) and Cool Americas (minimum 12C). New growths produce few thick roots and we find that these do best in baskets where there is excellent drainage but we can water heavily in summer.

In its habitat this plant has become very scarce mostly as a result of habitat loss.


Pleurothallis picta – 365 days of orchids – day 1027

Our third cloud forests miniature of the week is Pleurothallis picta.

The species is widely distributed across South and Central America. The 2mm wide flowers are relatively large for the plant and sprays of up to six flowers all open together. Plants flower on and off throughout the year.

The plant grows in wet montane forest up to 2100m and so enjoys growing mounted in Cool Americas in shade and with daily watering. Very small species like this do best for us mounted as moss is less likely to out compete the plant than if potted.