365 days of Orchids – day 82 – Lepanthopsis astrophora

You will have noticed a lot of miniature orchids in 365 Days of Orchids but this one really stands out. Lepanthopsis astrophora is native to Venezuela where it grows in mossy cloud forest with single leaves 1cm long on short stems. Each spring it throws out masses of flower spikes from the leaf axils and these spikes carry successively opening tiny purple flowers, each a perfect purple star (hence the name astrophora) and the overall effect is of a cloud of purple dots around the plant.

All of the plants at Writhlington originate from one purchased in about 1995. This plant grew into a great specimen winning a CCC (Cultural certificate) from the RHS in 2006 before being split to produce many hundreds of plants.  The species proved easy to propagate either by division or from keikis but we always grow the plant mounted as any in pots soon get out competed by moss and die.

We find that the species enjoys being kept wet and shady with many growing happily on our north facing wall. The moss growing on the mount of the plant photographed below shows the conditions we provide although the moss will be pulled off if it starts to grow too big.


365 days of Orchids – Day 81 – Dendrobium pugioniforme

Dendrobium pugioniforme is a remarkable orchid from Australia with thick pointed leaves produces along long pendulous stems. The flowers begin to appear on our plant in early March and the last ones go over at the end of April.

We grow our plant mounted on a largish piece of cork bark but the plant has grown far beyond the mount and now hangs down over a metre. We spray the plant daily and (the photo above was just after watering) and hang it up where it gets good light in our Cool Asia section.

The photo below shows the whole plant (well, most of it!)


365 days of orchids – day 80 – Pleurothallis ruscifolia

This is an orchid we found growing abundantly in cool wet forest in Costa Roca on the Poas volcano. It is a medium sized plant that produces masses of flowers at the junction of stalk and leaf. The photo above was taken in Costa Rica by one of the students on our 2005 expedition and shows how the flowers shine out when caught in a shaft of sunlight breaking through the lush canopy above.

  • We grow the species mounted and in pots in Cool Americas and keep it watered all year to reflect the climate it has evolved for. Read More »


365 days of orchids – day 79 – Trichoglottis pusilla

This miniature orchid is native to Java where it gorws in rain forest from 1000 to 2000m altitude. It is a true miniature with a leaf span of 5cm but large dramatic flowers which hang down from the plant. Pusilla means tiny and so this is the tiny Trichoglottis.

We grow this species mounted in Warm Asia where it lives high up but shaded on a mesh frame that allows good air movement but easy spraying with rain water and feed every day. Since mounting it is developing the extensive root system typical of plants evolved for habitats with seasonal dry periods where most of the mass of the plants is roots rather than leaves and so loss of water through transpiration is kept to a minimum.


Count down to the RHS International Orchid Show March 28th-30th

It is only nine days to the RHS London orchid show and the team will be spending the next few days doing last minute preparations, getting display plants ready for transport, labelling sales plants and developing our design plan to suit the plants we have available. One of the exciting things about a big show is that we never know precisely which plants we will have ready on the day.

Last year we had a great show and won our 8th RHS Gold Medal, with the 9th at Hampton Court Flower Show we are now just one away from a 10th RHS Gold – could this be the show? Follow our preparations here to find out.

 Last year’s display – how will this year’s compare?