365 Days of Orchids-Day 293-Cattleya guttata


This orchid is native to Brazil and can be found in Sao Paulo near the coast. It grows as an epiphyte with warm wetter summers and dryer winters. The plant does all its growing with us between April and September and we water and feed heavily during this period. For the rest of the year we keep the plant dryer but never let it shrivel.

It comes into flower in autumn and the blooms last 8 weeks. This species of Cattleya has longer bulbs than any of the other Cattleya’s that we have as the bulbs are a meter long. With two flower spikes each with ten flowers this year, it makes a stately plant. This is the coerulea variety which has a more blue /purple lip and lighter petals than most clones but this photograph taken today makes the lip look a more normal pink colour. We grow this orchid in our Warm Americas section with a minimum of 15 degrees C.


A level students set up forty germination experiments

 (Megan, Olivia and Chloe in the growth room)

All of the forty Year 13 students studying A level Applied Science have set up their own germination tests in the Mendip BioScience Labs this week.

The students visited our partner scientists at the Jodrell Laboratories at Kew in July and have applied their learning from the visit to design their own investigations to study optimum germination conditions in-vitro for a range of tropical and temperate orchid species.

Each student has set up a series of test samples to investigate variables including pH, nutrient concentration, agar concentration or light level, and sown orchid seed in each of their samples for analysis under the microscope in three months time. Results will be published in February – watch this space.


365 days of orchids – day 292 – Aerangis elisii


This is a robust Aerangis species from Central and Eastern Madagascar with thick waxy flowers and a long spur. We grow the species hanging in the roof of Warm Asia although it’s natural habitat in woodland from 1100-1400m suggests it could grow cooler.

We spray the basket daily but this gives plenty of time for it to dry out between waterings.

The flower spike on this species is very slow growing. The spike emerged in the spring and we have been watching it eagerly as this is the plant’s first flowering. On several occasions we thought the spike was aborting as its growing tip was generally a pink/brown colour and this colour is also strongly present on the back of the flowers and the spur. This may be an evolved strategy to deter animals from eating the tender growing tips and flower buds.


Don’t miss Orchid Christmas – December 13th 2017

Today we dusted down our rather naff Christmas trees and started to plan Orchid Christmas 2017. For anyone who has not been before, Orchid Christmas is an evening of orchids, mince pies, mulled wine and Christmas music and one of our favourite evenings of the year.

This year Orchid Christmas will be on December 13th from 6pm until 9pm and we are planning all sorts of great activities such as a Chrsitmas orchid treasure hunt for adults and children, orchid sales of course, cards, paintings, a repotting service, orchid seedling gifts – in fact everything you could want on a December evening.  Everyone is welcome – adults £2, under 18s £1 entry includes a free drink and cake.


365 days of orchids – day 291 – Pleurothallis hypnicola

365 days has featured many of our miniature pleurothallis species. This one, with a great name, is native to the Mata Atlantica cloud forests of Brazil. It has relatively large flowers for compared to similar species such as Pleurothallis grobyi (day 72).

We find this and simiar species do well mounted, potted or in small baskets. Plants enjoy shade and cool temperatures and multiply well when happy. Plants can be divided when repotted and we try to keep clumps together with at least three leaves and these grow away quickly and flower the next year.