Orchids don’t need to have large flamboyant flowers to be a valued part of a collection and Pleurothallis stenosepala is a modest little orchid with the delightful attributes of being easy to grow, quick to propagate and blooming throughout the year.
Pleurothallis stenosepala is native to wet forests all down the Andes from Venezuela to Peru and is found at altitudes from 1100-2600m. We grow plants in our Cool Americas section where it thrives in small pots, baskets and mounted. It produces attractive heart shaped leaves up to 7cm long and these produce countless successive flowers at the leaf axils – sometimes in pairs as in the first of today’s photographs.
Plants freely produce keikis on older leaves that can easily be separated as new plants. As a result this is one of the first species we give to new students joining the orchid project and many have plants growing well on their windowsills at home. We have to keep an eye out for plants growing as ‘weeds’ on other orchids where keikis have fallen and made a new home for themselves – what a nice problem to have.
This is one of our orchid species that is always in flower and as a result we don’t always notice it! In fact we haven’t featured the species on 365 days of orchids since 2017 – very unfair of us.
Single large flowers are produces successively for more than a year from long flower spikes and as plants mature they produce several flower spikes.
The species is native to cloud forests from Mexico through Central America to Venezuela. We find the plant undemanding as it produces vigorous roots and seems to cope well with any temperature extremes we suffer in Cool Americas. Although there is never a large flower count the flowers are very attractively covered in hairs and warts that make them well worth a close look.
We promise not to ignore it again 🙂
We know that autumn is here when our Stenoglottis start to flower.
We have two species, Stenoglottis fimbriata that starts to flower in September and Stenoglottis longifolia (below and still in bud) that flowers about a month later.
In Stenoglottis fimbriata the basal rosette of leaves are spotted in purple, unlike Stenoglottis longifolia that has unspotted leaves. The plants here are all first flowering divisions with spikes to 50cm. Mature plants have 80cm spikes with up to 100 flowers (below)
The species comes from Eastern South Africa where it is found growing in moss and humus on rocks, banks and fallen trees in shaded forest and bush from the coast up to 1800m. This is a habitat we have explored around Durban where forest remnants have a distinct wet season and dry season and many plants including Clivia and sundews find a niche on moss covered rocks along with orchids.
We grow the species in our Cool Asia section where it flowers from September to Christmas and then loses its leaves. We then give it a dryish rest until new shoots appear in late February from which time we give steadily increasing water.
It is lovely to see our bench full of Stenoglottis with spikes and flowers appearing (below) we will be offering these online and at our open evening next Monday (4-7pm)
We have a bench filled with small plants of this wonderful orchid thanks to dividing our prize winning (Cultural Commendation from the RHS) specimen below.
Coelogyne ovalis is a cool growing Coelogyne from South East Asia and the Eastern Himalayas. We have seen plants growing on the Bolevan plateau in Southern Laos at around 1200m where they form large clumps in evergreen trees especially along rivers and near waterfalls. We replicate this habitat by growing plants very wet but in free draining bark. The flowers develop in late summer and are sequential from the top of the bulbs. This gives us flowers from September through to Christmas.
It is a very variable species in growth habit but in our collection is distinguished from the very closely related species Coelogyne fimbriata by having larger flowers with relatively smaller side lobes to the lip.
The flowers seem to be very attractive to autumn wasps that presumably enjoy the warmth of the greenhouse too.
Our first public event at the school since 2019 will be next Monday evening from 4pm-7pm.
Do come and join us for an evening of orchids, talks, tours and have a go sessions in our wonderful greenhouses and propagation laboratory.
The event cost £2 entry and everyone will receive a free orchid seedling in a test tube.
There is ample parking on site, follow signs to the orchid project and you will be welcomed by our student volunteers. To keep us all safe we would appreciate it if visitors take a lateral flow test before coming.
If you have any questions please contact us through this website.