WSBEorchids

365 days of orchids – day 203 – Aerangis arachnopus

  

This Aerangis species comes from Central Africa where it grows in evergreen forest from 400-1000m. This indicates that the species enjoys warm shaded conditions and so we grow it in Warm Asia with additional shade in the summer.

In common with most Aerangis species is this plant is pollinated by moths and has a long spur containing nectar showing a specialist relationship with long tongued Hawk Moths.

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365 days of orchids – day 121 – Vanda coerulea

This wonderful species from North East India through to Thailand is one of the ones that stops visitors in their tracks with its large blue/purple flowers and intricate patterning. Unfortunately the attractiveness of the species has caused it to become very rare in the wild and it is designated as CITES appendix 1 to help protect surviving populations. It is widely grown from seed although nurseries tend to focus on large round flowered clones (like ours) for propagation rather than embracing the natural diversity within the species.

The plant is native to deciduous monsoon forest from 800 to 1700m which means it prefers cooler temperatures than most large growing lowland Vandas although selective breeding has tended to focus on plants that tolerate warmer conditions to suit commercial orchid production. We grow our plants in Warm Asia where they do very well and this plant that has been with us for about ten years is now two meters tall.

This summer it has four spikes, three from the main stem and one from a side shoot. The plant enjoys dry roots between watering and our plant is ‘in’ a 4 inch basket! Actyually its roots just hand down (about 1m) and watering is by daily spraying of the roots.

 

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Workshop week – Bristol University Botanic Gardens

On Tuesday we had the pleasure of a visit from Bristol University Botanic Garden staff, Claire, Vicki and Pat. Pat is the horticultural trainee and Claire on an apprenticeship. The orchid project team gave whistle stop training in everything orchid including laboratory propagation (seed sowing and re-plating) pollinating to produce seed, and all aspects of successful orchid culture.

We are delighted to continue work with our partners at the Bristol University Botanic Garden and have lots of plans for initiatives next year around pollination and orchids.

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365 days of orchids – day 201 – Stanhopea graveolens

Stanhopeas are a highpoint in our summer greenhouse with their wonderfully fragrant large flowers. The flowers last for a few days but while they are out they are magnificent.

Stanhopes graveolens is a Central American species. We have seen related species in Costa Rica growing in wet evergreen forest around 1000m. This gives something of a challenge in cultivation as the plants must be in baskets so that the downward growing flower spikes emerge safely but baskets easily dry out especially when hung up high in the roof. Our solution is to hand the plants relatively low down in the greenhouse – at around bench hight – so that they are well watered and then hang them up higher when they flower so that the flowers are at nose height.

The wonderful scents are to attract euglossine bees (as do Gongoras). The males collect the perfume oils from the flowers and then use them in their display to attract females.

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365 days of orchids – day 200 – Brassavola cucullata

This terete leaved species is found through Central America and northern South America. We have seen it growing and flowering in Guatemala where it was growing in dryish lowland forest near the ancient Mayan city of Yaxha. The plant below was flowering on the edge of a small cliff south of Laguna Yaxha attached to a fallen branch.

A nearby tree had been blown horizontal by hurricanes and so hung over the cliff with several seedlings of Brassavola cucullata growing along its trunk.

We find that the species grows best mounted or in baskets of open bark in good light in our Warm Americas section. The species is night scented and pollinated by moths.

 

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