365 days of orchids – day 560 – Renanthera imschootiana


We have now had several weeks of very hot weather and this is not enjoyed by some of our cool mountain orchids. Renathera imshcootiana on the other hand is loving the sun and the warmth.

This amazing red relative of Vanda is unfortunately one of the orchid species threatened by the trade in unsustainable wild collection. It is native to the Eastern Himalayas where it grows in warm evergreen forest along rivers from 500 to 1000m. Fortunately like most tropical epiphytic orchids it is easy to grow from seed to make the species common in cultivation and so reduce the pressure for wild collection.

The species grows as a single stem with stiff 15cm alternate leaves making a very stately plant with the most dramatic red flowers (the photographs do not do the colour justice) on long branched spikes.

The flowers are long lasting and this plant has been blooming since early June when it won an award at the Malvern Show.


365 days of orchids – day 559 – Cymbidium erythrostylum

Most of our cymbidium species flower in the autumn and spring but this species is an exception flowering from July until September.

This small growing cymbidium is native to Vietnam where it grows in cool forests at around 1500m. We find this species very straight forward and reliable with the advantage of flowering relatively quickly from seed. The plant shown in the photograph flowered three years out of flask and is now carrying a seed pod for the next generation. It also won best Cymbidium at our recent Orchid Festival.

The species is quite variable in the size of the flower and the colour of the lip striping which varies from deep red to scarlet/orange. The white of the flowers is very white and always attracts attention.

We have recently found that Cymbidium erythrostylum makes a great parent with the flowering of our hybrid between this species and Cymbidium tigrinum (hybrid shown below)


365 days of orchids – day 558 – Pleurothallis convallaria

This species is new to 365 days and has dramatic hairy flowers 5mm across. Flowers are dark red and the hairs are white.

The species is native to elfin forest (dwarf forests on misty ridges that is usually very rich in epiphytes) in Central America and it seems at home in a basket in Cool Americas where we keep plants well watered all year.


365 days of orchids – day 557 – Coelogyne fragrans

This large flowered Coelogyne is native to Papua New Guinea where it is reported in montane forests from 100 to 2000m which suggests it can thrive in a wide range of temperatures.

We find that plants do best in our Cool Asia section (min 10C) where plants flower profusely from the developing new growths in early summer.

Some related species are sequential with their flowering while this species produces 2-4 flowers per spike with all the flowers opening together and giving a great display. We find that plants enjoy really heavy watering as the growths develop over the summer.


365 days of orchids – day 556 – Pleurothallis sarracenia

This is a small growing species from the Mata Atlantica, Brazil with 1cm long leaves that hug the bark it grows on and unusual dark purple flowers with just a tiny opening for the pollinating ant to enter the flower.

We find plants do well mounted in a shady spot in Cool Americas where we water them throughout the year. We haven’t yet identified what the ants find attractive about the flower and have never seen a british ant visiting flowers so perhaps the reward is specific to the local Brazilian ants.

Hi Ed here, I wanted to add some information about ants especially as this week was the nuptial flights for Lasius Niger (the black European garden ant) , as I have caught some queen ants I have some pictures of them.

I have only had these ones for a day and one of them has started laying eggs this means I have the perfect conditions for them and they are happy.

Ants are closely related to bees and wasps. they are in the family of Formicidae as they all have a queen, except the species Paraponera clavata (the asian bullet ant). instead of the asian bullet ants having a queen they find a dominant ant this ant acts as a queen. the newly found queen rips the reproduction organs so their is no other possible egg laying female ant, they even do it to the larvae. not much is known about this species of ant apart from what i have written here.

scientists think that ants evolved from wasps because almost all male ants look like waspsImage result for male ant