Masdevalia setacea – 365 days of orchids – day 785

One of our absolute favourite masdevallias is this very large flowered species found from Colombia to Peru.

This remarkable Masdevallia has flowers considerably larger than the plant (as long as you include the long yellow tails to the sepals which make the flower 14cm from top to bottom) For us it flowers irregularly throughout the year which probably reflects the even conditions it finds in its cloud forest home from 1400-2400m altitude.

From photographs it appears that the species is highly variable and has many colour forms so perhaps we should be on the look out for different clones.

We like to grow this species mounted on cork bark as it shows off the large flowers very well and the plant did not worry to much about the hot conditions last summer that might suggest it would prefer a pot.


Dendrobium melaleucaphyllum – 365 days of orchids – day 784

This delightful little species is bursting into flower again. As it flowers from old and new pseudobulbs together it gives a fantastic display of its small red, green, brown and white flowers.

This small growing dendrobium comes from Australia where it grows as an epiphyte in humid ravines and gullies in Queensland and New South Wales.

We grow the species mounted as plants are very pendulous and find that it enjoys a shaded and cool environment (Cool Asia or Cool Americas in our greenhouses) with a little less water in the winter but not a prolonged dry period.

The Australian dendrobiums give wonderful variety on a theme and we find many species very easy to grow. This little species is quite closely to the massive Dendrobium speciosum we featured last month which is still in flower.


Masdevallia discolor – 365 days of orchids – day 783


Our Cool Americas section has lots of species in flower this week and as well as the giant Laelia superbiens featured yesterday there are some great Masdevalllia species.

Masdevallia discolor has not featured on 365 days before and is a small growing species from Colombian cloud forests between 2400 and 2800m altitude. Leaves are 5cm long and the flowers are large in comparison. We find that flowers are produced sporadically throughout the year. In common with a number of masdevallias the dark orange colour on the flower is from dark hairs on the yellow sepals making the flowers well worth a close inspection with a magnifying glass.

We grow the species in a basket in a shaded spot and keep it well watered all year.



Laelia superbiens – 365 days of orchids – day 782

Today’s orchid is a real monster of a plant, as demonstrated by our students, and it is impossible to move either of our large plants our of the greenhouse to go to a show.

The species is found in Mexico and central America as an epiphyte in open Oak forests or a terrestrial on cliffs. It grows at around 1200-1500m altitude and so is cool growing and two gigantic plants fill the far end of our Cool Americas section. Each plant is 2m across and this year we have a total of nine 2m flower stems each topped with a group of 10 to 15 large and beautiful flowers.

The pseudobulbs are also enormous with thick leathery leaves.

The species is closely related to the much smaller Laelia anceps (see day 359) and in the wild there are natural hybrids between the two species. We remade this natural hybrid and it took twelve years for the first plant to flower from seed. (below)

The hybrid is very much intermediate between the parents with a long flower spike and large flowers with very anceps patals but a very superbiens lip.  It has a single leaf like anceps and size wise is very much half way between the two parents – so still very big!

I don’t know what you think, and perhaps we are biased but we still prefer the two parent species.

Pod parent – Laelia anceps:

Pollen parent – Laelia superbiens 


Scaphyglottis pulchella – 365 days of orchids – day 781

We have featured lots of weird and wonderful orchids this month but today we have a rather more subtle species.

This rather unusual orchid is native to Costa Rica and Panama. It has thin leaves on top of long thin pseudobulbs that climb up the mount on a long rhizome. The single flowers come from the top of mature bulbs and are long lasting. The effect is rather elegant.

The species is found in forests up to 1350m and sand it seems to enjoy a shaded spot in our Cool Americas section.

Costa Rica and Panama have an extraordinary diversity of orchids and we have spent spectacular times amongst this diversity in the Orchid Project’s visits to Central America.