365 days of orchids – day 53 – Dendrobium speciosum

This magnificent orchid is native to Australia. Its aboriginal name is “Tar-Beri” and it is also known as the “Rock Lily”. When in flower it is one of our largest orchids measuring nearly 2m across with many hundred lovely fragrant flowers each about 2cm across. It is one of those orchids that stops you in your tracks and must be a fantastic sight in the wild where it grows on rocks in open forest in New South Wales and Victoria.

Across its range this species shows considerable variation in the size and colour of flowers. We have this yellow clone as well as two white flowered clones, one large growing and one much smaller.

The pseudobulbs of this species are huge – 50cm high and with a diameter of 5cm at the base – and they repeat flower over a few years which helps to provide the fantastic display in a year when it decides to flower profusely. Interestingly this plant didn’t flower at all last year and seems to enjoy a two year growing cycle. We grow the plant in a large wire basket that originally held moss and bark but is now solid with roots. It hangs up in Cool Asia with a minimum winter temperature of 10C. Do come to the South West Orchid Show to see this plant in its full glory.



365 days of orchids – day 52 – Cattleya trianae

Cattleya trianae is the national flower of Colombia and is endemic to that country. In our greenhouses it always flowers in February where its very large flowers always create a stir. The plant shown is our largest specimen and is the typical form with light pink petals and sepals with a darker lip. The lip colour changes to yellow up inside the lip presumably to help the pollinating bee locate its reward.

We have another clone labelled Cattleya trianae ‘alba’ which is yellow and white apart from a slight pink edge to the lip (see below)

We grow all our Cattleya trianaes in baskets filled with a course bark and no moss. The plants produce masses of roots and we keep them just damp in the winter but much wetter when in summer growth. We hang the baskets up in Warm Americas where they get lots of light (the auto shading is activated at 500 Whatts/ square metre)

The natural habitat for this species is in open forests in the Colombian mountains at around 1000m altitude so a minimum of 15C as it gets in Warm Americas is about right.

Don’t forget, you can see this plant at the West Of England Orchid Show (this Saturday West Monkton village hall).


365 days of orchids – day 51 – Masdevallia pandurilabia

This cute Masdevallia from Peru is named after the lute shaped lip (its actually rather small so a teeny weeny lute) The thing we like more is the dramatic spotting and the flowers crossed legs (tails) which give it an unusually relaxed look.

Masdevallia pandurilabia comes from really cool high altitude cloud forest above 2600m altitude and loves it cool and moist with good air movement. Some species from similar habitats are a challenge in a greenhouse but this species seems to be a vigorous grower and as you can see from the photo on the left produces lovely glossy leaves too. We grow this species in baskets of bark and moss and give it a minimum of 10C.

It is reported as growing as a terrestrial in leaf litter as well as an epiphyte which may explain the unusually long flower stem for a flower of this size.


South West Orchid Show – Feb 25th – A chance to vote live for this weeks orchid of the week

Next Saturday our plants will be displayed at the South West Orchid Show (25th Feb) at the village hall, Monkton Heathfield Nr Taunton TA2 8NE 10:30 am – 4:00 pm.

This is always the first Society show we attend each year. We won’t have a sales table this year, just a display, but for fans of 365 days of orchids it will be a chance to see all of this weeks orchids close up before voting. Why not come along.