This small growing species is new to 365 days of Orchids. The charming little flowers are produced in groups from short spikes on the plants which grows like a very small Vanda.
We have seen Gastrochilus calceolaris flowering in Sikkim at Tinkitam where is grows amongst Cymbidium devonianum and Coelogyne cristata as an epiphyte in large mossy trees at 2000m. It is actually found across a really wide range from the Himalayas through South East Asia, the Philippines and Borneo, and from 230m in warm forests to 2300m and cool forest. We grow our plant in our warm Asia section where it seems very happy in shade and watered all year, but in a basket of open compost as it seems to resent getting soggy.
Bulbophyllum stenobulbon is found through South East Asia and as far west as Assam. It produces masses of quite small flowers from the base of new and old pseudobulbs and so gives a lovely display. It also tends to flower twice a year, once in the winter and once in the summer, making it a very worthwhile species to grow.
It is reported to grow as a lithophyte in moss from 500-800m altitude in warm forest but we find that it is not fussy about temperature and grows happily in Warm Asia (min 18C, Cool Asia (min 10C) or Cool Americas (min 12C) but it does seem fussy about light preferring to grow in shade and with plenty of water reflecting its microhabitat.
We grow the species in pots and, even better, mounted as it does tend to straggle out of its pots and root in surrounding pots.
Each time a gongora species opens we have a little argument about whether this one is our favourite. Well, today this is our favourite.This Gongora species Gongora tracyana is a really lovely plant with masses of small flowers on long spikes. This plant currently has two spikes each 80 Cm long and more than 50 flowers (when the second spike opens too) each 2cm across. The flowers are fragrant and seem relatively long lasting (just over a week).
We grow all of our Gongoras warm to suit the natural environment that for this species is wet lowland forests in Panama and South America. All our gongoras are in baskets to allow the development of long pendulous flower spikes but this does mean that we need to water heavily to keep plants sufficiently damp.
Warm Americas is a very fragrant place this morning thanks to Prosthechea aemula.
Prosthechea aemula is a vigorous grower with 15cm pseudobulbs and 25cm long dark green leaves produced each summer and long lasting sprays of up to nine flowers from each pseudobulb in early spring. Plants soon form specimens with our largest plant (shown above) having eight flower spikes this January.
This species is native to warm, wet forests over a wide range through Central and South America and we find it thrives in our Warm Americas section (min 15C) especially in baskets where plants can have heavy watering but excellent drainage.
Kate and Izzy say the flowers smell of Play-doh – I have checked and Hasbro (who make Play-Doh) formally describe [the trademarked scent] as a unique scent formed through the combination of a sweet, slightly musky, vanilla-like fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, and the natural smell of a salted, wheat-based dough,”. Or they could say it smells of Prosthechea aemula!!!
The School Greenhouse was a lovely place to be yesterday lunchtime with the winter sun streaming in from the south. We are busy moving some of our plants that have been resting, in cooler sections, back to their warmer homes now that spring is kicking in. While moving plants around we realised that this lovely Brazilian species has been flowering for weeks without us noticing!
Dryadella edwalii is a relative of Masdevallia is native to the Mata Atlantica cloud forests of Eastern Brazil. Students recorded Dryadella species on our 2005 expedition to Brazil on their trek up to Velutina ridge (the habitat of Cattleya velutina)
The dryadellas were growing on the lower trunks of stunted trees in elfin forest near a ridge at around 1200m altitude. The trees had a number of orchids on them including maxillaria species and pleurothallis species, and the dryadellas were growing below these other orchids and some of them growing very low light as shown in the photos taken in Brazil (Below).
We find plants do best for us mounted but then grown in heavy shade on a north facing wall and sprayed daily. The flowers are long lasting and small can produce a lot of flowers which stand well clear of the leaves but you need to keep your eyes open for the subtle flowers appearing between the leaves.