WSBEorchids

Pleurothallis truncata – 365 days of orchids – day 1726

Pleurothallis truncata is usually a Christmas orchid with us but has clearly noticed that Santas have appeared in many shops already and is feeling the yule tide spirit in October.

This unusual species produces chains of tiny globular orange flowers that hardly open but give the most wonderful display.

The species is endemic to Ecuador where it grows from 1700m-3000m altutide in cool wet forest. We find the species thrives mounted, in pots and in baskets but if allowed to become too dry produced lots of little plants on the leaves (keikis) rather than flowers.

The species has the delightful habit of flowering when really small (under 10cm high) but over time becomes quite large.

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Restrepia antenifera ‘gigantea’ – 365 days of orchids – day 1725

This week we have been repotting and propagating some of our restrepias including this wonderful South American species.

Restrepia antenifera ‘gigantea’ is our largest growing Restrepia species and it carries enormous (for restrepias) flowers with a 3cm long synsepal. Restrepia antenifera is the type species for the genus and is found in cool forests, usually on trunks, from 1600 to 3500m altitude in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. We also have a smaller clone with flowers just under 2cm long.

We find the species does well in pots, baskets or mounted but can get a little straggly as it grows new plants (keikis) on top of its leaves. This does however make propagation easy.

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Cattleya perrinii – 365 days of orchids – day 1724

October is Cattleya perrinii time in our greenhouse – a chance to appreciate this gorgeous species from Brazil.

Cattleya perrinii is a medium sized plant with flowers 12cm across that are very large for the plant. This lovely orchid is native to the Mata Atlantica coastal forests of eastern Brazil. It is found at around 800m, in habitat we have visited, where it grows as a lithophyte or epiphyte in seasonally dry forest that experiences wet warm summers and cooler dryer winters.

Cattleya perrinii is a medium sized plant with flowers 12cm across that are very large for the plant. This lovely orchid is native to the Mata Atlantica coastal forests of eastern Brazil. It is found at around 800m, in habitat we have visited, where it grows as a lithophyte or epiphyte in seasonally dry forest that experiences wet warm summers and cooler dryer winters.

The flowers are best looked at from above (photos above) as the plant is clearly attracting pollinators that fly over the flowers.

Our plants usually produce between two and four flowers on a strong stem and have a single stiff leaf on each bulb. The natural habitat suggests that plants need intermediate temperatures (min 14C) but we find that plants do well both in Warm Americas (minimum 16C) and Cool Americas (minimum 12C). New growths produce few thick roots and we find that these do best in baskets where there is excellent drainage but we can water heavily in summer. The secret to maintain good flowering is looking after these thick roots and in course bark and a well drained basket they live for several years especially if we take care to remove any ferns that appear.

It is sad to report that this plant has become very scarce in its natural habitat mostly as a result of habitat loss, and today is a good time send our best wishes to our amazing conservation friends in Brazil who are doing all that they can to protect their wonderful diversity.

We have a seed pod on one of our plants that has been maturing for 12 months and will hopefully give us lots of seedlings of this wonderful species in the future.

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Dendrobium aliofolium – 365 days of orchids – day 1723

This is an orchid with lovely fleshy leaves and rather insignificant tiny white flowers.

We have come across a number of orchids related to this species in our visits to the Himalayas in Sikkim, Laos and Sarawak, all with intriguing interlocking fleshy leaves and terminal flowers. Dendrobium aliofolium is the one with the smallest flowers we have found but still an interesting species to grow.

Dendrobium aliofolium is found from Myanmar, across South East Asia, to the Philippines and New Guinea in hot lowland forests where it can become a large plant – although ours is still just 15cm across. Flowers are reported as coming in three colour forms and we have the creamy white flowers with the characteristic bent back sepals and petals.

we find that the species enjoys growing mounted in shade in our Warm Asia section with a spray every day.

 

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Stelis genychila – 365 days of orchids – day 1722

Stelis genychila is one of the highlights of our autumn greenhouse with its unusual large dark flowers.

 

Stelis is a genus closely related to Masdevallias and Pleurothallis. They are not widely grown in collections but the orchid project has been a big fan since exploring the forests of Brazil and Costa Rica where students came across many of these small flowered but very attractive species.

Stelis genychila like most Stelis species has flattish flowers with three larger sepals, forming a triangle, and much smaller petals and lip in the centre. These parts are easier to spot in Stelis genychila than many stelis species as the flowers are rather large and beautifully coloured.

The plant is medium sized for a stelis with leaves about 20cm long and the 30cm flower spikes have two opposite rows of 10-20 flowers. Leaves flower repeatedly over many years and so mature plants produce many spikes. We find that this species is a regular autumn flowerer and have noticed that the flowers open with a grey tone and slowly darken as they mature.

 

 

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