Pleurothallis ruscifolia – 365 days of orchids – day 1256

Today we are transported to the forested slopes of the Poaz volcano in Costa Rica by this lovely Pleurothallis species.

Pleurothallis ruscifolia is a medium sized plant that produces clusters of small creamy yellow flowers several times during the year.We found the species growing abundantly in cool wet forest in Costa Rica on the Poas volcano at an altitude of around 1400m. The photo below was taken in Costa Rica by one of the students on our 2005 expedition and shows how the flowers shine out when caught in a shaft of sunlight breaking through the lush canopy above.

Most of the plants we saw were growing on the trunks or lower branches of large evergreen trees and so spent much of their time in deep shade. We visited Costa Rica in July and found that on Poas it rained heavily every day. The rain usually arrived at about 12.30 and continued until about 4pm. We grow the species mounted and in pots in Cool Americas and keep it watered all year to reflect the climate it has evolved for but don’t stick rigidly to the Costa Rican timings for watering each day.

We are adding plants of this species  to the shop today.


Masdevallia coriacea – 365 days of orchids – day 1255

This luscious flower belongs to Masdevallia coriacea. The species is a small species but a robust grower that produces long lasting flowers over a long period.

The species is found in cool forests from 2200 to 3700m altitude in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. There is considerable variation in flower markings with flowers from white to dark cream and few dotted red stripes to bold thick stripes – all are lovely.

We grow plants in pots and mounted and as long as they are kept well watered we have few problems. (plants below)

We grow plants in our Cool Americas section with our other Masdevallias with a winter minimum of 12C, shade in the summer and lots of ventilation.

We have added three more plants to our shop.



Coelogyne asperata – 365 days of orchids – day 1254

Today we have another of the species we have been fortunate to see in the forests of Sarawak. Coelogyne asperata is a wonderful large growing Coelogyne species found from Malaysia to New Guinea and the Philippines. The stiff ridged leaves are 90cm long on top of stout pseudobulbs and the dramatic 8cm flowers are produced on arching spikes from the centre of the new growths in summer.

Last year, Otto noticed that the flowers look as if they have been dusted in cocoa powder and they do bring to mind a cappuccino. Our plant has three spikes and the several spikes and will look amazing for over a month.

The plants we saw in Sarawak were very similar to our own plant but the flowers were a sulfur yellow rather than the creamy white of our plant. It would be interesting to know how mich of regional variation there is over its wide natural range.


The species grows in warm forests in shade up to 2000m and really seems to enjoy growing warm and wet in our Warm Asia section.

There is a lovely record of a plant in Borneo being pollinated by a large flower beetle here and as mentioned it does have a sweet spicy smell.

This is certainly not an orchid for a small windowsill but it has a grand elegance that warrants the space it occupies in our greenhouse.


Wild flowers on a Dorset Cliff

We ventured down to the Dorset Coast today for a socially distanced walk in some our favourite wild flower habitat on Portland. Sightings included this lovely Pyramidal orchid (anacamptis pyramidalis) with the first few flowers open and the classic pyramid flower spike shape.

This beautiful saprophyte (a parasitic plant with no chlorophyll that feeds on a plant or fungal host) – Ivy Broomrape (Orobanche hederae) often mistaken for an orchid. You can see the host ivy all around the broomrape.

My favourite native rose species, Burnet Rose (Rosa pimpinellifolia) most easily found on cliffs and sand dunes. Its mass of large white flowers in May and June are followed by large black hips. It also makes a fantastic garden plant.

…and Stinking Iris (Iris foetidissima) a horrid name for a lovely plant. Common on Dorset cliffs, woodlands and damp places.

It was also lovely to see the sea.


Masdevallia rolfeana – 365 days of orchids – day 1253

Our masdevallia rolfeana plants are looking a real picture this week. The majority of Masdevallias produce single flowers like Masdevallia rolfeana but, as you can see, a mature plant produces masses of flowers.

Masdevallia rolfeana is native to Central America and we have seen it in Costa Rica growing on the trunks and lower branches of trees in dense forest at 1200m on the slopes of the Poas Volcano (see photo below) in our schools expeditions to this wonderfully bio-rich country.

The photo shows the mossy trunk that was covered in Masdevallias. The temperatures here go down to a minimum of around 12C with no distinct dry season. We grow the species both mounted, like the plant at the top which won Best Masdevallia at the Malvern Show in 2018, in baskets and in pots. We spray plants daily.

We are sometimes asked about black spots that appear on Masdevallia leaves and it is interesting to note that wild plants have these spots on older leaves too. One of the reasons for black spots in our greenhouse is excessively high temperatures causing heat stress in the leaves so don’t forget to shade plants and keep them well watered when the weather gets in the summer.