I am surprised to find that we have never featured this large flowered coelogyne on 365 days – it is long overdue.
Coelogyne lawrenceana is a warm growing species from the Himalayas through to Vietnam. We have seen related species in Laos as terrestrials and epiphytes usually growing in shade with luch green leaves and large pseudobulbs. The 10cm wide flowers are produces successively on spikes from the top of the bulbs giving months of flowering. The lip of the species is particularly beautiful with unusual raised crests and nobbles.
We grow the species in our Warm Asia section and find that the secret to good flowering is feeding and watering plants very well during the summer. If plants are kept too dry. they produce smaller bulbs that do not flower.
This large flowered, dramatic Dendrobium (the pseudobulbs are now over 1m in length) is native to the Eastern Himalayas from Assam through China, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. We find it does best grown warm (we give it a minimum of 16C) where it seems to flower well without a marked rest period. The long pseudobulbs are particularly attractive with their covering of dark hairs. Flowers are produced in groups from the older pseudobulbs and so as the plant matures the flower count keeps increasing.
On our expeditions to Laos we have found its habitat in evergreen forest with hot wet summers and dryer cooler winters although dew is significant in the dry season leaving the forest damp every morning. It grows amongst the white Rhododendron lyi which it mimics, and is pollinated by a large bumble bee (Bombus eximius) that is hoping it is a rhododendron flower full of nectar. The orchid flowers before the rhododendron as bees that have seen both are not so easily fooled. The research, which I first read in the nineteen eighties, is really thorough and left a strong impression on a younger me.
(reference – Kjellsson, Gösta & Rasmussen, Finn & Dupuy, David. (1985). Pollination of Dendrobium infundibulum, Cymbidium insigne (Orchidaceae) and Rhododendron lyi (Ericaceae) by Bombus eximius (Apidae) in Thailand: a possible case of floral mimicry. Journal of Tropical Ecology. 1. 289 – 302.)
The species flowers several times each year and the individual flowers, although looking papery, last for two months.
This miniature species from Madagascar is new to 365 days of Orchids and is a first flowering seedling grown as a house plant. Aerangis fastuosa means ‘the magnificent aerangis’ refering to the very large flowers for the very small plant – the rosette is just 7cm across. As you can just see in the side on photo, the flower has a very long spur that contains the nectar. This feature is shared with most Aerangis and is an adaption for pollination by long tongued hawk moths.
The species is endemic to Madagascar and is found as a twig epiphyte in evergreen forest from 1000 to 1500m altitude. The plant shown is growing in my dining room 1m back from a large east facing window where it experiences good light but no direct sunlight. In Africa we have found a number of smaller aerangis species growing in deep shade and this habit makes them well suited to indoor culture. The thermostat on our heating is set at 18C which seems to suit this species perfectly. The p[lant is growing in course bark and is watered once of twice a week with rainwater (and added weak feed). The small coffee cup has holes drilled in its base for drainage.
For a second day running we have a small growing Masdevallia and this one is astonishing. Several Masdevallia species have very bright flowers but M. lucernula must be our brightest species and with its scarlet tubular flowers positively glowing against its dark green leaves.
The name means little lantern which a great name to reference the shape and the colour of the flowers.
Masdevallia lucernula is found in very cool Peruvian cloud forests at around 2100m where it is pollinated by humming birds. We find the species challenging to grow well as it hates high temperatures and loses leaves every summer. It looks great at this time of year with fresh winter growth. The top photo shows this year with seven flowers and buds which is a good progress on last year.
Today we have another small growing orchid species.
Masdevallia dynastes is a very floriferous species endemic to cloud forests in Ecuador from 1400-2800m altitude. The first of our plants are flowering this week which is a month earlier than usual but we will hopefully still have plants in flower for the London Show in early April.
We find the species enjoys a damp spot but not too shady where it then multiplies quickly. The leaves are 4cm long and the 1cm flowers are held clear of the leaves.
We grow the species in our Cool Americas section with a minimum of 12C