Psygmorchis pusilla – 365 days of orchids – day 1434

We have the spectacular Psygmorchid pusilla flowering again – this seedling about three months out of flask. This species is a large flowered miniature twig epiphyte from Central America. The plant here is 2.5cm high with a 2cm bright yellow flower.

This is a species we have seen growing in Guatemala and Belize in hot dryish lowland forest on thin branches and twigs. The photo below was taken in Guatemala where the plant was growing and flowering near Yaxha in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve.

All the plants we have seen in the wild have been small and in cultivation we find the species can be short lived but profusely flowering on short spikes that produce lots of flowers successively. The species was previously called Oncidium pusilla.


Cattleya pumila – 365 days of orchids – day 1433

Cattleya pumila has made its seasonal appearance as the weather outside turns wintery again. The seasons are a wonderful thing and how lovely it is to have friends like this species who flowers come to visit every year – lockdown or no lockdown!

This is a small growing but large flowered species from Brazil and it always causes some excitement when it comes into flower each autumn. We have several clones and all have been grown from seed. The species is native to humid coastal forests in the Mata Atlantica, Eastern Brazil. The species grows as an epiphyte from 600m-1300m altitude which suggests it can cope with wide range of temperatures but we find it does best in our Cool Americas section (Min 12C) where we water it throughout the year.

We have tried the species mounted and in pots and for us it does much better when mounted.


Thanks to Bournemouth Orchid Society for inviting us to talk

We have just had a lovely Zoom talk with Bournemouth Orchid Society – lovely to see everyone and share stories of our expeditions to Sarawak. Well done to Tallis for giving half the talk too.

If your society would like a zoom from the orchid project, do let us know.

Don’t forget that our next Zoom is Orchid Christmas – open to all on 3rd December 6.30 – 7.30 join with this zoom link


Restrepia striata (unusual form with split synsepal and anthocyanin pigment) – 365 days of orchids – day 1432

Restrepia striata is a wonderfully floriferous and straight forward species to grow in a small space. This specimen in a 10cm basket has been in flower for two weeks and has lots of buds to come.

We have several forms of Restrepia striata and this one is notable for its very red leaves and deeply coloured flowers with a clearly split synsepal (made from two joined lateral sepals) at the base of the flower. The red colour of the leaves (and darker flowers) are due to a natural pigment called anthocyanin. This pigment responds to ultraviolet light levels and gives ‘sun tan’ in many orchid leaves in a similar way to the pigment melanin in our skin. It is also responsible for some orchids producing much brighter stronger pink and red colours in summer flowers than winter ones. Different species and different clones produce more anthocyanin in their leaves – something to look out for in your own orchid collection.

Restrepia striata is native to South America where it is found from Colombia to Peru in wet forest from 1200-3000m. We find this species straight forward in cultivation as it seems tolerant of a wide range of light levels and temperatures. We grow it in Cool Americas and enjoy flowers throughout the winter months.



Thoughts on resting orchids and winter growing

This is a photo taken today of one of our young plants of Epidendrum centrapetalum which shows its very active root growth to match its top growth which got me thinking about winter and resting orchids.

It my opinion there are four kinds of orchid species at this time of year.

  1. Orchid that come from strongly seasonal climates with dry cooler winters. e.g. Dendrobium aphyllum, Coelogyne cristata
  2. Orchids that come from strongly seasonal climates with warm dry winters e.g. Thunia alba
  3. Orchids that come from cool climates without strong seasonal differences
  4. Orchids that come from warm climates without strong seasonal differences

This sounds like a nightmare for anyone growing a mixed collection but usefully your plants will give you clues to their preference.

Any plants that are clearly in active growth now with long green root tips and growths are not from winter dry habitats – examples are most of our pleurothallis, masdevallias and other species from year round cloud forests – many of these species positively love our winters with even cool temperatures and none of the summer heat stress.

Seasonal plants tend to do all their growing in the summer – almost all of our cattleya species – they now have mature growths and are thinking about flowering (any time from now until April) and then it will be rapid growth time again in the summer. Many of our dendrobiums are similar – our Dendrobium aphyllum plants are losing their leaves. Dendrobium densiflorum plants have all made up their new bulbs and are now sitting, waiting to flower in late spring. Some of our seasonal plants are already losing their leaves so that they can sit out a really dry period – stenoglottis species, Calanthe vestita and Thunia alba for example.

As regulars will know our greenhouse sections are divided geographically but not down to the minutiae of micromate.

In our cool Americas section most species keep growing all winter apart from a few species from particularly dry winter habitats – Cuitlauziana pendula for instance.

In Cool Asia all the plants have something of a winter rest especially with the heating rarely coming on (minimum 7-10C) but these cool habitats tend to have frequent mists and even rain in the dry season so do not let bulbs shrivel.

Warm Asia ia a challenge as some plants from near the equator (such as plants from our recently visited Sarawak) experience very little seasonal difference in the year, while others (such as plants from the Himalayas) have a dramatically different climate summer and winter. We move many of the seasonal plants to the roof of Cool Asia or Coll Americas for a dry cool three months to make management easier.

Warm Americas is similar with some plants wanting to keep growing while many rest – again using the roof for resting plants naturally keeps them dryer, and brighter to mimic deciduous forests.

Good luck with your own plant this winter – more tips at the Orchid Christmas festival on Dec 3rd – Zoom link at 6.30pm