Coelogyne cristata – 365 days of orchids – day 819

Another of our real favourites today.

Coelogyne cristata is a fantastic species from the Himalayas with large white flowers. The lip colour varies from dark orange, through yellow, light yellow and of course pure white. (see below)

The plants are also variable in leaf colour, distance between bulbs, size of flowers and texture of flowers – all good reasons to grow lots of Coelogyne cristatas.

Coelogyne cristata flowering near Tinkitam, Sikkim

We have seen this species in the wild in Sikkim and Darjeeling, India. It grows on trees and rocks at an altitude of around 2000m above sea level. It always grows with thick moss indicating a love for damp conditions. We keep our plants wet in the summer and quite damp in the winter. Its altitude gives cool winters with a minimum around 6-10 0C and so we grow the species both in our Cool Asia section (minimum 10C) and our Warm Temperate section (minimum 6C)

The flowers can easily be damaged by water and so we avoid spraying them with the hose and greatly reduce watering when the flowers are out.


Cattleya intermedia ‘orlata’ – 365 days of orchids – day 818

We start an incredibly busy few weeks for us at the Orchid Project with Cattleya intermedia. This Friday we head for to the Bournemouth Orchid  show for what promises to be a fabulous weekend, and the the RHSLondon Orchid Show is just over two weeks away.

Cattleya intermedia is a highly variable species from Brazilian coastal forests and scrub, up to about 1000m in the coastal mountains. The plant photographed here is one of the ‘orlata’ variation which has a larger shorter lip than the standard form and is a really spectacular orchid.

The species is bifoliate (two leaves on each pseudobulb) and the leaves of this species often have a slightly serrated edge. Flowers are variable in shape and colour (there will be more varieties over the next month or so) as well as being variable in the size of plants. All varieties seem to appreciate growing in a basket with free drainage for the thick roots that soon wrap around the basket in all directions. The species also appreciates lots of sun which is not a surprise as the natural habitat is very exposed.

Plants are warm to intermediate growing and seems to love our Warm Americas Section (Minimum 15C) where they hang in the roof. Why not start your own collection of Cattleya intermedia and see how much variation you can find.



Waiting twelve months for orchid seed


Cymbidium wenshanense will not be featuring in 365 days in 2019 as our small plant has spent the last 12 months putting all its energy into growing a large seedpod that finally split this week.

It was the first flowering at Writhlington of this distinctive cymbidium species from China and Northern Vietnam. The species is reported growing as an epiphyte in evergreeen forests from 1000 to 1500m. The species is small growing for a cymbidium with fine leaves but has large attractive flowers with lovely lip markings. The fine picotee edge to the lip given by small pink hairs is particularly startling. The flowers are also sweetly fragrant.

As we noted last year the species not commonly available as seed raised plants and so we pollinated the flowers last February in the hope of raising seedlings in our lab alongside our many other Cymbidium species.

On friday we sowed the first batch of very healthy looking seed and hope to see germination in the next three weeks – we will keep you informed. Interestingly Cymbidium seed follows a pattern where the size of the seed is proportional to flower size and not plant size, so the seed of this small growing species is very large at 1.2mm long.


Coelogyne stricta – 365 days of orchids – day 817

Today’s orchid is this giant coelogyne species from the Himalayas. This plant of Coelogyne stricta has been growing at Writhlington since 1995 when it arrived as a single bulb and the plant is now 2m across. Each year it produces long upright spikes of around 15 fragrent white flowers with lovely yellow and orange lip markings.

The species is native to the Himalayas and we have seen some wonderful specimen plants flowering in the forests of Sikkim at around 2000m altitude in cool moist monsoon forest. One plant in particular had completely enveloped the trunk of a large tree – a real site.

The photo shows a close view of flowers on a plant near Tinkitam in Sikkim.


Cymbidium insigne – 365 days of orchids – day 816

Cymbidium week continues with Cymbidium insigne. Similarities with yesterday’s Cymbidium sanderae are obvious but as a terrestrial species, that grows amongst grass, this cymbidium has a very long and very upright flower spike to present the flowers clear of all foliage.

Cymbidium insigne is a terrestrial species found in the mountains that straddle Northern Thailand, Northern Vietnam and Southern China. It grows in poor soils in the vicinity of Rhododendron species that it mimics. Bees mistake the Cymbidium flowers (which have no reward) for nectar filled Rhododendron flowers allowing the orchid to gain pollination with minimum use of scarce resources. The flowers are long lasting and come in shades of white, pink and cream.

We grow many of our Cymbidiums including this species really cool in our Warm Temperate section which has a minimum winter temperature of 5C and vents that open when ever the temperature exceeds 10C. We replicate the monsoon conditions experienced in the natural habitat with heavy watering from April until the end of September and then keep the plants damp at other times. We believe that the most common reasons for people not flowering Cymbidiums are under-watering (especially in the summer months) or excessive damage from red spider mite that can easily occur if plants are kept too hot and dry.

We find that this species grows well from seed and flowers in around five years from sowing if grown well.