Later today (4pm-7pm) we are delighted to be opening our greenhouses to the public for the first time in 22 months and just in time we have a trio of Dracula species – Darcula bella, Dracula sodiroi and today’s species Dracula amaliae.
Aways one of our most popular orchids when students run greenhouse tours on open days, Dracula amaliae is native to cloud forests in Colombia at around 1800m altitude. As with most Draculas it is pollinated by fungus gnats and attracts them with a fake mushroom shaped lip. This also give the ‘Monkey Face’ look shared by a number of species.
We grow the plant in Cool Americas but find we need to give a few Dracula specific conditions for the plant to flourish. Firstly it needs to be grown in a basket (as you can see here) as many of the flowers grow downwards from the base of the leaves. Secondly it enjoys being very damp and heavily shaded. We find that the easy way to provide these conditions is to hang the dracula’s basket below another plant in a basket providing shade and added moisture. The level of moisture is shown by the natural growth of moss on the basket.
The final requirement is to avoid high temperatures which cause brown patches on the leaves and leaf drop. This is also helped by hanging below another plant as the dracula is at around waist height and not it the warmer air near the top of the greenhouse.
This all sounds quite complicated but as you can see it is well worth it.
This species is one of our brightly coloured masdevallias – irresistable to its hummingbird pollinators and humans alike.
Masdevallia barlaeana is found from Colombia to Peru at high altitude (2200-3100m) as a lithophyte on rocky slopes – a similar habitat as that of Masdevallia veitchiana. The species is smaller growing and smaller flowered than its close relative Masdevallia coccinea but is a rewarding species to grow. We find that to reflect the natural habitat, plants grow best cool but bright – which can be tricky in the summer – but the species is well worth the challenge.
If you are joining us on Monday evening, look out for Masdevallia barlaeana in our Cool Asia section.
This wonderful small growing orchid with gigantic 15cm flowers is the clown orchid. We can’t wait to share it with those of you coming to our open evening on Monday (4-7pm).
Rossioglossum grande is a cool growing species from Mexico, Guatemala and Belize where it is found in deciduous forest from 1400 to 2700m where it experiences shady wet summers (leaves on the trees) and cool dry bright winters (leaves off the trees)
For us the species does best in the roof of Cool Americas where it gets a wet shaded summer and lots of light and air in the winter when the shading is removed. According to older orchid books this was once a common beginners orchid in collections when wild plants were unsustainably collected for horticulture. It is a surprise that seed raised plants are not more widely available.
If you look closely you will spot the little striped clown at the centre of the flower that gives this charming species its common name.
Orchids don’t need to have large flamboyant flowers to be a valued part of a collection and Pleurothallis stenosepala is a modest little orchid with the delightful attributes of being easy to grow, quick to propagate and blooming throughout the year.
Pleurothallis stenosepala is native to wet forests all down the Andes from Venezuela to Peru and is found at altitudes from 1100-2600m. We grow plants in our Cool Americas section where it thrives in small pots, baskets and mounted. It produces attractive heart shaped leaves up to 7cm long and these produce countless successive flowers at the leaf axils – sometimes in pairs as in the first of today’s photographs.
Plants freely produce keikis on older leaves that can easily be separated as new plants. As a result this is one of the first species we give to new students joining the orchid project and many have plants growing well on their windowsills at home. We have to keep an eye out for plants growing as ‘weeds’ on other orchids where keikis have fallen and made a new home for themselves – what a nice problem to have.
This is one of our orchid species that is always in flower and as a result we don’t always notice it! In fact we haven’t featured the species on 365 days of orchids since 2017 – very unfair of us.
Single large flowers are produces successively for more than a year from long flower spikes and as plants mature they produce several flower spikes.
The species is native to cloud forests from Mexico through Central America to Venezuela. We find the plant undemanding as it produces vigorous roots and seems to cope well with any temperature extremes we suffer in Cool Americas. Although there is never a large flower count the flowers are very attractively covered in hairs and warts that make them well worth a close look.
We promise not to ignore it again 🙂