365 days of orchids – day 359 (Christmas day) – Laelia anceps

Merry Christmas – we have present for you all in today’s orchid. Laelia anceps.  This species is widely reported as being a significant part of the Mexican festival, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which takes place at the end of October, but for us, this is a Christmas orchid. Perhaps it is the the climate in the UK or the cool temperatures of our Cool Americas section but all of our many clones flower in December and January with their peak at Christnd 80cm long with three to six flowers on a spike. The species is native to Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras where it grows in pine oak forest and coffee plantations from 500-1500m altitude. The wide distribution of the species and its relatively harsh habitat help to explain the ease with which the plant grows in cultivation and its tolerance of both high temperatures in the summer and cool temperatures in the winter.

The wide distribution also gives rise to a wide variety of forms. We have several different shaped and coloured flowers some of which are shown below.

At this time of year the roof of Cool Americas is fullof these wonderful and variable flowers and some of the plants are becoming fantastic specimens. The photo below shows Ed under our Laelia anceps ‘veitchiana’ which this year has 27 flower spikes and a total of 81 flowers – quite an orchid.





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  1. Andy Macfarlane says:

    Lovely! The laelias in Treborth Botanical Garden, Bangor (Gwynedd), where I volunteer are coming into bud, too. But where can one buy them in the UK? I have looked online at all the usual websites and can’t find any.

    • Simon Pugh-Jones says:

      Hi Andy – happy Christmas. It is interesting that many orchid species that were commonly available in the past are rather harder to find now. This is largely due to the changing face of orchid production with the mass production centred on Asia and through Holland in Europe focussed on warm growing hybrids. We have a small number of divisions of all our varieties available each year as well as plants grown from seed in our lab. We will be at several shows this year including Bournemouth on 30/31st March the london orchid show 8-10th April and the Three Counties Show, Malvern 14-16th June.