It is the 25th and I would like to take the opportunity to wish all our followers a very happy Christmas and successful growing in 2020.
Visiting the greenhouse on Christmas morning always feels a treat (despite the lack of the usual orchid elves!) and takes me back to all the Christmas days I have spent in the greenhouse. I started at Writhlington in 1989 and the first orchids arrived in 1990 making next year the 30th year of the Orchid Project. It is nice to celebrate some of our older plants that have been part of the project from the start.
This dramatic orchid was one of the first pleurothallis species to arrive in our collection in the early 1990s (as Pleurothallis secunda.) This is a medium sized plant that each Christmas produces a multitude of short pendulous flower stems that carry up to ten quite large (1.5cm) red and white flowers.
The species is found from Venezuela to Peru on the trunks of trees in wet forest. The habitat provides the key to successful culture where plants are straight forward as long as they are kept moist and shaded. To much sunlight results in the leaves turning pale and developing black blotches so mounted plants, especially, are grown low down.
Plants develop into large clumps and make a great specimen as they flower from new and old leaves together. The plant shown is in a 25cm basket and has more than 50 flower spikes and we have several specimens this size. We are delighted that it divides easily and lots of visitors took a plant away at Orchid Christmas this month.