One of the highlights of a cool greenhouse in the summer is Vanda falcata. This is a cool growing orchid from Japan with very fragrant flowers.
We grow our plants in Cool Asia in baskets where we keep them wet in the summer and damp in the winter. For us the species flowers from July until September and we have several clones with variable flower size and colour. Most are pure white (two clones above) but we have on plant with pink parts to the stems and backs of flowers (below).
This species has been grown in Japan for a very long time. Vanda falcata is locally called Fūki-ran or ‘orchid of the rich and noble people’ because in Japan 400 years ago, only the rich and noble could afford to own the orchid. They were so prized that they would be covered with a gold or silver net to protect them and to admire the plant, people had to cover their mouths so they would not breathe on it.
The long spur holds the nectar and the flowers are pollinated by moths. With the flowers so fragrant we encourage students not only to breath on the plants but to have a good old sniff.