Cattleya coccinea (Sophronitis coccinea) – 365 days of orchids – day 1109

Happy New Year – 2020 has started well in the School Greenhouse with our first Cattleya coccinea flower of the season opening on one of our seed grown mounted plants. A perfect species to start our fourth year of 365 days of orchids.

This wonderful small growing species with large flowers is the classic hummingbird pollinated orchid with its startling scarlet flowers held clear of the 5cm leaves. This is one of our top ten orchids and always transports me back to the cloud forests of Brazil. I will take the opportunity of again posting photographs of the species flowering in the wild on our 2001 and 2006 expeditions to Macae de Cima.

As the photos show, we found Cattleya coccinea growing as an epiphyte in mossy cloud forests in the Organ Mountains, and the plants here are at around 1200m altitude. Plants were mostly growing in exposed positions where they receive good light, frequent mists, good air movement and cool temperatures. During our visits temperatures were around 12C at night and 22C during the day. It was very noticeable that the forest was dripping every morning from the mists and dew.

New growths have a single leaf that becomes purple in bright sunlight and the flowers are produced from immature growths. The flowers are pollinated by humming birds and are variable in size, shape and colour. Some flowers are rounder, some more angular, and some have considerable yellow on the lip and petals.

This does not seem to be the easiest plant to grow but he challenge is to replicate the plants natural conditions – Cool, wet, bright and windy. It is definitely worth the trouble and the plant flowering today in the greenhouse is growing mounted high in our Cool Americas Section but in a spot that is easy to water so that we can soak it most days. The plant has four buds so I will post it again when in full flower.


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  1. Agnes Jones says:

    My Mum always liked orange decor. It is sad that she is not around to appreciate your beautiful orange orchids. I am sure she would have loved them too!