Maxillaria picta – 365 days of orchids – day 1440

Yesterday evening the Orchid project students and I were working hard to prepare for this evening’s Virtual Orchid Christmas Event, and we were delighted to find that our specimen plant of Maxillaria picta has burst into flower just in time for the celebrations.The photograph below shows the red spots that give the species its name.

Maxillaria picta fills the whole greenhouse with is wonderful honey scent and it is a shame you can’t join us in person to experience it.

The scent always reminds me of the first time we found the species in Brazil. In April 2000 a group of students and I were walking through regrowth forest at around 1200m and were stopped in our tracks by a powerful honey sweet scent filling the air around us. Nearby we found the remains of an ancient fallen tree and a plant of Maxillaria picta at least 1.5m across still growing where it had fallen (photo below)

Presumably the plant had survived the fire that had swept through this patch of forest about thirty years ago and carried on growing on its now dead tree which has since fallen. The regrowth forest still lets plenty of light down to ground level and so the plant is growing and flowering happily.

Our school plant still has away to got to reach the size of the Brazilian species but with 23 large flowers this year it is getting there fast. We are looking forward to the day that our plant is 1.5m across.

We grow the plant in Cool Americas and water it throughout the year. The moss that has grown on the top of the pot shows just how wet we keep it in the summer.

In case you have lost details for our virtual Orchid Christmas festival this this evening , here is the zoom link again  – at 6.30pm on 3rd Dec


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