Prosthechea radiata – 365 days of orchids – day 1291

This is a species that fills the greenhouse with its sweet scent at this time of year.

We have seen Prosthechea radiata growing abundantly in the hot lowland forests of Guatemala and Belize and the best place we have found to see it in the wild is the Ancient Mayan city of Tikal. Here it is easy to spot the species from the tops of the excavated Mayan Pyramids.

 The photograph here shows one of the large plants (in bud) near this pyramid which makes the climb up the wooden steps well worth it.

The orchids in this forest are dominated by large specimens which indicates that the dryish conditions do not suit the establishment of seedlings except on particularly wet years.

Our plant grew even bigger than the Tikal specimen and last year we split it into about fifty plants. These divisions are growing really and flowering on strong new bulbs.

We grow plants in Warm Americas where they are watered most days as baskets dry out quickly. It is interesting that for it to flourish in cultivation we grow this plant much wetter than it grows in its natural habitat. A key reason for this is very extensive root system epiphytes can develop in habitat where roots can run for several metres from a specimen plant. In cultivation deteriorating compost tend to reduce the number of years roots survive for and so the fewer roots are able to collect less water in cultivation.

We have found one more plant for the shop which will probably go quickly – a species not to be without.


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