The Warm Asia section of the school greenhouse is once again dominated by the blue of Vanda coerulea.
This dramatic species flowers several times throughout the year but is usually at is best in late summer and autumn.
Our plant is nearly 3m tall and has three spikes of flowers out and three more to come. We cope with the plant’s height by hanging it in a doorway (flowering in 2018 below) and as you can see it flowers from the top as well as from its many side shoots.
Unfortunately the attractiveness of the species has caused it to become very rare in the wild and it is designated as CITES appendix 1 to help protect surviving populations. It is widely grown from seed although nurseries tend to focus on large round flowered clones (like ours) for propagation rather than embracing the natural diversity within the species.
The plant is native to deciduous monsoon forest from 800 to 1700m which means it prefers cooler temperatures than most large growing lowland Vandas although selective breeding has tended to focus on plants that tolerate warmer conditions to suit commercial orchid production. We grow our plants in Warm Asia where they do very well and eventually produce side growths that produce flowers at the same time as the lead growth.