This orchid species is the wonderfully fragrant and spectacular Prosthechea radiata (named for the red radial lines on the lip)
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 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.
The species makes great specimens in cultivation too and we have had plants bigger than the Tikal specimen. The plant featured today is well on the way with six spikes growing in a 15cm basket.
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.