365 days of orchids – day 423 – Cymbidium wenshanense


This is the first flowering at Writhlington of this distinctive cymbidium species from China and Northern Vietnam. The species is reported growing as an epiphyte in evergreeen forests from 1000 to 1500m. The species is small growing for a cymbidium with fine leaves but has large attractive flowers with lovely lip markings. The fine picotee edge to the lip given by small pink hairs is particularly startling. The flowers are also sweetly fragrant.

The species has some similarities with Cymbidium erythrosylum but has larger flowers and a very different lip. We find that the species enjoys growing in a basket in Cool Asia where we keep it watered all year but try to keep water off the flowers.

This is species is not as commonly available as seed raised plants as we would expect and so we will be pollinating these flowers and hope to raise seedlings in our lab alongside our many other Cymbidium species.


365 days of orchids – day 422 – Stelis hirtzii


Another of our South American miniature species today with this pretty little species native to the cloud forests of Northern Ecuador featuring in 365 days for the first time. The leaves are about 1cm long and so this mature plant could comfortably be covered by one hand. The flowers though are relatively large and very attractive when looked at closely with a orange brown ground and bright red stripes on the lip and column.

We find that the species does best mounted as it is somewhat pendulous in its growth habit. A real bonus is the repeat flowering throughout the year. We grow the species in Coll Americas where it seems fond of a very shady spot on a north facing wall. As you can see from the moss that has grown on its mount, we grow the species wet all year.


365 days of orchids – day 421 – Dendrobium kingianum

Todays fragrance in Cool Asia is the sweet and powerful scent of Dendrobium kingianum. This is a rewarding and undemanding species from Australia and several students have plants growing and flowering well on windowsills.

Our largest plant has been growing on its mount for at least fifteen years and provides a ready supply of small plants (keikis) that pot up for a great first orchid to new members of greenhouse club.

This species is another of the Australian dendrobiums found on the Queensland and New South Wales coast and mountains. It grows as a lithophyte earning it the common name of Pink Rock Orchid. The colour of the flowers varies greatly from dark pinks and purples through to white although there is a lot of confusion, in cultivation, between kingianum and the hybrids (such as Dendrobium x delicatum) that it forms with close relatives in the wild.

We grow the species both in Cool Asia (minimum 10C) and Temperate (minimum 5C) and it does well in both. We keep plants well watered in the summer and damp enough to stop shrivelling during the winter. We have also found this species very quick to flower from seed.


365 days of orchids – day 420 – Cattleya trianae


Earlier in the month we gave you Cattleya trianae ‘alba’ and this has now been joined by this lovely plant with the more usual pink flowers.

As we have noted before Cattleya trianae is the national flower of Colombia and is endemic to that country where it is found in open woodland at around 1000m altitude. In cultivation we find that plants enjoy good light and free draining compost but plenty of water when in growth. We grow all our Cattleya trianaes in baskets hung high in the roof of the greenhouse and filled with a course bark and no moss. The plants produce masses of roots and we keep them just damp in the winter but much wetter in the summer.