Prosathechea brasavolae- 365 days of orchids – day 1994

I have been asked how we are keeping our plants cool in this extreme heat. Our policy is to water plants morning and evening. with lots of water at the roots they can cool down by transpiration. We dont damp down as high humidity in the day reduces plants ability to transpire and just makes for slippery floors. Any particularly vulnerable plants are dropped to floor level where it is coolest.

Back to Prosthechea brassavolae. This wonderful orchid flowers every July and transports me to the mountains of Costa Rica and the 2005 school expedition to the forests of Poas Volcano.

Prosthechea brassavolae is an impressive species, and one of our real favourites, with 40cm bulbs topped with two 50cm leaves, and the 80cm flower spike carries up to 30 large flowers.

We found Prosthechea brassavolae to be the most common large flowered orchid in the Bosque de Paz reserve in central Costa Rica. The habitat is wet evergreen forest at 1400m with lush epiphytic growth of ferns, bromeliads and orchids (our photo of the reserve below) on large evergreen trees. Prosthechea brassavolae grew mainly on the lower branches of the large trees competing with the other epiphytes and holding its flowers clear of the foliage to attract its pollinator.

The species is fragrant at night and probably pollinated by moths. In 2005, two A level science students tried to camp out at night by one of the flowering plants of Prosthechea brassavolae to try and photograph the moth in question. However the rain forest can be a bit spooky at night, and in Costa Rica is full of the sounds of exotic animals so the sixth formers lasted less than an hour before returning to the comfort of a hammock at the lodge. Perhaps we will have another try sometime.



Stelis emarginata ‘yellow’ – 365 days of orchids – day 1993

This is our lovely yellow form or Stelis emarginata. From a distance the flowers of this species look similar to yesterday’s Pleurothallis gracillima and Pleurothallis costaricensis from the day before but close up the difference is clear with today’s species producing the triangle of three sepals typical of Stelis species.

Stelis emarginata is native to Central America where it grows from 1800m to 3500m in cool forests both wet and not so wet which explains why this species is straight forward in cultivation. We grow the species in Cool Americas where our large orange clone flowers in spring, our yellow clone flowers in Summer and the small orange clone in the autumn.

The orange form


Meiracyllium trinasutum – 365 days of orchids – day 1993

This little miniature from Central America hasn’t features in 365 days since 2019.

Meiracillium trinasutum is a small growing member of the Cattleya family and the name means three nosed Meiracyllium which we rather like.

The species is native to Mexico and Central America where it grows on trees and rock at around 1000m. Its habit is to cling tight to its mount and so we would definitely grow it mounted rather than potted and having tried it in a number of sections finds it does best in our Warm Americas section in good light, lots of air movement and spraying daily.


Dendrochilum abreviatum – 365 days of orchids – day 1992


The Summer and Autumn are our peak seasons for flowers on our dendrochilums. While most orchids flower from mature growths there are some like dendrochilums that flower with the new growths in our warm Asia section we have dendrochilum spikes showing on many species.

Dendrochilum abbreviatum has very large (for a dendrochilum) flowers and beautiful green and yellow coloration, making this a very striking orchid. The name Dendrocilum abbreviatum  means ‘The short dendrochilum’ and I guess that this may refer to the relatively short inflorescence compared to similar species. The species is endemic to Java and is reported (in the excellent book ‘Orchids of Java’ by J.B.Comber) to be found growing as an epiphyte in primary forest from 700-2000m. We grow the species in shade in our Warm Asia section (min 17C) which approximates well to the natural environment, and we keep all our dendrochilums well watered throughout the year, and especially wet when in active growth each summer.


Dendrobium fairchildiae – 365 days of orchids – day 1991

As the term comes towards its end I have decided that Day 2000 will make a fitting end to 365 days of orchids so we are on the count down with nine more after today. For Day 1991 we have our dendrobium with the longest pseudobulbs.

Dendrobium fairchildiae is native to the Philippines and one of the stars the Warm Asia section of our greenhouses. The long pseudobulbs become pendulous and deciduous before flowering over a period of several years. This display is even better when the plant musters several flowerings during the year.

The flowers are produced simultaneously on old bulbs aged from around two to five years old and form clusters near the end of the bulbs. The flowers are large (5cm across) and attractively splashed in pink. This week we have a record equalling six pseudobulbs flowering together.

The species is reported as growing on exposed rocks above 1200m but we find it does best in a basket hung high in Warm Asia so that the long pseudobulbs can hang freely. Its basket is a mushroom tray and it enjoys lots of water throughout the year.