There arer many wonderful miniature members of the Vanda family and this on (previously known as Acosentrum christonsonianum) is a real treasure.
Vanda christonsoniana is native to Vietnam where it grows in seasonally dry forest from sea level to 700m altitude. We have explored similar habitat in Laos and this forest is deciduous and semi-deciduous meaning this orchid has adapted to cope with bright light and dry periods. The leaves are almost terete and turn a red/purple colour when enjoying good light.
The sweet little flowers are on short spikes and are butterfly pollinated with a long spur. The plant here is in a 1/3litre basket which we find ideal for growing lots of miniature orchids – Vanda falcata on Saturday was in the same basket. We grow it high in our Warm Asia section with other small vandaceous species.
Maxillaria praestans always reminds me of summer shows we have enjoyed in the past – Hampton Court Flower Show, Malvern International Orchid Show and the Bristol University Bee and Pollination event. What ever the show, people are fascinated by the very black lip on this dramatic orchid.
We happily describe Maxillaria preastans as our moist reliable maxillaria. The species from Mexico and Central America is found between 1500 and 2000m altitude in humid evergreen forest and we find that it grows well both cool in Cool Americas (min 12C) and warm in Warm Americas (min 15C) as long as it is kept well watered throughout the year.
Single flowers are produced from the base of bulbs in summer and are large and showy with a distinctive black lip. Several flowers are produced from each bulb over a period of a few months making this a straight forward and rewarding species to grow. The flowers are long lasting and ensure a point of interest in the summer greenhouse.
We have noticed that wasps find our flowers particularly attractive and in the autumn when wasps become more common in the greenhouse several flowers get pollinated.
Our Cool Asia section has several of our Vanda falcata plants in flower this week and we have plants for sale at the shop too.
This is a cool growing orchid from Japan with very fragrant flowers and we grow our plants in Cool Asia in baskets where we keep them wet in the summer and damp in the winter. For us the species flowers from June right through to September.
This species has been grown in Japan for a very long time. Vanda falcata is locally called Fūki-ran or ‘orchid of the rich and noble people’ because in Japan 400 years ago, only the rich and noble could afford to own the orchid. They were so prized that they would be covered with a gold or silver net to protect them and to admire the plant, people had to cover their mouths so they would not breathe on it – sounds familiar!!!
The long spur holds the nectar and the flowers are pollinated by moths. With the flowers so fragrant we not only encourage students not only to breath on the plants, but to have a good old sniff. This has been included in our Greenhouse Covid 19 Risk asserssment.
As you can see from the photos we have the utterly beautiful and more usual pure white form as well as a rare clone with pink spurs.
This fragrant orchid has been in flower since March and will keep flowering until September.
Prosthechea venezuelana is native to Venezuela (as the name would suggest) as well as Colombia and Ecuador. It is reported to grow in wet lowlnd forests and so we are growing it in Warm Americas (Min 16C) at bench level where it will stay damper than plant hung high in the roof.
The flowers are large for the size of the plant and produced in profusion and as usual for the genus are beautifully scented. The plant is a little spreading in its growth habit and so we have the plant in a basket to allow it to develop into a relaxed specimen.
The lovely thing about having a collection of 900 orchid species is that we can offer real diversity on our sales table or shop – today we have added the stunning scarlet flowered, humming bird pollinated, Cochlioda noezliana native to Colombian cloud forests, and the wonderfully fragrant, and pretty flowered, Bulbophyllum ambrosia, native to hot lowland forests in Vietnam and Southern China.