WSBEorchids

365 days of orchids – day 719 – Cattleya coccinea (Sophronitis coccinea)

This is one of our top ten orchids and always transports me back to the cloud forests of Brazil

Our expeditions to Brazil in 2001 and 2006 allowed us the privilege of seeing this species flowering in the wild and I have included some photos from the 2006 school expedition bellow to give an idea of its habitat.

As the photos show, we found Cattleya coccinea growing as an epiphyte in mossy cloud forests at around 1200m altitude. Plants were mostly growing in exposed positions where they receive good light, frequent mists, good air movement and cool temperatures. During our visits temperatures were around 12C at night and 22C during the day. It was very noticeable that the forest was dripping every morning from the mists and dew.

New growths have a single leaf that becomes purple in bright sunlight and the flowers are produced from immature growths. The flowers are pollinated by humming birds and are variable in size, shape and colour. Some flowers are rounder, some more angular, and some have considerable yellow on the lip and petals.

This does not seem to be the easiest plant to grow but he challenge is to replicate the plants natural conditions – Cool, wet, bright and windy. It is definitely worth the trouble.

 

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365 days of orchids – day 718 – Odontoglossum manuelariasii

Some orchids produce a generous amount of flower that seems our of proportion to plant and this is one of them. The branched starry flower spike would actually make a great Christmas tree!

Odontoglossum manuelaraisii is another of the species traditionally included in the genus Odontoglossum but now moved to Oncidium following genetic analysis. The species is endemic to Peru where it grows in cool forests at around 2600m. The species is fairly recently described and can also be found under the name Odontoglossum ariasii. The species is notable for its long upright flower spikes which produce branches towards the base and so deliver an impressive amount of flower.

We look forward to growing this plant into a specimen and seeing what it can do when really grown well. It is at home in our Cool Americas section and kept moist all year.

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365 days of orchids – day 717 – Coelia bella

This unusual flower with bright pink sepal tips and a contrasting yellow lip is a fragrant addition to the greenhouse in winter. It has possibly the prettiest buds of any orchid species we grow.

This species is a terrestrial from Central America where it is found from 500-1500m in open forests. We find that the species prefers to grow cool (we grow it in Coll Americas min 12C) and can suffer with black areas on the leaves if exposed to too much sun or heat stress.

 

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365 days of orchids – day 716 – Masdevallia polysticta ‘yellow’

Thanks to all who helped or came to Orchid Christmas and helped to make it such an enjoyable evening.

After yesterdays large and flamboyant Laelia anceps we have something completely different today. This is our yellow clone of this variable and small growing species. Native to cool cloud forests in Ecuador and Peru from 1600 to 3000m altitude the species enjoys cool damp conditions and these are shown in the moss that has grown naturally on this plant’s pot.

As you can see there is a small restrepia that has grown there too – a rather nice ‘weed’.

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365 days of orchids – day 715 – Orchid Christmas – Laelia anceps

This wonderful orchid is always in full flower for our annual Orchid Christmas Celebration. Flowers are really variable in shape and colour as shown by the three photos. The first is a more normal punk clone, the second is the very large flowered and large growing Laelia anceps ‘veitchiana’ and the third is an alba variety that opens greenish and then becomes pure white with a yellow centre to the lip.

 

The roof of Cool Americas is full of Lealia anceps flowers and it will stay that way until the end of January – very lovely in the darkest months of the winter.

This species is widely reported as being a significant part of the Mexican festival, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which takes place at the end of October, but for us, this is a Christmas orchid. Perhaps it is the the climate in the UK or the cool temperatures of our Cool Americas section but all of our many clones flower from November to January with their peak at Christmas. The flowers are large and on strong spikes 80cm long with three to six flowers on a spike. The species is native to Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras where it grows in pine oak forest and coffee plantations from 500-1500m altitude. The wide distribution of the species and its relatively harsh habitat help to explain the ease with which the plant grows in cultivation and its tolerance of both high temperatures in the summer and cool temperatures in the winter. The wide distribution also gives rise to a wide variety of forms.

Do come to the greenhouse this evening from 6-9pm for Orchid Christmas and a chance to enjoy these wonderful orchids as well as mulled wine, mince pies and good company. We do have several different Laelia anceps plants for sale.

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