365 days of orchids – day 247 – Masdevallia impostor

This is a medium sized masdevallia species with very long lasting large flowers that are produced successively over a very long period from a flower spike. It is not unusual for this orchid to be in flower for eight months of the year.

The flowers are invariably pendulous and so we usually move this plant up onto a shelf when flowering. With such a long flowering period it now lives on that shelf.

The species is found in cloud forests from 1500-1900m in Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador and so plants are very at home in our Cool Americas section.


365 days of orchids – day 246 – Vanda pumila

We have seen this small growing Vanda species in Sikkim growing on roadside trees at around 300-500m altitude alongside Vanda ampulacea (see day 130). It grows in exposed positions in good light and survives the dry season (winter) with its thick leaves and abundant fleshy roots.

We grow this species mounted and keep it wet in summer but give it a cooler dry winter by moving it from Warm Asia to hanging in the roof of Cool Americas.


365 days of orchids – day 245 – Barbosella dusenii

This has to be our orchid with the smallest leaves. As can be seen from the 20p piece the leaves are a few mm long and produced on a creeping rhizome with relatively gigantic flowers produced in a mass in late summer.

We grow the species mounted which it clearly enjoys and avoids the threat of the plant becoming smothered in moss.

The species is native to Brazil where it is found in cloud forests at around 1000m.


365 days of orchids – day 244 – Polystachya pachychila

This is a small flowered African species and we have seen it growing in Nyungwe National Park Rwanda.

The photo below shows the species growing on the trunk of a small tree on the edge of Kamaranzivu swamp. (1200m)

This shows a plant growing in moss which provides a constant dampness during the wet season though the moss will dry for a while in the dry season (summer) The colour of the leaves and stems also shows that the plant grows happily in almost full sun although other plants were found in more shaded spots.

In cultivation we grow the species in Warm Asia and keep it watered throughout the year. The plant flowers over a period of months as successive small flowers are produced from the flower spike. Although small the flowers are attractively spotted as are the flower spikes making this a rewarding species to grow.


365 days of orchids – day 243 – Cattleya crispa

We have seen this large and dramatic orchid growing in cool Brazilian forests along the Rio del Flores in Rio State.

Plants produce a single leaf 30cm long at the top of a ridged pseudobulb and flower spikes emerge as the bulb matures giving around 5-10 12cm wide attractively folded and ruffled flowers (hence the name). The flowers are long lasting if kept dry and in common with related species look upwards for their pollinator and so are worth dropping down when in flower so you can enjoy the best view of the dark lip.

We have seen the plant growing high in trees at around 1000m and so give it cool bright conditions in Cool Americas (minimum 12C). In common with many orchid species it flowers most abundantly when it can get its roots into some dead wood on its host tree and so responds well to feeding when in growth.