Thursday’s orchid in Dendrobium week is the Dendrobium jenkinsii, a miniature close relative of yesterday’s Dendrobium lindleyi.
This is a delightful small growing species from the Eastern Himalayas and South East Asia. The species is well suited to growing mounted as its bulbs hug the surface of the cork. Flowers are produced at in late spring from last years growths in ones and twos and each year as the plant grows the number of flowers increases.
We find that this is a species that likes to be moved for the winter. Its altitudinal range from 750 to 1500m indicates that it likes a warm summer but a cooler winter and so it spends the summer in Warm Asia and then moves to the roof of Cool Americas for a dry winter rest.
This year the flower spikes emerged in March and at that point we moved the plant back to Warm Asia but continued to keep the plant dry until the flowers opened late last week.
I hope that you are enjoying Dendrobium week as much as I am. Today’s species is Dendrobium lindleyi a lovely small growing orchid that gives clouds of large flowers well clear of the stiff leathery leaves.
This plant was deflasked in 2010 and so is 13 years from seed and is still no bigger than my hand on its cork mount. It produces a great display every year.
Dendrobium liondleyi is found over a wide range from Assam through South East Asia and we have seen it growing in Loas near Luang Prabang near the Mekong river at around 700m growing in seasonally dry evergreen forest. The species was most common in the lower branches of big semi-deciduous trees near the river, and close to this Buddhist temple with a Cymbidium growing in its gutter.
Like other members of Dendobium section densiflorum (like yeasterday’s Dendrobium farmeri) we find that the species does best with a warm wet summer in Warm Asia and then a dryish cooler winter, and we find that Dendrobium lindleyi enjoys the roof of our Cool Americas section.
I appears that we are celebrating ‘Dendrobium Week’ with lots of wonderful species flowering together in our Warm Asia section. To follow Monday’s Dendrobium aphyllum we have Dendrobium farmeri. This species belongs to section densiflorum and so produces its flowers on pendulous spikes from near the top of club shaped pseudobulbs.
Dendrobium farmeri is easily distinguished from similar species by the pink ground to the flowers that have a very prominent deep yellow/orange centre to the lip. With us plants flower from April through to June although individual spikes only last a week.
Dendrobium farmeri is found from Sikkim to South East Asia and we have seen it growing at an altitude of 500m on large boulders in West Bengal near Kalimpong in full sun where it would experience hot wet summers and dryer cooler winters. We grow the species in baskets to show off the long pendulous flower spike as they appear in nature.
On Easter Monday we have an orchid that reminds us of wonderful Easters spent in the monsoon forests of Sikkim. Easter is a great time to visit the Himalayas – it is towards the end of the dry season and lots of orchids are in flower, the weather is great – still snow in the fir forests at 3700m, and warm and dry in the lowland forests where we came across this wonderful and fairly common orchid.
Dendrobium aphyllum is a warm growing species and grows on the same trees as Vanda ampulacea from 200m to about 900m altitude. It also grows as a lithophyte on large boulders and cliffs and I have seen it on the road from Siliguri to Gangtok.
The species is very pendulous with long thin canes that grow with lush light green leaves during the very wet summer from April to September. Plants then drop all of the leaves and remain leafless until flowering. We grow the species in Warm Asia for the summer and then move it to the roof of Cool America for the winter when we avoid spraying it with water once the leaves have been dropped.
Over time the plant can form a large clump as shown by this magnificent specimen near the road to Gangtok in Sikkim. You may just be able to see the bright pink of Vanda ampulacea on the opposite side of the tree from the dendrobium.
The species flowers as a young plant too – see below
….but looks even better as a specimen just like its sister in Sikkim
For Easter Sunday we have The Easter Orchid – Guarianthe skinneri (previously Cattleya skinneri)
Guarianthe skinneri is national flower of Costa Rica and a species we have seen growing in tall trees in open forests around 800m with plants on the tops of thick branches in very exposed positions in strong sunshine. It is a very regular late April flowering species (hence the name Easter Orchid) and it always reminds me of our fantastic visits to Costa Rica in 2003 and 2007.
We have two fantastic clones flowering in the Greenhouse. The first is var. oculata alba – this is the one with white flowers apart from the purple circle in the lip and a little yellow on the lip too. The second is often called var albescens and is almost pure white except for the faintest pink blush to the end of the lip and yellow in the centre of the lip – that will be flowering in another week or so.
In Costa Rica the species is known as guaria morada and when DNA evidence suggested that it should be moved from the genus Cattleya a new genus was created that reflected the Costa Rican name. (This was thanks to US botanist Bob Dressler who I have had the pleasure or working with in Costa Rica).
Anyway, the species is is fantastic which ever name especially in these lovely almost white clones (the usual colour is predominantly pink).
We replicate natural conditions by growing plants in baskets hung high in Warm Americas where they get lots of light and dry out between waterings although plants enjoy lots of water when in growth in the summer months but much dryer winters.