Thanks to all those who are sending in their methods of growing orchids. If you enjoyed Izzy’s report yesterday you can find out how Izzy and mum Stephanie grow their orchids:
Attached are a couple of pics of Izzys Orchids (alongside mine Cristata, Cristata alba from you and Ochracea which is in bloom and smelling lovely). They are in our bathroom which is East facing. I did have them on the windowsill but they were getting too hot even with the window ajar so they get the very early morning sun on the window but by 9am have to go on the shelf to the side of the window until the sun goes over and then they get moved back again.
A highlight of the summer months of June, July and August, is the flowering of our Barkeria spectabilis plants. This is one species that always attracts attention from visitors and it is a regular winner of competitions we host for orchid os the year etc.
This species is found in the wild in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador in dryish oak forest from 1200m to about 2000m. We grow it with a minimum temperature of 15 degrees C mounted on a cork slab in our Warm Americas section.
The natural habitat indicates it could be grown cool (down to about 12 degrees) but our plants seem to appreciate the heat. It flowers in the late spring and has a lot of flower for the size of the plant.
We have tried growing the species in pots but we the roots have always suffered from rots and the plants have struggled as a result. On cork bark mounts the roots are wonderful and last for years, so we will always grow plants mounted.
We have just split a large plant, and so in a year from now we should have lots of flowering plants available.
We fix these plants onto their bark mount in just the same way as we showed you yesterday with the tiny Bulbophyllum stormii, only the slabs of bark are much bigger.
We have been asked again about growing mounted plants so here is a reminder of how we fix an orchid to cork bark.
First we get our kit together – a plant to split (in this case Bulbophyllum stormii), cork bark (which we import from Portugal) thin and thick wire, sterile scissors (flamed or meths) pliers and fresh labels. We drill three holes in the cork. One for a hook at the top and two in the middle to hold the plant in place.
We then cut of sections of the old plant to mount – they need to have some roots and with a miniature bulbophyllum like this a good little row of bulbs.
We drill three holes in the cork. One for a hook at the top (thick wire) and two in the middle to hold the plant in place (with thin wire).
This wire through the two holes is pulled tight to hold the plant very firmly in place (ideally the wire goes over the rhizome between the bulbs)
The thick wire makes a hook at the top and permanently holds the label in place.
…and it is finished. Hang the plant up and spray it daily – hopefully new roots onto the cork in a month and flowers this October.
Bulbophyllum stormii in flower.
We are offering mounted plants of Barbosella australis for anyone who wants to try growing orchids in the way that they have evolved for.
It is a great idea to research your orchids and Izzy in Dorset has produced this excellent report on her orchid ‘Pleurothallis tubatus’ – If you feel inspired to do some research yourself I am very happy to post it here for others to enjoy.
Pleurothallis tubatus ` big orange ‘
Dr Simon Pugh Jones MBE is a teacher at Writhlington School and teaches children how to grow
orchids in their massive greenhouses. They have an amazing project there where the children can
learn all about orchids, where they are from, how to look after them and how to protect them to
stop them becoming extinct. They also travel to where the orchids come from in the wild which is
really cool. Dr Simon Pugh Jones MBE was amazingly kind and sent me an Orchid called Pleurothallis
tubatus when my Mummy ordered an orchid from the schools shop. She told him about how much I
like orchids and how his stall at the orchid show made me really interested in orchids and the
children running the stall were really cool. I think it is the most beautiful orchid and I loved that it is
so tiny. He said I had to find out about it and learn how to look after it.
I struggled to find information at first. I could find information about Pleurothallis in my Mummy’s
books but not about Pleurothalis tubatus so we had a look on the internet and then I discovered the
plants name had changed. It was now called Stelis emarginata. The genus Pleurothallis has around
1000 species and Steltis has around 500 species which are a huge amount of plants and they have
similar characteristics which means they can be very similar. The name changed because
taxonomists (who are scientists who looks at organisms and decide the its name depending on how
similar they are to other organisms) decided to change it because my plant was more similar to
other plants in the Stelis genus than the Pleurothalis genus.
How long have they been around?
The genus Stelis was discovered by Charles Plumier, a French Priest and Botanist who was sent by
Louis the 14th King of France, to study the flowers of the Caribbean in around 1690 and was
probably one of the first American orchids brought back to Europe.
Where can you find them in the World?
You can find Stelis orchids in south America, Central, Mexico the West Indies and Florida. My orchid
Stelis emarginata is found in Central America.
Where do they grow? They grow in trees as it is a epiphyte at about 1800 to 3500 meters above sea
level because at this level the trees keep them cool enough and shaded. As most orchids don’t like
too much sun. As they are cool growing orchids they need a minimum temperature of 12 o C with a
maximum of 34 o C. .
What type of orchid are they? It’s a sympodial orchid which means it grows from a creeping stem it
and does not have pseudo bulbs but has thick spoon shaped leaves.
What flowers does it have? They grow little flowers that look like little rockets they come in yellows
and oranges mine is orange and it flowers in April.
I love my orchid so much and I loved finding out about it. Thank you very, very much
Regulars will know that we have several odd little bulbophyllum species – but we think that this is the oddest.
Bulbophyllum physomentrum is totally unique with a strange balloon like appendage dangling between the tiny flowers.
Students have studied the three sided ‘balloon’ and it appears to be a modified flower with the inflated part being an infertile seed pod and the remnants of a flower at the end of it. The ‘balloon’ and the flowers swing about in the slightest breeze and this has to be a pollination strategy worth studying? Our guesses include a fungus mimic to attract fungus gnats? or a larvae mimic attracting a predator?
The species was described in 2017 and comes from Thailand. It is a miniature with bulbs up to 1cm acrss and two 1cm leaves. It sprawls across its mount and flowers come from the base of mature bulbs.
We grow the species mounted in our warm Asia section and spray it daily.