Cattleya mendelii – 365 days of orchids – day 1953

Today belongs to Cattleya mendelii – its glorious flowers have just opened and its large seed pod from last year has just split – very good evidence that the seed pod needed 12 months to mature.

The long lasting flowers of Cattleya mendelii are amongst the largest of any species we grow at 15cm across.

This magnificent Cattleya species is native to Colombia where it grows at around 1000m as a lithophyte on exposed rocks. We find it to be a straight forward species to grow in our Warm America section where we have several clones.

The species flowers reliably in late May and June for us and in cultivation the species can be recognised by the characteristic flowering season, generally light petals and very dramatic purple pink lip pattern. A good starting point in telling similar cattleyas species apart is remembering their flowering time as we showed with our ‘Cattleyas throughout the year’ (although Cattleya mendelii didn’t make the list)

The plant here is growing in a free crate from a market acting as a wide shallow basket and we find free crates are a great potting solution, suited to the shallow roots of many orchid species – free draining – and of course easy to carry.

There are still lots of buds to open and the long lasting flowers will make a fantastic display for the next dew weeks.

As you can see some of the seed from the seed pod has been lost through its small split,  but there is plenty left for sowing in the lab next week. We always collect seed in folded paper so that it can dry quickly and cleanly reducing any chance of contamination by fungus (inevitable if the seed is put in a plastic bag).


Masdevallia wagneriana – 365 days of orchids – day 1952

Our second Masdevallia of the week is this little gem.

Masdevallis wagneriana  is a small growing masdevallia species with 5cm leaves that produces lots of relatively large flowers which contrast beautifully with the glossy dark green leaves.

The species is endemic to Venezuela where it grows in deep shade in forests from 1100-1800m altitude. We grow this species in a very shaded spot in our Cool Americas section where it seems to flourish. The flowers are long lasting and produced over a long period.


Masdevallia davisii – 365 days of orchids – day 1951

We are surrounded by Masdevallias in flower this week. One of the most arresting is Masdevallis davisii.

This small growing but large flowered masdevallia species is endemic to Peru where it grows as a terrestrial or lithophyte in open patches amongst cloud forest from 2600 to 4000m. As a result it is one of our cooler growing masdevallias and we find a little tricky since it resents warm summer temperatures.

We find the species does best in a basket where we can keep it really well watered without getting soggy.


Oncidium flexuosum – 365 days of orchids – day 1950

There is nothing quite as summery as the golden fowers of this Barzilian orchid species.

This orchid has real impact with hundreds of bright yellow flowers on long stems.Oncidium flexuosum gives clouds of yellow flowers from March right through until the late autumn. In a good year we get 12 months of flowers.

This Brazillian species has recently been transferred from Oncidium to Gomesa along with many of the Brazillian oncidiums. It is native the the Mata Atlantica forests running along the Atlantic Coast of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina. It is found from as an epiphyte from coastal marshes up to 1200m and adapted to the seasonal dry period by growing a mass of roots. We grow the species mounted as it has something of a climbing habit with each pseudobulb growing above the previous one. It regularly attaches itself to walls, supports, shading, other plants pots etc but we always forgive its naughty behaviour and admire the flowers.

We have had this species in our collection since the start and it is one we would never be without. It grows warm or cool. The species has been used extensively in breeding hybrid Oncidiums, and passes on its free flowering habit.

We have seen similar species in Brazil where the mass of yellow oncidium flowers in the canopy can be seen hundreds of metres away, across a valley.


Vanda tricolor var suarvis ‘alba’- 365 days of orchids – day 1949

This large growing wonderful orchid is wonderfully perfumaed as well as dramatic with its white flowers and yellow spots..

Comparing this plant with the normal coloured form (below) that flowered with us in April you can see that all the pink pigment is missing although the pattern of spotting is very similar.

This grand orchid is native to lowland forest in Java and and becomes a giant orchid over time. The plant produces stiff alternate leaves 30cm long and our alba form is still a small plant at 90cm tall while our normally coloured clone is over 2m tall. We grow plants warm (min 17C) with regular watering throughout the year.

Sometimes this plant is listed as a the species Vanda suavis, separate from the other form of Vanda tricolor (also found in Java) which has fewer, rounder flowers, but we will follow in our labelling.