Cattleya purpurata – 365 days of orchids – day 1959

Our Warm Americas section is now awash with the flamboyant flowers of our early summer flowering cattleya species including the grand Cattleya purpurata.

Cattleya purpurata is the Brazilian national flower and is wonderfully variable. The variety ‘venosa’ describes a range of plants with deeper pink flowers than are usually found (two varieties above)

Flowers are long lasting and held on strong spikes held clear of the long leave. We particularly enjoy getting a ‘bee’s eye view’ looking straight into the lip with its radial stripes leading us to the nectar.

We have another clone which is the ‘carnea’ form (below)

Cattleya purpurata is found as an epiphyte in open forest up to around 1000m where it experiences a warm wet summer and a cool dryer winter. With us it reliably flowers in between May and July.


Xylobium variegatum – 365 days of orchids – day 1958

Xylobium variegatum is another of our fragrant orchid species with lots of flowers produced on short crowded spikes with appealing creamy spotted flowers with a deep red lip.

Xylobium variegatum  is reported as a variable species found from Costa Rica right through South America to Peru, and from warm lowland forests to cool montane forests – information that has encouraged us to try growing the species in a range of conditions and we have found that our plants prefer cooler temperatures but dryer conditions than we generally provide in our Cool Americas section. We also find that flowers damage if watered so well worth putting on a shelf when the lovely flowers appear.

The flowers are very reminiscent of the flowers of some Eria species from Asia  (see Eria amica below) and this probably represents a good example of parallel evolution on oposite sides of the world.



Bulbophyllum mirum – 365 days of orchids – day 1957

The genus bulbophyllum is full of intriguing flowers and Bulbophyllum mirum is a good example.

This small growing Bulbophyllum species is native to forests in Malaysia and Indonesia where it grows at around 1000m altitude on mossy trees. We love it’s rather ridiculous looking flowers which are determined to be horizontal (very unusual in our collection) and it appears that it would be rather difficult for any pollinator to find its way inside. As well as the rather closed layout there are wispy grey hairs at the entrance.

The flowers are good value but you do need to keep a close eye on them or you do not notice that they are open and assume that they are still in bud.

We find the species does well mounted or in baskets and in shade in our Warn Asia section.


Cleisostoma crassifolia – 365 days of orchids – day 1956

This little gem of an orchid is a miniature member of the Vanda family native to the Philippines.

The long lasting flowers look like little birds in flight and are large for the size of the plant which is only 8cm across and  in common with most cleisostomas has flowers that open successively along the flower spike.

The thick leaves and the fat roots are a good indication that this species comes from a warm dryish forest and so we grow it mounted, and in a bright spot high up in a warm greenhouse.


Bulbophyllum thaiorum- 365 days of orchids – day 1955

This morning I spotted delightful; flowers of Bulbophyllum thaiorium

The early summer sees lots of bulbophyllum species in flower. Bulbophyllum species add real interest and diversity to any collection and this small growing species from South East Asia with masses of deep red flowers on a miniature plant is a real stunner.

Bulbop[hyllum thaiorum is reported from 600-2000m and we have tried it warm and cool. It seems to be enjoying warm the most.