Join us today at 6.30 for our Christmas Orchid Festival

A little reminder – December 3rd  – 6.30pm-7.30 pm

Join us via Zoom in the School Greenhouse to celebrate Christmas with a tour of our December orchids, stories of tropical forests and a chance to buy Christmas Orchids for delivery, or click and collect (on the following Saturday). Join via this link at 6.30pm on 3rd Dec

We will be adding additional plants to our shop in the run up to the event 🙂

This year you will need to make your own mulled wine and mince pies 

Click and collect details here – Click and collect Dec 5th 2020


Maxillaria picta – 365 days of orchids – day 1440

Yesterday evening the Orchid project students and I were working hard to prepare for this evening’s Virtual Orchid Christmas Event, and we were delighted to find that our specimen plant of Maxillaria picta has burst into flower just in time for the celebrations.The photograph below shows the red spots that give the species its name.

Maxillaria picta fills the whole greenhouse with is wonderful honey scent and it is a shame you can’t join us in person to experience it.

The scent always reminds me of the first time we found the species in Brazil. In April 2000 a group of students and I were walking through regrowth forest at around 1200m and were stopped in our tracks by a powerful honey sweet scent filling the air around us. Nearby we found the remains of an ancient fallen tree and a plant of Maxillaria picta at least 1.5m across still growing where it had fallen (photo below)

Presumably the plant had survived the fire that had swept through this patch of forest about thirty years ago and carried on growing on its now dead tree which has since fallen. The regrowth forest still lets plenty of light down to ground level and so the plant is growing and flowering happily.

Our school plant still has away to got to reach the size of the Brazilian species but with 23 large flowers this year it is getting there fast. We are looking forward to the day that our plant is 1.5m across.

We grow the plant in Cool Americas and water it throughout the year. The moss that has grown on the top of the pot shows just how wet we keep it in the summer.

In case you have lost details for our virtual Orchid Christmas festival this this evening , here is the zoom link again  – at 6.30pm on 3rd Dec


Look out for Christmas seedlings

Our Virtual Christmas Festival tomorrow will feature students in our wonderful propagation laboratory with a live demonstration of seed propagation techniques. We will also add some flasks like the one above (Gongora dressleri) for sale and these will be going onto the shop some time on Thursday. For anyone who has not tried flasks before we have some information here

We recommend that people should come and collect flasks (our click and collect is on Saturday from 10am-3pm at the Writhlington Greenhouse) as the agar easily gets shaken up in the post, but we will send as long as people are happy to take the risk – all seedlings will be ready to de-flask immediately.


Cattleya walkeriana – 365 days of orchids – day 1439


Christmas is always pink in the School Greenhouse with lots of large flowered pink orchids coming into flower. One of the most spectacular is this compact Cattleya species from Brazil.

This is and unusual Cattleya as it produces flowers on spikes produced in the Autumn from the base of the newly matured pseudobulbs, while other Cattleya species (apart from Cattleya nobilor) produce their flowers from the top of the pseudo-bulb. The flowers themselves are also very distinct flowers and it is therefore difficult to confuse this plant with other species.

Cattleya walkeriana grows as an epiphyte in dryish areas often along streams across a broad area of Southern Brazil. It behaves rather as a xerophyte coping with long periods of high temperatures and little rainfall.

In cultivation we try to replicate the hot, dry, bright conditions it experiences in the wild by hanging it in a basket high in the roof of Warm Americas. We water it well when in growth but in the winter give it very little water. This helps us to grow large plump pseudobulbs but avoid and rotting off roots or bulbs in the winter. If you look closely at the basket you will see that it doesn’t contain much composts and no moss so that roots dry out very quickly after watering.

The flowers are long lasting and are very cheerful – so I am dreaming of a Pink Christmas – why don’t you join us? – I am sure that you know we have our virtual Orchid Christmas festival this Thurday, and here is the zoom links again  – at 6.30pm on 3rd Dec. A good way to celebrate the end of the lock down 🙂