Cattleya cinnabarina – 365 days of orchids – day 761

The last week in January is officially ‘orange week’ as we feature and impressive group of orange flowered species the first of which is this firework of an orchid from Brazil.

Cattleya cinnabarina, which until recently was listed as Laelia cinnabarina, is a lithophyte from Brazil and one we have seen growing on steep granite slopes near Novo Friburgo in Rio State.

The first photo shows the Cattleya with the last, rather tatty, flower on its spike and seed pods forming. The second photo shows the habitat of bare granite with scrubby grass and villosia shrub.

As we don’t have and scrubby granite slopes to hand in the greenhouse we grow Cattleya cinnabarina mounted on a large piece of cork and grow it high in Cool Americas in bright light above our pleurothallis and Masdevallia species. It seems to enjoy these conditions and has produced two of these grand spikes of flowers this year. The natural habitat is notably dry in the winter and we replicate this with heavy watering in the summer and infrequent sprays (avoiding flowers and buds) in the winter.


Osmoglossum pulchellum – 365 days of orchids – day 760

This lovely species is aptly named as pulchellum means beautiful and Osmoglossum pulchellum has both beautiful flowers and a gorgeous scent.

The species is native to cool forests from Mexico to Costa Rica between 1200 and 2600m and has a fascinating habit. It has shiny bulbs and thin 15cm long leaves and thin flat flower stems which always curve attractively to present the non-resupinate (upside down) flowers well clear of the leaves. I have seen growers steak the spikes to force them upright which seems to loose the grace of the species.

We grow Osmoglossum pulchellum amongst our masdevallias (with which it shares its habitat) in our Cool Asia section with a minimum of 12C and lots of water throughout the year. It does well in pots and baskets. I first grew this species as a boy (44 years ago) and it is a species I wouldn’t be without.

It is a shame that everyone can’t smell the flowers on this webpage – put smelling Osmoglossum pulchellum on your bucket list.


Cattleya trianae ‘albescens’ – 365 days of orchids – day 759

We have a lovely diversity of Cattleya trianae plants and the first to flower this year is our mostly white clone.

Cattleya trianae is the national flower of Colombia and is endemic to that country where it is found in open woodland at around 1000m altitude. In cultivation we find that plants enjoy good light and free draining compost but plenty of water when in growth. We grow all our Cattleya trianae plants in baskets hung high in the roof of the greenhouse and filled with a course bark and no moss. The plants produce masses of roots and we keep them just damp in the winter but much wetter in the summer.

In our greenhouse Cattleya trianae plants begin to flower in early February and continues into the middle of March. This plant is labelled ‘alba’ and is mostly missing the usual purple and pink colouring but there is a slight pink tone on the lip near the yellow blotch and so we will rename it ‘albescens’ the latin for ‘whitish’. The clone has a lovely growth habit with compact plants and large flowers. We have a second clone labelled coerulea (blue) that isn’t blue to go with this alba that isn’t quite white! There is clearly some wishful thinking amongst some growers.


Masdevallia lappifera – 365 days of orchids – day 758

The weather has been cold all week and this causes a change to watering in the school greenhouse. The warm sections (Warm Asia and Warm Americas) have the heaters working hard an so plants here need extra watering. Conversely, the cooler ends are properly cool but have almost no heating on, as some heat passes through from the warmer sections, so we reduce watering in the cool sections.

The cool weather suits our cool growing Masdevallias which are full of leaf growth and flowers such as this species which is one of our most robust and reliable Masdevallias.

Masdevallia lappifera is a species from Ecuador. The large flowers are produced on short stems and are remarkable for the purple ‘hairs’ on the lip which give the species its name meaning the burred Masdevallia.

The species is found at around 1200m altitude and with us flowers several times during the year. The flowers are long lasting and so this is a plant that often comes with us to shows.  We grow it mounted in Cool Americas.