Pleurothallis truncata – 365 days of orchids – day 1438

Some orchids never miss our Christmas orchid events and Pleurothallis truncata is one of them. The species is remarkable for its long spikes of little orange ball like flowers.

This leaf has produced three flower spikes (the most we have seen is four) and for the next eight weeks there will be a spectacular show in Cool Americas.

The species is endemic to Ecuador where it grows from 1700m-3000m altutide in cool wet forest. We find the species thrives mounted, in pots and in baskets but if allowed to become too dry produced lots of little plants on the leaves (keikis) rather than flowers.

The species has the delightful habit of flowering when really small (under 10cm high) but over time becomes quite large.

Here is the zoom links again for Orchid Christmas – at 6.30pm on Thursday (3rd Dec)


Barkeria skinneri – 365 days of orchids – day 1437

I will start the week with this gorgeous species from that loves to grow mounted on a large piece of cork bark.

The species is native to Mexico where it grows in open deciduous oak forrest. Each year it grows long cane like stems up to 1m long, and produce spikes covered in glorious pink flowers and this year we have more than ever.

We find that barkerias have to grow mounted as roots quickly rot when we pot them. The abundant roots seem to thrive when out in fresh air where they dry quickly after watering. We spray plants heavily during the summer when in active growth but reduce watering in the winter when the plants become semi-deciduous.

We will be taking a close look at the fascinating genus at our Live Orchid Christmas – Zoom link at 6.30pm on Thursday (3rd Dec)


Oberonia miniata – 365 days of orchids – day 1436

In contrast to yesterday’s monster Brassia we have one of our smallest flowered orchids for you today.

Oberonia miniata is a miniature flowered species native to Thailand and Malaysia where it grows in lowland forest. This oberonia species grows pendulous growths each year with short overlapping leaves and long terminal flower spikes of tiny yellow flowers in whorls.

Oberonia species are fascinating for their tiny flowers as well as their diverse growth patterns.

Oberonia species have been a significant component of the orchid flora we have observed in Sikkim, Laos and Arunachal Pradesh and they deserve more significance in collections however raising them from seed is made very challenging by the tiny flowers and tiny seed pods. We will be attempting to pollinate this plant this week – wish us luck.

We grow Oberonia miniata in Warm Asia in a basket and mounted to show off the pendulous habit.

Find out more about the wonderful diversity of orchids at next thursdays live Orchid Christamas Event – Joint this zoom link on Dec 3rd – Zoom link at 6.30pm


Bonus orchid – Barbosella handroi

I have just been out to my greenhouse and had to share a photo of this magnificent miniature orchid. We posted Barbosella handroi in October so this one  doesn’t count as an orchid of the day. The plant posted in October (see below) is from the same flask but has brown flowers rather than the creamy/yellow of the specimen plant flowering today (top). The photograph shows just one side of the ball of plant so if anyone has time to count the flowers and double the number that would be great.

This tiny orchid – the leaves are just 1cm long  – produces the most extraordinary display every autumn, with flowers from old and new leaves that almost hide the plant.

Barbosella handroi is native to cloud forest in Brazil and we have seen the species clothing the upper branches of tall trees in primary Brazilian cloud forest at Macae de Cima in our trips there in 2000 and 2006. The forest here was damp and shaded and cool at 1200m altitude. Even in the dry season (we visted in October and again in March at the end and the start of the dry season) with little rain, the forest was dripping from mists and dew every morning.


Brassia verrucosa – 365 days of orchids – day 1435

Our monster plant of Brassia verrucosa is in full of flower and causing quite a stir. The plant has 12 spikes of very large spidery flower (hence the common name of spider orchid)  Remarkably, research suggests that the flowers are spider mimics and are pollinated by a spider hunting wasp that attacks the flowers. Isn’t evolution spectacular? As you can see Joshua and Kaitlin are attracted to the flowers too – though they are not great spider eaters!

The plant is native to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, as well as Venezuela and grows as an epiphyte in seasonally wet forest from 900 to 2400m. For us the species does best in Warm Americas where it is hung up for good light but is kept really wet during the summer growing season to build up the massive pseudobulbs that deliver the long arching sprays of flowers.