365 days of orchids – day 232 – Gongora bufonia


We have had at least one Gongora in flower all this year and so it is time to post another species. Gongora bufonia is a medium sized plant but one that produces lots of long flower spikes. The flowers are smallish but give a great display. The species is found in Colombia and Brazil and with us flowers in the summer (the winter in its natural habitat)

As with all our gongoras we grow plants in baskets and keep them well watered all year. We find it easier to manage baskets on a bench until flower spikes are produced and then we hang the plant up to flower.



365 days of orchids – day 231 – Pleurothallis limeae

This is a Brazilian terrestrial species and we found it growing abundantly around Macae de Cima in Rio State in regrowth forest.

It seemed to prefer growing in moss protected by scrubby regrowth and made large mats of its heart shaped leaves in an area of regrowth where the forest had burnt about twenty years before our visit in 2006.

The plant shown here was grown from seed collected in 2006 which flowered about six years from sowing. We find it does best for us in a basket on a bench in Cool Americas where it is kept damp and shaded.


Productive meetings at The Eden Project

Yesterday was a very enjoyable and productive day working with our partners at The Eden Project. Hettie (Team leader for the tropical biome) put together a great program of meetings to help plan future collaborations, and we were also joined by Andrew Barker our partner from the Dyson Foundation.

We started the day with Hettie and Mike Maunder (Director of Life Sciences) where students James Stewart and Jess Buckle could share their ideas for the future.  We have a common passion to support education, plants and conservation in tropical Africa and I am sure that we can help each to make a difference in the future.

We also met Commercial Manager Tracy Smith and Jess presented our new orchid seedling product ‘Orchids in a Bag’. We will be selling orchid seedlings again from the Eden Shop from the autumn (More information next month from the student team working on this project)

James has been working hard to develop our RaspberryPi based remote sensing solution to data and image collection and sharing in tropical environments and after a long and productive meeting with fellow electronics enthusiast Michael Cutler (Horticultural Technical Engineer) the first trials of the system in Eden will start next term.

We finished with a working lunch with all the tropical biome team discussing Hettie’s exciting plans for new orchid hot spots. We will be hosting a visit by the team to Mendip in late September to move plans forward and for Mendip and Writhlington students to provide a day a of orchid workshops including microprop in our great facilities.

We have been working with staff at Eden since 2002 and I am delighted that, thanks to the possibilities offered by opening Mendip Studio School, our collaborations are expanding in scope and impact both at Eden and for students at both Mendip and Writhlington.



365 days of orchids – day 230 – Barbosella australis

This species is a real miniature with 5mm leaves along a creeping rhizome and relatively large flowers single produced in profusion. Barbosella australis is native to Southern Brazil (australis means ‘southern’ and doesn’t refer to Australia – the southern land) and we have seen related species in Brazil at around 1200m in primary forest where a colony can clothe the lower branches of a tree.

We find that the only way we can grow this species well is mounted on bark where it can grow where it wants and eventually surround the cork mount. We spray our plants once a day.


365 days of orchids – day 229 – Stelis polyantha

We have another delightful Stelis species flowering this week. Stelis polyantha is a small flowered species from Ecuador where it is found in cloud forest at around 3000m. The small size of the flowers is made up for in the number of flowers per spike and the number of spikes produces that give a pinky ‘cloud’ around the plant when in flower.

We grow the species mounted and low down in Cool Americas where we keep it well watered and shady all year.