365 days of orchids – day 500 – Restrepia condorensis

So we have reached day 500! – We hope that you are enjoying our orchids as much as we are.

For day 500 we have a wonderful restrepia that we haven’t had a chance to blog before. Restrepia condorensis is a small growing species with long thin flowers in a startling pinky-red and a real show stopper. The species is endemic to Ecuador and grows in cool wet forests with the conditions we replicate in our Cool Americas section.

We have noticed that restrepias are getting more and more common in collections and we love them partly because they flower frequently giving a real point of interest in the greenhouse, but also because they are easy to propagate by division or from leaf cuttings (put a leaf and its stem into a pot of moss and you will usually be rewarded with a new little plant)



365 days of orchids – day 499 – Polystachya galeata

This stately orchid has the typical features of a polystachya flower; it is non-resupinate (up-side-down), has large lateral sepals that form a hood, and has flowers that open in succession on a flower spike produced from the base of the single leaf that grows on a cylindrical pseudobulb.

The flowers are really worth a close look from underneath as this reveals the beautiful combinations of cream, green and red that are hiden from above.

Like most polystachyas this species is African and is found in Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zaire and Angola. The broad distribution results in a wide range of colour forms. The species is native to hot lowland evergreen forests from 400-1000m altitude and so we grow plants in our Warm Asia section (we don’t have a Warm Africa section) in shade with a minimum of 17C.



365 days of orchids – day 498 – Pleurothallis amparoana

Yesterday we had a remarkable large orchid species and today it is a small one. Pleurothallis amparoana is native to wet montane forest in Costa Rica and Panama from 1200 to 1800m altitude and is unusual in the extremely furry flowers. We grow the species with most of our Pleurothallids in Cool Americas and find it particularly enjoys a small basket where we can keep it damp all year but with good drainage.

We have always called this the furry toilet seat orchid as the flowers look remarkably like a toilet bowl with fur on the seat and the half open lid! – we would love a better name – any ideas?


Calling all windowsill orchid growers

Here on 365 days of orchids we tend to feature the orchids growing in the Writhlington/Mendip School glasshouses but of course lots of the Orchid Project team grow on windowsills too. These two coelogynes and been growing on my bathroom windowsill for the last couple of years and are flourishing – the window faces East and so gets morning sun only and the ceramic bottle is full of rain water from my greenhouse (so has food in too especially in the summer) As you can see the Coelogyne nitida is in full flower, the Coelogyne cristata flowered in February. The room is cool and the plants are watered every couple of days. The large coffee cups they grow in have been drilled with a small diamond core drill to give drainage.

Having these plants growing so well makes me think it would be nice to share photos of orchids on windowsills from some of our followers on the website/twitter/facebook. If you have a photo of your plants you would like to share please e-mail it with any details of culture to our website [email protected]



365 days of orchids – day 497 – Sobralia macrantha

This huge orchid flower belongs to Sobralia macrantha, a species found from Mexico to Costa Rica where it grows as a terrestrial in leaf litter.

The plant is huge too with thin canes that grow to a height of around 1.5m with alternate dark green tough leaves and terminal flowers that open successively over a period of several weeks. The flowers are fragrant but only last two to three days.

The lip of flowers have a charming creased look from being all folded up in the bud but when fully open the flowers a about 20cm across and 25cm from top to bottom.

We grow our plants in pots of bark and moss to replicate the natural habitat in Central America and keep plants watered all year in our Warm Americas section where plants get a minimum if 15C and bright light.

Issy looks after this genus and calls Sobralia Macrantha, Samantha (obviously). Last year Issy pollinated Samantha and sowed the seed in our propagation lab where we now have several hundred of these marvellous orchids nearly ready to come out of flask.

 Hannah and Issy with Samantha the Sobrailia macrantha and her first flowers of the summer.