365 days of orchids – day 406 – Masdevallia hirtzii


This small growing masdevallia is one or our biggest performers . Each year Masdevallia hirtzii produces 3 or four flushes of its large orange flowers. Its last flowering was at the end of October and now it is full of flower again.

The species is found in cloud forests in Ecuador and Peru from 1200-1550m altitude and so is well suited to conditions in our Cool Americas section (min 12C) where it grows in a basket that is kept well watered throughout the year and shaded. As those who follow our posts regularly will know the orange  tubular flowers are evolved for pollination by humming birds.


365 days of orchids – day 405 – Catleya trianae ‘alba’


This orchid is a very reliable spring flowering species which thrives in our Warm Americas section.

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 trianaes 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 plants begin to flower in early February – this one is the first of 2018 – and continue 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.




365 days of orchids – day 404 – Maxillaria porphyrostele

This is a new species to 365 days but one we have grown in the orchid project for more than twenty years. The species is native to cool mountain forest in the Mata Atlantica Brazil and we have seen similar species in the mild where they grow tight to the trunk and lower branches of trees in primary forests that have a wet summer and a cooler dryer winter.

We grow the species in our Cool America section in pots and baskets with free draining compost but heavy watering during the summer months when in growth. The 2cm pseudobulbs mature in the autumn and flower spikes appear from the base of the newest bulbs in Jnuary each with a striking sulfur yellow flower. Looking closely into the flower reveals the purple column which gives the species its name (Porphyrostele = purple columned). The purple extens around the base of the lip too.

The flowers are long lasting if plants are kept dry when in flower.


365 days of orchids – day 403 – Masdevallia paquishae

Masdevallia paquishae is new to 365 days of orchids and is one of our more unusual masdevallias. This miniature growing species (the basket below is a 3inch basket) produces relatively large flowers on downward growing flower stems making it very important to grow plants in baskets or mounted.

The species is named after the town Paquisha in Ecuador but is found in both Ecuador and Peru.  It grows in wet forest from 1500-1750m and so is not as cool growing as some of our higher altitude masdevallias but seems happy in the same conditions in Cool Americas. We love the striped sepals and the large (for a masdevallia) red lip.


365 days of orchids – day 402 – Masdevallia veitchiana


It seems to masdevallia week here at the Orchid Project. This species is endemic to Peru where it grows between 2000m and 4000m as a terrestrial on rocky slopes amongst grasses. This explains the long flower spikes which carry the flowers well clear of the leaves and in reach of pollinating humming birds.

The colour of the flowers is quite extraordinary with the glowing orange ground and iridescent stripes of red or purple. Close inspection reveals that the red areas of the flower are produced by tiny purple hairs that cover the orange sepals. The Incas call the species Wajanki.

We grow the species in baskets in Cool Americas.