365 days of orchids – day 458 – Dendrobium nobile


Dendrobium nolile is one of our favourite species. Its large and striking flowers are as arresting in the greenhouse as they are in the forests of Sikkim where it is the state flower.

The plant here flowering near Gangtok in Sikkim shows the natural growth habit. The plant grows long upright pseudobulbs during the warm wet summer months. In their second year these bulbs become less upright and produce heavy flowering in April. In their third year the bulbs are pendulous and produce a few extra flowers and by this time they have lost all their leaves.

The wild plants in Sikkim show a wide range of colour forms and one tree in particular demonstrated the variability of the species with dark forms, light forms, rounded flowers and more pointed flowers. (see below) The tree also shows the habitat clearly with plants growing in dappled shade from tall trees and a little moss on the trunk showing that the dry season is far from bone dry here. In fact we found that it rains every few days in the dry season at this altitude 1200m. In cultivation we grow the species in Cool Asia with a minimum of 10C in winter and vents open above 17C. We keep the plants wet in summer and damp in winter, never allowing bulbs to shrivel.

Dendrobium nobile in Sikkim

Dendrobium nobile in SikkimThe species is found across a wide range in the Himalayas through to South East Asia. In Arunachal Pradesh (the extreme North Eastern state of India) we have seen the species growing on trees and on rocks as well as fallen plants used to adorn Buddhist temples and gompas. (below)


Cleaning plants for the London Show

Our plants ready to take them up to Westminster early tomorrow morning. At the show we will look forward to being joined by lots of grown up Orchid Project students (now with jobs, uni etc) and in the Greenhouse today Zoe was back to help with preparing plants, cutting off old flower spikes, and packing plants into crates.  That Vanda tricolor looks great now Zoe has sorted it – we just need to remember to put it in the van tomorrow!


365 days of orchids – day 457 – Dendrobium x delicatum

Yesterday we featured one of our miniatures for London and today we feature one of our monsters. Dendrobium delicatum is a natural hybrid between two Australian species, that have already featured in 365 days, Dendrobium speciosum (day 57) and Dendrobium kingianum (day 71). With the variable nature of the parent species it is not a surprise that Dendrobium delicatum is highly variable too. We have clones that are blush pink, white and cream but all are very fragrant. The plants are variable too but generally have long pseudobulbs (up to 40cm long) which are much thinner than those on Dendrobium speciosum. Plants are very fragrant too.

The plant makes a great specimen as it gets older and our largest plant is more than six feet across with hundreds of flower spikes from both new and old pseudobulbs. We grow all of our plants very cool in our Temperate section (Min 6C) where they seem to relish the fresh air and cool winter temperatures. We water heavily in the summer when new growths grow rapidly.


365 days of orchids – day 456 – Trichoglottis pusilla

We are delighted that one of our all time favourite miniature orchids is opening three flowers today – just in time for the RHS London Orchid Show.

Trichoglottis pusilla is native to Java where it gorws in rain forest from 1000 to 2000m altitude. It is a true miniature with a leaf span of 5cm but large dramatic flowers which hang down from the plant.

We grow this species mounted in Warm Asia where it lives high up but shaded on a mesh frame that allows good air movement but easy spraying with rain water and feed every day. Since mounting it is developing the extensive root system typical of plants evolved for habitats with seasonal dry periods where most of the mass of the plants is roots rather than leaves and so loss of water through transpiration is kept to a minimum.

Pusilla means tiny and so this is the tiny Trichoglottis but it is getting bigger with time. Last year this plant had two flowers (see photo from last March below) and the leaves are getting a little larger too.

What ever your orchid it is very useful to assess your growing by looking for improvements in flower count and leaf size.



Use your smart phone at the RHS London Orchid show to find information about our display plants and sales plants

As a trial this year we are inviting visitors to our stand at the RHS London Orchid Show to find information about our display plants and sales plants using their smart phone. We have added a website page ‘RHS Orchid Show 2018 – Display plants’ which lists most of the orchids that will be on our display and gives links to the 365 Days of Orchids post for each. As regular visitors to the website know the information includes details on the natural habitat of species and the conditions that we cultivate the species at Writhlingon. Feel free to have a sneak preview of what will feature on our London display.