This week the greenhouse has become a very fragrant place thanks to this wonderfully fragrant orchid, with its delicious play-doh scent. We have several plants, spread around both our Warm Americas and Cool Americas sections, and although the flowers are not the largest or brightest, your nose tells you when you are close to a plant.
Prosthechea baccalus is found over a wide range through Central and South America and forms a large plant with 40 cm pseudobulbs topped by 40cm leaves. The flowers are almost always in pairs, back to back but we get threes on particularly strong growths.
Found from 400 to 1700m the plant is not fussy about temperature and we grow it well in both Warm Americas and Cool Americas keeping it damp all year. Growing the species in different temperatures extends the flowering season as the warmer growing plants flower first during May while the cooler growing plants wait until June.
We have another Bulbophyllum species today (lucky us) – Although closely related to yesterday’s Bulbophyllum guttulatum the flower of Bulbophyllum collettii is very different with the lateral sepals elongated into a long tube like structure at the bottom of each flower.
Bulbophyllum collettii is native to forests from India to Northern Thailand. Its intricate flowers attract fly pollinators and a really worth a close look. They do not have a strong foul smell as you might expect but delicate fishy smell.
Bulbophyllum collettii is a compact grower (the plant here is in an 8cm basket) but with large flowers and is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures as it is found from 200m altitude in hot lowland forests right up to 2000m in cool evergreen forest. We find it grows best in our Warm Asia Section where is is a reliable flowerer in late spring.
One of our most floriferous orchids is this delightful, compact, Bulbophyllum species. Bulbophyllum guttulatum flowers over a long period from early summer through to the autumn.
Bulbophyllum guttulatum is found from the Himalayas across to Vietnam in evergreen monsoon forest from 800 to 2000m. Its 2cm flowers have wonderful spotting (well worth zooming in on the photos)
We know this habitat well from our travels in Sikkim with its warm wet summers. The winters are dryer but plants would not experience long periods with no moisture and so keep their rather soft lush leaves. We water plants throughout the year and find they grow well both in pots and baskets. As the range of the plant indicates, the species is not too fussy about temperature and with us grows in any of our sections with minimum temperatures above 10C though it seems to marginally prefer the warmest temperatures of Warm Asia. It may be that our clone has its genetic origins in the lower altitudinal range.
It is a treat to see this dramatic masdevallias flowering again.
Masdevallia lappifera of one of our most robust and reliable Masdevallias. The large flowers are produced on short stems and are remarkable for the purple ‘hairs’ on the lip which give the species its name meaning the burred Masdevallia. The flowers are very long lasting and the species spends several months a year in flower.
The species is endemic to Ecuador and found at around 1200m. We grow Masdevallia lappifera mounted in Cool Americas and find that the species enjoys being kept well watered and shaded. In common with several related species with thick leaves M. lappifera can suffer spotting from heat stress if kept dry and bright.
Coelogyne fragrans is a gorgeous species, native to Papua New Guinea with large flowers produced over a long time. It is reported in montane forests from 100 to 2000m which suggests it can thrive in a wide range of temperatures but with us it definitely prefers it cool and we find that plants do best in our Cool Asia section (min 10C). The species flowers from early Summer right through to Autumn and today is the start of flowering for 2022.
Plants flower profusely from the developing new growths and the flowers are really large at 4cm across.
We have tried growing plants warmer but plants grow smaller thinner bulbs and have less flowers per stem.
Some related species are sequential with their flowering while this species produces 2-4 of its large flowers per spike, with all the flowers opening together and giving a great display. We find that plants enjoy really heavy watering as the growths develop over the summer.