365 days of orchids – day 228 – Masdevallia pachyura


This is a small multiflowered Masdevallia species found in cloud forests from 1000 to 3000m in Ecuador and Peru. As could be expected from its range it is a variable species but all have pretty little flowers and in our experience the species is straight forward in cultivation and multiplies relatively quickly.

This variety is names ‘caudas orange’ and is from the Ecuagenera nursery in Ecuador.

This seems like a good oportunty to thank the RHS who have awarded a bursary to Jacob for travelling to Ecuador in October to attend the World Orchid Congress where he will speak about the Orchid Project and also spend time at the Ecuagenera nurseries.


365 days of orchids – day 227 – Dracula amaliae

This Dracula species is native to cloud forests in Colombia at around 1800m altitude. As with most Draculas it is pollinated by fungus gnats and attracts them with a fake mushroom shaped lip. This also give the ‘Monkey Face’ look shared by a number of species.

We grow the plant in Cool Americas but find we need to give a few Dracula specific conditions for the plant to flourish. Firstly it needs to be grown in ¬†abasket as many of the flowers grow downwards from the base of the leaves. Secondly it enjoys being very damp and heavily shaded. We find that the easy way to provide these conditions is to hand the dracula’s basket below another plant in a basket providing shade and added moisture. The final requirement is to avoid high temperatures which cause brown patches on the leaves and leaf drop. This is also helped by hanging below another plant as the dracula is at around waist height and not it the warmer air near the top of the greenhouse.

This all sounds quite complicated but as you can see the plant grows very happily when it likes its spot and we have twenty flowers or buds on the plant this morning.


Summer meeting with project partners

A very productive day at Orchid Project meeting up with our partners from The Eden Project, Bristol Aquarium and The Bristol University Botanic Gardens to plan future projects.

Hettie for Eden came up to Bristol by train to visit both Wendy at the Bristol Aquarium and Penny at the Botanic garden giving a great opportunity to evaluate and discuss the our joint orchid displays and plan future displays and initiatives.

The orchid project was represented by Charlotte and Jess who spent a week working with Hettie at Eden in July and together we had a lovely plant filled day.

Exciting plans for the next twelve months include developing orchid displays at Eden, adding to and upgrading displays at the Aquarium and changing the focus of the Botanic Garden displays to feature pollinators and using a wider range of species to represent this. We will keep you posted.



365 days of orchids – day 226 – Dendrobium harveyanum

This wonderful dendrobium is native to Southern China and South East Asia where it grows as an epiphyte at around 1100-1700m in seasonally dry forest. It is semi deciduous and flowers from new and old pseudobulbs together in a fantastic display of its intricate flowers with long filamented edges to the lip and petals. The flowers are produced in sprays similar to the closely related Dendrobium fimbriatum.

Books recommend a cool winter rest for the species but we find that our plant (shown here) comes into growth very late in the year (September to October) and then grows during the winter so we move the plant into Warm Asia (min 18C) when in growth and only move it to Cool Asia for a rest when the growths are fully mature (around February) the cool rest then initiates an abundant summer flowering and this year our plant has fifteen sprays which will flower over the next few weeks.

When we have kept the plant in Warm Asia throughout the year the flowering has been rather sparse in comparison.

We find the plant enjoys growing in a basket and with its extensive rooting we drop the basket into a bigger one when needed rather than causing lots of disturbance to the roots.

The flowers are sweetly fragrant.


Posting an orchid species in flower every day of the year (365 days)

Visitors new to our website will have noticed our feature – 365 days of orchids. At he start of 2017 we set ourselves the challenge of photographing and writing a post every day of the year with a different orchid species. With over 1000 orchid species in our collection we were sure it was possible although there may be some challenging months with not so much in flower – and the rule is a species in flower on the day it is posted.

We are already 225 days in and so far we have had no shortage of species in flower – so fingers crossed for the 140 days to go.