Restrepia striata (unusual form with split synsepal and anthocyanin pigment) – 365 days of orchids – day 1432

Restrepia striata is a wonderfully floriferous and straight forward species to grow in a small space. This specimen in a 10cm basket has been in flower for two weeks and has lots of buds to come.

We have several forms of Restrepia striata and this one is notable for its very red leaves and deeply coloured flowers with a clearly split synsepal (made from two joined lateral sepals) at the base of the flower. The red colour of the leaves (and darker flowers) are due to a natural pigment called anthocyanin. This pigment responds to ultraviolet light levels and gives ‘sun tan’ in many orchid leaves in a similar way to the pigment melanin in our skin. It is also responsible for some orchids producing much brighter stronger pink and red colours in summer flowers than winter ones. Different species and different clones produce more anthocyanin in their leaves – something to look out for in your own orchid collection.

Restrepia striata is native to South America where it is found from Colombia to Peru in wet forest from 1200-3000m. We find this species straight forward in cultivation as it seems tolerant of a wide range of light levels and temperatures. We grow it in Cool Americas and enjoy flowers throughout the winter months.



Thoughts on resting orchids and winter growing

This is a photo taken today of one of our young plants of Epidendrum centrapetalum which shows its very active root growth to match its top growth which got me thinking about winter and resting orchids.

It my opinion there are four kinds of orchid species at this time of year.

  1. Orchid that come from strongly seasonal climates with dry cooler winters. e.g. Dendrobium aphyllum, Coelogyne cristata
  2. Orchids that come from strongly seasonal climates with warm dry winters e.g. Thunia alba
  3. Orchids that come from cool climates without strong seasonal differences
  4. Orchids that come from warm climates without strong seasonal differences

This sounds like a nightmare for anyone growing a mixed collection but usefully your plants will give you clues to their preference.

Any plants that are clearly in active growth now with long green root tips and growths are not from winter dry habitats – examples are most of our pleurothallis, masdevallias and other species from year round cloud forests – many of these species positively love our winters with even cool temperatures and none of the summer heat stress.

Seasonal plants tend to do all their growing in the summer – almost all of our cattleya species – they now have mature growths and are thinking about flowering (any time from now until April) and then it will be rapid growth time again in the summer. Many of our dendrobiums are similar – our Dendrobium aphyllum plants are losing their leaves. Dendrobium densiflorum plants have all made up their new bulbs and are now sitting, waiting to flower in late spring. Some of our seasonal plants are already losing their leaves so that they can sit out a really dry period – stenoglottis species, Calanthe vestita and Thunia alba for example.

As regulars will know our greenhouse sections are divided geographically but not down to the minutiae of micromate.

In our cool Americas section most species keep growing all winter apart from a few species from particularly dry winter habitats – Cuitlauziana pendula for instance.

In Cool Asia all the plants have something of a winter rest especially with the heating rarely coming on (minimum 7-10C) but these cool habitats tend to have frequent mists and even rain in the dry season so do not let bulbs shrivel.

Warm Asia ia a challenge as some plants from near the equator (such as plants from our recently visited Sarawak) experience very little seasonal difference in the year, while others (such as plants from the Himalayas) have a dramatically different climate summer and winter. We move many of the seasonal plants to the roof of Cool Asia or Coll Americas for a dry cool three months to make management easier.

Warm Americas is similar with some plants wanting to keep growing while many rest – again using the roof for resting plants naturally keeps them dryer, and brighter to mimic deciduous forests.

Good luck with your own plant this winter – more tips at the Orchid Christmas festival on Dec 3rd – Zoom link at 6.30pm



Christmas Orchid Festival reminder (3rd December)

A little reminder – December 3rd  – 6.30pm-7.30 pm

Join us via Zoom in the School Greenhouse to celebrate Christmas with a tour of our December orchids, stories of tropical forests and a chance to buy Christmas Orchids for delivery, or click and collect (on the following Saturday). Join via this link at 6.30pm on 3rd Dec

We will be adding additional plants to our shop in the run up to the event 🙂

This year you will need to make your own mulled wine and mince pies 

Click and collect details here – Click and collect Dec 5th 2020


Pleurothallis lindenii – 365 days of orchids – day 1431

This dramatic orchid was one of the first pleurothallis species to arrive in our collection in the early 1990s (as Pleurothallis secunda.) The species makes a medium sized plant that each winter produces a multitude of short pendulous flower stems that carry up to ten quite large (1.5cm) red and white flowers.

As you can see, our largest plant is now over 1m across and has hundreds of flower spikes – a really special orchid.

The species is found from Venezuela to Peru on the trunks of trees in wet forest. The habitat provides the key to successful culture where plants are straight forward as long as they are kept moist and shaded. Too much sunlight results in the leaves turning pale and developing black blotches so mounted plants, especially, are grown low down at school.

We have a number of divisions and the first of these are available at the shop.


Ornithophora radicans – 365 days of orchids – day 1430

Another Brazilian miniature species today, and this one is a joy to grow with its clouds of little white and green flowers, with deep red columns.

Ornithophora radicans is a warm growing miniature species from Brazil’s Atlantic coast at around 400m altitude.  We find that the species prefers deep shade and lots of water, and will grow cooler than the habitat suggests and so does well in both our Warm and Cool Americas sections.

The plant rapidly multiplies into an attractive ball of thin green leaves and little pseudobulbs and is happy mounted, potted or in a basket. We keep plants watered well throughout the year and are rewarded with a profusion of the attractive little flowers that last a long time.

The species makes great specimens but also flowers when small as in this plant, in a 5.5cm pot.

We have plants in stock at the shop.