Maxillaria tenuifolia – 365 days of orchids – day 868

Amongst our fragrant orchids flowering this week is this warm growing species from Central America.

It is locally called the coconut orchid as it produces a powerful fragrance which is unmistakably coconut.

We have seen the species in the wild in Guatemala growing in dryish lowland forest. We found it mostly on the trunks of trees or on lower branches where it has some shade even thoough the forest is open and trees are semi-deciduous.

The plant has an ascending habit with a rhizome that grows bulbs progressively upwards which can make potting inconvenient and we grow plants mounted or in baskets in our Warm Americas section.


Polystachya bella – 365 days of orchids – day 867

The school greenhouse has around 800 orchid species and around 40 of them are African Orchids. We have had the pleasure of coming across several Polystachya species during our expeditions to Rwanda and South Africa. Polystachya bella clearly shows the characteristic non-resupinate (upside down) flowers of the genus and produces long sprays of hairy golden flowers from the top of the most recent pseudobulb.

The species is native to the Kenya and Uganda where it grows in montane rainforest from 1800-1950m that will have a similar climate to the lower forests of Nyungwe that we have explored in nearby Rwanda. There are two dry seasons, a short one in the winter and a longer one in the summer but plants will receive some moisture throughout the year with even warm temperatures but cooler nights.

We grow plants in our Warm Americas section (min 15C) in shade and find that plants grow quickly and the plant shown came out of flask four years ago and has long lasting flowers once a year.


Dendrochilum oxylobum – 365 days of orchids – day 866

A new species for 365 days is this interesting species with long sprays of smallish flowers.

Dendrochilum oxylobum is a species endemic to Borneo where it has been recorded from Kalimantan, Sarawak and Sabah. In Sarawak it has been recorded from Kuching district and this makes the species significant to us as we are working with the MRSM School in Kuching and the Sarawak Orchid Society to support the setting up of orchid propagation projects.

if we are successful in pollinating the species the seed will be heading back to its home range for work in the school.

The species is found from 400-900m and so it is very at home in our Warm Asia Section with a minimum of 17C where it does really well in baskets with lots of water.



Dendrobium loddigesii – 365 days of orchids – day 865

One of our favourite dendrobiums is this small growing but spectacular species from Laos, Vietnam and Southern China.

Dendrobium loddigesii is semi deciduous growing 10cm pseudobulbs in the summer which then drop some of their leaves in the winter. Flowers appear from last year’s bulbs in late spring. We find that this species needs a distinct summer and winter to flower well as it can tend to just keep growing if kept warm all year and forget to flower.

We grow the species bright, wet and warm in the summer – Warm Asia seems to suit it best. Then cooler and dryer in the winter when the roof of Cool Americas seems to be its favourite spot. This may seem like a bit of a faff but it is definitely worth it for the sweet little flowers appear in May.

We have tried the plant mounted and potted, and it definately works best for us mounted where it can develop into a mass of little growths. We have just received a new pallet of virgin cork bark and the next month is going to be dominated by mounting lots of orchids. A great way to grow beautiful orchids and support the cork forests of Portugal.


Masdevallia lapifera – 365 days of orchids – day 864

We have a diversity of Masdevallias flowering this week One of our most robust and reliable Masdevallias is this species from Ecuador. 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 species is found at around 1200m altitude and with us flowers several times during the year. The flowers are long lasting and so this is a plant that often comes with us to shows. These flowers have been to Bournemouth and London but still look fresh and will stay that way for several more weeks. We grow it mounted in Cool Americas.