This little orchid has to be one of the most spectacular species we grow, and a real treat every summer when it flowers.
Pleurothallis amparoana is native to wet montane forest in Costa Rica and Panama from 1200 to 1800m altitude and is unusual in the extremely furry flowers. We grow the species with most of our Pleurothallids in Cool Americas and find it particularly enjoys a small basket where we can keep it damp all year but with good drainage.
The resemblance of the flowers to furry toilet seats has resulted in us all calling this the furry toilet orchid – what do you think?
Another of our Best in Class orchids at the Devon Show last weekend was this fragrant Lycaste aromatica.
Lycaste aromatica is native to Mexico and Central America where it grows as an epiphyte of lithophyte in semi-deciduous forest. It uses its powerful scent to attract euglossine bees (perfume gathering bees) and in common with many plants adopting this strategy has fairly short lived flowers (a couple of weeks).
The native habitat experiences a marked dry season and so the species drops all its leaves in December and remains leafless until April or May. We reduce watering to almost none while there are no leaves but in the summer once growth is underway we water heavily to support the rapidly growing lush leaves. We find that having a couple of shelves in the greenhouse especially for orchids with reduced water is a very useful thing.
When handling Lycstae aromatica it is worth remembering that each pseudobulb is topped with two razor sharp spines left by the falling leaves.
The species enjoys our Warm Americas section with a winter minimum of 15C and from now on will need more and more water for the fast growing new growths.
Another rosette winner at the Devon Show was Aerides odorata, and visitors to the show really enjoyed it gorgeous fragrance.
This exquisite and delightfully fragrant species is another that we have come across in our orchid travels.
We have seen Aerides odorata in Borneo and the Himalayas showing the extensive natural range of the species. In Borneo we found the species flowering at the foot of Mount Pueh (below) where a pale yellow and pink form was growing on the trunks of trees in open forest,
and one of The highlights of the trek up Mount Singai was the a lovely white and yellow form of Aerides odorata(below) where plants were growing in shade amongst tall trees at 100m altitude. The first photo shows one of several flowering plants with the characteristic long curved spur.
In cultivation our plant enjoys our Warm Asia section (min 17C) with water year round but more in the summer. We have had our plant of Aerides odorata since 1996 and in the past 25 years it has grown to massive proportions. Aerides odorata ‘Writhlington’ has won two CCCs (Cultural Certificates from the RHS and must be one of Europe’s largest vandaceous plants at 2.5m high and 2m across.
Here it is at its peak.
Today we have to feature our Myrmecophylla tibicinis that won the trophy for best Laeliniea at yesterday’s Devon show.
WMyrmecophylla tibicinis reminds us of our school expeditions to Guatemala and Belize The plant above is out smaller clone but still a big orchid with two majestic spikes over 1m long and large beautiful flowers.
Another clone (below) has 2 to 3m spikes with fewer heavier flowers. They are both gorgeous.
We have seen this species growing abundantly in lowland forest in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. In Belize it is known as the horn orchid because of the shape of the large pseudobulbs.
The plant shown here is growing on the edge of the Belize River near Belize City. In the wild the species makes large specimens exposed to bright sun in semi-deciduous forest where they share upper branches with epiphytic cacti.
The name ‘myrmecophila’ refers to the close relationship the species has with large ants that make their homes in the older pseudobulbs and defend the plant when it comes under threat.
The Maya Biosphere shared by Guatemala, Belize and Mexico this lowland dryish forest was once the centre of the Mayan Civilization. The photograph here is taken from the top of a pyramid in Yaxha.
In Yaxha we worked with the Private National Reserves of Guatemala to produce a field guide to the orchids of a community reserve and gathered a fallen Myrmecophyla tibicinis to relocate in a tree and rather painfully forgot about the ant thing – ouch!
We grow the species in baskets and mounted in Warm Americas where they enjoy good light and plenty of water and feed when in growth.
We are having a great time at the Devon orchid show in Budleigh Salterton.
Well done to our student team for a stunning display despite only having two hours to turn a van full of plants into a showcase of Orchid diversity.
The sales table is looking great too – Thanks Agnes for getting that sorted while the rest of the team worked on the display.
There are some great orchids at the show – and lovely people of course. We have lots of awards including
Best in Show, Best Species and Best Oncicinae species for Odontoglossum cristatum
Best Laeliniae for Myrmecophylla tibicinis
Best Miniature for Platystele misasiana, Best Phgalaenopsis for Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi.