365 days of orchids – day 444 – Cymbidium devonianum

This is one of our favourite Cymbidium species and a real it is a treat to be able to take this plant to Paris with us.

Cymbidium devonianum produces dense pendulous spikes of dramatically coloured flowers and thanks to its unusual habit of flowering of older bulbs as well as last year’s bulbs produces spikes in profusion. Our plant here has seven spikes which are all opening together this week.

In Sikkim we have found this species growing in heavy shade, low in trees and usually in pockets of detritus and dead leaves that keeps the plant damp through the dry season.

In cultivation we replicate the cool, wet shady conditions it enjoys and too much light or too little water results in brown tips to the thick leaves. We grow plants in baskets to allow the pendulous flower spikes to emerge and not become trapped in the bottom of a pot.


365 days of orchids – day 442 – Dendrobium thyrsiflorum

Unfortunately there isn’t room to take everything to Paris and lovely though the dense flowers of Dendrobium thysiflorum are, the plant this year is having a bit of a break this year and six flower spikes aren’t enough to book a place in the van.

This majestic species is native to Eastern Himalayas and South East Asia. We have seen it on school expeditions to Laos growing in the tops of tall trees in evergreen and semi deciduous forest at around 1000m where it experiences warm wet summers and a dryer cooler winter.

To reflect the natural habitat we grow the species in Warm Asia during the summer but move it to cool Americas for the winter which encourages flowering from previous years bulbs.

Next year should be a bumper year (looking at all the fresh growth it has made in 2018) and we would like twenty flower spikes for the London show in 2019. A good year shown below (2017)



Snow angels and show preparations

Today has been another snow day with heavy snow and ice across the Mendips. With Paris just two days away the snow didn’t keep Greenhouse club at home and Tallis, Jess and James spent a very bust day as the only pupils in school working hard to prepare displays, plants and lab for packing on Wednesday morning. Charlotte didn’t come to school as she was busy at her Dad’s farm cleaning the cattle trailer with Hannah to carry all our Paris things behind the van – well done everybody. Thanks also to Gareth and Annie for doing their bit, both today and over the past weeks. to help the Orchid Project be ready to take on its first show on Mainland Europe.


365 days of orchids – day 441 – Porroglossum meridionale

This is a free flowering miniature native to Ecuador and Peru where it is found from 1400-1800m. With us the plant is slow growing but flowers are very long lasting and they repeat flower from the same flower stems.

We only have one plant so far and find that it enjoys growing mounted and high in the cool greenhouse in good light and sprayed daily. It has stiff glaucous leaves which suggest a natural habitat with good light and not the constant damp needed for some South American miniatures.


365 days of orchids – day 440 – Epidendrum parkinsonianum


Our specimen plant of Epidendrum parkinsonianum is looking truly wonderful this week (just in time for Paris)

It is a species we are particularly fond of since finding it in the volcanic mountains of Costa Rica where it grows at around 1200m altitude hanging on the trunks and main branches of trees near rivers. This habitat surprised us as we had assumed from the thick leaves that it needs a dry bright environment. Moving the plant into cool shady conditions in our Cool Americas section (minimum 12C) in 2007 has resulted in much better growth and heavy flowering. We keep the plant damp throughout the year.

Last year the plant won a CCC at the London Orchid Show (see photo below) when it looked magnificent with nine enormous flowers – this year it has 14!