Warm Americas is a very fragrant place this morning thanks to Prosthechea aemula.
Prosthechea aemula is a vigorous grower with 15cm pseudobulbs and 25cm long dark green leaves produced each summer and long lasting sprays of up to nine flowers from each pseudobulb in early spring. Plants soon form specimens with our largest plant (shown above) having eight flower spikes this January.
This species is native to warm, wet forests over a wide range through Central and South America and we find it thrives in our Warm Americas section (min 15C) especially in baskets where plants can have heavy watering but excellent drainage.
Kate and Izzy say the flowers smell of Play-doh – I have checked and Hasbro (who make Play-Doh) formally describe [the trademarked scent] as a unique scent formed through the combination of a sweet, slightly musky, vanilla-like fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, and the natural smell of a salted, wheat-based dough,”. Or they could say it smells of Prosthechea aemula!!!
The School Greenhouse was a lovely place to be yesterday lunchtime with the winter sun streaming in from the south. We are busy moving some of our plants that have been resting, in cooler sections, back to their warmer homes now that spring is kicking in. While moving plants around we realised that this lovely Brazilian species has been flowering for weeks without us noticing!
Dryadella edwalii is a relative of Masdevallia is native to the Mata Atlantica cloud forests of Eastern Brazil. Students recorded Dryadella species on our 2005 expedition to Brazil on their trek up to Velutina ridge (the habitat of Cattleya velutina)
The dryadellas were growing on the lower trunks of stunted trees in elfin forest near a ridge at around 1200m altitude. The trees had a number of orchids on them including maxillaria species and pleurothallis species, and the dryadellas were growing below these other orchids and some of them growing very low light as shown in the photos taken in Brazil (Below).
We find plants do best for us mounted but then grown in heavy shade on a north facing wall and sprayed daily. The flowers are long lasting and small can produce a lot of flowers which stand well clear of the leaves but you need to keep your eyes open for the subtle flowers appearing between the leaves.
Thank you to all of those who voted in our orchid of the year poll. Here are the winners:
Orchid in the Wild winner – Paphiopedilum sanderianum
Not a big surprise that nearly half of you voted for this remarkable and dramatic species found by our Sarawak team in Mulu National Park.
Cultivated Orchid of the Year – Aerangis verdickii
Not only a lovely species, but the target species for our joint conservation work with FAWE School in Kigali, Rwanda – A worthy winner.
Miniature Orchid of the year – Trichoglottis pusilla
This stunning miniature from Java is always a crown pleaser – We are delighted that it currently has a seed pod that is close to mature and will be sown soon.
Another very frosty morning outside today and the heating is working hard to keep the orchids of the warm sections happy in the greenhouse. However, our Cool Americas section doesn’t need a lot of heating with its minimum of 12C and plants here are in their main growing phase safe from the excessive heat of the summer sun. We have lots of these cool growing species in flower this week including some great Masdevalllia species.
Masdevallia discolor is a small growing species from Colombian cloud forests between 2400 and 2800m altitude. Leaves are 5cm long and the flowers are large in comparison. We find that flowers are produced sporadically throughout the year. In common with a number of masdevallias the dark orange colour on the flower is from dark hairs on the yellow sepals making the flowers well worth a close inspection with a magnifying glass.
We grow the species in a basket in a shaded spot and keep it well watered all year.
looking around the greenhouse I realised that this species has been flowering for all of the past 12 months but hasn’t featured on 365 days – so today is the day.
The species is native to Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela and Guyana at altitudes of 1300 to 3500 meters and I have seen it described as a miniature and although the flowers are small grows into a very large plant over time. Our large plant again has over a hundred flower spikes constantly flowering and a froth of flowers surrounding the plant which grows in a basket. Each flower spike lasts three years and slowly gets longer and longer.
We have had the species since 1999 when it was donated by a grower in Devon and it has been in flower every day since – not bad. This plant won an RHS Cultural Certificate at the London Show in 2016 and is always a thing of beauty.
It enjoys being watered well and doesn’t seem to enjoy hot summers which usually result in a bit of leaf drop. It looks its best in the spring with this winters fresh green growth and a fresh crop of flower spikes just starting to flower.