We know that autumn is here when our Stenoglottis start to flower.
We have two species, Stenoglottis fimbriata that starts to flower in September and Stenoglottis longifolia (below and still in bud) that flowers about a month later.
In Stenoglottis fimbriata the basal rosette of leaves are spotted in purple, unlike Stenoglottis longifolia that has unspotted leaves. The plants here are all first flowering divisions with spikes to 50cm. Mature plants have 80cm spikes with up to 100 flowers (below)
The species comes from Eastern South Africa where it is found growing in moss and humus on rocks, banks and fallen trees in shaded forest and bush from the coast up to 1800m. This is a habitat we have explored around Durban where forest remnants have a distinct wet season and dry season and many plants including Clivia and sundews find a niche on moss covered rocks along with orchids.
We grow the species in our Cool Asia section where it flowers from September to Christmas and then loses its leaves. We then give it a dryish rest until new shoots appear in late February from which time we give steadily increasing water.
It is lovely to see our bench full of Stenoglottis with spikes and flowers appearing (below) we will be offering these online and at our open evening next Monday (4-7pm)
We have a bench filled with small plants of this wonderful orchid thanks to dividing our prize winning (Cultural Commendation from the RHS) specimen below.
Coelogyne ovalis is a cool growing Coelogyne from South East Asia and the Eastern Himalayas. We have seen plants growing on the Bolevan plateau in Southern Laos at around 1200m where they form large clumps in evergreen trees especially along rivers and near waterfalls. We replicate this habitat by growing plants very wet but in free draining bark. The flowers develop in late summer and are sequential from the top of the bulbs. This gives us flowers from September through to Christmas.
It is a very variable species in growth habit but in our collection is distinguished from the very closely related species Coelogyne fimbriata by having larger flowers with relatively smaller side lobes to the lip.
The flowers seem to be very attractive to autumn wasps that presumably enjoy the warmth of the greenhouse too.
Our first public event at the school since 2019 will be next Monday evening from 4pm-7pm.
Do come and join us for an evening of orchids, talks, tours and have a go sessions in our wonderful greenhouses and propagation laboratory.
The event cost £2 entry and everyone will receive a free orchid seedling in a test tube.
There is ample parking on site, follow signs to the orchid project and you will be welcomed by our student volunteers. To keep us all safe we would appreciate it if visitors take a lateral flow test before coming.
If you have any questions please contact us through this website.
Another plant that people found interesting on Saturday was Dracula bella.
We have a number of Dracula species in the school collection but this is the plant with the largest and most dramatic flowers. The species is native to dense cloud forests in Colombia and Ecuador at altitudes from 1700-2000m. We have seen other draculas growing in Costa Rica where we found plants restricted to wet mossy positions in low light. In common with most draculas, Dracula bella has strongly pendulous flower spikes and so basket culture is important, both to display plants, and to stop flowers becoming trapped in pots.
When mature the species makes fantastic specimens (below) but needs to be grown cool and wet to avoid heat stress in the summer.
A species that caused some interest at yesterday’s show was this small pleurothallis.
The flowers of Pleurothallis hemirhoda are more than 5cm across and rather dwarf the leaves.
The plant is found in wet forest from 500-2100m and so it is at home in Cool Americas. The plant seems to flourish in deep shade and in the dark the flower colour is ideal for attracting attention.