365 days of orchids – day 716 – Masdevallia polysticta ‘yellow’

Thanks to all who helped or came to Orchid Christmas and helped to make it such an enjoyable evening.

After yesterdays large and flamboyant Laelia anceps we have something completely different today. This is our yellow clone of this variable and small growing species. Native to cool cloud forests in Ecuador and Peru from 1600 to 3000m altitude the species enjoys cool damp conditions and these are shown in the moss that has grown naturally on this plant’s pot.

As you can see there is a small restrepia that has grown there too – a rather nice ‘weed’.


365 days of orchids – day 715 – Orchid Christmas – Laelia anceps

This wonderful orchid is always in full flower for our annual Orchid Christmas Celebration. Flowers are really variable in shape and colour as shown by the three photos. The first is a more normal punk clone, the second is the very large flowered and large growing Laelia anceps ‘veitchiana’ and the third is an alba variety that opens greenish and then becomes pure white with a yellow centre to the lip.


The roof of Cool Americas is full of Lealia anceps flowers and it will stay that way until the end of January – very lovely in the darkest months of the winter.

This species is widely reported as being a significant part of the Mexican festival, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which takes place at the end of October, but for us, this is a Christmas orchid. Perhaps it is the the climate in the UK or the cool temperatures of our Cool Americas section but all of our many clones flower from November to January with their peak at Christmas. The flowers are large and on strong spikes 80cm long with three to six flowers on a spike. The species is native to Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras where it grows in pine oak forest and coffee plantations from 500-1500m altitude. The wide distribution of the species and its relatively harsh habitat help to explain the ease with which the plant grows in cultivation and its tolerance of both high temperatures in the summer and cool temperatures in the winter. The wide distribution also gives rise to a wide variety of forms.

Do come to the greenhouse this evening from 6-9pm for Orchid Christmas and a chance to enjoy these wonderful orchids as well as mulled wine, mince pies and good company. We do have several different Laelia anceps plants for sale.


365 days of orchids – day 714 – Masdevallia pandurilabia


A lot of our cooler growing orchids are really enjoying the winter with cool damp nights and the gentle sunshine that filters into the greenhouse at this time of year. This is especially true of our masdevallias that are in rapid leaf growth as well as many of them coming into flower.

A  winter masdevallia highlight is this small growing species native to Peru. Masdevallia pandurilabia grows in cloud forest above 2600m altitude and loves it cool and moist with good air movement. Some species from similar habitats are a challenge to grow well in a greenhouse but this species seems to be a vigorous grower and as you can see from the photo on the left produces lovely glossy leaves too. We grow this species in baskets of bark and moss and give it a minimum of 10C.

The flowers are produced in some abundance on long flower spikes and have dramatic spotting and crossed legs (tails). Despite the unusual spots and crossed legs the species gets its name from its lute shaped lip (its actually rather small so a teeny weeny lute)

See if you can spot the tiny lutes at Orchid Christmas tomorrow evening (open to the public 6pm-9pm)


365 days of orchids – day 713 – Restrepia striata

December is a great month for restrepia species. These small growing plants produce lots of flowers, throughout the year, from both old and new leaf axils and add real interest to any collection.

Restrepia striata is one of our favourites with medium sized (3cm) flowers produces in profusion well clear of the leaves and giving a lovely display.

The species is native to South America where it is found from Colombia to Peru in wet forest from 1200-3000m. We find this species straight forward in cultivation as it seems tolerant of a wide range of light levels and temperatures. We grow it in Coll Americas and enjoy flowers throughout the winter months.

We find plants do well mounted, in baskets and in pots. Plants are easily propagated from leaf cuttings (a leaf and stem) potted into moss.


365 days of orchids – day 712 -Pleurothallis rowleei

This stunning large flowered pleurothallis species is new to 365 days. The species is wet found in forests from Costa Rica to Ecuador where it grows in shade and is found over a wide range of elevation from warm forest at 350m to much cooler forest at 1750m.

We find the species is very happy in our Cool Americas section with other members of the genus although its relative warmth tolerance means that this mounted plant did not suffer and apparent stress from our warm summer this year. This should make the species an ideal choice for anyone who is interested in growing pleurothallis species on a windowsill

Individual flowers last several weeks and the plant produces a succession of flowers over several months so this plant will be a feature in the greenhouse well into the spring.