365 days of orchids – day 480 – Vanda ampulacea


This small growing Vanda species is a real crowd pleaser and our largest plant has six flower spikes this year which gives a really impressive display of bright pink flowers. The species (which is also known as Ascocentrum ampulaceum) is one of the most dramatic species we have seen flowering during our expeditions to Sikkim and seeing it in flower in the greenhouse transports me back to the those wonderful trips.

Vanda ampuilacea grows abundantly as an epiphyte in hot valleys from 200-500m altitude where it clings to trunks, branches and twigs of deciduous and semi-evergreen trees . Here it has to cope with a dry winter exposed to the sun and it does this by developing a very extensive root system that can store a lot of water. (see plant in site below)

Note the  lack of moss on the tree trunk showing the dry conditions experienced at low altitude in the dry season. We grow this species in a basket in open bark compost and keep it in Warm Asia (min 20C) for most of the year apart from a short completely dry rest in the roof of Cool Asia (minimum 10C) during February. Moving the plant back to warm conditions initiates flowering. I am really pleased to see that our plant has the same dark spotting on the tough leaves as this plant in Sikkim suggesting we have the conditions in Writhlington about perfect.


365 days of orchids – day 479 – Coelogyne flaccida


We have seen this attractive Coelogyne on our travels to Sikkim in the Himalayas. We have found it at around 1200m to 1500m altitude, growing both as an epiphyte in trees and as a lithophyte on steep rocky roadside slopes. In both habitats it receives very wet summers but dryer cool winter periods. The flowers are intensely fragrant with a scent that reminds me of honey and the plant shown here is filling the Cool Asia section with its scent as I write.

As you can see the flower spikes are very pendulous and so growing the plant in a basket works well so that it can be hung up when in flower. It is a good idea to water very little when in flower as the flowers are damaged by water and of course it flowers in the dry season in Sikkim when the flowers can last for several weeks in good condition.



365 days of orchids – day 478 – Oncidium wentworthianaum


This large growing Oncidium species is native to Central America where it is found as an epiphyte in dryish forest from about 500 to 1500m altitude. The plant grows new growths rapidly during the summer and then long spikes from the new pseudobulbs in the spring. Each metre long flower spike with side branches carries up to fifty bright and long lasting flowers.

We have seen the closely related species Oncidium spaculatum growing high in trees around Laguna Yaxha in Guatemala where they are exposed to bright sunshine and long dry periods. They cope with these tough conditions by growing a mass of roots which can collect and store a lot of water from rain or dew when it occurs. As a result plants are easy in cultivation and we have had specimen plants with more than twenty flower spikes.

We grow this species in Warm Americas (Min 15C) where it gets well watered in summer but a dryer winter after the bulbs have matured in late November. However we never let the bulbs shrivel.



365 days of orchids – day 477 – Bulbophyllum picturatum


This is one of our favourite Bulbophyllum species as plants are vigorous and free flowering. For us the species tends to flower twice a year in the winter and again in late spring which more than makes up for the flowers only lasting two weeks in peak condition. We grow plants in baskets in shade in our Warm Asia section and water throughout the year.

Bulbophyllum picturatum is native to lowland forest in Thailand and Myanmar where it grows as an epiphyte in evergreen trees. The intricate flowers are produces in a terminal semicircular circular umbel like group. This habit is common in a large group of Bulbophyllums once called cirrhopetalums. The large creamy yellow tube at the bottom of the flower is formed from the lateral sepals. The flowers are fragrant and have a fishy smell which is not unpleasant.


365 days of orchids – day 476 – Dendrobium jenkinsii

This is a delightful small growing species from the Eastern Himalayas and South East Asia. The species is well suited to growing mounted as its bulbs hug the surface of the cork. Flowers are produced at in late spring from last years growths in ones and twos and each year as the plant grows the number of flowers increases.

We find that this is a species that likes to be moved for the winter. Its altitudinal range from 750 to 1500m indicates that it likes a warm summer but a cooler winter and so it spends the summer in Warm Asia and then moves to the roof of Cool Americas for a dry winter rest.

This year the flower spikes emerged in March and at that point we moved the plant back to Warm Asia but continued to keep the plant dry until the flowers opened late last week.