365 days of orchids – day 92 – Cymbidium insigne

We are still enjoying sharing orchid species that featured on our London display – and are still flowering for us at Writhlington.

Cymbidium insigne is the species behind most hybrid Cymbidiums. Its large flowers come in shades of white, cream and pink with delicate spotting especially on the lip. We have this lovely creamy clone with bold red stripes on the lip.

Cymbidium insigne is a terrestrial species found in the mountains that straddle Northern Thailand, Northern Vietnam and Southern China. It grows in poor soils in the vicinity of Rhododendron species that it mimics. Bees mistake the Cymbidium flowers (which have no reward) for nectar filled Rhododendron flowers allowing the orchid to gain pollination with minimum use of scarce resources. The flowers are long lasting and held on tall slender spikes with flowers well clear of the foliage.

We grow many of our Cymbidiums including this species really cool in our Warm Temperate section which has a minimum winter temperature of 5C and vents that open when ever the temperature exceeds 10C. We replicate the monsoon conditions experienced in the natural habitat with heavy watering from April until the end of September and then keep the plants damp at other times. We believe that the most common reasons for people not flowering Cymbidiums are under-watering (especially in the summer months) or excessive damage from red spider mite that can easily occur if plants are kept too hot and dry.


365 days of orchids – day 91 – Cattleya intermedia

This Cattleya species is a highly variable one from Brazil. The plant photographed here is one of the coerulea varieties (meaning blue – or in this case a bit blue) and is a semi-alba in that the petals and sepals apart from the lip are pure white.

The more common forms have pink petals and purple on the lip although the shape is also very variable and we have the ‘orlata’ variety in flower too (see below)

Thje species is bifoliate (two leaves on each pseudobulb) and comes from the Mata Atlantica (coastal Eastern Brazil) where it grows in forest up to about 1000m and so is warm to intermediate growing and seems to love our Warm Americas Section (Minimum 15C)


365 days of orchids – day 90 – Coelogyne cristata

Coelogyne cristata is a fantastic species from the Himalayas with large white flowers. As the photos from our London display show the lip colour varies from dark orange, through yellow, light yellow and of course pure white. The plants are also variable in leaf colour, distance between bulbs, size of flowers and texture of flowers – all good reasons to grow lots of Coelogyne cristatas.

 Coelogyne cristata flowering near Tinkitam, Sikkim

We have seen this species in the wild in Sikkim and Darjeeling, India. It grows on trees and rocks at an altitude of around 2000m above sea level. It always grows with thick moss indicating a love for damp conditions. We keep our plants wet in the summer and quite damp in the winter. Its altitude gives cool winters with a minimum around 6-10 0C and so we grow the species both in our Cool Asia section (minimum 10C) and our Warm Temperate section (minimum 6C)

The flowers can easily be damaged by water and so we avoid spraying them with the hose and greatly reduce watering when the flowers are out.

We have observed considerable variation in lip colour and flower shape in wild populations reflecting the variety of forms we have on our display.