365 days of orchids – day 391 – Restrepia iris

What a welcome sight Restrepia iris is on a cold, wet, dark January morning. The flowers of this species (our clone anyway) have the most vibrant red stripes on a yellow ground and rather comical red blobs on the end of the thin dorsal sepal and lateral petals – like a little alien!

The species is another Ecuadorean endemic where it grows in cool wet cloud forest from 1400-2500m altitude. We grow it in a similar way to all our restrepias – mounted on cork, potted in a basket or in a pot, grown cool, shady and wet in Cool Americas (Min 12C).


365 days of orchids – day 390 – Dracula deltoidea


Dracula is an interesting genus and many species produce a fantastic show of flowers. Dracula deltoidea has smaller flowers than most of our other dracula species  but makes up for this in the number of flowers a plant produces. As you can see the flowers are produced downwards around and through the basket so that the best possible view is from directly underneath (below).

The species is native to Ecuador and is found at elevations of 2600-3000metres so we keep it in Cool America. Like many druculas the leaves of this species get damaged if it gets too hot so we try to grow it very cool, wet and shady hanging below other orchid baskets.



365 days of orchids – day 389 – Pleurothallis gargantua (corrected to Pleurothallis marthae)

This fabulous orchid is a real oddity with its very large (40cm diameter) lily pad like leaves on 90cm long stems. The flowers are the largest of any of our pleurothallis though they are quite small for the size of the plant. A real bonus is the plant’s habit of flowering several times each year.


The species comes from around 2000m altitude in Ecuador where it grows as an epiphyte in dense forest. Our experience in cultivation is that it likes to be wet enough for moss to grow on its basket(see above), cool (minimum 12C) and shaded to avoid its large leaves overheating – heat stress causes premature yellowing of the leaves and leaf drop.

The photo we took last year gives a good idea of the leaf size.


365 days of orchids – day 388 – Prosthechea vespa

Another new species to 365 days is Prosthechea vespa from Brazil. We have seen this species in habitat diring our visits to Brazil in 2000 and 2006 where it was fairly abundant in the forest around Macae de Cima.

We found the species growing as an epiphyte in cool humid forests from 1200-1500m and also as a terrestrial especially in regrowth forest (following a fire about twenty years before) where plants have survived and flourished after falling from the dead trees and it seems that the terrestrials make larger stronger plants than the epiphytes, presumably because of increased nutrient and water availability. Eventually these plants will die out as the canopy above them closes over.

The photo shows one of the plants in Brazilian forest growing as a terrestrial. The flash photograph was taken during daylight and so indicates the shady conditions in the regrowth forest.

The varied conditions tolerated by the species in the wild is an indication of its ease in cultivation. We find it grows equally well in Warm Americas and Cool Americas and is not fussy about light level.

The two photographs show the variability of flower colour and spotting from almost all dark brown to very pale.


Busy in the Orchid Project preparing for Paris


We are working hard to prepare for the European Orchid Show in Paris which is now just 8 weeks away (22-25th March). For us this means working hard in the propagation lab, growth room and greenhouse (In cool Americas in the photo) to prepare the display plants, sale plants, flasks and pop up laboratory. If you are attending the show and would like to order any plants please get in touch. We don’t have a sales list yet but you have seen most of our plants on 365 days and we can let you know if we have any of your favourites ready for sale.