The first British Orchids of 2017 flowering in April

April marks the start of Orchid Safari time in Britain with the flowering of our early species such as the Early Purple (Orchis mascula) I found my first one of the year in Cornwall this week (actually Annie spotted it on the side of the main road on the Lizard as we drove past)

Fist flowers opening on April 10th – has anyone seen flowers earlier?


365 days of orchids – day 102 – Stelis emarginata

Some plants seem to change their name more than others. We first purchased this species in the 1990’s as Pleurothallis tubata before changing it to Physosiphon tubatus to reflect changes in Pleurothallis, before changing it back to Pleurothallis tubata, then changing it recently to Stelis tubata and today checking with we have changed it again to Stelis emarginata.

What ever its name it is a fantastic small growing orchid that does well in pots, mounted or in baskets, producing masses of small orange or yellow flowers that cover the plant. The leaves are stiff and rather spoon shaped, lasting many years and producing fresh flower spikes when ever the plant comes into bloom.

Stelis seems to fit it well but it is a tougher plant that many of the Stelis species we grow so a great addition to any collection. We grow it in Cool Americas where the orange clone flowers in April and the yellow clone flowers in May. It is native to central America and is found from 1800 to 3500m altitude indicating that it could grow cooler than we grow it.




365 days of orchids – day 101 – Masdevallia infracta


Masdevallia infracta comes from the Mata Atlantica cloud forests of Eatern Brazil where we have seen it growing in the same forests that support Cattleya coccinea (day 20). On our school expedition to Brazil in 2001 we helped with the relocation of a small population of this species from the underside of a recently fallen tree to nearby locations that may suit continued survival of the plants to set seed and support future generations.

Flowers are produced successively over a long period from the top of the flower stems and so it is important to take care not to cut of ‘finished flower spikes’ that may go on producing for several years. The shape of the flowers and the red colour indicate that it is probably humming bird pollinated.

Our plant grows mounted in Cool Americas.


365 days of orchids – day 100 – Dendrobium loddigesii

Yes we have made it to day 100 with a different species in flower every day. Can we do the next 265?

The honour of day 100 goes to a small growing Dendrobium species from Laos, Vietnam and Southern China. Dendrobium loddigesii is largely deciduous growing 10cm pseudobulbs in the summer which then drop their leaves in the winter. Flowers appear from the leafless bulbs in late spring. We find that this species needs a distinct summer and winter to flower well as it can tend to just keep growing if kept warm all year and forget to flower.

We grow the species bright, wet and warm in the summer – Warm Americas seems to suit it best. Then cooler and dryer in the winter when the roof of Cool Americas seems to be its favourite spot. This may seem like a bit of a faff but it is definitely worth it for the sweet little flowers appear in April.