The Orchid Greenhouses in October

October is a lovely time in the School Greenhouse. Warm days and cool nights mean the greenhouse really comes into its own and every lunchtime we have a a good crowd of students working hard, weeding, watering, repotting, pollinating flowers and taking photographs.

Star plants this month include our Stenoglottis (above). We have both Stenoglottis longifolia and Stenoglottis fimbriataand their long spikes of delicate flowers last from September through to Christmas.

Amongst our miniature species we have Barbosella dusenii – with leaves just a few millimetres across and the slightly larger growing Barbosella australis (below)

We also have some lovely large flowering plants at their peak including Coelogyne barbata (the bearded coelogyne)

…. and autumn flowering Cymbidium species such as Cymbidium elegans.

Some of our blue flowered species are looking lovely in the autumn sunshine:

Vanda coerulea and Dendrobium victoria-regina

Next week should see the opening of flowers on two clones of Cattleya perrinii – a good opportunity to pollinate flowers for seed.

We are starting to think about resting those orchid species that appreciate a cooler dryer winter – but more on that in November’s post.



Epidendrum paniculatum – 365 days of orchids – day 2000

The final orchid for 365 days of orchids is this lovely epidendrum species. We really hope that you have enjoyed our daily orchid species in flower. We have now covered each of our 1000 species at least once and feel it is time to move on. We will still be posting every week with ‘this week in the greenhouse’.

Exploring the forests of Costa Rica on our school expeditions we have been fascinated by the diversity of epidendrum species we have come across.

We were fortunate to observe a glass wing butterfly pollinating the similar Epidendrum piliatum in Costa Rica on our last school expedition (photo below). Epidendrum paniculatum is also a classic butterfly pollinated species that both provides a nectar filled tube at the base of the lip, and a grabbing platform at the end of the lip.

Epidendrum paniculatum is a lovely species and as traditionally described was found throughout Central and South America in cool wet forest above 1000m but the complex (group of similar species) has been split into several species with the true Epidendrum paniculatum being endemic to Peru.

We grow the species in baskets and it flowers from small plants 15cm high with a few flowers and when taller produces many flowers on branched spikes.




Pleurothallis costaricensis – 365 days of orchids – day 1999

The penultimate orchid in 365 days of orchids is a miniature that reminds me of wonderful expeditions to the cool forests of Costa Rica.

This charming miniature pleurothallis is native to the cloud forests of Costa Rica (as the name suggests) and Panama up to 1800m. We find it thrives in low light in our Cool Americas section both mounted and potted where it produces its sprays of small bright yellow flowers sporadically throughout the year.

We find that the species is slow growing and compact but eventually makes a real specimen like this one.


Cymbidium erythrostylum- 365 days of orchids – day 1998


Our second Cymbidium this week is Cymbidium erythrostylum.

This small growing cymbidium is native to Vietnam where it grows in cool forests at around 1500m. We find this species very straight forward and reliable with the advantage of flowering relatively quickly from seed. The plant shown in the photograph flowered three years out of flask.

The species is quite variable in the size of the flower and the colour of the lip striping which varies from deep red to scarlet/orange. The white of the flowers is very white and always attracts attention.

Today is the first day of the school holidays so a a good time to wish you a happy summer.




Cymbidium suarvissimum- 365 days of orchids – day 1997

We have some summer flowering cymbidium species in flower this week – the first is Cymbidium suarvissimum.

Cymbidium suavissimum is not a common species and has only been found in small areas of northern Myanmar and northern Vietnam where it is found in warmish evergreen forests at about 800-1000m so is a little warmer growing than many of the Himalayan cymbidiums. It is also unusual in being a July/August flowering species. It’s closest cousin is Cymbidium floribundum which has similar flowers but is smaller growing with less flowers and none of the gorgeous scent (citrus and fruity) present in this species.

We have tried growing the species warm and cool and can now feel that the key to flowering the species is to grow decent sized pseudobulbs with plenty of feed and water through the growing season. It seems to resent being cold and damp in the winter but does not seem to like life too hot either, although it coped with this week.