Orchid Compost

Good compost is at the heart of our orchid culture. After 30 years of experimenting we use just high quality course bark for all our plants. It allows us to keep plants well watered while maintaining perfect drainage, lasts for ages, is sustainable, and is safe to handle. We find that we do need to process the bark we buy by sieving to remove and dust, small particles and wood, that would reduce drainage and break down too quickly.

We have our processed bark available again at the shop thanks to Ed and his compost team.


Pleurothallis linearifolia – 365 days of orchids – day 1393

Another wonderful mini-miniature today.

Some of our orchids are not much bigger than the moss that grows around them and Pleurothallis linearifolia is a true miniature species native to Brazil and Northern Argentina where it grows in cloud forest. Leaves are only 1cm long but flowers are relatively large and bourn in profusion every autumn.

We find plants do well mounted or in pots and baskets but we need to ensure that plants are not smothered by moss as the species really enjoys cool, wet, shaded conditions which really suits moss!

Despite its tiny size the species grows relatively quickly and will cover its cork mount. The flowers are also sweetly scented.

We have three plants available today at the shop.


Barbosella handroi- 365 days of orchids – day 1392

This tiny orchis Рthe leaves are just 1cm long  Рproduces the most extraordinary display every autumn, with flowers from old an new leaves that almost hide the plant.

Barbosella handroi is native to cloud forest in Brazil and we have seen the species clothing the upper branches of tall trees in primary Brazilian cloud forest at Macae de Cima in our trips there in 2000 and 2006. The forest here was damp and shaded and cool at 1200m altitude. Even in the dry season (we visted in October and again in March at the end and the start of the dry season) with little rain, the forest was dripping from mists and dew every morning.

We grow the species cool and well watered but hung up so that it dries out again relatively quickly. We weed out the moss that grows in amongst it quite regularly as moss would out compete the plant given a chance.

We have a few clones of the species that all came from a single flask 20 years ago. The clone here is the browner one with a beautifully marked little lip (see close up)


Specimen time

We have some lovely specimen Coelogynes for sale. The plants are filling their 2 litre pots and are in spike for flowers in the spring. The species are Coelogyne stricta and Coelogyne holochila respectively.

It is great to watch the spikes now that will fill the greenhouse with flowers in the spring


Cattleya perrinii – 365 days of orchids – day 1391

Every October we eagerly await the flowering of this gorgeous species from Brazil.

This is a medium sized plant with flowers 12cm across that are very large for the plant. This lovely orchid is native to the Mata Atlantica coastal forests of eastern Brazil. It is found at around 800m, in habitat we have visited, where it grows as a lithophyte or epiphyte in seasonally dry forest that experiences wet warm summers and cooler dryer winters.

The flowers are best looked at from above (photos above) as the plant is clearly attracting pollinators that fly over the flowers.

Our plants usually produce between two and four flowers on a strong stem and have a single stiff leaf on each bulb. The natural habitat suggests that plants need intermediate temperatures (min 14C) but we find that plants do well both in Warm Americas (minimum 16C) and Cool Americas (minimum 12C). New growths produce few thick roots and we find that these do best in baskets where there is excellent drainage but we can water heavily in summer. The secret to maintain good flowering is looking after these thick roots and in course bark and a well drained basket they live for several years especially if we take care to remove any ferns that appear.

It is sad to report that this plant has become very scarce in its natural habitat mostly as a result of habitat loss, and today is a good time send our best wishes to our amazing conservation friends in Brazil who are doing all that they can to protect their wonderful diversity.