365 days of orchids – day 550 – Vanda falcata

Vanda falcata is a cool growing orchid from Japan with very fragrant flowers. We grow our plants in Cool Asia in baskets where we keep them wet in the summer and damp in the winter. For us the species flowers from July until September and we have several clones with variable flower size and colour. Most are pure white but we have on plant with pink parts to the stems and backs of flowers.

This species has been grown in Japan for a very long time. Vanda falcata is locally called Fūki-ran or ‘orchid of the rich and noble people’ because in Japan 400 years ago, only the rich and noble could afford to own the orchid. They were so prized that they would be covered with a gold or silver net to protect them and to admire the plant, people had to cover their mouths so they would not breathe on it.

The long spur holds the nectar and the flowers are pollinated by moths.


365 days of orchids – day 549 – Bulbophyllum carunculatum

It seems to be Bulbophyllum week in the greenhouse and to follow yesterday’s miniature species we have the much larger growing and larger flowered Bulbophyllum carunculatum.
This epiphytic Bulbophyllum is endemic to the island of Sulawesi, part of the Indonesian islands. It produces a number of sequential flowers throughout the summer on a long upright flower spike. The flowers are typically yellow with an almost black lip, this colour form seems to be relatively uncommon with its orange petals and veining. The flowers carry an unpleasant fragrance which is used to attract the fly pollinator for the species.


365 days of orchids – day 547 – Bulbophyllum dolichoglottis

This miniature Bulbophyllum has unusual flowers with a remarkably long banana shaped creamy white lip.

It is native to New Guinea where it is reported at 700m altitude. We have seen similar miniature bulbophyllums in Laos and their habit is to spread so that they cover the trunk and lower branches of their host trees.

We grow the species mounted on cork where it multiplies rapidly. We spray it once a day and hang it in a shady spot in Warm Asia and as you can see the orchid enjoys the mossy conditions that develop naturally on the mount.

Plants flower on and off over the summer months giving a real point of interest.


365 days of orchids – day 547 – Aerides houlettiana

Our Aerides odorata is just coming to the end of its flowering and its place is being taken by plants of Aerides houlettiana.

Aerides houlletiana is a medium sized species native to South East Asia where it grows in warm lowland forest up to around 1000m. We saw the species in the forests around the edge of the Bolevan Plateau in Southern Laos in open forest where it experience a warm wet summer followed by a cooler winter and a hot dry spring.

We collected seed from a plant hanging in a restaurant near Tadd Fann waterfall  in 2008 and the plant shown is one of the seedlings from this batch. The startling flowers are probably butterfly pollinated and left to its own devices the plant is semi pendulous with the very pendulous flower spikes hanging below the growths to allow easy pollinator access. The flowers are fragrant as well as beautiful.

 We grow the species in baskets of course bark and keep plants watered all year. We keep the plants in Warm Asia (minimum 18C)


365 days of orchids – day 546 – Trichotosia ferox

Trichotosia ferox is a very large growing species from Malaysia (Previously called Eria ferox) from lowland forest that grows long stems several metres long that keep growing and flowering for several years.

Our plant (above) now has ten older stems from 1.5-4m long and still growing as well as four new growths.

The species is also dramatically covered in ginger hairs. Unfortunately the dramatic flowering along all active stems only lasts about a week but is really spectacular when it happens – usually in mid summer.

As you can see from the photo we grow the species in a basket (or I should say ‘from’ a basket) that is tied to a metal frame for balance. The stems can then start by growing upwards and become pendulous over time without creating havoc in Warm Asia. Actually the paphs really seem to enjoy growing under its hairy stems (or tentacles). It hasn’t captured and devoured any year 7 students yet!