We have a very exciting term ahead with our second expedition to Sarawak in October (Oct 23rd-Nov5th) and a spectacular Christmas Orchid Festival on Saturday December 14th from 10am until 4pm with tours of the glasshouses, a range of interesting speakers, orchid trade with great offerings in time for Christmas and orchid displays too – we are aiming for a mini version of last Autumns very successful British Orchid Congress at the School. Keep an eye on wsbeorchids.org for more information on both events.
We know that Autumn is here when our stenoglottis species start flowewring. We have two Stenoglottis species that are very similar. The first to flower is Stenoglottis fimbriata which has long spikes of pretty pink flowers which have darker spots and a lip that ends in three long filaments.
The leaves form a basal rosette and are heavily spotted in purple as is the the flower stem and the tiny leaflets up to where the flowers start.
The species comes from Eastern South Africa where it is found growing in moss and humus on rocks, banks and fallen trees in shaded forest and bush from the coast up to 1800m.
This is a habitat we have explored around Durban where forest remnants have a distinct wet season and dry season and many plants including Clivia and sundews find a niche on moss covered rocks along with orchids.
We grow the species in our Temperate section where it flowers from September to Christmas and then loses its leaves. We then give it a dryish rest until new shoots appear in late February from which time we give steadily increasing water.
We also grow the similar Stenoglottis longifolia which is a more robust plant without the attractive spotting found on the leaves of Stenoglottis fimbriata.
We visited the coastal cloud forests of Brazil (Mata Atlantica in 2000 and again in 2006 and had the privilege of exploring this extraordinarily diverse habitat full of orchids and other plants.
Pleurothallis limeae is a Brazilian terrestrial species and we found it growing abundantly around Macae de Cima in Rio State in regrowth forest near our base at 1200m altitude.
It seemed to prefer growing in moss protected by scrubby regrowth and made large mats of its heart shaped leaves in an area of regrowth where the forest had burnt about twenty years before our visit in 2006.
The plant shown here was grown from seed collected in 2006 which flowered about six years from sowing. We find it does best for us in a basket on a bench in Cool Americas where it is kept damp and shaded.
Our cool Americas section is home to our very diverse Masdevallia collection and several species are comming into flower after a summer of growing lots of new leaves.
This is a small sized Masdevallia native to Peru that grows in cool forest around 2300m altitude where it grows as an epiphyte of lithophyte. It has thick rounded leaves and the flowers are produced in profusion on stems much shorter than the leaves. The colouring is similar to Masdevallia oreas and several other masdevallia species but each has their own character and we are very fond of pyxis because of its vigorous growth habit and cute little flowers.
We find that growing the species mounted or in a small basket shows of the flowers to their best but it grows very well in a small pot. We find that it works well to stand the pot on something that allows you to see under the leaves.
This lovely, small growing, species is native to Papua New Guinea where it grows in wet montane forests from 1500-2500m. We find that the species although small is a relatively fast grower especially if kept well watered and it soon take over its bark mount or escapes from its small pot.
The pretty flowers feature an unusual creamy white tubular lip, and the 1.5cm flowers are large compared to the tiny bulbs and leaves. Flowers appear in profusion giving a brilliant display on a mature plant.
We grow the species in our Warm Asia section, although it would grow cooler than our minimum of 17C, and spray plants daily.
The species is closely related to the slightly larger Bulbophyllum dolichoglottis (below) which has an even longer tubular lip.