365 days of orchids – Prosthechea prismatorcarpa – day 182

This wonderful species from Central America is a large growing member of the cattleya family that produces long spikes of dramatic flowers. These are butterfly pollinated with the pink section of the lip the perfect shape for a large butterfly to grab a hold.

We have seen this species in tall remnant trees on cloudy ridges at around 1500m altitude in Costa Rica.

We have had this plant since 1995 and it has become a huge specimen in Cool Americas but it is time we split it up so look out for plants next year.


365 days of orchids – day 181 – Angraecum magdalenae


This species from the mountains of central Madagascar is one of our most rewarding orchid species. The large waxy, pristine white flowers are wonderfully fragrant and currently fill its section with their intoxicating scent.

The plant’s natural habitat is in leaf litter amongst quartzite boulders but we find the species enjoys a mossy basket where its roots remain damp and cool. Most of our Angraecum species are warm growing but Angraecum magdalenae does best for us in Cool Asia (minimum 10C) where it is slowly growing into a real specimen and this year it has six flowers which contrast beautifully with the dark green leaves.

We have tried to produce seed from self pollination but been unsuccessful and so if anyone would like to exchange pollen we would be very happy to try for seed again. The flowers hold their nectar in long curved spurs suggesting pollination is by large moths.



365 days of orchids – day 180 – Thunia alba

Thunia species are native to the Himalayas where they grow long pseudobulbs during the monsoon and then drop their leaves once the dry season starts.

We have seen Thunia alba growing on the side of mossy boulders in shade near the road from Kalimpong (West Bengal)  to Gangtok (Sikkim) at around 500m altitude where they will experience very little rain from Novemeber to February and constant wet from April until September.

At school we put the Thunia pots up on a shelf where they will be completely dry once the leaves have dropped in November. In February we repot into fresh compost and slowly introduce watering avoiding getting too much water on the foliage until the plants are growing strongly.

It is fair to say that there is some confusion over the naming of Thunias as once seperate species Thunia alba and Thunia marshalliana are now considered synonymous.


365 days of orchids – day 179 – Gomesa flexuosa

This Brazillian species has recently been transferred from Oncidium to Gomesa along with many of the Brazillian oncidiums. It is native the the Mata Atlantica forests running along the Atlantic Coast of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina. It is found from as an epiphyte from coastal marshes up to 1200m and adapted to the seasonal dry period by growing a mass of roots. We grow the species mounted as it has something of a climbing habit with each pseudobulb growing above the previous one.

It is a reliable tough species and delivers real impact each summer with masses of small yellow flowers on branched flower spikes as shown in the photographs. It has featured in our displays at Hampton Court Flower Show but moving it is always a bit of a problem as its roots will have grown and fixed it firmly the the wire mesh we support our mounted plants on.

We have seen similar species in Brazil where the mass of yellow flowers in the canopy can be seen hundreds of metres across a valley.