365 days of orchids – day 28 – Dendrobium kiauense

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Today we have another Dendrobium with an unusual growth form. Dendrobium kiauense is one of a group of dendrobiums that grow stems of alternate overlapping leaves. The pretty little flowers emerge along the stem in little clusters and are produced several times throughout the year.

dendrobium kiauense plant

We find the plant enjoys growing in a small basket of lumpy bark compost as you can see in this photo.

The species is native to the lower forests of Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, on the Island of Borneo. We have seen related species in Sikkim and Laos and found them growing on lower branches and trunks on evergreen trees in shade implying that the species prefers protection from full sun. Our plant grows in the Warm Asia section (minimum 17C)


365 days of orchids – day 27 – Dendrobium teretifolium var. aureum

dendrobium teretefolium 2 dendrobium teretefolium

Hello it is Otto here. I am one of the people who takes the photos with Joe and Ben. Today we have Dendrobium teretifolium var aureum for orchid of the day. This orchid is from the New South Wales and Queensland districts of Australia. The conditions we keep it in is in Cool Americas as it is a very similar to the natural habitat with coolish temperatures of minimum 12C in winter.

This is an unusual orchid because it has terete leaves which means that the leaves are thin and cylindrical. This is usually an adaptation to cope with dry conditions and for this Dendrobium the winters are cool and dry in its natural habitat so we grow the plant on a bare cork bark mount where it can stay nice and dry between waterings. The plant also produces a lot of thick roots and with the plant in the photo these roots have attached firmly to the mesh support so the orchid will not be moving for a while and at some point we will have to pull it free.



365 days of orchids – day 26 – Pleurothallis galeata

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Today we have another of our wonderful small flowered orchids. Pleurothallis galeata is a medium sized plant that produces sprays of around twenty pretty little flowers from the base of every leaf.

The species grows at an altitude of around 2000-3000m in South American cloud forest and so we grow the plant in Cool Americas (Minimum 12C) The species seems to do well in pots or mounted and produces a lot of fine roots suggesting it is an easy plant to grow. Our plant regularly produce keikis (young plants) on older leaves and so we are able to propagate the species easily. A must for any collection.

By the way our close up photos are taken by students using a macro lens on an iPad or iPhone. Plant and flowers shown below.

pleurothallis galeata


365 days of orchids – day 25 – Prosthechea aemula


Hi Laura here. I am part of the team in charge of warm America. I have chosen Prosthechea aemula which is in full flower this morning and filling the section with scent. 

This orchid is found over a wide range in Central and South America and has been recorded in Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago and Brazil. The species grows in wet montane forests and have a sweet Play-doh smell (that’s what we think anyway). They grow at an elevation of 600-1800 meters high and so like warm or intermediate temperatures. We grow these orchids in our Warm Americas section which has a minimum of 15 degrees.

The sweet Play-doh scent is a very strong smell that actually fills the whole greenhouse and really lets you know that Prosthechea aemula is in flower. This species comes into flower every January and lasts for about six weeks.


365 days of orchids – day 24 – Cymbidium hookerianum

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Hello, today’s orchid is the Cymbidium hookerianum. It is a Himilayan mountain orchid that we keep in temperate because it likes it really cool to replicate its Sikkim home. Although we have had this orchid for 10 years, it has only recently flowered for the first time!

Tabby says, “I think it is a very beautiful orchid because of the lovely contrast between white and yellow and the pretty texture of the lip.” We all agree that this is a really spectacular orchid.

We have found that the secret to flowering the species (we have two different clones flowering today) is to look closely at the conditions it enjoys in its natural habitat. In our many trips to Sikkim (2005, 2009, 2010 and 2012) we have seen lots of plants of Cymbidium hookerianum growing in forest from around 1600m to 2500m, and growing on trees in evergreen cool tropical forest, but most plants have been non flowering with no evidence of old flower spikes. However the plants on old dead trees have been flowering heavily and carrying large numbers of large seed pods.

This evidence suggests that to flower well this species enjoys the extra nutrient that becomes available when the tree that supports it starts to rot. We therefore now give our plants additional plant food during the growing season and we have been rewarded with flowers. We also now grow this plant in our temperate section with a winter minimum of just 5C and the plants clearly love the cool conditions.