Diplophora truncata – 365 days of orchids – day 1761

Diplophora truncata is a little jewel of a species with pretty flowers on pendulous flower stems. The flowers are long lasting and the spikes that have opened this week will still be in flower in the new year.

This fascinating little orchid species is one of only two species of Diploprora. We came across Doploprora championii in Sikkim where it could easily be confused with a small Phalaenopsis when  not in flower. Diploprora truncata becomes pendulous as it grows and produces spikes of delightful little flowers with an unusual forked tip to the lip.

It is always interesting to research a new species and this is very much enhanced by the initiatives to digitise herbaria. The type specimen is held at Kew and dated 1911 (below)

This is one of the collections made by A.F.G Kerr, a pioneering botanist in Thailand.

Diploprora truncata is recorded from Arunachal Pradesh as well as Thailand where it is found in warm forests from 1200-1700m altitude. We have explored this habitat in Arunachel Pradesh, where summers are warm and wet ,with cooler dryer winters, although we water plants throughout the year, and we grow with a minimum temperature of 17C.


Cattleya cernua – 365 days of orchids – day 1761

Another Cattleya species today but this is a stunning miniature orchid that we can rely on for seasonal scarlet flowers every December.

Cattleya cernua is a Brazilian miniature species, with 4cm long leaves and 3cm bulbs, until recently known as Sophronitis cernua. It is native to South Eastern Brazil where it is found as an epiphyte in warm woodland close to the beach or further inland. We find that it does best when mounted on cork and completely free of moss so that it dries out completely between waterings. We grow plants in Warm Americas (min 15C) in good light where we spray it daily.

The plants shown here were split three to four years ago and they have produced extensive root systems well suited to a dry habitat. The flowers are quite small at 25mm across but a mature plant is covered in flowers and really gives a good display.


Cattleya walkeriana – 365 days of orchids – day 1760


It must be nearly Christmas with the flowers opening on our Cattleya walkeriana.

Cattleya walkeriana is an unusual Cattleya as it produces flowers on spikes produced from the base of the newly matured pseudobulbs, while other Cattleya species (apart from Cattleya nobilor) produce their flowers from the top of the pseudo-bulb. The flowers themselves are also very distinct flowers and it is therefore difficult to confuse this plant with other species.

Cattleya walkeriana grows as an epiphyte in dryish areas often along streams across a broad area of Southern Brazil. It behaves rather as a xerophyte coping with long periods of high temperatures and little rainfall.

In cultivation we try to replicate the hot, dry, bright conditions it experiences in the wild by hanging it in a basket high in the roof of Warm Americas. We water it well when in growth but in the winter give it very little water. This helps us to grow large plump pseudobulbs but avoid rotting roots or bulbs in the winter. If you look closely at the basket you will see that it doesn’t contain much composts and no moss so that roots dry out very quickly after watering.

The species is a regular November/December flowerer.


Masdevallia oreas – 365 days of orchids – day 1759

Another delightful miniature today with the diminutive Masdevallia oreas that always looks its best in November.

This miniature species is endemic to cloud forests of Bolivia, and is one of the smallest masdevallias we grow. The plant shown here is in a 5.5cm pot with 4cm leaves and 5cm flower spikes. The flowers are large for the plant and long lasting.

We grow the species both mounted and in small pots, and it seems very happy both ways in a shady spot in our Cool Americas section.

We find that the secret of success with species such as this is a really heavy watering regime which means it can cope with any hot dry spells in the summer, although misty November is much more to its liking.


Stelis benzingii – 365 days of orchids – day 1758

Tiny flowers feature today with one of our floriferous Stelis species.

Stelis benzingii is a medium sized members of the genus with 12cm leaves and long spikes with densely packed 6mm triangular flowers.

The species is endemic to Ecuador where it grows in warm lowland forests although we have found that the species does equally well in either our Warm Americas or Cool Americas sections. It does seem to be a shade lover and we have had leaves burn in April sun when not shaded.

In common with many stelis species the flowers of Stelis benzingii have tiny hairs. The hairs are white and confined to the edges of the sepals, giving the red flowers ‘snowy’ tips and a christmassy feel – very appropriate with December approaching.