Cymbidium aliofolium – 365 days of orchids – day 1368

We have seen Cymbidium aliofolium growing abundantly in seasonally dry hot forest in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Laos where it is the most common epiphyte in lowland forests. The natural habitat is warm and has a distinct dry season which Cymbidium aliofolium is addapted for with its very thick leaves. The species flowers on and off throughout the year and usually produces a number of spikes in early Autumn.

We find these warm growing Cymbidiums respond well to growing in baskets hung high in our Warm Asia section where they grow hot and bright but we take care to keep them really wet during the summer (monsoon season in the natural habitat)


Dendrobium fairchildiae – 365 days of orchids – day 1367

This is a really large dendrobium with pseudobulbs over 2m long which start by growing upwards and eventually become pendulous.

Dendrobium fairchildiae is native to the Philippines and one of the stars of the Greenhouse in Autumn. Pseudobulbs become deciduous before flowering over a period of several years.

The flowers are produced simultaneously on old bulbs aged from around two to five years old and form clusters near the end of the bulbs. The flowers are large (5cm across) and attractively splashed in pink. With six pseudobulbs flowering together this plant is making a lovely display.

The species is reported as growing on exposed rocks above 1200m but we find it does best in a basket hung high in Warm Asia so that the long pseudobulbs can hang freely (see below). There are no flowers on the actively growing bulbs that still have leaves.

We have recently repotted the plant into a mushroom tray and it enjoys lots of water throughout the year.


Bulbophyllum guttulatum – 365 days of orchids – day 1366

This is a very free flowering and rewarding Bulbophyllum found from the Himalayas across to Vietnam in evergreen monsoon forest from 800 to 2000m. Its 2cm flowers have wonderful spotting (well worth zooming in on the photos)

We know this habitat well from our travels in Sikkim with its warm wet summers. The winters are dryer but plants would not experience long periods with no moisture and so keep their rather soft lush leaves. We water plants throughout the year and find they grow well both in pots and baskets. As the range of the plant indicates, the species is not too fussy about temperature and with us grows in any of our sections with minimum temperatures above 10C though it seems to marginally prefer the warmest temperatures of Warm Asia. It may be that our clone has its genetic origins in the lower altitudinal range.

The species usually flowers twice a year and thewre are more spikes to come on our mature plant.


Cymbidium dayanum – 365 days of orchids – day 1365

This species gives a fantastic display each autumn with multiple pendulous spikes of large dramatically striped, long lasting and fragrant flowers. Plants are compact for a cymbidium – this plant is in a 15cm basket. It looks wonderful in this week’s September sunshine.

Todays variety of Cymbidium dayanum is the one found in the Himalayas, through Southern China and Japan, with striking red and white flowers on pendulous spikes. It is a native of lowland forests where it is reported growing on trunks and lower branches of large trees in shade. We know this habitat well from our trips to Sikkim, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh where lowland forests are semi-evergreen, hot and wet in the summer but much dryer and significantly cooler in the winter. We recreate these conditions, growing plants in constant shade in our Warm Asia section. We keep plants watered throughout the year but much wetter in the summer.

It is very interesting again this year to have Cymbidium dayanum flowering alongside Cymbidium augustifolium (below) which is considered to be a variety of Cymbidium dayanum from Borneo.

Although the different versions of the species show clear similarities the differences seem significant to my team of growers in Warm Americas and I repeat them here for anyone who missed my teams analysis last year.

  1. Vegetatively the red plant is less than half the size of the striped plant which has leaves more than twice the length and twice the width.
  2. The flowers on the red plant are again around half the size of their striped relation, and most significantly the opening of the lip (lip to column height) is much smaller. This implies that the red form of Cymbidium has a different and smaller pollinator.
  3. The deep red colour of the Sabah form may also indicate a change in pollination strategy from the more common striped form. There is good evidence that many Malaysian red orchids are fly pollinated (see this interesting article) while in Japan the striped variety is reported as being pollinated exclusively by the Japanese honeybee Apis cerana japonica. Could it be that the normal bee pollinators of Cymbidium dayanum are absent from the habitat in Sabah, forcing the species to evolve into a rather different plant through natural selection. (The standard large red and white flowers are not pollinated but some smaller redder flowered plants are pollinated by flies leading to redder and redder flowers over the generations) – perhaps the net stage will be for the red flowered plants to develop an unpleasant small attractive to flies?

While sitting every lunch time and pondering the possibilities of the two varieties of Cymbidium dayanum being or becoming two separate species with different pollination strategies, we would love the opportunity to observe the species in the field and test the hypothesis we have developed.

For those who are wondering, Cymbidium dayanum does not give any reward (such as nectar) to pollinators and is reliant on deceit pollination.


Octomeria densiflora in bud available today

This is a new genus for our online shop. Octomerias are native to Brazil and produce attractive small flowers, often in profusion.


Octomeria grandiflora is a reliable autumn flowering species with of small lemon yellow flowers, the grey-green thick leaves are also very attractive

This beautiful species is native to the Mata Atlantica cool cloud forests of Brazil and a species we found near Macae de Cima on our expeditions in 2001 and 2006 at around 1300m altitude.

All of our plants have come from a single flask in 2001 and we regularly have small divisions for sale. The plants grow well in pots, baskets and mounted.