365 days of orchids – day 430 – Paphiopedilum tonsum

There are always Paphs in flower in the greenhouses and one to look forward to every March is Paphiopedilum tonsum. This species which is native to North and Central Sumatra where it is found from 1000-1800m altitude as a terrestrial in deep humus and deep shade.

We have found that the species resents bright light and we keep it well shaded all year by both shading and the natural shade of large plants that grow above it.

In these conditions the attractive leaves flourish and flowers are produces on long vertical stems giving it a very stately presence. Plants flower throughout the spring and early summer with large plants flowering over a long period. As we mentioned in a previous post the likely pollinator is a wasp that will be temporarily trapped in the pouch before climbing to freedom up a ‘ladder’ of hairs at the back of the pouch, pushing past the stigmatic surface and emerging with the sticky pollen attached and ready to pass to the next flower it visits.


365 days of orchids – day 429 – Dendrobium bracteosum var. tanii

Dendrobium species have featured heavily on 365 days of orchids and we have 31 species with included in our ‘Orchid Species Information’ list. Today’s species is a small warm growing species that has been listed as a new species Dendrobium tanii by some authorities but is generally considered a variety of Dendrobium bracteosum.

Dendrobium bracteosum var tanii is a much more compact grower than other varieties of Dendrobium bracteosum and appears to be found only on the Maluku (Mollucas) Islands of Indonesia. It is found in a wide range of colour forms and ours start out deep pink and fade to light pink with age. The species is restricted to lowland forests and mangrove and so it enjoys warm temperatures in our Warm Asia section.

We grow the species mounted and each year it produces longer bulbs and so we are looking forward to seeing its full potential in the future. It repeat flowers from older bulbs that have lost their leaves and the flowers are very long lived.


365 days of orchids – day 428 – Odontoglossum cristatum (Oncidium cristatum)

Today’s star orchid in the greenhouse has to be Odontoglossum cristatum with our mature plant presenting ten spikes in flower as well as more in bud still to come.

Odontoglossum cristatum is native to Ecuador and Colombia where it is found in cloud forest from 1500-2600 m altitude and so it is very well suited to growing in our Cool Americas section. I have always known this plant as Odontoglossum cristatum but odontoglossum species have been included in Oncidium on the basis of molecular studies.

Our plants go back to a seedling purchased in 1996 and since then we have grown the species in pots, mounted and in baskets. We find that the species particularly enjoys a basket where it produces masses of roots and can grow into a specimen. The plant photographed today began flowering in December and will still be in flower at the end of April. We have other plants have spikes ready to open in April and flower until June.We keep plants watered all year as they are always in growth.


365 days of orchids – day 427 – Dendrobium x suffusum


This is a natural hybrid from Australia that is one of the prettiest and most floriferous of our cool growing dendrobiums. The parents are Dendrobium kingianum and Dendrobium gracilicaule and it is a medium sized plant that grows into a specimen quite quickly. Pseudobulbs up to 40cm high carry spays of many 1cm flowers with a lovely fragrance. In the past this clone ‘Writhlington’ has won two Certificates of cultural Commendation from the RHS.

At school this species succeeds Cool Asia(min.10C) with good light with lots of water in the summer, but dryish in the winter.



365 days of orchids – day 426 – Cattleya harpophylla

This brightly coloured Brazilian species is found as an epiphyte from 500 to 900m. Exploring similar forests we have found them to have wet summers and dryer but not completely dry winters. We find plants enjoy growing in shade in Cool Americas both mounted and in baskets but kept well watered in the summer and damp in the winter

In common with other red and orange cattleyas this species is pollinated by hummingbirds. The bright orange flowers glow out in our winter greenhouse and the same must be true in its natural habitat – a species well worth growing.