Greenpod – Sowing half a million seeds of Cymbidium hookerianum

Today we sowed Cymbidium hookerianum seeds using the green pod method. The seed pod has been maturing since we pollinated flowers in January 2017 and we are sowing seed just as this year’s flowers open on parent plants (see photo above). One of the seed pods has split (the seed has been dried and stored) while the other pod has been sown by Jess, Joe and Tallis in our propagation lab.

We started by trimming dried flower parts of the seed pod and then soaking it in 50% supermarket bleach for twenty minutes to sterilze the outside of the pod. The picture shows that we needed an 1000ml beaker instead of our usual jam jar to soak the pod.

After twenty minutes in bleach we rinsed the pod in sterile water.

Jess then cut the end off the pod with a sterile scalpel. All the work was done in a laminar flow cabinet to give clean air and hands were washed and the cleaned with hand sanitiser.

Seed was then shaken into prepared sterile jars of growing media and the lids sealed. Our aim is to sow around 500 seeds into each jar and we completed 100 jars so that is half a million seeds. The rest of the seed was shaken onto paper and will be dried for storage in the seed bank.

We will keep you posted on the progress of the seed and our hopes of taking seedlings to our partner schools in Sikkim.

It is fortunate that we have a large and dedicated lab team as seed sowings like this mark the start of many thousands of hours in the propagation lab to raise seedlings to the stage that they can be taken out of their sterile jars and grown on.


365 days of orchids – day 369 – Cymbidium erythraeum


This delicate Himalayan species has very long lasting flowers and is in bloom from the end of December until the end of March. It has long thin dark green leaves and small flowers (8cm across) well spaced on long arching flower spikes.

We have seen the species growing abundantly in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in wet, evergreen, monsoon forests at around 2000m altitude though it is reported from 1000 to 2400m and right across from Nepal in the west to Southern China and Vietnam in the East. We have always seen plants high in large trees competing with other epiphytes including orchids (coelogyne and dendrobium species) and ferns.

We grow the species very cool (min 6C) in out Temperate section and keep plants well watered throughout the year.



365 days of orchids – day 368 – Cattleya pecivaliana


This species is one of our most reliable Christmas and New Year orchids. Many of the uni-foliate Cattleya species look superficially similar but we find that one of the clearest distinctions is flowering time. C. percivaliana is also identifiable by the single sheath, the short (15cm) flattened pseudobulbs, and by the rather deep and circular markings on the lip rather than the distinct colour zones present in most species such as Cattleya trianae which is our February cattleya (shown below)

Cattleya percivaliana is endemic to Venezuela where it is found as an epiphyte and on rocks from 1400-2000m altitude in good light. We grow the species in Warm Americas and hang plants in baskets above the door.


Orchid Project techniques – Dividing and mounting orchids

 Spring is the busiest time for dividing and repotting/ mounting plants in our collection.

The Plant of Masdevallia decumana shown in the photo needs dividing and remounting as the cork is deteriorating and the plant would benefit from fresh cork to root to.


We start by sterilising scissors (we don’t want to spread and diseases especially viruses) and drilling three holes in some fresh cork.

The plant is then pulled off the old cork bark and pulled apart into natural clumps – this plant turned into four clumps.

Thick support wire is put in the top hole in the cork. A clump of Masdevallia is placed in the centre of the cork to be tied on with thin wire (we never add any moss as we find mounted plants do best when their roots can grow straight onto the cork) with the newest part of the plant against the cork (this is where new roots will come from)

Finally the the thin wire goes around the roots just below the stems and through two holes in the cork. A twist at the back ensures that the plant is held firmly until new roots grow onto the bark.