It is a joy to see this unusually coloured orchid in flower again. One real advantage of posting our orchids in flower every day is that we can look back and understand flowering patterns. I can now confidently report that this species flowers twice a year in spring and again in autumn. This is not a big surprise as the species grows on the equator and so has a climate with two short dryer periods and the flowering of this species corresponds to the two peaks in rainfall.
One of our passions is the special relationship between orchid species and their pollinators, and today’s orchid of the day is one of our favourite ant pollinated orchids.
This remarkable orchid is endemic to Mount Kinabalu where it grows in wet evergreen forest above 1000m. The species has striking greyish, blue flowers with a purple anther cap and field observations show that the flowers are ant pollinated which explains the clustered flowers on very short spikes.
We grow the species in small baskets from which the plants grow in a relaxed upright fashion. Plants seem very at home in our Warm Asia section with a minimum of 17C with some shade, throughout the year, amongst other species native to the amazing forests of Borneo.
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 photo below shows Zoe and Zoe on our 2013 expedition to Sikkim by a a good sized Cymbidium aliofolium close to the Gangtok Road.
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). Cymbidium aliofolium in Sikkim below.
This lovely cymbidium species is a star of the early 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 this weekend’s September sunshine.
Cymbidium dayanum is the one found in the Himalayas, through Southern China and Japan, where it is a native of lowland forests, 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.
We are pleased to report that we have seedlings of this rarely offered species doing really well in flask, and expect to have them for sale in about 12 months.
Another miniature species today.
Pleurothallis sub-picta is one of our true miniature pleurothallis species with leaves just 4cm long, and it produces intriguing relatively large flowers on relaxed spikes.
The species is native to Brazillian cloud forest around 1000m, a habitat we have explored in our two expeditions to the coastal rainforest of Rio State. The climate here is moist even in the dryer winter season and minimum temperatures are around 10-12C.
We find that Pleurothallis sub-picta is a strong growing little plant if kept damp and in some shade. The long lasting flowers have unusually long pinkish petals. Plants produce spikes over a long period.