365 days of orchids – day 540 – Masdevallia chaparensis

This wonderfully spotted purple Masdevallia species is endemic to Bolivia where it grows in mossy cloud forrest between 2400-2800m altitude and so our plants enjoy cool damp conditions in Cool Americas where it flourishes in a small basket.

Masdevallia is a lovely genus to grow giving varied flowers throughout the year on mostly small growing plants. If you can provide the cool, shaded and damp conditions that most of the genus enjoy plants bulk up and propagate easily by division.


365 days of orchids – day 539 – Angraecum elephantinum

The name elephantinum means gigantic angraecum but it is actually one our smallest Angraecum species.

This plant is flowering for the second time six years out of flask and is just 6cm high and 8cm across. Of course it is the flower that is gigantic compared to the plant and it pretty much hides the whole plant.

The species comes from the mountains of Madagascar and the plant can be grown quite cool – we are growing it here at a minimum of 10C.

This plant was one of the BOC babies given away in vitro at our last British Orchid Congress in October 2012 – this was one of the left over small ones – but well worth growing on. We mounted it on cork straight from the flask and it grows wet and bright so sprayed daily and near the top of a cool greenhouse.

We will next host the British Orchid Congress on November 2018 – 2nd to 4th – see you there 🙂 (check out our British Orchid Show tab for more details) I wonder what the free species in-vitro will be this year?


Working with our partners at the Bristol Aquarium

We have had the pleasure of working with the Bristol Aquarium since 2015 and today students spent the evening adding new species to two of the three permanent orchid displays at the Aquarium.

Students; Joe, Ed, Tallis and Jess worked with the Aquarium’s new horticulturalist, Anna, to add new interest for visitors and to review the development of the displays set up in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Over the next two weeks students at Writhlington and Mendip will be designing new interpretation materials and the orchid displays will be fully updated by the end of term in time for summer visitors to enjoy.


365 days of orchids – day 538 – Vanda coerulea

This wonderful species from North East India through to Thailand is one of the ones that stops visitors in their tracks with its large blue/purple flowers and intricate patterning. One of our plants featured at the recent Malvern Show and it wasn’t until we got it out of the greenhouse that we realised it has reached nearly three meters tall.

 Our largest plant at Malvern.

Unfortunately the attractiveness of the species has caused it to become very rare in the wild and it is designated as CITES appendix 1 to help protect surviving populations. It is widely grown from seed although nurseries tend to focus on large round flowered clones (like ours) for propagation rather than embracing the natural diversity within the species.

The plant is native to deciduous monsoon forest from 800 to 1700m which means it prefers cooler temperatures than most large growing lowland Vandas although selective breeding has tended to focus on plants that tolerate warmer conditions to suit commercial orchid production. We grow our plants in Warm Asia where they do very well and eventually produce side growths which will look amazing in another few years.

This summer one plant has five spikes, three from the main stem and two from a side shoots. The plant enjoys dry roots between watering and our plant is ‘in’ a 4 inch basket! Actyually its roots just hand down (about 1m) and watering is by daily spraying of the roots.



365 days of orchids – day 537 – Dendrobium moschatum

This is a warm growing dendrobium speices from the Himalayas through to South east Asia. We have seen plants growing in the hot valleys of Sikkim where we found it growing high in semi-deciduous trees. We also found it in the Lao city of Luang Prabang where it was abundant in trees along the river Mekong.

The species has vary variable flowers both in colour and shape. The Sikkim plants had very large yellow flowers while in Luang Prabang the flowers were smaller but pink. Our plants have bright orange flowers and the cupped lip characteristic of the species.

We grow plants in baskets hung high in Warm Asia during the summer but moved to the coller conditions of Cool Americas during the winter to stimulate flowering.