Every October we eagerly await the flowering of this gorgeous species from Brazil.
This is a medium sized plant with flowers 12cm across that are very large for the plant. This lovely orchid is native to the Mata Atlantica coastal forests of eastern Brazil. It is found at around 800m, in habitat we have visited, where it grows as a lithophyte or epiphyte in seasonally dry forest that experiences wet warm summers and cooler dryer winters.
The flowers are best looked at from above (photos above) as the plant is clearly attracting pollinators that fly over the flowers.
Our plants usually produce between two and four flowers on a strong stem and have a single stiff leaf on each bulb. The natural habitat suggests that plants need intermediate temperatures (min 14C) but we find that plants do well both in Warm Americas (minimum 16C) and Cool Americas (minimum 12C). New growths produce few thick roots and we find that these do best in baskets where there is excellent drainage but we can water heavily in summer. The secret to maintain good flowering is looking after these thick roots and in course bark and a well drained basket they live for several years especially if we take care to remove any ferns that appear.
It is sad to report that this plant has become very scarce in its natural habitat mostly as a result of habitat loss, and today is a good time send our best wishes to our amazing conservation friends in Brazil who are doing all that they can to protect their wonderful diversity.
We have two new species, Epidendrum radicans and Stelis cuculata (above) at the shop from today. This brings the number of different species offered since April to 120! Both species are native to Central America.
We have also restocked with plants of Masdevallia mystica and Epidendrum centropetalum (below)
The British Biologist J.B.S Haldane is credited with the observation “From the fact that there are 400,000 species of beetles on this planet, but only 8,000 species of mammals, I conclude that the Creator, if he exists, has a special preference for beetles.” In a similar vein I would note that if the Creator, if she exists, is partial to stelis species – and so are we. In all there are around 500 stelis species, and we have seen several species in situ, in Brazil and Costa Rica on our school expeditions, demonstrating to beauty of these small flowered orchids.
Stelis hallii is a small growing (6cm leaves) but relatively large flowered stelis species is found in cool mossy forests in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru as an epiphyte or lithophyte from 1200 to 3000m altitude. The species is very at home in our Cool Americas section (min 12C) well watered throughout the year. It rewards us with a mass of flowers every autumn and a few flowers on and off at other times throughout the year.
This stunning orchid species is native to the Philippines where it grows in damp evergreen forest above 1200m altitude. We grow the plant in our warm asia section with conditions very similar to the habitat (min 17C) and it is clearly very at home. We grow the plant in a large basket (a free crate from the local market) and we water it daily.
New flowers come from the centre of the new growths every autumn and are long lasting and fragrant. The plan is particularly impressive with its contrast between the cream flowers and dark green leaves.
This year the plant is extraordinary with 89 spikes and we estimate over 3000 flowers.
Several people have been asking me about this gorgeous species after seeing it as a botton hole earlier in the week (below).
Odontoglossum hallii-elegans is native to Ecuador and forms a large growing plant with long spikes of 8cm wide flowers. Odontoglossums have now been included in Oncidium but as a genus Odontoglossum is useful as the species that were included share cultural requirements – cool, damp shade similar to their cloud forest homes – that differs from the majority of Oncidium species that come from lower altitudes and dryer forests.
We find Odontoglossum species do particularly well hung in baskets and watered daily throughout the year. We grow the species in our Cool Americas section.