365 days of orchids – day 611 – Dracula amaliae

This Dracula species is native to cloud forests in Colombia at around 1800m altitude. As with most Draculas it is pollinated by fungus gnats and attracts them with a fake mushroom shaped lip. This also give the ‘Monkey Face’ look shared by a number of species.

We grow the plant in Cool Americas but find we need to give a few Dracula specific conditions for the plant to flourish. Firstly it needs to be grown in  a basket (as you can see here) as many of the flowers grow downwards from the base of the leaves. Secondly it enjoys being very damp and heavily shaded. We find that the easy way to provide these conditions is to hang the dracula’s basket below another plant in a basket providing shade and added moisture. The level of moisture is shown by the natural growth of moss on the basket.

The final requirement is to avoid high temperatures which cause brown patches on the leaves and leaf drop. This is also helped by hanging below another plant as the dracula is at around waist height and not it the warmer air near the top of the greenhouse.

This all sounds quite complicated but as you can see the plant grows very happily when it likes its spot and we have twenty flowers or buds on the plant this morning.


365 days of orchids – day 610 – Barbosella australis


This species is a real miniature with 5mm leaves along a creeping rhizome and relatively large flowers single produced in profusion. Barbosella australis is native to Southern Brazil (australis means ‘southern’ and doesn’t refer to Australia – the southern land) and we have seen related species in Brazil at around 1200m in primary forest where a colony can clothe the lower branches of a tree. The species produces a profusion of flowers from both new and older leaves.

We find that the only way we can grow this species well is mounted on bark where it can grow where it wants and eventually surround the cork mount as our plant has here. We spray our plants once a day.


365 days of orchids – day 609 – Cymbidium dayanum

Most of our Cymbidium species are cool growing and flower in the winter months but this species reliably flowers at the end of August.

Cymbidium dayanum is a very graceful warm growing Cymbidium native to lowland forests from Sikkim in the west to Japan in the east and south through South East Asia to the Philippines and Malaysia. Plants are reported to grow low down on trunks in evergreen forests where conditions will be shaded and humid. Compared to most other warm growing Cymbidium species C. dayanum has thin and delicate leaves reflecting the habitat it has evolved to suit. Most warm growing cymbidiums have heavy thick leaves and are adapted to cope with dryer conditions and this difference needs to be noted in Cymbidium dayanum care. We grow plants in constant shade in our Warm Asia section and keep plants watered throughout the year. Plants respond by flowering profusely as shown in the photographs and the flowers are long lasting and fragrant.

The flower spikes are sharply pendulous and so baskets work well for the species.


365 days of orchids – day 608 – Cattleya bicolor

This dramatic orchid species is native to Brazil where it is found as an epiphyte on trees or lithophyte on rocks near the atlantic coast or inland in damp forests up to around 1200m. It is reported as restricted to rocks near water in dryer areas.

We grow plants in baskets of course bark but keep them well watered through the summer which is the wet season in the wild, and dont let pseudo bulbs shrivel when kept a little dryer in the winter.

We grow the species in Warm Americas (min 15C) though the range of the plant indicates that it could be grown a little warmer too.



365 days of orchids – day 607 – Pleurothallis sonderana

A miniature orchid that has had a lot of interest at the Bee and Pollination festival is Pleurothallis sonderana.

The species is endemic to Southern Brazil where it grows as an epiphyte in cool moist forest.

We find Pleurothallis sonderana is a vigorous plant that forms a great little specimen and can be easily propagated by division. We always grow the species mounted and the plant shown has completely covered its 3cm x 4cm cork mount.

We grow plants shaded in Cool Americas and spray it daily.