This small growing Vanda species (which is also known as Ascocentrum ampulaceum) is one of the most dramatic species we have seen flowering in Sikkim on our expeditions.
It grows abumdantly as an epiphyte in hot valleys from 200-500m altitude where it clings to trunks, branches and twigs if deciduous and semi-evergreen trees . It has to cope with a dry winter exposed to the sun and it does this by developing a very extensive root system that can store a lot of water. (see plant in site below)
Note the lack of moss on the tree trunk showing the dry conditions experienced at low altitude in the dry season. We grow this species in a basket in open bark compost and keep it in Warm Asia (min 20C) for most of the year apart from a short completely dry rest in the roof of Cool Asia (minimum 10C) during February. Moving the plant back to warm conditions initiates flowering.
This beautiful orchid is native to Loas, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It grows as a terrestrial or lithophyte in deep shade in primary forest from 300-2000m showing that it can tolerate a wide range of temperatures providing it is kept moist and shaded. We find it to be one of the easier Paphs to grow and plants flower regularly each summer.
As with most Paphiopedilum species plants are unsustainably collected from their habitat and illegally exported and sold as cultivated plants. In Laos we have seen large amounts collected from South East Laos for sale in the markets of Thailand or sold to unscrupulous nurseries. This is a terrible shame for the survival of the species as well as destroying opportunities for eco tourism and development in a very poor part of the world. Orchids are easy to raise from seed and produce sustainably.
Wild collected plants of Paphiopedilum callosum in Laos ready for illegal export to Thailand
We are delighted that the new dissecting microscopes for the Mendip Studio School have arrived and have been put to use immediately to help us to pollinate miniature orchid flowers. Look out for lots of miniatures in flask in future.
This warm growing species from Central America is locally called the coconut orchid as it produces a powerful fragrance which is unmistakably coconut.
We have seen the species in the wild in Guatemala growing in drying lowland forest. We found it mostly on the trunk of trees or on lower branches where it has some shade. The plant has an ascending habit with a rhizome that grows bulbs progressively upwards which can make potting inconvenient and we grow plants mounted or in baskets in our Warm Americas section.
Masdevallia ludibundella is a miniature masdevallia with large dramatic flowers (the plant here is in a 3cm pot). The species comes from Colombia and enjoys the cool wet conditions that most of our masdevallias enjoy in the Cool Americas section of the greenhouse.
The flowers are long lasting and held well clear of the leaves. Given conditions it likes the plant multiplies quite quickly too – a brilliant little species.