Isabellia pulchella – 365 days of orchids – day 1116

 Late last night I was came across this jewel in the greenhouse.

You could described Isabellia pulchella as a miniature orchid and though it flowers as a tiny plant, it grows into wonderful specimen plant over time. This plant has made a ball around a small basket and for the next few weeks will been covered in yummy little pink flowers from the top of the newest bulbs.

Isabellia pulchella is native to cloud forest in the Mata Atlantica and enjoys growing cool and moist in our Cool Americas section and the moss growing in this plant has grown there by itself (we keep the moss under control so that it doesn’t smother the plant). As you can see the plant grows out in all directions and we find that wrapping it back on itself helps to keep a compact plant. The opnly problem we find is ferns growing as weeds in the basket and some weeding is needed here later today.


Pleurothallis ruscifolia – 365 days of orchids – day 1115

Regular readers will be aware that we are very fond of orchid species we have had the fortune of observing in their native habitat. One of these flowering today is Pleurothaliis ruscifolia, a species we have seen growing in Costa Rica.

Pleurothallis ruscifolia is a medium sized plant that produces clusters of small creamy yellow flowers several times during the year.We found the species growing abundantly in cool wet forest in Costa Rica on the Poas volcano at an altitude of around 1400m. The photo below was taken in Costa Rica by one of the students on our 2005 expedition and shows how the flowers shine out when caught in a shaft of sunlight breaking through the lush canopy above.

Most of the plants we saw were growing on the trunks or lower branches of large evergreen trees and so spent much of their time in deep shade. We visited Costa Rica in July and found that on Poas it rained heavily every day. The rain usually arrived at about 12.30 and continued until about 4pm. We grow the species mounted and in pots in Cool Americas and keep it watered all year to reflect the climate it has evolved for but don’t stick rigidly to the Costa Rican timings for watering each day.

Don’t forget to vote for orchid of the year – voting closes on Friday.


Ada brachypus – 365 days of orchids – day 1114


There is still time to vote for your orchids of the year – many thank to all those who have voted already.

A miniature that we didn’t include in our Miniature Orchid of the Year class was Ada brachypus that is miniature member of the Oncidium family and comes from the cloud forests of Ecuador where it grows in moss from 1200 to 2400m altitude. Plants grow to about 8cm high.

We find this plant does best in 3cm pots and baskets amongst miniature masdevallia species in Cool Americas where we keep it well watered throughout the year.

The flowers are produced from maturing growths and, although small, plants quickly form clumps and so produce many flowers together to give a charming display. This is yet another example of the wonderful diversity of Orchid Species.


Bulbophyllum ambrosia – 365 days of orchids – day 1113



This wonderful bulbophyllum is making a fantastic display this morning with 74 flowers and buds produces from its ball of bulbs and leaves, and what is more, Bulbophyllum ambrosia is one of our most fragrant orchids with a wonderful scent of sweet warm honey.

As you can see from the photos this is a a very pretty species that produces masses of single flowers on very thin stems so that they appear to float around the plant. The species is native to Southern China and Vietnam where it grows in lowland evergreen forest, and we find it does well in our Warm Asia section kept shaded, and watered, throughout the year. We have visited the habitat in Laos where there is a distinct winter cool, dry season and in cultivation the naturally cooler temperatures from November to January do the trick and initiate the abundant flowering. A real treat on a grey January morning.

The species has a potentially straggly growth habit with a few cm between each bulb and so it is well suited to a basket of open bark mix where it can be tied back into the basket as it grows and eventually form a ball covered in flowers.