Masdevallia minuta – 365 days of orchids – day 1311

Masdevallia minuta lives up to its name and is a mini plant with mini flowers. They are, however, gorgeous in white with yellow tails.

Masdevallia minuta is native to Costa Rica to Ecuador and is a mini-miniature and we have a number of species with similar flowers (probably attracting similar pollinators) but this is the smallest growing.

This species enjoys being constantly damp and this results in moss forming on the pot which must be kept under control to stop it out competing the orchid. We grow the plant in our Cool Americas section in shade under other plants where it flourishes and can be divided every few years,




Dendrobium cuthbertsonii ‘red’ – 365 days of orchids – day 1310

The first of our Dendrobium cuthbertsonii plants is in flower and as ever it is beautiful.

This plant is a miniature with 1cm leaves and tiny pseudobulbs that cling tightly to the cork mount, but the flowers are large (2cm across) and incredibly long lasting.

This beautiful species is native to New Guinea where it grows as an epiphyte or lithophyte in mossy high mountain elfin forests. We find that the secret in cultivation is to replicate this habitat and so grow plant cool, bright, wet and windy, at the top of our mesh in Cool Americas. We also find that plants prefer to grow mounted where their roots can establish on cork bark and plants can grow into impressive specimens if well cared for.

The individual flowers last up to 12 months, although we tend to cut them off after a few months to let the plants grow again. This may be an adaptation to provide food to the pollinating bird population throughout the year. Many bird pollinated orchids are unusual in giving nectar even after the flower has been pollinated. Nectar feeding bird species need regular refuelling and so a reliable source of nectar in Dendrobium cuthbertsonii will both sustain the birds and encourage them prioritise its flowers over competing plants.

The species comes in a wide range of colours including red, orange, yellow and pink – we will feature some of these as they come into flower.


New orchids for the Bristol Aquarium

We have been working with the fantastic Bristol Aquarium for many years and today we could supply some new orchids to head horticulturalist Anna to improve the permanent orchid displays for the summer. We had planned to visit the day lockdown was announced so it was great to finally get there.

the orchids are looking great including this Cattleya loddigesii. The fish, octopuses etc  are looking great too.


Masdevallia burslaffiana – 365 days of orchids – day 1309

This small growing floriferous Masdevallia is new to 365 days of orchids. The species has 1cm wide flowers in profusion and with leaves just 5cm long will; make a wonderful specimen when larger.

The species is native to Mexico and Guatemala and research suggests it is variable in colour from yellow to red. Our culture suggests that the plant is not to fussy about temperature and copes well with warm summer days without showing any signs of heat stress. We grow the species in baskets and pots and keep it wet throughout the year.

One great bonus of growing masdevallias is that there are always species in flower. This one is a regular summer flowerer with us and the flowers are long lasting, so there will still be blooms when students return for the Autumn term in September.


Coelogyne pulverula – flower spike over a metre long

I posted Coelogyne pulverula in April but another plant has just flowered with a spike over 1m long (I was clearly wrong when I said ‘up to 100cm long in my April post) with 52 flowers on the spike – see metre rule in the first photo. What a magnificent species.

The species is native to Malaysia, Thailand and Borneo where it grows on the trunks and lower branches of large trees in evergreen forest from 300 to 1800m. We find that the species enjoys growing warm but well shaded and kept moist throughout the year.  We find that leaves can become damaged by bright sun or by plants being allowed to become dry for long periods.