365 days of orchids – day 486 – Prosthechea venezuelana

This is the first flowering for us of a delicate Prosthechea species native to Venezuela (as the name would suggest) as well as Colombia and Ecuador. It is reported to grow in wet lowlnd forests and so we are growing it in Warm Americas (Min 16C) at bench level where it will stay damper than plant hung high in the roof.

The flowers are large for the size of the plant and produced in profusion and as usual for the genus are beautifully scented. We are hoping to set seed this week and add this to our species in flask. The plant is a little spreading in its growth habit and so we have the plant in a basket to allow it to develop into a relaxed specimen.


365 days of orchids – day 485 – Bifrenaria harrisoniae

This time of year is always marked for us at Orchid Project by the delightful scent of this Brazilian species. The flowers are long lasting if kept dry and if you are into scented plants this is a must have species. We are pleased to say we have lots of seedlings in flask about six months from sale.

The species is native to the Mata Atlantica, Brazil, and in 2001 our expedition came across it growing on a bare granite mountain side West of Nova Friburgo.

As the photo shows, plants are growing in full sun with their roots holding firmly to the rock and very little around the plant to retain moisture. This rock was dry in the winter when we visited but would be running with water for much of the wet summer season. After seeing the plant in the wild we adjusted our growing of the species to give more light but keep cool temperatures (the altitude was around 1000m) and we grow plants in the unshaded south facing doorway of the Cool Americas section.


Orchid Project students aim for zero waste

Orchid project students are leading the way at Writhlington by aiming for zero waste. Our eleven bins will allow us to sort all our recycling ourselves and students are trying to eliminate single use plastics from their lunch boxes. Each week we will monitor our ‘land fill bin’ to measure our progress to zero waste. we will also be campaigning for local recycling of the difficult waste like film. More details to follow.


365 days of orchids – day 484 – Stelis superbiens

This is the largest flowered of our many Stelis species and the soft pinky-brown flowers give a subtle but beautiful display.

The species is found from Mexico right through Central and South America to Peru. It grows a little lower than many of our very cool growing stelis from 1000-2000m altitude in damp forest. Despite being a little warmer growing than the rest we treat this species the same as out=r other Stelis – growing it in a small basket and keeping in well watered and shady throughout the year.


365 days of orchids – day 483 – Masdevallia coccinea


This extraordinary masdevallia species produces masses of large brightly coloured flowers in a range of colours including white, yellow, red and pink. It comes from Colombia and Peru where it grows in cool wet forest up to 3000m altitude. At the moment we have our dwarf pink form in full flower – dwarf for Masdevallia coccinea means that the flower spikes are up to 20cm long but the flowers are still large – and the alba variety which is a more normal size with 40cm flower stems. The long flower spikes hold the flowers well clear of the leaves for its humming bird pollinator.

We still have our large pink clone to flower (hopefully for the Three Counties Show where it won Best Trade Species last year)

We grow all of our Masdevallia coccineas in baskets and find that they enjoy the moist conditions and excellent drainage alowing the thick roots to flourish.