As expected the RHS London Orchid Show has been cancelled. Here is a reminder of last year – we will really miss the event especially as we have been to every show since 2002.. Don’t worry, 365 days will continue so that we can share the orchids that would have been on display with you. The Devon Orchid Show in May is also postponed (hopefully just until the autumn.) We will keep you updated on any more news.
Our spring cymbidiums would all expect to be heading to shows but we will just have to enjoy them at school this year. Cymbidium lowianum is native to Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and China where it grows as an epiphyte in cool montane forest. Cymbidium lowianum grows into a very large plant and has lovely large pseudobulbs, long thick leaves and very long arching flower spikes that naturally grow out to the side of the plant. We are keen to show off the natural grace of these flower spikes and so do not stake them – though that does have issues for space.
Any large growing orchid species has had to evolve a way of presenting flowers for pollinators clear of the leaves and Cymbidium lowianum has achieved this by growing its spikes out down into what will always be a space if you grow up a tree.
The variety here is concolor which like alba varieties in many orchids has no red pigment in the flowers. The more usual form (below) shows how the red pigment dominates on the lip but also gives stripes on the sepals and petals. Both varieties are lovely but the clear greens and yellow flowers on lowianum concolor are especially arresting.
We grow Cymbidium lowianum with our other Cymbidiums in our Temperate section (minimum 6C) and the standard colour form will be flowering in about two weeks.
To complement Saturday’s Dendrobium gracilicaule we have today’s unusual species from Australia. Dendrobium pugioniforme is a remarkable orchid with thick pointed leaves produced along long pendulous stems. The flowers begin to appear on our plant in early March and the last ones go over at the end of April. As can be seen from the first photo the flowers are non-resupinate (upside down with the lip at the top) and produced in profusion from all along the pendulous stems.
We grow our plant mounted on a largish piece of cork bark but the plant has grown far beyond the mount and now hangs down nearly 2m. We spray the plant daily and hang it up where it gets good light in our Cool Asia section.
Today’s orchid is this giant coelogyne species from the Himalayas. This plant of Coelogyne stricta has been growing at Writhlington since 1995 when it arrived as a single bulb and the plant is now 2m across. Each year it produces long upright spikes of around 15 fragrent white flowers with lovely yellow and orange lip markings. It has reached a point where it has become too big and so later this month we will; make it into around fifty plants.
The species is native to the Himalayas and we have seen some wonderful specimen plants flowering in the forests of Sikkim at around 2000m altitude in cool moist monsoon forest. One plant in particular had completely enveloped the trunk of a large tree – a real site.
The photo shows a close view of flowers on a plant near Tinkitam in Sikkim.
We have another dendrobium today but this one is Native to Australia. This delicate dendrobium species is less commonly seen the much larger growing related species such as Dendrobium speciosum and Dendrobium x delicatum but its nodding creamy yellow flowers with red spotted reverses are very charming.
This species is a reported as native to Queensland and New South Wales Australia as well as New Caledonia where it grows as an epiphtye on trees or lithophyte on rocks from sea level up to 600m altitude.
Like many of the Australian dendrobiums this species flowers from new and older pseudobulbs simultaneously and so when mature produces a fantastic show of flowers.
We grow our plant in our Cool Asia section although its native range indicates it would be happier a little warmer. We grow plants in open bark and water well in the summer but keep them much dryer in the winter.