Aerides odorata – 365 days of orchids – day 1612

This exquisite and delightfully fragrant species is another that we have come across in our orchid travels.

We have seen Aerides odorata in Borneo and the Himalayas showing the extensive natural range of the species. In Borneo we found the species flowering at the foot of Mount Pueh (below) where a pale yellow and pink form was growing on the trunks of trees in open forest,

and one of The highlights of the trek up Mount Singai was the a lovely white and yellow form of Aerides odorata(below) where plants were growing in shade amongst tall trees at 100m altitude. The first photo shows one of several flowering plants with the characteristic long curved spur.

In cultivation our plant enjoys our Warm Asia section (min 17C) with water year round but more in the summer. We have had our plant of Aerides odorata since 1996 and in the past 25 years it has grown to massive proportions. Aerides odorata ‘Writhlington’ has won two CCCs (Cultural Certificates from the RHS and must be one of Europe’s largest vandaceous plants at 2.5m high and 2m across and over 50 flower spikes.

Today we photographed Harris with our plant, and although he is our tallest student he is still dwarfed by Aerides odorata. Harris runs our Warm Asia section and was also one of the students to find the species in Sarawak in 2019.


Schoenorchis gemmata- 365 days of orchids – day 1611

Continuing this weeks theme of orchids we have seen in the wild we have Schoenorchis gemmata, a small flowered but floriferous species

We have seen the species in Sikkim at around 1000m altitude but it is reported from 450m to 2500m. We found it growing in evergreen forest where it receives some moisture during the dry season and lots of rainfall during the monsoon summers.

We find that with us the species does best in a shady spot in Warm Asia in a basket suspended horizontally so that the plant can adopt its natural pendulous habit. We have also seen excellent plants mounted.

The flower spikes opening this month will be blooming all summer.


Pleurothallis sclerophyla – 365 days of orchids – day 1610

As regulars will know, we are very fond of orchids we have come across in their native habitat during our school expeditions, an we have lots of those species coming into flower this week.

Pleurothallis sclerophyla is a wonderful Brazilian species that produces masses of 2cm wide creamy yellow flowers. If you look closely at the flowers you see that they have three long thin sepals, all with slightly hairy edges, two tiny petals with red tips and a tiny yellow lip.

We have seen the species flowering in Brazil (photo below) where we found it growing abundantly on mountain ridges at around 1200m in cloud forest.

This photograph of the species near Macae de Cima shows a plant growing in the trunk of a tree in moist forest with a fair amount of moss on most trees and additional humidity coming from the large amount of bromeliads present in the habitat. The photo shows old spikes as well as new, and the habit of flowering for many years from the same leaf axil explains the dramatic flowering display give by mature plants like our plant flowering in the school greenhouse last year (below). We have since divided the plant so look out for sale plants when fully established later this summer.

Our Cool Americas gives a close match with the native habitat – cool (min 12C) , moist, and shaded.



Masdevallia mystica – 365 days of orchids – day 1609

This delightful little masdevallia is in flower on and off throughout the year but is always at its peak in May and June.

It is possibly a natural hybrid and is found in Colombian cloud forest. One parent is probably Masdevallia filaria that it grows amongst but the other possible parent is a mystery – hence the name.

At school we grow this species in baskets, mounted, and in pots, in Cool Americas and when kept cool and damp rewards us with vigorous growth and regular flowering. The individual flowers are long lasting and so there is rarely a day when none of our Masdevallia mystica plants are flowering.

We can now confirm that our next open day will be on Monday 12th July from 4pm until 7pm – public very welcome. We will provide full details later and would love to welcome you to a summers evening among the orchids.


Dendrobium unicum – 365 days of orchids – day 1608

In the midst of this cold wet May it is lovely to be cheered by the bright colours of orchid species like this small growing delight from South East Asia.

We have seen Dendrobium unicum in regrowth forest in Southern Laos around Paksong on the Bolaven Plateaux where it seemed to prefer small trees on poor soils amongst mossy rocks. The small plants flower as small seedling which we estimated at around three years old and plants experience good light in the open forests.

Flowers are long lasting and the glossy surface adds to the effect of the startling orange. The flowers are likely to be bird pollinated along with orange flowered  Dendrobiums across Asia (a group we are very fond of)

Our plants were at 1200m altitude although they have been reported from 800-1550m indicating a tolerance for a range of temperatures although we find that they prefer to grow in our warm Asia section (min17C), though a cooler, dryer winter rest helps with flowering. Plants are semi deciduous as is their forest home so avoid extreme dry in the winter and never let bulbs shrivel.