Cattleya bicolor – 365 days of orchids – day 1679

Cattleya bicolor is a reliable late summer treat.

The species has really strikingly coloured flowers, the vibrant pink lip contrasting with the chestnut brown of the other petals and sepals. The flower is unusual as the lip has no side lobes to wrap around the column as in most cattleyas. The flowers are large (see hand for scale) and as plants mature they grow longer pseudobulbs with higher flower counts. The flowers are also sweetly fragrant.

Cattleya bicolor is endemic to Brazil where it is found as an epiphyte on trees or lithophyte on rocks near the Atlantic coast or inland in damp forests up to around 1200m. It is reported as restricted to rocks near water in dryer areas. Similar species we have seen in this habitat develop extensive root systems to cope with the exposed and seasonally dry climate.

We grow plants in baskets of course bark but keep them well watered through the summer which is the wet season in the wild, and we don’t let pseudo bulbs shrivel when kept a little dryer in the winter.

We grow the species in Warm Americas (min 15C) though the range of the plant indicates that it could be grown a little warmer too.



Stelis nexipous- 365 days of orchids – day 1678


Stelis nexipous is one of our more floriferous stelis species and is just coming into flower again with its packed upright spikes with relatively large deep red flowers.

The name ‘nexipous’ means duck’s foot and describes the shape of the flowers which is unlike any other stelis in our collection. The dense spikes are secund (all the flowers facing one way) giving a dramatic display that lasts for several months.

The species is native to Ecuador and Peru where it is found in forests from 700-2400m and as less of a cloud forest specialist than some of the genus it is a strong rooting plant and robust species to grow.

This wonderful species will be in flower well into the autumn and so is one to look out for at our forthcoming open evening on Monday, September 20th (4pm-7pm)


Masdevallia herradurae var. xanthina – 365 days of orchids – day 1677

We have another small growing masdevallia today and Masdevallia heradurae is a wonderfully floriferous species that produces a mass of its spidery yellow flowers. This plant is growing in a 10cm basket and has more than 50 flowers out today.

The species is native to wet forests in Ecuador and Colombia where it is found from 500 to 2100m altitude, an unusually large range indicating that the species (or varieties) are happy in a wide range of temperatures. We grow our plants in our Cool Americas section with a minimum of 12C and they really flourish, becoming large specimens in short time. The moss on the course bark compost gives an idea of how wet we keep plants at school.


Masdevallia paiveana – 365 days of orchids – day 1676

Masdevallia paiveana, a lovely species native to Peru and Bolivia where it is found as an epiphyte in cool wet woodland around 2500m altitude. The flowers are produced throughout the year and very pretty with pink hairs on white sepals.

We have two distinct clones of the species. This clone (above) forms a neat little plant with 7cm leaves and attractive flowers produced on and off throughout the year. The second clone is even more hairy but with otherwise identical flowers (below) but is a much more vigorous plant with larger leaves.

Plants have a scrambling habit and as a strong grower and soon forms a large plant.

We find that the first clone does well in a small pot or a basket, where as the second clone does much better in a basket to suit its scrambling habit.


Platystele misera – 365 days of orchids – day 1675

Another mini miniature species today. Misera means insignificant which seems very harsh on this pretty miniature species found in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. (Perhaps the English botanist John Lindley was having a bad day when he named it!) Anyway, we love its little 1mm diaphanous flowers with a deep red lip, the floriferous nature – whether a little plant in a 5.5cm pot (above) or a specimen on bark (below)-  and the long flowering season. In fact last years spikes are still flowering as this years spikes start to produce flowers.

Platystele misera is a close relative of Platystele consorbrina (below) which differs in having larger more yellow flowers, much longer flower spikes, and larger leaves.

As with most of our miniatures from the cloud forests of South America, Platystyele misera thrives when well watered in our Cool Americas Section. If you have not read about our different climate zones and culture do have a look at our orchid culture page