Pleurothallis rowellii- 365 days of orchids – day 1415

My greenhouse looks wonderful tonight – there is something very special about the tropical greenhouse in winter evenings.

A highlight of the greenhouse is Pleurothallis rowellii. This large flowered pleurothallis species is found in wet forests from Costa Rica to Ecuador where it is recorded over a wide range of elevation from warm forest at 350m to much cooler forest at 1750m.

We find the species is very happy in our Cool Americas section with other members of the genus and although the reported range suggests it would grow much warmer, we find that our plants react badly to hot weather – losing leaves and dropping flowers if the temperature in the greenhouse gets much above 30C in the summer. It suggests that our plants are from the higher growing populations of the species.

Individual flowers last several weeks and the plant produces a succession of flowers over several months so this plant will be a feature in the greenhouse well until at least Christmas. Look out for it at our virtual Orchid Festival on Dec 3rd.


Eria javanica- 365 days of orchids – day 1414

So many of our wonderful orchid species remind us of our travels in the tropical world and today’s species is one we bumped into in the lowland forests of Sarawak. There is nothing quite like growing plants to make field identification easy as one gets to know the leaves, roots, shoots and bulbs as well as the flowers.

Eria javanica sounds as if it should be endemic to Java but is actually found through the Eastern Himalayas from Sikkim eastwards, South East Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The species is reported growing from sea level up to 1200m and we find that it enjoys conditions in our Warm Asia section (min 17C). In Mulu national park we found the species growing at 200m altitude and so it is definitely warm growing on Borneo.

The long spikes of fragrant flowers are produced from both this year’s and last year’s growths giving an impressive display of star like flowers. Most Eria species are hairy but in this species this is limited to a slightly hairy flower stem.


Fireworks at R & D

It is November 5th and today’s Mendip Studio School’s R&D session featured fireworks in the greenhouse. This is Oncidium excavatum, native to cool rainforests in the mountains of Peru and Ecuador, producing explosions of yellow flowers on long flower spikes. The R&D orchid team are keen to produce seed from this rare species, to cultivate in the Mendip Studio School propagation laboratory, and so are busy in the photo pollinating flowers.


Maxillaria meleagris – 365 days of orchids – day 1413

Our maxillaria species are generally easy to grow and free flowering, and Maxillaria meleagris is no exception. It is a small growing species that produces masses of flowers (like little fireworks – very appropriate for today) once bulbs mature.

Maxillaria meleagris is native to cool forests in Mexico and Guatemala from 1500-2400m but we find that it is equally at home in both our Cool Americas and our Warm Americas section. We keep plants watered all year and find they enjoy shade and are very happy growing on benches under some of our hanging plants (such as Cattleyas) that like higher light levels.

We have found that several of our orchid growing friends find plants from this group of Maxillarias well suited to windowsill culture, so perhaps this is a species to add to your wish list – Plants available at the shop.