Our specimen plant of Bulbophyllum stenobulbon is celebrating New Year’s Eve by bursting into flower with its tight groups of spiky yellow flowers.
Bulbophyllum stenobulbon is found through South East Asia and as far west as Assam. It produces masses of quite small flowers from the base of new and old pseudobulbs and so gives a lovely display. It also tends to flower twice a year, once in the winter and once in the summer, making it a very worthwhile species to grow.
It is reported to grow as a lithophyte in moss from 500-800m altitude in warm forest but we find that it is not fussy about temperature and grows happily in Warm Asia (min 18C, Cool Asia (min 10C) or Cool Americas (min 12C) but it does seem fussy about light preferring to grow in shade and with plenty of water reflecting its microhabitat.
We grow the species in pots and, even better, mounted as it does tend to straggle out of its pots and root in surrounding pots.
Happy New Year to all of those who enjoy our website. It is always a pleasure to share the wonders of our School Greenhouse with you and after four years of posting an orchid species every day (and it has to be a species in flower in our greenhouse on that day) we are happy to carry on in 2021 as we still have species we haven’t yet shared, as well as old favourites that we eagerly anticipate throughout the year.
We have another new species flowering in the greenhouse today. Gastorchilus sororius is similar to Gastrochilus calceolus (below) but has thicker leaves and shorter more compact flower spikes with slightly different lips.
Gastrochilus is a lovely genus related to Vanda and all species have interesting small flowers produced is profusion. We have seen Gastrochilus species flowering in cool monsoon forests in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh and they can be found across the Himalayas and South East Asia. Gastrochilus sororius is restricted to Borneo, Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi where it grows in warm forests from 1200-1550m altitude.
We grow the species in our Warm Asia section where it enjoys regular watering but very good drainage or the roots are short lived. Gastrochilus species have the advantage of flowering as young plants (as we have seen in their native forests) but in cultivation can make great specimen plants.
Today we have one of our favourite cattleyas. This small growing Brazilian species is native to a very restricted range in the Organ Mountains in Rio de Janiero state.
The species has an interesting history as it didn’t fit with the original characteristics for cattleya with 4 pollinia, as it has six or eight, despite being close in all other ways to the local bifoliate cattleya species, and so was called Laelia dormaniana (Laelia was defined as 8 pollinia). Since it has been realised that number of pollinia is fairly plastic in evolution, and not a good defining feature, and so Cattleya dormaniana it is.
The natural habitat of Cattleya dormaniana is very wet forest at 600-1000m close to the coast where the forest is heavily shrouded in mists. We visited this habitat on our school visits to Brazil and were struck by the dripping damp of the forest every morning even in the dry season. To recreate these conditions we grow the species in our Cool Americas section where the plant hangs in a basket and is watered most days giving damp but free drain ing conditions. The flowers emerge in the depths of winter and the deep pink lip against the brown petals and sepals is a truly lovely colour combination.
I have been so struck by Cattleya dormaniana’s colour scheme that I replicate it every week on the day that I wear my brown batik shirt with a deep pink tie. It is always best to take inspiration from evolution’s diversity.
It is Masdevallia Monday this Bank Holiday in the greenhouse. Masdevallia triangularis has just opened to greet other species including M. veitchiana, M. mystica, M. guyanensis, M.garciae, M. decumana and others (photos below)
It is pretty obvious that most masdevallia are decidedly triangular in nature and it is unclear why todays species has been singled out, although some clones are more triangular than our one – which looks more like the Star Trek insignia than a triangle!
…but why not explore space with a masdevallia as your mascot?
Masdevallia triangularis is a striking small plant with relatively large flowers that are kind of triangular. The flower has lovely red/orange spots and long straight, dark red tails.
The species comes from Venuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru and with such a wide distribution it is not surprising that the species is quite variable with colours from yellow through to dark orange.
We have been enjoying traditional Christmas holiday activities including repotting pleione bulbs.
Now is a great time to plant the dormant bulbs in fresh compost. We will keep them cool (frost free) and just slightly damp until growth gets going in 4-6 weeks time. Be careful not to damage the flower buds/new growths at the base of the bulbs.