Our favourite Phalaenopsis species is back in flower. Phalaenopsis manii is a species we have met in lowland forest on several of our trips to the Himalayas. The best plant we have seen was growing in Nameri National Park, one of Assam’s fantastic Tiger reserves. (see photo below)
The photo clearly shows the natural habitat for the plant. The forest is lowland seasonally dry forest and there is not sufficient rainfall or humidity for moss to grow on the branches colonised by the orchid. This plant is in the lowest branches of a large evergreen tree where light levels are quite low and it is protected from extreme desiccation in the dry season. The photograph also shows the very extensive root system this massive plant has developed over time (it must be at least twenty years old) and this will store a lot of water during dry periods as well as collecting a lot of water when it does rain.
It is also noticeable that in common with most Phalaenopsis species P. mannii has a pendulous habit which will prevent water resting in new leaves and causing rots. We grow our school plant in a pendulous way by letting it lean out of its basket. It clearly loves to grow like this and is now starting to form a clump a little similar to the wonderful specimen in Assam (by the way I am happy to talk to people interested in travelling to this fascinating region)
This species is a bit of a mystery and I am hoping that Mark Wilson, Pleurothallis expert in Colorado College, will be able to shed some light on it.
The species is a medium sized plant with long vertical flower spikes and very attractive yellow flowers. We were donated this lovely species look forward to growing plants to a specimen size.
We are always delighted at the orchid project to receive information from people both amateurs and professionals with specialist knowledge of our plants. The plant world is great community for sharing information and we are hoping to see lots of our orchid friends at the forthcoming European Orchid Congress and Exhibition in Paris.
We have had a wonderful afternoon at the Orchid Project hosting visitors from the Timsbury Cheshire Home. The link project, which is co-ordinated by students Martha Coles and Paige Goble as part of the Mendip Studio School project work, aims to support the Cheshire Home’s development of their exciting Orchid Project and Rainforest.
Orchid Project students had arranged a range of activities for residents and staff including a special tour of our glasshouses and a hands on laboratory workshop.
Year 8 student, Ruby Boxall, who lives in Timsbury, said “It was really interesting to share our experience with people that have such exciting plans for their own orchid project and I can’t wait to see the Cheshire Home project grow and develop.”
We seem to be featuring a lot of Australian orchid species this spring and another beauty from Queensland and New South Wales is this Sarcochilus hartmanii which produces multiple spikes of long lasting flowers. The species is reported as growing near the sea on boulders but in cultivation seems to prefer some shade and regular watering.
Sarcochilus species resent high summer temperatures and we find the species is happiest in Cool Americas but kept a little dryer than the South American cloud forest plants that share its space. We grow plants in baskets to ensure good drainage.
This pretty orchid flowers several times each year from its long pendulous stems. The species is native to Java and Borneo and in the wild it is found at around 1000m altitude. We find that the species is tolerates a wide range of temperatures and it grows well both in Cool Americas (minimum 12C) or in Warm Asia (minimum 16C).
We grow plants in baskets and let the stems hang downwards. Plants seem to enjoy regular watering and we spray them daily.
Schoenorchis is an interesting genus related to Vanda that includes some very small species such as Scoenorchis fragrans as well as large growing plants such as todays orchid of the day.