Rodreguezia decora – 365 days of orchids – day 1746

Our third Brazilian orchid this week is this rather unusual member of the Oncidium family.

Rodreguezia decora grows 3cm pseudobulbs separated by 15cm of vertical rhizome and so rapidly climb up from any basket or support they are given. I am sure this is a useful habit when you grow as an epiphyte in the coastal cloud forests of Brazil where plants presumably clamber their way up through the canopy to get access to more light and attract pollinators. However, in a greenhouse we are always playing catch up and keep up with the plant.

To cope with the scrambling habit we grow the plant in a large basket and wrap new growths around it to keep the plant pretty much in one place. It flourishes in our Cool Americas section (min 12C)


Coelogyne fimbriata – 365 days of orchids – day 1745

Coelogyne fimbriata is another of our accommodating little orchids that grow well in a range of conditions and flower reliably in the greenhouse or as house plants. The cheerful flowers are produced successively on short spike with two or three flowers on each spike and the specimen on my bathroom windowsill (below) that started to flower this week will still be in flower at Christmas.

We have seen this lovely species growing in Sikkim and Laos where it climbs through the lower branches in open forest at around 1200-1500m and can make massive specimens over time that fill the lower canopy of trees.

We grow plants cool and wet to replicate the natural habitat, and in my bathroom it means watering heavily once or twice a week and spraying the top of the compost in between times. I don’t let the plant sit in water. I water with rain water plus week feed. The feed is a high nitrogen feed to which we add a little calcium.


Epigenium amplum – 365 days of orchids – day 1744

Epigenium amplum is a large growing and rather straggly species from the Himalayas, and we have seen in expeditions to Sikkim where it grows around the trunks of large trees forming enormous plants over time. We have found it growing in moist evergreen forests at around 1400m although it has been recorded from 500 to 2100m.

The large flowers are long lasting and although well spread out, provide a great display on a large plant.

We find that baskets are the best way to grow the species and spray daily to ensure that the plan t gets sufficient water. As the plant grows the growths can eventually be trained round in a circle to give a denser specimen that is both easier to handle and provides more flower impact than one where the flowers are all at the ends of long growths. In the wild large plants encircle trees in mossy damp conditions and that is what we are trying to replicate in our greenhouse.

We wrapped our plant onto a flat basket last year and it is starting to really appreciate getting a good supply of water and feed to the newer growths.

We have seed pods from last year starting to split just as this year’s flowers open, so expect seedlings in about two years.


Cymbidium elegans – 365 days of orchids – day 1743

Today we have the first of our Autumn flowering Cymbidiums. This is a group of orchids that are particularly dear to my heart as species we have seen in our school expeditions to Sikkim, and plants we have worked with right from the start of the Orchid Project back in 1991. So here is Cymbidium elegans – a very aptly named, elegant and fragrant species with very dense spikes of flowers that start upright and then become very pendulous.

Cymbidium elegans is native to the Himalayas where we have seen it growing abundantly in forests above Gangtok (capital of Sikkim) as well as in North Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Unfortunately we have always visited the Himalayas in the spring (great for Coelogynes) and so have not seen the plants flowering in situ but when not in flower can be identified by the large number of seed pods left from the many crowded flowers on the spike.

The species always reminds me of our wonderful times in Sikkim with students from Takse School, Gangtok, and going out into the forests of Fambong Lho (photo below) to identify orchids where this species was very abundant. It grows in cool wet evergreen forest and is usually high in trees.

We find that the species grows well in pots or baskets.


Oncidium longipes – 365 days of orchids – day 1742

I mentioned that the greenhouse is giving us a bit of Brazil and our second Brazilian species of the week is Oncidium longipes – a species we have seen flowering in its habitat on our school expeditions to Brazil.

Many of our Oncidium species are large growing plants with long flower spikes but this species is a charming little thing.

Oncidium longipes is a Brazilian species and we saw it growing in the forests around Macae de Cima in our school visits to Brazil in 2000 and 2006. It is restricted to primary forests and grows in the mid canopy amongst other epiphytes in dappled shade and high humidity.

We find the species really prefers to be mounted where it responds by clothing the mount in growths that burst into flower in the Autumn. Flower spikes usually produce between one and three flowers but they are large for the size of the plant as seen here.

We have grown our plants from flask (they flower two years out of flask) and they show considerable variation in colour and patterning.