365 days of orchids – day 416 – Dendrobium tetragonum (corrected to Dendrobium melaleucaphyllum)

This is another new species for 365 days of orchids. This small growing dendrobium comes from Australia where it grows as an epiphyte in humid ravines and gullies in Queensland and New South Wales.

We grow the species mounted as plants are very pendulous and find that it enjoys a shaded and cool environment (Cool Asia or Cool Americas in our greenhouses) with a little less water in the winter but not a prolonged dry period.

The flowers are long lasting and flower from new and old bulbs. The name refers to the four sided bulbs which make this species very easy to identify when not in flower although there seems to be several distinct varieties. This plant is the small growing small flowered type that produces lots of flowers at a time. We have also grown the large flowered variety that is bigger all round but has less flowers at a time. These have been separated into different sub-species or species by some (see interesting article here) which leaves the variety shown in our photo as the true Dendrobium tetragonum.



365 days of orchids – day 415 – Sophronitella violacea

A real February highlight is the flowering of this miniature orchid from Brazil. The flowers are 2.5cm across which is really rather large for this tiny species with 2cm pseudobulbs each topped by a single leaf.

The species is hummingbird pollinated and it shares many characteristics with its relative Cattleya coccinea also from the Mata Atlantica forests of Eastern Brazil. In cultivation we find it likes to grow cool and bright and enjoys really free draining conditions. We grow all our plants mounted and hanging high in the greenhouse where we spray plants daily.



365 days of orchids – day 414 – Polystachya virginae

This delicate species is native to the cool mountain forests of Central Africa and we have seen in growing abundantly in primary forest around Karamazovu Swamp at around 2200m altitude.

The picture below shows the conditions it enjoys in wet forest amongst moss and other epiphytes in semi-shade.

The climat in Nyungwe is wet all year apart from two short dry seasons(which are still damp) so cultivation is similar to that for plants from South American cloud forests and we grow the species in cool Americas.

The plant shown in our photo fits the type description well but we also found plants in Nyungwe that are distinct with a red spot on the column and different shaped petals that Jacob is investigating further to determine its status (photo below)


365 days of orchids – day 413 – Pleurothallis restrepiodes


This large growing Pleurothallis produces masses of large purple flowers every spring. We find the species very easy to grow and flower as it is happy with temperatures down to 5C (in our temperate section) as well as warmer temperatures in Cool Americas.

We keep plants watered all year and propagate plants from the strong keikis that are produced on top of older leaves. The plant is a very strong rooter and shows all the characteristics of a really tough plant. We even found ice on its stems back in our old greenhouse one night when the boiler failed – but the plant carried on regardless.

The species is native to cool forests in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.


365 days of orchids – day 412 – Dendrobium lankaviense


This dendrobium species is beginning to show its true potential as a plant. It first flowered last year (see day 23) and this year has many more of its really pretty pink flowers.

We grow the species mounted in our Warm Asia section to replicate its natural habitat in lowland forests up to 800m in Malaysia and Thailand. The plant is still growing canes from last year and the year before (these have leaves) while it is flowering from a leafless three year old bulb. We expect increasing flowers every year as the plant continues to grow and each successive bulb is longer than the last. The plant seems to grow continuously and so we keep it watered throughout the year.