As April comes to a close, the greenhouse is full of a mix of exotic fragrances this week and amongst the most fragrant is this warm growing species from Central America.
We have seen the species in the wild in Guatemala growing in dryish lowland forest. We found it mostly on the trunks of trees or on lower branches where it has some shade even thoough the forest is open and trees are semi-deciduous. It is locally called the coconut orchid as it produces a powerful fragrance which is unmistakably coconut.
The plant has an ascending habit with a rhizome that grows bulbs progressively upwards which can make potting inconvenient and we grow plants mounted or in baskets in our Warm Americas section but ensure that it has more shade than most of the plants in that section under some permanent additional shade net.
We have added a miniature cousin of this species, Maxillaria acuminata (below), to our online shop today along with several other miniature orchids.
We are delighted to see Coelogyne swaniana coming back into flower as it is a species we saw flowering in the wild in Sarawak on our last expedition.
We found lots of large leaved warm growing Coelogyne species in the trees of Mulu especially on the canopy walkway. One of the species is Coelogyne swaniana and it grows in the shaded lower branches or on the trunk of trees.
Back at school, it is a species that grows well for us in Warm Asia in shade and watered well throughout the year. We grow plants in large baskets to allow for the pendulous flower spikes that are produced over a period of months from late Spring until Autumn.
Stenoglottis longifolia (above) and Stenoglottis fimbriata (below) have now been added to our very popular online shop
Both species are South African terrestrial species from seasonally wet subtropical habitats.
We grow both species in our Cool Asia section with a minimum winter temperature of 10C and vents that open at 16C. We keep plants wet all summer but let them dry out from the end of December when the leaves turn brown and fall off. We also succeed growing the species indoors in a cool room.
Stenoglottis longifolia differs from the closely related species Stenoglottis fimbriata, in having larger rounder flowers, leaves without spots and a generally more robust and larger growth habit. It flowers about a month after Stenoglottis fimbriata from October through to January.
Plants for sale are strong plants in 7cm pots that will flower this autumn (S. fimbriata has the spots). Over time they will turn into large specimens such as the one shown in flower. The plants have all been raised at Writhlington School by the students of the orchid project.
This must be one of our most flamboyant cattleyas.
As I explained earlier this month, Cattleya intermedia is a remarkably variable Brazilian species along its long coastal forest range. Cattleya intermedia var. orlata is one extreme of this variation with large flowers and a particularly large lip. This variety has been used extensively in breeding, and you can see why. A lovely plant. I have included the other varieties we grow below for comparison. A good reason to grow more than one Cattleya intermedia.
Cattleya intermedia is bi-foliate (two leaves on each pseudobulb) and comes from the Mata Atlantica (coastal Eastern Brazil) where it grows in forest up to about 1000m and so is warm to intermediate growing and seems to love our Warm Americas Section (Minimum 15C). We grow plants in baskets hung high in the greenhouse for good light and drainage reflecting the conditions experienced by a small population of plants we found in open forest on our first expedition to Brazil in 2000, where the natural climate is one with a wet summer and a much dryer winter.
Here is a link to a fascinating new study into the reintroduction of Cattleya intermedia to a forests remnant area of the Mata Atlantica. It is a great read – really interesting work.
One very significant finding is the importance of the orchid to insect biodiversity. With these great photos of insect damage to the reintroduced seedlings. It all goes to show that if you have some damage on your plants then you are growing them the authentic way 🙂
A fragrant orchid for a Monday morning.
Coelogyne flexuosa is a fairly large growing Coelogyne native to warm forests in Malaysia, Sumatra, Bali and Java from 900 to 1500m altitude. It grows lovely large bright green leaves and in spring produces long delicate flower spikes with up to twenty fragrant, small but pretty flowers. The spike has a very noticeable zig zag which gives the species its name. We are delighted to grow a good diversity of warm growing Coelogyne species and they can be relied on to provide a good show throughout the year.
Despite not being the most showy Coelogyne we are delighted to grow the species and find it is reliable and well worth its space in Warm Asia where it grows through the summer and flowers from the top of the mature pseudobulb. We suspect it will eventually make a fine specimen plant.