It is definitely Cattleya trianae time in our Warm Americas section with three clones flowering at the moment. This is the more usual colour form with long lasting large flowers.
Cattleya trianae is the national flower of Colombia and is endemic to that country. In our greenhouses it always flowers in February and March where its very large flowers always create a stir. The lip colour changes to yellow up inside the lip presumably to help the pollinating bee locate its reward.
The other clones in flower this week are our Cattleya trianae ‘albas’ which are yellow and white apart from a slight pink edge to the lip (see below) so we call them albescens rather than alba.
We grow all our Cattleya trianaes in baskets filled with a course bark and no moss. The plants produce masses of roots and we keep them just damp in the winter but much wetter when in summer growth. We hang the baskets up in Warm Americas where they get lots of light (the auto shading is activated at 500 Whatts/ square metre)
We hope to lots of our web watchers at the Cheltenham Orchid Show today.
We have a lovely array of Gongora species coming into flower this week and one of the larger flowered is this sweetly scented species from Mexico, Guatemala and Belize from 185-850m altitude. We have been to this habitat and found it seasonally dry but wet and warm in the summer.
We grow all our Gongoras in baskets so that they show off the wonderful pendulous flower spikes. The challenge for plants in baskets is to keep plants damp enough and we water our Gongoras heavily.
We have a number of dramatic Brazilian orchid species with bright red and orange flowers. Cattleya harpophylla is a small to medium sized plant with narrow bulbs and leaves that turn red in bright light.
This brightly coloured Brazilian species is found as an epiphyte from 500 to 900m. Exploring similar forests we have found them to have wet summers and dryer but not completely dry winters. We find plants enjoy growing in shade in Cool Americas both mounted and in baskets but kept well watered in the summer and damp in the winter
In common with other red and orange cattleyas this species is pollinated by hummingbirds. The bright orange flowers glow out in our winter greenhouse and the same must be true in its natural habitat – a species well worth growing.
We are delighted to have been successful in gaining funding from the World Orchid Congress Committee under Project Seeding in our Joint bid with partners at FAWE School Kigali for FAWE students to work on the conservation of Aerangis verdickii in Rwanda.
This stunning orchid is found as an epiphyte in woodland but the FAWE students will be working on raising it from seed as an conservation and education flagship in the capital Kigali.
Students at Mendip/Writhlington and FAWE will be working together on projects linked to the World Orchid Congress which takes place in Taiwan in March 2020 and we hope that students from the two schools will present a joint display under the banner of the Global Orchid Schools Network.
The delicate little flowers of Mediocalcar decoratum are very unlike any other species we grow and it is always lovely when the little orange buds burst each spring.
The species comes from Papua New Guinea where it grows in shady forest up to 2500m. Mediocalcar decoratum’s small bell shaped flowers in orange and yellow suggest that the likely pollinator is Sun Birds. Sun Bird’s are Africa and Asia’s version of South America’s Humming Birds and we saw some lovely species in Rwanda.
Although this is a cool growing Asian species its habitat in Papua New Guinea is very similar to the cloud forests of the Americas as so we grow plants in our Cool Americas section.
We grow all our plants mounted which suits the plants habit and plants flourish as long as protected from strong sun in the summer which dries plants too much.