Pleurothallis soderana – 365 days of orchids – day 1674

Pleurothallis sonderana is a mini miniature that enjoys the same cool damp conditions as yesterday’s Dracula sodiroi.  The leaves are 2-3cm long and these mature plants are covered in the 3mm yellow flowers. The flowers barely open and are pollinated by a tiny flys.

The species is endemic to Southern Brazil where it grows as an epiphyte in cool moist forest.

We find Pleurothallis sonderana is a vigorous plant that forms a great little specimen and can be easily propagated by division. We always grow the species mounted and the plants shown are on 3cm x 4cm cork mounts.

We grow plants shaded in Cool Americas and spray with water daily.


Dracula sodiroi – 365 days of orchids – day 1673

We seem to be having a very cool August and this is perfect for some of our heat sensitive species such as Dracula sodiroi. The species is endemic to cool wet forests in Ecuador from 1500-2400m altitude and, in common with other dracula species, is sensitive to high temperatures if not kept very wet in summer. Heat stress shows at black spots on the leaves, and as you can see, this summer the leaves are spotless.

Dracula sodiroi has unique flowers that hang like little orange lanterns and are produced in twos or threes, well spaced, on spikes clear of the lush green leaves. The insides of the flowers are covered with white hairs. Flowers are about 2cm across and 4cm from the top to the tip of the tails.

The flowers are long lasting and once a plant is happy it will produce flowers on and off throughout the the summer and autumn making it a very rewarding species to grow.


Vanda falcata – 365 days of orchids – day 1672

Back in June I featured the unusual pink stemmed variety of this species (below) and promised to feature the pure white form later in the summer. The time has come with our largest specimen plant just opening five spikes of the most sparkling pristine white.

Vanda falcata  is a cool growing orchid from Japan with very fragrant flowers and we grow our plants in Cool Asia in baskets where we keep them wet in the summer and damp in the winter. For us the species flowers from June right through to September and and our large white clone is usually the last to open. We have had this plant growing in its 8cm basket for at least 20 years – not long compared to the centuries that the species has been grown in Japan where Vanda falcata is called Fūki-ran or ‘orchid of the rich and noble people’.

The long spur holds the nectar and the flowers are pollinated by moths. With the flowers so fragrant we not only encourage students not only to breath on the plants, but to have a good old sniff.


Cattleya forbesii – 365 days of orchids – day 1671

Autumn is a great time of year for Cattleya species but Cattleys forbesii always gets in a little early to flower in late summer.

Cattleya forbesii is a bi-foliate (two leaved) Cattleya that comes from Brazil. It is found as a lithophyte or epiphyte in coastal forest in the Mata Atlantica – a habitat that has largely disappeared in the past 200 years. It therefore enjoys being warm and bright but given plenty of water during the summer growing season. Our plants hang in baskets in our Warm Americas section.

The flowers are quite variable in shades of green, yellow and brown and are around 7cm across but are very attractive and well grown plants can produce six flowers per spike, and this year we again have five on our spike.


Coelogyne pulverula – 365 days of orchids – day 1670

I mentioned yesterday that dendrochilums flower from the new growths and Coelogyne pulverula has the same habit. This medium sized plant has four wonderful metre long flower spikes near the door in our Warm Asia section.


The species is native to Malaysia, Thailand and Borneo where it grows on the trunks and lower branches of large trees in evergreen forest from 300 to 1800m. We find that the species enjoys growing warm but well shaded and kept moist throughout the year.  We find that leaves can become damaged by bright sun or by plants being allowed to become dry for long periods.

We have two distinct clones of the species with this longer spikes clone flowering in August and September and another that flowers in April. Individual plants only flower once a year.

We have seen a number of warm growing Coelogynes in the forests of Sarawak during our visits and most were growing in shaded spots in the lower branches or on the trunks of trees where the large leaves are protected from too much intense equatorial sunshine.