Aerides houlettiana – 365 days of orchids – day 1972

Another lovely summer flowering orchid is this wonderful Aerides from South East Asia.

Aerides houlettiana is a flamboyant orchid that transports us to the forest of Southern Laos. Our expeditions to Laos in 2005, 2008 and 2011 allowed us the opportunity to explore the rich forests of the Bolaven Plateau where this species grew.We collected seed from a plant hanging in a restaurant near Tadd Fann waterfall  in 2008 and the plant shown is one of the seedlings from this batch. The startling flowers are probably butterfly pollinated and left to its own devices the plant is semi pendulous with the very pendulous flower spikes hanging below the growths to allow easy pollinator access. The flowers are fragrant as well as beautiful. Now that this plant is 12 years from seed sow it it has a long pendulous stem and copious roots that hand in the air making it a very attractive thing hanging from the roof of our Warm Asia section.

Aerides houlletiana is a medium sized species with a range across South East Asia where it grows in warm lowland forest up to around 1000m. We saw the species in the forests around the edge of the Bolevan Plateau in Southern Laos in open forest where it experience a warm wet summer followed by a cooler winter and a hot dry spring.

We grow the species in baskets of course bark and keep plants well watered in the summer and damp enough to avoid shrivelling in the winter. We keep the plants in Warm Asia (minimum 17C)

The species is a smaller growing species than Aerides odorata (below)

And larger growing than Aerides crassifolia (below)


Phalaenopsis equestris – 365 days of orchids – day 1971

The Second Place Phalaenopsis (trade) award at Malvern went to our sweet little Phalaenopsis equestris.

This miniature Phalaenopsis species is native to the Philippines and Southern Taiwan where it is reported growing as an epiphyte in lowland forest near streams. It is a compact plant, 15cm across, that produces lots of flower

The small flowers are produced on arching spikes that continue to grow for several months with successive flowers each lasting about a month.

We have two clones – the awared clone is the peloric form with lateral petals resembling the lip while the little plant in the cup is the more normal form.

The habitat of Phalaenopsis equestris suggests a need for constant warm temperatures and so we find the greenhouse a little cool in winter but a centrally heated house perfect.


Vanda falcata – 365 days of orchids – day 1970

Today we feature another of our award winners at last weekend’s show .

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.

The clone here is unusual with a pink stem. The normal form is all pure white (below)




Pleurothallis sarracenia – 365 days of orchids – day 1969

Yesterday I mentioned that this little beauty won 2nd Pleurothallis here at the Malvern Show.

Pleurothallis sarracenia is a small growing species from the Mata Atlantica, Brazil with 1cm long leaves that hug the bark it grows on, and unusual dark purple flowers with just a tiny opening for the pollinating ant to enter the flower.

The species enjoys conditions in our Cool Americas section providing it grows high up and so keeps a little dryer than some of our Pleurothallis species.

We haven’t yet identified what the ants find attractive about the flower and have never seen a British ant visiting flowers so perhaps the reward is specific to the local Brazilian ants.


Awarded plants at the Malvern International Orchid Show

Lots of p[eople have been asking for plant details on our display so here are the award winners

1st Laeliniae – Cattleya purpurata ‘venosa’

1st Dendrobium – Dendrobium victoria regina

1st Phalaenopsis – Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi and 2nd Phalaenopsis – Phalaenopsis equestris

1st Pleurothallis – Scaphosepalum verrucosum, 2nd Pleurothallis – Pleurothallis sarracenia, Merit – Pleurothallis fulgens

2nd Vandae – Vanda falcata

All awards in ‘Trade Class’

Students were very impressed with the Best Amateur Display – Bournemouth – it even has a real boat, lobster pots and shells