Restrepia contorta – 365 days of orchids – day 970

Another rainy morning in Radstock today, and of course it is wet season in the greenhouse as well, reflecting the seasonal summer rains experienced by most tropical habitats. Some plants enjoy life really wet and restrepias certainly enjoy a wet summer. Our restrepias are looking magnificent at the moment and Restrepia contorta stands out with a heavy flower count for the size of plants.

This species is native to South America from Venezuela to Peru growing in cloud forests from 1300 to 3200m altitude.

It produces wider but shorter flowers than many restrepia species and like many species is very variable in colours and spots.

This plant seems particularly keen on growing in a small basket where it is kept damp throughout the year and over time can form a neat ball covered in flowers. As you can see from the photo this clone is unusual in that it produces two flowers at a time from each leaf and the paired flowers look particularly striking.


Cymbidium aliofolium – 365 days of orchids – day 969

Most of our cool growing cymbidium species flower in the winter and spring, and are now busy growing their new growths that will flower next year. This warm growing cymbidium flowers sporadically during the year and often flowers in August.

We have seen Cymbidium aliofolium growing abundantly in seasonally dry hot forest in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Laos where it is the most common epiphyte in lowland forests. The natural habitat is warm and has a distinct dry season which Cymbidium aliofolium is addapted for with its very thick leaves.

We find these warm growing Cymbidiums respond well to growing in baskets hung high in our Warm Asia section where they grow hot and bright but we take care to keep them really wet during the summer (monsoon season in the natural habitat)


Masdevallia paiveana – 365 days of orchids – day 968


We had thunder and torrential rain yesterday and so the rain water tank is completely full – brilliant.  This is one of our clones of Masdevallia paiveana, a species native to Peru and Bolivia where it is found as an epiphyte in woodland around 2500m altitude.

This clone forms a neat little plant with 7cm leaves and attractive flowers produced on and off throughout the year. The flowers are covered in fine hairs which make them well worth a closer look.

The second clone is even more hairy but with otherwise identical flowers (below)

This clone is a little unruly as successive leaves are produced a few cm from the previous one giving it a scrambling habit but it is a strong grower and soon forms a large plant.

We find that the first clone does well in a pot or a basket where as the second clone does much better in a basket to suit its scrambling habit.


Mendip Studio School and the Northumberland Green Winged Orchid Conservation Project

Green Winged orchid, Anacamptis morio

We are delighted to be taking part in a conservation initiative lead by Northumberland Wildlife Trust, and co-ordinated by the Hardy Orchid Society, to raise about Green winged orchids from seed to be re-introduced into former sites in the county.

We have been sent seed and fresh mycorrhizal fungus for raising plants in the Mendip Propagation laboratory and will keep you posted on progress. The seed looks great and we are optimistic of raising a large number of plants for the project. A number of people will be raising seedlings to spread the risk. The project will also form part of the project work for year 13 Applied Science A level students from September.


Trichotosia ferox – 365 days of orchids – day 967

Our thoughts are very much still with our friends in Sarawak and we are busy planning our October trip. We are also pleased to see Malysian orchids filling our greenhouse with flower including the monster plant Trichotosia ferox.Trichotosia ferox is a very large growing species (Previously called Eria ferox) from lowland forest that grows long stems several metres long that keep growing and flowering for several years.

Our plant (above) now has ten older stems from 1.5-4m long and still growing as well as four new growths.

The species is also dramatically covered in ginger hairs. Unfortunately the dramatic flowering along all active stems only lasts about a week but is really spectacular when it happens – usually in mid summer.

As you can see from the photo we grow the species in a basket (or I should say ‘from’ a basket) that is tied to a metal frame for balance. The stems can then start by growing upwards and become pendulous over time without creating havoc in Warm Asia. Actually the paphs really seem to enjoy growing under its hairy stems (or tentacles). It hasn’t captured and devoured any year 7 students yet!