Cattleya tenebrosa – 365 days of orchids – day 919

This Brazilian Cattleya is the sister species to Cattleya purpurata featured last week (below)

Cattleya tenebrosa grows as an epiphyte in open lowland forest up to around 1000m and so enjoys warm conditions and good light. We hang our plant in the roof of the Warm Americas Zone where it gets lots of sun and we work to keep it well watered in the summer.

Its name tenebrosa means ‘dark’ referring to the flowers but it does come in a range of colours from yellow to a deep brown with a contrasting pink and purple lip. We are delighted to have many thousands of these growing in-vitro so look out for them on out sales table.


Micropera obtusa – 365 days of orchids – day 918

A new orchid for 365 days is this species native to warm forests from Sikkim to Thailand. It has similar growth to Micropera rostrata but smaller flowers in pink and yellow.

We grow both species in our warm asia section and find that they do well in baskets or mounted to suit the semi-pendulous growth habits and extensive arial roots.

Both species were originally included in Aerides but have been separated on the basis of the unusual flower structure.


Angraecum magdalenae – 365 days of orchids – day 917


Question – Why should you visit the Writhlington Greenhouses in the middle of the night?   Answer – To enjoy the intoxicating scent of the wonderful orchid.  (actually, there is plenty of scent in the day time too)

Angraecum magdalenae from the mountains of central Madagascar is one of our most rewarding orchid species. The large (8cm) waxy, pristine white flowers are wonderfully fragrant and this year the plant is covered in buds and so should be flowering for the next two months or so.

The plant’s natural habitat is in leaf litter amongst quartzite boulders but we find the species enjoys a mossy basket where its roots remain damp and cool. Most of our Angraecum species are warm growing but Angraecum magdalenae does best for us in Cool Asia (minimum 10C) where it is slowly growing into a real specimen with flowers which contrast beautifully with the dark green leaves.

We are delighted to have thousands of seeds of this species doing very well in our propagation lab and will have plants for sale in flask within 12 months. The flowers hold their nectar in long curved spurs suggesting pollination is by one of Madagascar’s large hawk moths.

This week orchid project students will be learning how to test seed viability using the TZ test (look out for experiment posts and results during the week), and Angraecum magdalenae poses a bit of a problem as the seeds of the species are the darkest seeds we have come across. We will be experimenting with bleaching the seeds to help with recording viability results.




Cleisostoma crassifolia – 365 days of orchids – day 916

We are now well into our summer flowering species and this is a reliable small growing member of the vanda family. There seems to be little known about this species which is native to the Philippines and  in common with most cleisostomas has flowers that open successively along the flower spike.

The long lasting flowers look like little birds in flight and are large for the size of the plant which is only 8cm across.

The thick leaves and the fat roots are a good indication that this species comes from a warm dryish forest and so we grow it mounted and hung high in Warm Asia where it thrives on a daily spray and good light.


A perfect time to get out and see wild flowers

The weather is warm and flowers are filling the meadows, hedges and wild places – so do go out and enjoy them. The common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) here is on Cley Hill in Wiltshire. The orchids on the chalk are rather reduced this year as a result of the very dry spring and summer last year and bee orchids seem to have been particularly hit. Most native orchids make up their new tuber during March-June and if this is very dry the tubers are small and result in few flowers and smaller flowers the next year. The wet period this year should give us a good show of orchids in 2020.