(Photo courtesy Gary Yong Gee.)
This delightful orchid species is native to South America growing principally
in Brazil, Equador and Peru. The plant enjoys high humidity, suitable for
temperate to hot climates but prefers shady conditions. It has no pseudo bulbs
so requires moisture at all times but not soggy plant mix. A medium of
sphagnum with an addition of perlite to keep the mix a little more open is
desirable. Flowers are about five to six centimetres wide and about eight
centimetres high. The clear white segments are contrasted by purple striations
in the labellum. Fertilize lightly but withhold when the plant is resting.
The Theymitra orchid is sometimes referred to as the Sun Orchid, this is because the flowers have a tendency to close up on cloudy day and at night.
They are terrestrial, perennial, sympodial and deciduous plants which are endemic to Australia and grow in the southern and eastern seaboard of the continent.
The growth emanates from tubers which have very fine roots to produce a raceme of many flowers which are quite different to other orchids. This is due to almost all segments being the same size.
Plants can be grown in a very free draining mix of compost in very bright warm sunny conditions, flowering occurs in spring to summer. Colours range from pink, blue, purple yellow and red, some have small spotting.
This plant is native to New Guinea and while it prefers a very warm climate with high humidity
it is quite comfortable growing in an intermediate to temperate area. The flowers are borne in clusters
close to the pseudo bulb as illustrated in the photo. Colours are white, off white or pale purple with
an orange labellum.
The blooms are very long lasting, can remain for months, are perfumed and are heavy to waxy substance.
The plants like plenty of water in summer, drying out between watering and tend to like less water in the
Plants can be either potted or grown on a mount.
Photos courtesy of Gary Yong Gee
These African species are quite interesting and tend to differ somewhat in cultivation from other orchids. One point of note is that if the plant is getting adequate nourishment caused by the fertilization of nitrogen then it looks like any other orchid in growth. But if it gets insufficient nourishment then it will develop roots that grow upright and tends to form a catchment area for plant litter which in turn decomposes and subsequently feeds the plant.
It is a very hardy grower and can grow pseudo bulbs up to nearly a meter in length and if left will form into a very large plant. It is so hardy that it can stand long periods of drought and in domestic cultivation if grown in pots it should have at least one to two months of no water during winter so as to prepare the plant for its next flowering.
The plant demands very high light and will grow well outside in a subtropical climate. The flowers are very attractive and the spotting can be quite varied, hence the reference to the plant sometimes called ‘ the leopard plant ‘.
This unusual shaped flower is quite varied to the generally accepted form of orchids which makes it different. It is a warm grower as it comes from the tropical regions of Sumatra and New Guinea and likes to be kept quite moist.
The large hooded dorsal sepal tends to cover the tiny labellum and petals, the ventral sepals twist below from the centre of the flower. Although the flower looks somewhat ungainly it is unique and interesting.
The plant prefers somewhat shaded conditions and does not seem to have a resting period. The flower has an unusual scent which some people do not enjoy.
Photo courtesy Petrens Orchids.
Arpophyllum giganteum is one which emanates from an area stretching from Mexico to Venezuela and as a consequence prefers a mild to warm temperate climate.
It prefers to grow in a bright position but does not like full sun and enjoys being kept moist but not wet. The plant blooms in late winter to spring displaying a long conical head of small purple flowers neatly displayed fully around the tall central stem.
The pseudo bulbs are thin and reedy, topped with long strappy leafs. Potting mix can be varied but as a general guide bark and perlite, straight bark or even spaghnum moss are acceptable growing mediums.
The plant is considered to be quite easy to grow and because of its unusual compact perfectly aligned floral head display it is sought after by orchid enthusiasts.
(Photo courtesy of Gary Yong Gee)
Diuris longifolia is an Australian native (more commonly known as the donkey orchid) which is endemic to the south east area of west Australia. I derives the common name due to the shape the petals which appear to look like donkey ears.
It is a terrestrial orchid and seems to prefer sandy loam soils but it is known to grow in heavier soils throughout its habitat. It is a tuberous perennial which grows approximately fifteen centimetres with the flower extending to about the same height.
Due to colouration on some flowers people refer to this as the pansy orchid because of the purple overlay over the yellow segments.
It is a very interesting plant but can be somewhat difficult to grow in bush house cultivation.
(Photo courtesy of Gary Yong Gee)
This beautiful species orchid from South East Asia is admired by all who see it for not only its beauty but its fascinating long pendulous tendrils which makes it quite unique in the orchid world.
The name is derived from the Greek legend of Medusa as the flower shape appears to represent her hair which was snakes.
It can be grown very successfully in warmer temperate climates where it enjoys higher humidity, good air circulation and moderate light. It does not like to dry out so should be kept mist and sphagnam moss would be an ideal growing medium.
( Photo courtesy of Gary Yong Gee)
The plant is native to Mexico and Central America including Columbia Peru and Equador and has an unusual flower sometimes referred to as the monkey face orchid due the shape of the flower which resembles the face of a monkey. It is one of the Pleurothallids, (Pleurothallis, Dracula and Masdevallia) which are quite spectacular in both their colour and shape and are favourites among orchid growers, the reason being the variety of colours including black, orange, white. brown,pink and can be a solid colour or have spots or stripes.
Light should be restricted to similar conditions to that of Phalaenopsis or Paphiopedulums as too much light will show yellowing of the leaves. Good air movement is required as well as humidity but not warmth as they prefer cooler conditions. Plants can be repotted at most times during the year and they like to have moist conditions rather than be allowed to dry out as in other orchids. Sphagnum moss is an ideal media to grow them in. They are not heavy feeders and fertilizer should be used at half the rate on a monthly basis.
The individual flower make up is quite different because the sepals are dominant and have long tails while the petals are rather small and somewhat insignificant. Plants grow from a small rhizome but do not have pseudo bulbs which is the reason they require moist but not wet media to grow well. If you are fortunate and live in a less than temperate climate you should be able to grow and flower these unusual and fascinating orchids.
Photo courtesy of Gary Yong Gee
This orchid is uniquently different in that it must but grown in a basket or slatted wooden pot as the flower spikes grow down in the media and protrude through the bottom of the container as illustrated in the photo. Many years ago it was not understood why the plant in Kew Gardens never flowered. One day the pot was accidently broken and the flower spikes were observed trying to penetrate unsuccessfully through the pot.
The Stanhopea genus is native to South America and consequently likes to grow in tropical conditions. Given warmth and humidity it is relatively easy to grow and flower but likes to be moist and not dry out in summer. Grown under fifty to seventy percent shade cloth with good air movement would be ideal for these to do well.
Any general purpose balanced fertilizer applied fortnightly in the growing warmer months would be adequate.
Unfortunately the flowers last just for a few days and are renown for their strong perfume which some find unpleasant. But they are quite spectacular and colourful and are worthy of a spot in the greenhouse.