September 2023

Scott has pointed out that every month we show glorious photos of our plants. Many are especially spectacular. Alas, some people may look at them with sadness, thinking of some of their plants that aren't doing so well.

Fact is, no matter how much expertise any of us has acquired, nobody bats 1.000. The more orchids one grows, the more one appreciates the mortality of these fragile gems. So... this month, some of us are noting a few of our "dearly departed", and perhaps will learn what works for other people.(When you give cultural information about your blooming orchids, that helps those who might be struggling!) Also noteworthy is the choice to try again or not. (Personally, I usually quit after two failures unless I really like the plant and think I understand "why". Then, I try to at least quit after 3, though there have been a few exeptions to that "rule" too.)



From Kurt Shanebeck:


Outdoors coastal, north of Los Angeles:

Cattleya tigrina (leopoldii)

Native to Brazil, growing potted in bark with bright light.


Cattleya bradei

A rupicolous species (formerly Laelia) from Brazil. Growing potted in granite/bark mix with bright light.

Dendrobium bensoniae

Native to India and Southeast Asia. Flowers from leafless mature canes. Growing mounted with moderately bright light.

Lockhartia oerstedii

Epiphyte native to Mexico and Central America.Interesting growth habit with flat overlapping leaves. Growing mounted with bright light.

Epidendrum cristatum

An epiphyte or terrestrial species native to Mexico, Central America and South America. Growing potted in bark with moderately bright light.

Meiracyllium trinasutum

Native to Mexico and parts of Central America. Creeping growth habit with round leaves keeping fairly flat to the substrate. Growing mounted with bright light.

Phalaenopsis honghenensis

Cooler growing than many Phalaenopsis this one is native to China at elevations to 2000m. Growing mounted and shady.

Stelis sp.

Unknown species of Stelis. Growing mounted, shady and moist.

Promenaea ovatiloba

Native to Brazil. Growing mounted and moderately bright.


From Chris Ehrler:


Coastal, California Central Coast

Pleurothallis costancensis

Native to Costa Rica and Panama at elevations around 650 to 1,800 meters. Is considered to be a hot to warm growing epiphyte, but is growing well a cool greenhouse mounted with some sphagnum moss on its root.

Stanhopea oculata

A warm to cool growing epiphyte or terrestrial in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, Venezuela and possibly southern Brazil at 1,000 to 3,000 meters above sea level. Growing in a metal mesh basket which is lined with sphagnum moss and filled with a mixture of bark and lava rock. Growing hanging high in a cool greenhouse. Has a mint chocolate chip fragrance.

Stanhopea hernandezii

Is a warm to cool growing epiphyte, terrestrial or lithophyte found at elevations of 1,700 to 2,250 meters in Mexico. Growing in a metal mesh basket which is lined with sphagnum moss and filled with a mixture of bark and lava rock. All Stanhopea produce flowers that hang downward so they need to be grown in a mesh pot with rather large openings. Growing hanging high in a cool greenhouse.

Stanhopea tigrina

A cool to warm growing epiphyte found at elevations of 600 to 1,700 meters in Mexico. Flowers are very large and produce a strong fragrance. Growing in a metal mesh basket which is lined with sphagnum moss and filled with a mixture of bark and lava rock. Growing hanging high in a cool greenhouse. Has a strong but pleasant fragrance. Picture showing two open flowers and one bud. This orchid has produced a total of six spikes this year.


Stelis spp. (purple)

Growing mounted to a piece of cork oak with some sphagnum moss on the roots. Mount is hanging in a cool greenhouse.

Stelis spp. (yellowish)

This unnamed Stelis was collected many years ago in Bolivia by an unknown collector. Growing mounted to a piece of cork oak with some sphagnum moss on the roots. Mount is hanging in a cool greenhouse.


From James Lockman:


All plants grown outside, inland San Diego County, on a protected patio with 40% shade or more.

Heat is regulated with an AquaFog unit. Water is reverse osmosis treated. Cold is regulated in winter, maintained at 36 deg F. or higher, though hours below 40 deg F. are uncommon.
Almost all of the Dendrobiums that I grow are kept dry November-April, some with occassional misting on dry days.
Losses to either cold or heat are minimal, though cold/heat stress may affect certain species.

Dendrobium sanderae

From East Asia. This form, “Luzonicum”, does not have taxonomic standing, but indicates in Philippine origin. Seed grown strain. Easy to grow, flowers very long lasting, the inflorescence reminiscent of Easter lilies. I have several seedlings of this species, and some forms have larger flowers and much more green stenciling on the labellum.

Gomesa recurva

Native to the cool Atlantic forests of eastern coastal Brazil up to 4,500 ft. Miniature green/yellow flowers in abundance.


Encyclia tampensis

This form is native to Florida. Also occurs in the Bahamas.

Gongora galeata

Found in mid-elevation cloud forests in southern Mexico and Guatemala. I grow this on the shady side with plenty of water during the growing season.

Stenoglottis macloughlini

A charming miniature semi-terrestrial species from the eastern cape region of South Africa. Winter-dry, deciduous dormancy. I grow this one in very small pots with live sphagnum moss and pebbles.

Prosthechea bacalus

This and the following species have previously been classified as Encyclia. Found in mid-elevation cloud forests in Panama. Flowers come in pairs on each inflorescence. It is the largest flowered Prosthecea that I grow, and among the most beautiful. Long lasting, strongly sweet-scented flowers.

Prosthechea garciana

Native to seasonally dry forests in Venezuela. Easy to grow and prefers a drier winter. Moderately scented flowers are long-lasting, usually in pairs on several inflorescences.

Prosthechea vespa

Native to the cool Atlantic forests of eastern coastal Brazil up to 4,000 ft. One of the smaller flowered species but abundantly floriferous. This plant has five inflorescences this year. Slightly fragrant, very long lasting. Yes, I like this genus; more next month.

Rhynchostylis retusa

I first saw pictures of this species in the Jones and Scully catalogs of the 1960’s and was enthralled with it. It would probably prefer warmer winters, but it and its relatives continue to survive in my sheltered outdoor growing environment

Vanda falcata

Widely known as Neofinetia falcata. Much-loved throughout its East Asian range (China, Japan, southern Korea) and beyond. Grows as an epiphyte or lithophyte in deciduous forests at elevations 1.500 – 3,000 ft. This form is from the very south of Japan.



From Scott McGregor:

All orchids grown outdoors, coastal southern California


Bletilla ochracea, striata, and friends

Bletilla is a small genus of deciduous, winter-dormant terrestrial species that grow very well outdoors and can handle snow, full sun and high heat. Bletilla ochracea is yellow but is often hybridized with B. striata to create pink forms. B. striata is typically purple, but also has an alba variety ‘White Pearl’. I have a large pot of mixed B. ochracea and a pink hybrid that stays in flower from May through September (pic 1). Pic 2 is a close-up of B. ochracea. Pic 3 & 4 are a pink B. ochracea hybrid, and Pic 5 is B. striata ‘White Pearl’. Unlike the long summer blooming season of B. ochracea and its hybrids, B. striata typically flush blooms in the spring.

Examples of species and various hybrids for sale are here:


Brassia verrucosa

A great outdoor species that almost doubles in size every year.  Nine spikes this time.

Cattleya purpurata v. rubra 'Allnea' AM/AOS x sanguinea 'Miranda #2

Line bred Cattleya (Laelia) purpurata.  There sure are a lot of flavors of this species!

Cattleya purpurata v. carnea

It is Cattleya/Laelia purpurata season and I think this is one of the prettiest colors!

Cattleya tenebrosa var aurea '#1' x 'Walton Grange' FCC/AOS

Line-bred Cattleya (Laelia) tenebrosa, this variety with golden petals/sepals.

Restrepia chameleon

Supposedly named for flower color variation, but seems most Restrepias do that!

Dendrobium limpidum (dichaeoides fat bulbs)

Small but colorful species from New Guinea that has grown outdoors happily on the same mount for ten years.

Dichaea glauca

Monster plant with ~60 canes, blooming on old and new canes, smelling intensely of cotton candy.  The species is named for the structural bluish color in the leaves.

Dockrillia toressae

A slow-growing micro-mini that someday will cover its mount.

Mormolyca ringens

Maxillaria relative that blooms at various times.  Single 1” flowers on thin 16” scapes.

Scaphosepalum bicristatum

OK, so the flowers ain’t much, but this one is in bloom all the time, with long flower spikes blooming sequentially for a year or more.  Seems to happily grow into a specimen.

Schoenorchis gemmata

A small vandaceous orchid with tiny flowers that open over a couple months.

Sobralia sanderae (maybe)

Sold by a reputable species dealer as S. sanderae, but possibly not a species.  Pretty in any case.

Sobralia xantholeuca

A short-growing ruffled variety of S. xantholeuca.  I’m always eager this cheerful one to open.

Dendrobium phlox

A reliable New Guinea species with brightly colored flowers that appear in late summer for me.  There are multiple related species with color variations if you’d like to collect a set of these!  Much easier to grow than e.g. D. cuthbertsonii!

Meiracyllium trinasutum

Small-flowered species from Central America with cinnamon-scented flowers.  Alba forms are also available.

Eulophia petersii

No greenhouse?  Inland with temperatures frequently above 100F?  Forget to water often?  Don’t like to repot more than every five years?  You’re in luck!  This nearly indestructible species from Saudi Arabia and other arid regions of Africa likes “cactus culture”!

Vanda (Neofinetia) falcata 'Shutenno' 朱天王

One of my favorite Neo clones with dark pink accents.


Dearly departed...

Appendicula malindangensis lasts a couple years, never happy.  Too low humidity/temp?
Bulbophyllum plumatum lasted and bloomed 4-5 years
Caladenia various sometimes (often) they don't come back
Cattleya brevipedunculata super healthy plant suddenly crashed with leaves turning black.  Fungal.  Try again.
Cynorkis uncinata did well for many years but rotted one winter.  Try again?
Dendrobium devonianum lasted 8 years and bloomed reliably for most of those.  Desiccated
Dendrobium findleyanum v. oculatum lasted ten years but only bloomed the first five years
Dendrobium vexillarius 'blue' X violaceum 'blue' tiny and expensive plant, never was happy.  Time to give up on D. vexillarius
Dendrobium wilsonii only lasted a couple years, never bloomed
Disa sagittalis summer dormant Disa seems to do ok for Roberta; try again?  Tried again, short dormancy wasn't managed well
Dracula chiroptera lasted 12 years; maybe try again?
Dracula sodiroi ssp. Erythrocodon lasted 9 years, bloomed occasionally, but declined most years
Epidendrum parkinsonianum lasted 12 years.  Lichen on roots?  Replace...
Epipactis gigantea 'Serpentine Night' rotted over winter; completely disappeared (from Brandon Tam and I did keep it wet!)
Haraella retrocala last 9 years and then desiccated.  Not worth replacing
Himantoglossum jankae did ok for a couple years and then rotted
Himantoglossum robertsianum did ok for a couple years and then rotted
Oerstedella (Epidendrum) wallisii lived and flowered many years but suddenly collapsed
Pleurothallis dilemma happy for almost ten years and then desiccated.  Try again?
Schoenorchis (Cleisocentron?) brevirachis didn't last even a year
Schoenorchis buddleiflora desiccated fairly quickly
Sobralia callosa did really well for 5-6 years and then crashed winter '18.  Maybe wanted fresh potting media as an epiphyte?  Second try never thrived
Sobralia fimbriata limped along for many years with occasional awesome flowers and then crashed in winter
Sobralia rosea stuck around for 8 years but never bloomed, grew during summers, but finally didn't survive a winter
Thelymitra cyanea needs ultra-short (6 week) dormancy and couldn't manage; forgot to water early in '23.
Thelymitra various sometimes they don't come back; T. antennifera crosses have shorter dormancy period and I forget
Trichopilia nobilis (fragrans) lasted more than 10 years but bloomed sporadically.  Probably wants it warmer


From Roberta Fox:

Coastal southern California

Outside in the Back Yard:

Brassia (Ada) glumacea

Flowers aren't dramatic to look at, but are extremely fragrant, reminds me of very ripe fruit. Some years, I don't notice the developing buds, then find it when I smell it. Native to Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, elevation around 1600 m.

Aerides rosea

Native to a wide area of east Himalaya, south-central China, northern India, and souteast Asia, 850-1500 m.

Cattleya (Laelia) purpurata f. werkhauseri

One of the last of the purpuratas to bloom. This one has a dramatic, dark blue-purple lip.

Angraecum magdalenae

Sweetly fragrant, especially at night. Native to Madagascar, elevations 1700-2000 m

Anguloa brevilabris

The "tulip orchid", this is as open as the flowers get. They are very fragrant. Native to Colombia and Peru, elevation 1000-1800 m. This is a big plant, with pseudobulbs about 5 inches tall by 3 inches wide. For me, it blooms about every two years. After it blooms, the new growth finishes developing and the pseudobulb matures. Eventually it loses its leaves, and just sits there for the next growing season, then produces new growth and flowers the season after that.


Barkeria melanocaulon

I was afraid that I was going to lose this year's blooming when the tip of the newly developing spike broke, probably due to a perching bird. But it produced a new spike where it had broken, and bloomed after all. Native to Oaxaca in sousthwest Mexico, elevations 1400 - 2000 m.

Cattleya tigrina (leopoldii)

Here are two cultivars. The photo of the whole plant is the top one, just to show what a stately plant it is. .

Cattleya tigrina (leopoldii) peloric

Ths one was labeled "coerulea" which it obviously isn't. But the hot magenta lip color is also visible in the petals, making a dramatic contrast with the chestnut base color. The typical spots are absent.

Dendrobium bensoniae

This is one of the very few deciduous Dentrobiums that I do dry out in winter. It goes completely deciduous in the fall. In late spring (this year early summer) the buds start to develop on the leafless canes from the prior season, and new growth begins. This year, it didn't start to wake up until July! It is very fragrant. A bit like vanilla, or maybe more like angel food cake. Native to Myanmar, Thailand, and northern India, around 1520 m. It blooms only once on a cane, the older canes serve as the energy source for the plant through dormancy, and stay fairly firm and plump for 3 or 4 more years.

Dendrobium glomeratum (sulawesiense)

This species supposedly is a low elevation warm grower, from New Guinea and the Molucca Islands. but it does fine outside for me. I wonder if there are different populations of the species, some from higher elevations. The orange lip contrasting with the hot magenta segments appears to almost glow in the sunshine. It can bloom repeatedly on old canes.

Papilionanthe teres

The genus was formerly "terete Vanda". It is native to a wide area of southeast Asia and Himalaya foothills, at a range of elevations. It likely would grow more vigorously with more warmth and humidity, but it does bloom and grow for me. I have some Tillandsia usenoides ("Spanish moss") around the roots for a bit of extra moisture.

Rhyncholaelia digbyana 'Fiddler's Green'

This is the alba form of the species, Even being grown under high light, there is no trace of pigment on the back of the flower, or on the leaves.

Rossioglossum schlieperianum f. aurea

The typical form has brown stripes on the sepals. There is still a bit of red pigment making the stripes visible, but much lighter. Native to Costa Rica and Panama, elevations 1200-1800 m. I grow it in basket with sphagnum, with bright morning light.

Schoenorchis gemmata

Tiny flowers (3-4 mm)that open sequentially. Leaves are semi-terete. It is native to a wide area of northern India, south-central China and southeast Asia over a range of elevations

Schoenorchis juncifolia

Flowers are about 2-3 mm. The inflorescences look to me like tiny Wisteria. The species is native to Borneo, Java and Sumatra, elevations 500-2500 m. I grow it rather shady, but there still is plenty of light to get a lot of purple pigment in the terete leaves.


Stenoglottis woodii

Native to the Cape region of South Africa, elevation around 500 m. It goes dormant after blooming. I don't dry it out, and new growth starts fairly shortly after.


Zygostates alleniana

Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina. Exquisite little crystalline flowers on a 1 inch plant.

Zygostates lunata

Brazil south and southeast. "Big" sister... plant is nearly 2 inches. Both of these look so tiny and delicate, but the flowers last nearly a month.

Angraecum breve

From Madagascar, around 1800 m. Great flower-to-plant ratio. Night-fragrant and VERY cute.

Angraecum calceolus

A truly tiny flower. This one is native to Madagascar and surrounding islands, at a range of elevations. Plant is about 3 inches (so big relative to the flower), and also produces a clump of basal growths, so I expect that as it matures there will be more flowers simultaneously.

Epidendrum nocturnum

Night-fragrant species occurs on both sides of the Andes, at a variety of elevations. (I have seen it in Ecuador at medium elevations, and along the Rio Negro in the very tropical Amazon basin in Brazil).

Cattleya harrisoniana

From southeastern Brazil, elevations 400-800 m.

Stanhopea jenischiana

I barely got to see this one, after nurturing the plant from a seedliong about 9 years ago. It teased me for a full week looking like the photo above - ready to bloom "any minute". I was hoping that it would finally pop before I left on a quick weekend trip that had been planned long ago. But Friday morning it still showed buds. I returned on Monday early afternoon, and it was on the way out. I managed to grab a few photos before the last flower collapsed. (Dropped suitcase, grabbed camera and went to work.) By evening, the last flower was done. I hope the plant has finally reached enough maturity that it will begin to bloom reliably.

Cleisostoma scolopendrifolium
(Pelatantheria scolopendrifolia)

Half-inch flowers are not spectacular, at least this year I got two of them simultaneously. The plant has an interesting growth habit winding around the mount. (The name means "centipede-like leaf"). Not spectacular but it doesn't take up much space. Mount is about 2 inches.

Maxillaria dillonii

Flowers are waxy and relatively long-lasting. The plant stays fairly compact. Native to Peru, elevation around 800 m., also found in Ecuador.

Maxillaria phoenicanthera

This is a very vigorous plant, and it does NOT stay compact. Last spring I divded it and that does not seem to have slowed it down at all. It is related to Max. picta (a spring bloomer). Native to southern Brazil, about 800 m.

Neofinetia (Vanda) falcata 'Kohkakuden' 紅嚇殿

Most taxonomists consider the pink and purple Neofinetia falcata varieties to be hybrids (natural or otherwise) but any records are lost in time and in Japan, all are treated as the species. This one has intense purple color throughout the inflorescence. My plant is grown in an 8 inch plastic basket with sphagnum, roots happily extending out in all directions.

Neofinetia (Vanda) falcata 'Amami Island'

This variety, from southern Japan, has relatively large flowers for the species. Like all of them, fragrance is lovely, especially at night but some during the day too. I got this plant in a 6 x 6 inch plastic pot, roots all around the outside. There was no way to repot it without damaging roots, so I didn't. I assume that there is little or or no medium inside the pot after many years, but some of the roots on the outside have grown into the holes, so there must be an enviromment that they like. The root mass is also tangled up with some "Spanish Moss" (Tillandsia usenoides) that also grows vigorously. This plant is pretty much ignored except for annualy trimming spent spikes. And it thrives.

In the greenhouse...

Catasetum expansum

Alba and red forms

Usually by mid-June, most of the Catasetinae are in rapid growth, and outside. This year, it was still cold and gray, and quite a few were still in the greenhouse, growths slow to mature but already in spike. Ctsm. expansum is my most robust species. Now it's warm enough for them to move outside. I see the start of another spike on the alba one, I expect another set of blooms in the fall.


Catasetum osculatum

Another one that spiked while new growth was still developing.


Dendrobium griffithianum

I'm not sure why I decided, when I got this at an auction several years ago, that it needed to grow warm. It is native to northern India and souteast Asia at about 500 m, so perhaps more intermediate than cool. However, it shares habitat with quite a few species that I successfully grow outside, so it's moving out to stay.



Podangis dactyloceras

From tropical west Africa. Elevation range given on the Baker Culture Sheet, up to 1500 m, would indicate that it could grow cool. I have tried one outside, but it did not survive. This species does seem to need the warmth of the greenhouse. Flowers are crystalline and translucent.

Habenaria erichmichaelii (rhodocheila 'Cardinal's Roost')

Hab. erichmichaelii has been lumped into rhodocheila by some taxonomists, but others are convinced that there characteristics (beyond color) that make it a distinct species. Hab. rhodocheila comes in a range of color forms from deep red to orange to yellow. This one is certainly different. The genus goes completely dormant in the fall, to re-emerge in the spring. This one has bronze leaves that slowly turn green as the flowers mature, but on this plant there is still a lot of brown, with interesting pattern, still visible. These need to be moderately dry during dormancy, but I give it light watering every week or two through the winter, then start more thorough watering in late March or easly April, which seems to stimulate it into active growth.

Phalaenopsis speciosa

Native to Sumatra, and the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Flowers have heavy substance. An inflorescence can continue to produce new flowers over months or even years. Some flowers have white tips on the petals. It is closely related to Phal. tetraspis, or may be synonymous.


Dearly departed...

While fatalaties are inevitable, especially when trying new things and pushing the envelope on conditions, some hurt more than other. Especially, those plants that have done well for a long time, and then just go belly up. I have a few...And a few others of note. Can't list them all.

Clesocentron gogusingii Grew and bloomed for 13 years, then dropped all of its leaves and expired.
Dendrobium cinnabarium In greenhouse, may be been in a "rain shadow", was deceased before I noticed it. Will try again if I can find one.
Laelia grandis 10 years of blooming right after the purpuratas
Orchis and Ophrys (various) For reasons unknown, Scott does better with Orchis, I do better with Ophrys. Neither of us wins them all.
Himantoglossum robertsianum One of the European terrestrials, grew big and then didn't come back.