Eulophia guineensis

I was given this plant in May 1999 by John Davison, then Chairman of the South East Orchid Society but sadly no longer with us, and it has flowered regularly every year since then. The species is apparently widespread in tropical Africa south to Angola, growing as a terrestrial plant in suitable areas. It is deciduous and needs a dry rest in winter followed by careful watering when growth resumes in spring. There are other species of Eulophia which grow in boggy conditions but this is not one of them; there are even other species which are saprophytic, having poorly developed leaves and relying on associated fungi for their nutrition. This Eulophia is not uncommon in cultivation and is tolerant of a certain amount of maltreatment. It seems to do better with what we might call “benign neglect” than over-fussy care. Potted in a mix of equal parts of peat, loam and coarse sand (I add a proportion of medium bark as well), it can be watered and fed through the summer until it loses its leaves in the autumn. The only care necessary is to avoid prolonged water-logging so be sure it needs it before you water it. I keep mine quite dry through the winter and only resume in the spring when the new growth is an inch or two long, not when it first appears. Any water lodging within the new growth is inevitably fatal. The flower spikes appear at this stage too, the first flowers opening at the beginning of April usually. One thing I have found with it is that the flowers themselves are very susceptible to fungal attack if the atmosphere in the greenhouse is at all humid (which is what a lot of other orchids most enjoy), the lips of the flowers become discoloured and the flower falls within days of opening. A spray with a good fungicide will prevent this and the flowers will last at least a couple of months. It seems to be resistant to pest attacks – I have not had to spray it or pick snails off it during the thirteen years I’ve been growing it, and when it flowers, it’s quite spectacular. It’s no particular trouble, its leaves don’t become inordinately large so provided you’ve got the space available for the height of the flower stems, it’s a plant I would recommend to anyone to have a go with. Ted Croot