Lycaste campbellii

This plant, which came to me from the late Nev Brown’s collection, is a species of Lycaste not often seen offered for sale here: it probably came from Germany. It is a warm- growing (not to say hot) species from Panama which bears some of the smallest flowers in the genus. The flowers are somewhat nodding, yellow with a tinge of green and they are not long-lasting. Ten days is about all you get but there are lots of them and they don’t all come at once, so the plant may be in flower for almost a month.

It is deciduous: the leaves fall in late autumn and then the plant is kept almost dry. The flowers appear in February and the new growths about a month later. Careful watering can be started now (water left in the new growths will rot them overnight). When growth is well-established it should be watered liberally provided that drainage is good, and fed liberally too. Ideally a higher nitrogen feed is given up to mid-July and then a higher potash feed till the leaves turn in October – a gentle increase in spring and a tailing-off in autumn.

The compost used is chopped sphagnum moss lightened with medium bark, charcoal and coarse Perlite, roughly twice as much sphagnum as the rest put together. Keep it warm, keep the red spider off the leaves and you can’t go wrong. Ted Croot