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    David Morse

    I purchased a Dracula polyphemus orchid from Akerne orchids in March. It was my first attempt at growing anything from this notoriously fastidious genus whose species reputedly demand all year high humidity, cool temperatures, low light, careful feeding, high water purity and constant root moisture and if you can finally succeed in obtaining flower buds these may then abort at the last minute if something is not to the plants liking even as little as a water droplet on the spike. Well that was the theory. Undaunted, I ahead to select the species polyphemus to try because it is supposed to be more robust and vigorous growing and has stunning dark blood red flowers as opposed to the browns and creams typical of most species. Another personal consideration was that it did not have the typical Dracula “monkey face” flowers which freak me out! Incidentally, the species is named after a Greek mythological cyclopes which the flower apparently resembles (I am not sure if that makes it less scary!). I have grown it in an unheated greenhouse since April and just kept it out of strong sunshine and constantly wet with rainwater, fed with “Rainmix” fertiliser at half strength and planted it in New Zealand sphagnum moss in a net hanging basket. It is important to use a net or a slat type basket because the flower spikes grow downwards under the surface until they escape through the side or bottom of the pot (similar to Stanhopeas). To my surprise it has flourished even at high day temperatures of 28C (minimum 65% humidity) producing 8 healthy new leaves and to add to my joy then rewarded me with two flower spikes which I initially took to be damaged roots peering out of the pot. These grew rapidly over 5 weeks until the large impressively weird downward-facing blossoms opened up like nothing I have ever seen (see picture). What do you think? The challenge now is to grow it in the house over the winter with the entailing lower humidity. If anyone has recommendations or advice on Dracula cultivation I would be interested to hear.

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    Well done Shane
    Not easy to keep and flower Dracula’s
    Bualadh Bos

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