I bought this plant from Burnham Nurseries with some trepidation because I have never done well with this genus in the past, and I know I have killed this particular species before now. There seems to be conflicting information on the internet regarding its care, with advice varying wildly between the need to keep it both on the dry and wet side, and between both growing it warm and cool. I only have facilities for one set of growing conditions, so it was Hobson’s choice for me! In fact, this species has taken to the warm, humid and breezy conditions of my grow-room like a duck to water. I have placed it where it stays quite damp for long periods, and the plant never dries out. Three new growths have already emerged, which is promising. This species was formerly assigned to the genus Cochleanthes, but is now considered a species of Warczewiczella (but who can spell or even pronounce that?), is related to Zygopetalum, and has a reputation, not necessarily one for being especially difficult, but for the foliage to mark easily resulting in unsightly plants. The traditional advice is not to allow water to get onto the foliage, as it results in black marks. This seems a bit odd to me, since the plants come from naturally wet areas and must get rained upon in nature. I think it is more a case of making sure that there is enough air movement around the plants, so that sitting water can evaporate, while maintaining the necessary humidity. No marks have appeared on my plant, and it looks as healthy as the day I got it, with the added benefit of flowers. The blooms are indeed beautiful, with a deep purple lip and contrasting off-white petals. The scent is difficult to describe, but reminds me very much of Vicks vapo-rub, which I find very pleasant, though it might not be to everyone’s taste.
Encouraged by the success of growing W. discolor (but before it furnished me with flowers), I also purchased two hybrid plants. There are only four species in the genus, so the hybrid can’t be that complex, and I suspect it is actually W. amazonica x W. discolor (W. x Sonnenberg), though I cannot be certain. I got two differently coloured cultivars, the first with a pink lip and the other a purple lip, though all colour forms seem to carry the same name. Sadly, Googling for W. x Sonnenberg doesn’t bring up many meaningful results, though it is likely that the various colour forms are all seedlings from the same cross. The plants are large and healthy, and I have already potted them on. I haven’t attempted to remove any of the old potting medium (sphagnum) because the roots were solid in the pot, and I didn’t see any reason to cause them unnecessary damage by trying to separate them out. The plants seem to like lots of water, so I’m not worried about the centre staying wet. I have put crocks (polystyrene chips) in the new pots so that the roots will drain well, and new roots are already showing. The plants will need potting on again in a year’s time. There are several new growths on both plants. These plants seem to flower on mature growths at around the time that new growth commences, and several flowers may be produced in succession from one fan of leaves (the plants lack pseudobulbs). Each spike bears a single flower. One plant, the pink- lipped form, has produced several flowers. They are large and resemble those of W. amazonica in shape, but with more solid colour on the lip. They are slightly scented and last around two weeks in my warm grow-room. In cooler conditions, they may last quite a bit longer, as they are heavy textured and robust.