Encyclia tampensis is a delightful species of orchid that originates from Florida (Tampa bay, hence the name) and the Bahamas. I obtained the alba form of the species from a German nursery a couple of years ago. The plant is quite small and fits easily into a 10cm clay pot. I prefer to use a clay pot for this species because, much like other Encyclia species, it particularly resents having stagnant roots and seems to do better when allowed to dry out thoroughly between waterings. As a rule of thumb, provided the leading pseudobulb is nice and plump, the plant is receiving sufficient water. Although I stated my plant is quite small, it is, nevertheless, flowering size and even mature specimens of this species don’t get very large. The pseudobulbs are only an inch or so high, are rounded to slightly conical in shape and are quite shiny beneath the persistent leaf sheaths. As Encyclia species, allegedly, have a reputation for attracting scale insects, I generally remove dried leaf sheaths from around the pseudobulbs, although it has to be said that there are other genera in my growroom that scale much prefer, and I don’t think I’ve ever found a single one on any of my Encyclia. At least this keeps them tidy, and I assume it allows more light onto the plant too. The leaves are long, upright, narrow, V-shaped in cross-section and quite thickly textured, with usually only one per pseudobulb. The plant is well adapted to bright light, receiving only light shade in its native habitat. It appears not to need such high humidity as do many other orchids, and thrives where air movement is strong. It also enjoys warm or hot temperatures, and is thus an ideal candidate for my growroom.
Flowers are produced in a raceme from the top of the newly matured pseudobulb. The typical form of the species is quite variable, but the flowers typically have a greenish background with varying degrees of overlay in the form of chestnut markings. The lip is usually white with a purple ‘splodge’ in the middle. My plant produces mid-green flowers with a pure white lip, and no purple ‘splodge’. To my eye, the colour of the alba form of the species is more striking than the regular form. The blooms are not large in themselves, but are a nice size compared with that of the whole plant. The inflorescences are sparingly branched, bearing usually no more than 15 – 20 flowers, although several inflorescences may be produced as the plant readily develops multiple lead growths. An added bonus with this species is that it is delightfully scented, particularly in bright light. The scent is very sweet but not cloying or overpowering. Flowers last in good condition for around three weeks, possibly more if kept cool.