Real Orchid Plants From Costa Rica

My wife Cathy and I spent our 25th wedding anniversary vacation in Costa Rica at Dreams Las Mareas, Playa el Jobo La Cruz de Guanacaste El Jobo. Northern Pacific Costa Rica across the Bahia Salinas from Playa Manzanillo, Nicaragua. The weather in the El Jobo area is hot and dry most of the year. This is considered a tropical dry forest area. The average day time temperatures are typically in the mid-80s to low 90s. Night time temps are usually in the low to mid-70s. While the rainy season is considered May through November, the area really only receives steady harder rains in September and October. Even during these months, rains usually last for an hour or two in the late afternoon. The Image below is of Playa Jobo on Bahia Jobo and the open Pacific Ocean in the background past Isla Chancleta. This area looks luxuriously green in mid-August, but the trees will go dormant and lose their leaves during the dry season. The hills will be brown and dry looking.


Dreams Las Mareas is an all inclusive resort. But they do have an independently operated Britt Shop upstairs around the corner from the restaurants. This is where I spotted these little gems on the rack.


The orchids that I chose are:

Brassia arcuigera

Common name: Arching Spider Orchid, The Arching Brassia

Family: Orchidaceae subfam. Epidendroideae

Synonym: Brassia antherotes

Distribution: Central America to Peru

Habitat: Premontane rainforests; 650-4920ft (200-1500m)

Life form: Epiphytic

Plant size: 12-20″ x 2-3″ (30-51 x 5-8 cm), excluding inflorescence

Pollination syndrome: Wasp (female Vespidae), attempts to sting lip of flower to lay eggs

Fragrance: Pleasant

Bloom characteristics: Arching to pendant inflorescence is up to 2 feet (60 cm) long with 6-15 pale green flowers with a few brown spots. Flowers are 9″ (23 cm) long.

Bloom Time (northern hemisphere): April to November

Description: The Arching Brassia has many, pleasantly scented flowers which can vary widely in color or pattern, even on the same plant.

Source: Smithsonian Gardens Plant Explorer

Brassia verrucosa

Common name: The Warty Brassia

Family: Orchidaceae subfam. Epidendroideae

Distribution: Mexico to N Brazil

Habitat: Humid forests and rocky hills; 900-1600m

Life form: Epiphytic

Pollination syndrome: Wasps

Fragrance: Black pepper, musky (scent fades as flowers age)

Bloom characteristics: Inflorescence is 30″ long with 5- 15 green flowers. Flowers are 6″ across and last 3-8 weeks.

Bloom Time (northern hemisphere): April to September

Description: This is a large orchid which has pale green flowers with a lip covered in distinctive “warts” – small brown or green spots. In the wild, a type of white spider has been observed camouflaging itself among the orchid’s pale flowers to catch insects. This Brassia has some of the largest, most spider-like flowers of the genus.

Source: Smithsonian Gardens Plant Explorer

Coelogyne fimbriata

Common name: Fringed Coelogyne,

Family: Orchidaceae subfam. EpidendroideaeSynonym: Broughtonia linearis, Broughtonia linearis, Coelogyne arunachalensis, Coelogyne laotica, Coelogyne longiciliata, Coelogyne ovalis, Coelogyne padangensis, Coelogyne primulina, Coelogyne xerophyta, Pleione chinense, Pleione fimbriata

Distribution: SE Asia

Habitat: Epiphytic on trees or lithophyte on rocks in primary, broadleaf, evergreen lowland forests or primary montane forests at an altitude of 640 to 2300 meters above sea level

Life form: Epiphytic or lithophytic

Plant size: 3cm – 5cm (1.5″ to 2″) clustered pseudobulbs

Pollination syndrome: 

Fragrance: Fragrant musk to yeasty scented

Bloom characteristics: Blooms in the fall arising on the newest mature pseudobulb with a terminal, slender, 4 to 5 cm long, erect, fractiflex rachis, 1 to 3 flowered, racemose inflorescence subtended with a narrow basal sheath and carrying 1 to 3, fragrant, long-lived flowers held just above the leaves

Bloom Time (northern hemisphere): August to November

Source: Travaldo’s blog

Epidendrum radicans

Common name: The Ground Rooting Epidendrum

Family: Orchidaceae subfam. Epidendroideae

Synonym: Epidendrum radicans var. xanthina

Distribution: Mexico to Colombia

Habitat: Open areas, between grass and rocks; 2950-8200ft (900-2500m)

Life form: Terrestrial

Pollination syndrome: Hummingbird (Elvira cupreiceps)

Bloom Time (northern hemisphere): Year round; peaks from February to May

Bloom characteristics: Erect inflorescence is 10-38″ (25-50 cm) long with 5-10 red flowers with an orange center. Flowers are 1″ (2.5 cm) across and open successively over time.

Description: This large orchid has a reputation for being weedy, but flowers easily.

Source: Smithsonian Gardens Plant Explorer

Gongora armeniaca

Common name: Yellow-Orange Gongora

Family: Orchidaceae subfam. Epidendroideae

Synonym: Acropera armeniaca, Acropera cornuta, Gongora armeriaca subsp. cornuta, Gongora cornuta

Distribution: Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua

Habitat: Wet montane forests; 2297-4429ft (700-1350m)

Life form: Epiphytic

Foliage characteristics: plicate, elliptic, acute, conduplicate

Pollination syndrome: 

Plant size: 

Bloom characteristics: 1-1/2` to 2` clumping bulbs topped with a pair of plicate 6 inch leaves, pendulous 8` spikes appear in flushes bearing many 1-1/4` intricate yellow finely spotted red flowers.

Fragrance: Apricot scented

Ethnobotanical uses: 

Bloom Time (northern hemisphere): Summer and Fall


Source: Internet Orchid Species Photo Encyclopedia

Guarianthe skinneri

Common name: Guaria Morada, Candelaria, Flor de San Sebastian, Skinner’s Guarianthe, The Easter Orchid

Family: Orchidaceae subfam. Epidendroideae

Synonym: Cattleya skinneri, Cattleya skinneri var. oculata-alba, Guarianthe skinneri var. coerulea

Distribution: S Mexico to C America

Habitat: Wet montane forests; 650-7545ft (200-2300m)

Life form: Epiphytic

Foliage characteristics: Bifoliate

Pollination syndrome: Bee (Euglossa viridissima), attracted by food deception

Plant size: 15-26″ x 8-15″ (38-66 x 20-38 cm), excluding inflorescence

Bloom characteristics: Erect inflorescence is up to 5.5″ (14 cm) long and has 4-12 pink flowers which may not all open at the same time. Flowers are 3.5″ (9 cm) across.

Fragrance: Fragrant

Ethnobotanical uses: In Guatemala this flower goes by the name flor de San Sebastian and is used to decorate churches on the saint’s day. This orchid is also the national flower of Coasta Rica.

Bloom Time (northern hemisphere): October to June; peak in February to May

Description: Guarianthe skinneri is a medium sized orchid which is well-known in the US for blooming in the spring around Easter.

Source: Smithsonian Gardens Plant Explorer

The sticker price for each was in US dollars $26.99.

The front of the card says “This product is approved for import into the USA” and contains a phytosanitary certificate for exportation. According to the back of the information card “Artificially propagated plants of CITES Appendices (species and hybrids) sealed and transported in sterile flasks are exempt from CITES importation restrictions. They do not require CITES documentation, (CITES, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Art VII”.

The orchids are made by the company Biotecnologia Verde de Costa Rica Ltda. The back of the card has a wealth of information regarding what is in the test tubes.

The in vitro orchids are plants that are artificially produced in a biotechnology laboratory under controlled conditions of humidity, temperature, light and nutrients. They are real plants with life, just like any other of their species. They are not miniature versions of bonsais.

The gel contained in the vial provides all the nutrients and substances needed for a proper development and growth of the orchid. That’s how they survive inside the vial. They do little photosynthesis.

The vial must be opened right before transplanting the orchid.

The plant is growing inside the vial and it an remain inside anywhere from 2 to 4 months.

Both the germinating seeds and the mother plants are not extracted from the forest, they come from the reproduction of the very best mother plants of Costa Rica.

Includes a “starter square” of White moss (sphagnum) that serves as substratum for transplanting the orchid. This way the orchid can continue growing outside the vial. With normal care of a plant, and depending on the variety, it will bloom in 3 or 4 years.

… Our mission is to preserve our beautiful Costa Rican orchids, as many of the varieties are endangered.

The plan for these baby orchids is that I have a nice large glass vase that I will make into a terrarium to transplant the baby orchids into when they get a little larger (then I will put them on moss slabs and hang on the oak tree in the backyard when they are large enough to grow outside (except for Epidendrum radicans which is a ground growing orchid)). The stones I bought on Amazon (Mix Horticultural Lava Rock Pebbles Pumice Potting Soil) for drainage and to hold moisture are a mix of Black lava, Red lava, Green stone (olivine, which is a magnesium iron silicate with the chemical formula (Mg²⁺, Fe²⁺)₂SiO₄.)) and Maifanitum (a natural silicate mineral (quartz-monzonite)).

I will follow up this article when I transplant the orchids into their terrarium. Meanwhile, why not follow the FloridaGardener on Instagram…