Finally!! After countless blasted buds this beautiful, but finicky, Dracula is blooming for me and I am sooo excited! It has been trying to bloom for months now, but the buds have blasted one after one with about a week to go before opening. It has been both frustrating and heartbreaking, especially since I haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly exactly why. Although I have a pretty good idea… with Dracula is it usually lack of humidity or temperature.
Dracula barrowii is a cool to cold grower, so first I was pretty sure it was temperature related. But we have had nice and cool weather for a couple of months here in Sweden now which also means more stable cool temperatures in the vivarium. So, I figured it must have been the fluctuating humidity levels that was the culprit. I used to run the humidifier on an interval timer, basically guessing when and for how long it needed to be on. For most orchids this is just fine, but Dracula are very sensitive to low humidity levels and really requite 80% or better at all times, why they are hard to cultivate without a vivarium. So, after a few weeks of mailing snafus I finally received the humidistat that I had ordered to solve this problem. I installed it about three weeks ago and it actually seems to have done the trick.
What a payoff! It is a beautiful flower, about 2.5 cm wide by 8 cm tall with very nice definitions. It is said to have been collected in Peru and registered in 2002, but no collection data exists. It is also said that there is only one original plant of Dracula barrowii left in cultivation and it can be found at Royden Orchids which is run by Roy Barrow, the species namesake. But who knows, so little data on this orchid exist. I have seen photos of this species where it is more red than brown, mine is definitely leaning more towards a rosy brown with red-brown tails, and I just love it! I grow this Dracula potted in a mesh pot with EpiWeb substrate. It works fine in this case since the inflorescence grows suberect to horizontal, meaning the flowers are actually held up at leaf height rather than hanging out from the bottom as is often the case with this genus.