Group : Terrestrial
Covers these genera : Acanthophippium (Aca.) , Altensteinia (Alt.) , Ancistrochilus (Ancstrc.) , Anoectochilus (Anct.) , Arundina (Ar.) , Bletilla (Ble.) , Bonatea (Bnt.) , Calanthe (Cal.) , Cheirostylis (Cs.) , Cyclopogon (Cycl.) , Disa (Disa) , Elleanthus (Ellnth.) , Geodorum (Geod.) , Goodyera (G.) , Habenaria (Hab.) , Isochilus (Ischls.) , Liparis (Lip.) , Ludisia (Lus.) , Macodes (Mac.) , Malaxis (Mlxs.) , Microstylis (Mst.) , Pecteilis (Pec.) , Pelexia (Pel.) , Phaiocalanthe (Phcal.) , Phaius (Phaius) , Pleione (Pln.) , Polystachya (Pol.) , Sarcoglottis (Srgt.) , Sobralia (Sob.) , Spathoglottis (Spa.) , Spiranthes (Sprnth.) , Stenoglottis (Sngl.) , Stenorrhynchos (Strs.) , Thelymitra (Thel.) , Thunia (Thu.)

General information for this group :
Most members of this group require relatively similar conditions. They are easy to grow and bloom when provided with the right environment. You can find most of the plants with beautiful foliage in this group, since it contains all the "Jewel Orchids". The initial discussion is for generic terrestrials. For subgroups that have additional information, it will appear under individual headings near the bottom of the page. Alternatively, you can click on the genus name above to take you directly to that subgroup.


Subgroup : Terrestrials

Covers these genera : Altensteinia (Alt.) , Calanthe (Cal.) [Evergreen or bulb-less only] , Elleanthus (Ellnth.)

Description :
The name for this group can be misleading, as it implies that these plants grow in dirt. This is most often not the case, and the term "humus epiphyte" might be more accurate. These plants typically grow in deep pads of live moss, leaf-litter or humus, with the roots never actually touching any dirt.

Light :
Since most of these plants originate from the forest floor, they prefer low to moderate light at most. They will often stop growing if placed into higher light conditions.

Temperature :
Intermediate conditions suit most species best. There is usually a distinct resentment of hot/dry conditions, since these typically do not occur in their natural habitats.

Media :
Potting mixes can vary widely, but should have the following two characteristics :
(i) be free-draining
(ii) be moisture-retentive
We have found that Promix/perlite blends, or layered bark mixtures to be quite suitable to good growth and bloom.

Water :
Rainwater or dehumidifier water are ideal, followed by high-quality tap water. NEVER, EVER, use softened water, bottled water or well-water, as the mineral concentrations are far too high, and the nutrients are unbalanced. For plants that require a rest period, reduce or eliminate watering for the duration of the rest period. Apply water generously during the active growth period to allow proper development of new growths.

Fertilizing :
Most of these are very light feeders, so use a properly balanced orchid fertilizer (3:1:3 ratio) with micronutrients at the rate of 1/4 strength during the active growing period. This is usually February through September, if growing on the windowsill. If growing under lights or in a terrarium, then fertilizing can be done year-round. Make sure to flush with plain water at least every 4th watering.

Blooming :
Blooming can take place at any time of the year, but usually the heaviest flush is in early to late spring.


Subgroup : Disa

Covers these genera : Disa (Disa)

Description :
Most species have exceptionally bright colors, unusually shaped and large flowers, making very striking displays.

Same as for Terrestrial, except :

  • Neutral to acidic moisture-retentive mix.
  • Cool to intermediate temperatures.
  • Reduce watering slightly for a couple of weeks once blooming has finished.
  • Do NOT get foliage wet.
  • Keep plants moist throughout the growing season.

  • Subgroup : Underground Bulbous Types

    Covers these genera : Geodorum (Geod.) , Habenaria (Hab.) , Pecteilis (Pec.) , Pleione (Pln.) , Thelymitra (Thel.)

    Description :
    This group contains some of the most colorful flowers, and unusual colors, in the terrestrial group. Thelymitra is one of the few orchids with species that are "true-blue" in color.

    Same as for Terrestrial, except :

  • Most of these require a distinct dry rest period of at least 6 weeks during late fall/winter months. Resume watering when new growth is over 1 inch in height.
  • Thelymitra requires an acidic mix along with bright light.

  • Subgroup : Cane and Thickened Stem Types

    Covers these genera : Arundina (Ar.) , Isochilus (Ischls.) , Sobralia (Sob.) , Thunia (Thu.)

    Description :
    These plants produce beautiful heads of flowes when blooming.

    Same as for Terrestrial, except :

  • Reduce water and humidity during the winter months.
  • Cymbidium mixes also work well for this group.

  • Subgroup : Corm Types

    Covers these genera : Bletilla (Ble.)

    Description :

    Same as for Terrestrial, except :

  • Many of these species are hardy in the more moderate climates, and in protected locations in colder climates.
  • If planted outdoors, be sure to locate where the drainage is good, since they are susceptible to rot.

  • Subgroup : Surface Bulbous types

    Covers these genera : Acanthophippium (Aca.) , Ancistrochilus (Ancstrc.) , Liparis (Lip.) , Malaxis (Mlxs.) , Microstylis (Mst.) , Spathoglottis (Spa.)

    Description :
    Some these have very attractive foliage, particularly Malaxis. They are very easy to grow and bloom provided you do not overwater them during the periods of slow growth.

    Same as for Terrestrial, except :

  • Reduce water and humidity during the winter months.
  • Cymbidium mixes also work well for this group.

  • Subgroup : Leafy Surface Bulb Types

    Covers these genera : Phaiocalanthe (Phcal.) , Phaius (Phaius) , Polystachya (Pol.)

    Description :
    These plants are very easy to grow and bloom under most conditions, since they adapt quite readily. However, they will still not tolerate excessive heat/dry conditions. In particular, Polystachya falls into this category.

    Same as for Terrestrial, except :

  • Reduce water and humidity during the winter months. Leaves typically endure for two or three years before being shed.
  • Cymbidium mixes also work well for this group.

  • Subgroup : Thickened Root Types

    Covers these genera : Anoectochilus (Anct.) , Bonatea (Bnt.) , Cheirostylis (Cs.) , Cyclopogon (Cycl.) , Goodyera (G.) , Ludisia (Lus.) , Macodes (Mac.) , Pelexia (Pel.) , Sarcoglottis (Srgt.) , Spiranthes (Sprnth.) , Stenoglottis (Sngl.) , Stenorrhynchos (Strs.)

    Description :
    This group contains all the orchids known commonly as "Jewel Orchids". These are grown primarily for their foliage, and new growths appear shortly after blooming. If you allow the growths to complete their bloom cycle, then the blooming growth usually dies back. For younger or smaller plants, we remove the bloom spike prior to its full development, so that all energy will be diverted into plant growth.

    All of the more compact of these are excellent and essential candidates for terrarium setups, in the lower to mid levels, since the colorful leaves provide interest and texture when nothing is in bloom.

    Same as for Terrestrial, except :

  • Although these plants do not go fully dormant, you should reduce watering during the winter months.
  • African Violet mix is a reasonable substitute if you cannot find the appropriate mix in your area.

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