While still not commonly known, any orchid display is enhanced by this group of orchids and its hybrids. They are very eye-catching with a combination of deep blue/purple and brown flowers. However the most outstanding feature is the scent of the flowers, strong sweet vanilla, which will fill any orchid growing area.
These orchids have now been hybridised with related genera which has added green shades to the colour range. A full grown plant is only of moderate size. They can be grown in similar conditions to cymbidiums in our climate.
As a group, they require moderate light. Having relatively soft foliage, they need some protection from the harsh summer western sun. Like all orchids they need half-strength fertiliser regularly, up to weekly when they are growing rapidly in spring/summer. Water every few days to weekly when it’s hot, less so when it is cold and not at all when raining. Their roots must not be waterlogged so the potting mix should drain readily or root rot follows rapidly. When the bulbs reach the rim of the pot, it’s time to move to the next size up, repotting into a good orchid mix. If the centre has died off the plant can be broken up and repotted in to the same pot with the back bulbs potted separately. These may grow on to give a new plant.
The Eastern Suburbs Orchid Society has an orchid show on the third Monday of every month at 8pm, St Luke’s Church Hall, Varna Street, Clovelly. Visitors are always welcome.