A short  article dealing with the cultivation of Pleione orchids.

 

Pleione 'Kublai Khan'              Picture: K.Huntingdon

                     

 

Pleione come from India,Thailand,Nepal,China to Taiwan.

They grow as semi-epiphytes at the base of trees as high as the snowline.

Usually they grow 1 or 2 leaves and before that ,1 or 2 short , approx 5 inch flower stalk .

There are approx 20 recognised species and well over 100 hundred hybrids with flowers in many colors

The pseudo bulbs can be grown indoors, indeed the common name is 'The windowsill orchid' or in a cool (frost-free) greenhouse, in containers or a shallow pan , not in direct sunlight with a max temp of approx 25C.

Plant during Feb/March in very well drained medium . (I use bark with perlite)

The flowers will appear before the leaves during April/May. There are also autumn and winter flowering species.

The plants can be kept in the garden during summer in a cool half-shady sheltered space. Bring back in when the leaves have died of, before the frost.

Leave completely dry during the winter period and keep frost-free.

Alternatively the new pseudo bulbs can be cleaned and kept cool 1 to 6C, in a paper bag in the fridge for planting next spring.

The plants often produce small bulbils which can also be kept and planted during the following Jan/Feb period. They will typically take 3 to 4 years before flowering.

WATERING.

After planting the bulbs, the medium should be kept just moist and never wet.

When the leaves are coming out, after the flower starts waning, root growth starts and watering can be increased to once a week and during the summer with the leaves well underway,the watering can be further increased. The plant is from monsoon area's, so overwatering is not really a problem during this period, they also love high humidity during the growing period and regular misting is beneficial.

FEEDING.

Start feeding when the leaves appear once every 2 weeks with any general soluble plantfeed (I use tomarite) at ½ strenght solution until the leaves start dying off.

PESTS.

The plants are relatively disease free, but there is one pest which can cause severe damage.

Brevipalpus oncidii is a false spider mite and only sprays containing the chemical bifenthrin are dealing with the problem.

Treatments have to be repeated at 2 or 3 weeks intervals, because the eggs are not affected. *

I use Bayer 'Garden Bug Free'

The bulbs can also be dipped in spraying or 'Neem-oil' after they are taken out of the medium and again before planting.

*Paul Cumbleton :Brevipalpus,website.

For extensive information and pictures of the species and hybrids there is the authoritive website of Paul Cumbleton :  http://www.pleione.info