Cultural information by Stephen Monkhouse
Zygopetalum is a genus of about 20 species. The species are distributed throughout the South American continent, from the cooler parts of southern Brazil to the Isthmus of Panama, also southern Mexico and the West Indies.
GROWING CONDITIONS: Zygopetalum’s although having the appearance of an exotic plant are actually very easy to grow and flower. They require 50 – 70% filtered sunlight throughout the year. In countries where outside climates drop to freezing, indoor culture can be very successful. Cymbidium growers will find that Zygopetalum’s are content in a similar condition with the addition of perhaps a little more shade. The growth pattern is also similar in that the plant has green bulbs (new bulb with leaves) and from this come the new growth shoots and possibly a new flower shoot on more mature plants. They can also produce back bulbs that are the old bulbs that have lost the leaves. The flower spike will appear from inside the new growth not the mature bulb as with Cymbidiums. Each flower spike can carry up to 7 blooms. These produce masses of perfumed bloom’s on multiple spikes the plant should be at least 2 years old and actively growing in 100mm to 150mm pot. Most Zygopetalum’s have a delightful perfume that can waft throughout your home or greenhouse during the flowering season. Due to our hybridisation, the colour range on offer is extensive and the perfume has become delicate and varied. The blooms can now
be up to 7.5cm across. These plants are becoming more popular now with a smaller plant growth and the ability to bloom 2 or even 3 times in the same year.
(depending on parentage)
POTTING MEDIUM : The Zygopetalum is a Terrestrial Orchid requiring a well drained potting medium. Most growers use the same medium for Cymbidiums and Zygopetalums. We have grown Zygopetalum’s with a top grade orchid bark medium successfully. But I prefer a cleaner medium and have had good success with a combination of coco-peat (60%) and perlite (40%) while we were growing in South Australia. Now here is Melbourne Victoria with colder winters I am using medium grade Vermiculite and Perlite combination, this medium is clean and produces lovely white roots. We have found the growth rate is quicker to blooming size and the plants are healthier.
FERTILISER : To obtain ultimate growth and the best possible flowering, use a regular fertilising program. We use and recommend Scott’s “Peters Range” of fertilisers. This is a premium American fertiliser that we have been using for over 30 years now. Our program is simple and we always fertilise at half strength fortnightly.
This is our fertilising program, displaying each Season with the 3 month application program:-
|Season||1st Month||2nd Month||3rd Month|
|Summer||Hi Nitrogen||Hi Nitrogen||Plant Starter|
|Fall/Autumn||Blossom Booster||Blossom Booster||Hi Nitrogen|
|Winter||Hi Nitrogen||Hi Nitrogen||Plant Starter|
|Spring||Blossom Booster||Blossom Booster||Hi Nitrogen|
|Hi Nitrogen ||27%||6.5%||10%|
Plants should always be kept moist. If allowed to dry or completely dry out leaves will drop and bulbs can start to shrivel. Water regularly or mist foliage to provide humidity in the morning. Do not allow leaves to stay wet overnight. Air circulation is a very important factor.