How you can Develop and Take care of Calanthe Orchids

Calanthe spp.

By no means was there such an aptly named plant. The genus identify Calanthe combines “kalos,” which is Greek for stunning, and “anthe,” which is Greek for flower.

Generally often called Christmas orchids, species on this genus are adaptable, elegant, and colourful, with some hardy sufficient to resist temperatures at and even under freezing!

They make glorious houseplants, like many orchids, however they will also be utilized in landscaping in Zones 6 and up.

A horizontal photo of a dark pink calanthe orchid blooming in a tropical garden.

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I perceive why Phalaenopsis orchids are so common as houseplants, however I’m baffled as to why extra folks aren’t having fun with Calanthe orchids of their houses and yards.

They’re long-blooming, and a few are hardier than your extra frequent species. However they’re each bit as stunning as moth orchids.

Enthusiastic about these wonderful crops? We’ll assist you grasp the rising course of. Right here’s what we’ll go over to make that occur:

As a result of they often develop within the earth quite than connected to timber and rocks, Calanthe species have some distinctive traits and rising necessities.

Earlier than we speak about these, let’s perceive a bit extra about what units these crops aside.

What Are Calanthe Orchids?

Calanthe orchids (ka-LAN-thee) are these within the Calanthe genus, which includes about 200 species.

They’re largely terrestrial crops that are available two varieties, outlined by the subgenera Eucalanthe and Preptanthe.

A horizontal close up photo of pale pink calanthe orchid blooms with dew on the leaves.

Eucalanthe species are evergreen with a basal rosette of leaves and no pseudobulbs, with a flower stem that emerges from the middle of the leaves. They develop in tropical to temperate areas.

Preptanthe crops are deciduous and lose their leaves within the chilly winter of their most popular environments. The flower stalks kind from pseudobulbs which are usually gray-green.

Evergreens embody C. alismifolia, C. sylvatica, and C. triplicata, and deciduous species embody C. hirsute, C. rosea, and C. vestita

You’ll be able to’t breed the 2 totally different subgenera, which is one cause that botanists are contemplating separating the 2 into their very own genera.

A horizontal shot of pink calanthe orchids growing in the forest under a shady tree.

The distinction is vital as a result of it impacts the way you’ll develop these crops.

Dwelling gardeners are inclined to want the deciduous varieties as a result of they’ve long-lasting inflorescences that may stick round for months.

Whatever the sort, they’re all sympodial, which suggests they produce a number of flower stalks quite than a single stalk. All have pleated or corrugated leaves and plenty of have clusters of oval-shaped pseudobulbs.

They are often discovered rising wild throughout the globe in tropical climates in Asia, Australia, Mexico and Central America, the West Indies, and the Pacific Islands. The overwhelming majority of species are native to southeast Asia.

Heads up: a lot of orchids are identified generally as “Christmas” as a result of it’s the identify given to people who flower within the winter. However not all calanthe orchids bloom within the winter, and never all Christmas orchids belong to the Calanthe genus.

C. discolor and C. triplicata are generally known as Christmas orchids and bloom in winter.

Cultivation and Historical past

The Calanthe genus was first described and illustrated by Georg Rumph, a German botanist, in 1750 in his tome “Herbarium Amboinense.” He used a specimen from Indonesia. The genus was formally established in 1821 by Robert Brown, a Scottish botanist.

Again within the nineteenth century through the Victorian plant craze, Calanthe orchids had been a floral standing image. Over time, they’ve taken a backseat to Phalaenopsis and Cattleya, which is a disgrace. They’re simple to develop, lengthy flowering, and showy.

A horizontal close up photo shot from above of a pink calanthe orchid bloom.

One of many first orchid hybrids on document was a cross between C. furcata and C. masuca, bred by John Dominihy, a breeder who labored with James Veitch, who based the well-known Veitch Nurseries in England. It was known as C. x dominii.

This was adopted by a hybrid between C. rosea and C. vestita

As of late, whereas they haven’t gained the identical degree of recognition as their cousins, they’re common in their very own proper, with a lot of hybrids and cultivars available on the market.

Calanthe Orchid Propagation

For those who’re up for an journey, it’s doable to propagate orchids from seed.

Notice that I mentioned it’s doable, however not simple. It takes some particular tools and loads of time, however you would possibly be capable of breed one thing thrilling and new.

A horizontal close up of a white blooming calanthe orchid with bright pink centered blooms.

For those who’re within the problem, please go to our information to propagating orchids from seed. In any other case, let’s speak about division.

By Division

Each varieties may be divided, however Preptanthe crops truly develop higher for those who divide them frequently. That’s as a result of two-year-old pseudobulbs die on the finish of their second 12 months. Once you divide them frequently, you encourage new progress.

To divide, gently dig up a plant or pull it out of the container. Brush away the soil from the roots and find a pure division within the plant that features some roots and a few pseudobulbs. Use a pair of unpolluted scissors or pruners to sever the biggest roots after which tease the plant aside.

If the plant has any again bulbs, that are the older bulbs that not have leaves, you’ll be able to divide these and plant them individually.

Plant half again within the unique pot or space of the backyard and plant the remaining part in a brand new space or container.

Epiphytic orchids want that their roots be a bit crowded, however you need to use bigger containers with terrestrial species. Search for a container that’s about twice the dimensions of the rootball.


Most of us buy our first Calanthe orchids or obtain them as a present.

Once you carry your first one house, you don’t must repot it instantly. However if you wish to put it within the floor, it’s finest to attend till mid-spring.

Put together the bottom by working in some well-rotted compost and making a gap twice as vast and the identical depth because the rising container.

Gently take away the plant from its container and loosen up the roots. Decrease it into the soil and agency the soil up round it.

The crown must be positioned at soil degree or simply under it. Don’t plant it extra than simply barely under the soil floor otherwise you run the chance of rot.

Gently water and add extra soil if it settles an excessive amount of.

How you can Develop Calanthe Orchids

Typically talking, evergreens must be stored moist to damp year-round, and deciduous varieties have to be allowed to dry out when the leaves have fallen. Let the medium fully dry out till new progress begins to kind.

Each varieties want humidity between 40 and 80 %.

Whereas this varies by species, most want temperatures within the 70s or 80s through the day and round 50°F at night time.

Sticking to the cooler finish of the spectrum will end in longer-lasting flowers. Evergreens can tolerate cooler temperatures, with most being hardy right down to round 5°F.

A horizontal photo of orange and yellow calanthe orchids in bloom with selective foreground focus.

Most want vibrant, oblique mild indoors, and direct morning mild is most popular. Exterior, they do finest in dappled shade or with an hour or so of direct morning mild.

I’ll say that these crops can tolerate extra mild than most gardeners understand. Partial solar is completely positive for many species, as long as you expose them to the brighter mild step by step over the course of some weeks till they’re acclimated.

As with many houseplants that may tolerate vibrant mild, growers domesticate these orchids in dimmer circumstances than what’s supreme to be able to acclimate them to the sunshine accessible in most houses.

With out exception, mine have flowered higher once I give them extra mild. Simply keep away from afternoon mild, which is method too harsh.

Present Preptanthe species grown indoors with a medium containing sphagnum moss, coconut coir chips, medium-size bark, and perlite. Don’t use a mixture that’s primarily orchid bark, which is marketed for epiphytes. You need some loam for the terrestrial orchids.

Outdoor, work loads of well-rotted compost into the soil – the extra the higher.

The soil have to be well-draining. If it isn’t, select a container or a raised mattress so you’ll be able to management the medium and drainage. Or, if in case you have heavy clay, work in equal components compost to the native soil no less than two ft down and two ft out.

Both method, these crops want impartial soil, however they will tolerate a pH vary between 6.0 and eight.0.

If you wish to develop Eucalanthe species indoors, they have to be uncovered to temperatures simply above 35°F for cool-growing species and 50°F for tropical species at night time for 2 months to encourage new progress and blooming. That’s why most individuals develop them outdoor.

Remember the fact that whereas most Eucalanthe crops can develop as far north as Zone 6, some species are tropical and wish hotter climates. Relying on the species, they have to be stored indoors throughout chilly climate exterior of Zone 9.

Outside crops don’t want a ton of fertilizer. Do a soil check and amend accordingly. In any other case, you shouldn’t want so as to add fertilizer.

In case you are rising yours in a container, change the soil each few years and fertilize as soon as earlier than flowering with a light, balanced fertilizer.

By no means fertilize a Preptanthe whereas it’s with out leaves.

Rising Ideas

  • There are two varieties of Calanthe orchids, so make certain you already know which it’s a must to present the perfect atmosphere.
  • Hold the soil moist however not moist, and permit deciduous varieties to dry out once they’re dormant.
  • Present vibrant oblique mild with direct morning mild.


Resist the temptation to take away the leaves once they develop into crowded and untidy.

They’re nonetheless offering very important vitamins to the plant, and eradicating them creates wounds which will expose the plant to viral pathogens. They shouldn’t be eliminated till they age to yellow after which brown and die off on their very own.

As soon as the leaves flip yellow and collapse, you’ll be able to take away them. They need to simply draw back, or you need to use scissors to clip them off.

You’ll be able to take away broken or diseased leaves at any time.

A vertical shot of magenta colored calanthe orchids in pots.

For tropical varieties, goal for 50°F at night time and 60°F through the day for a month or so to encourage reblooming.

To guard out of doors crops that go dormant, place two inches of mulch over the soil within the fall after the leaves die again. Use an natural mulch like leaf litter, shredded bark, or compost. 

In USDA Hardiness Zones on the low finish and even one under the really helpful vary of rising zones for a given species, it’s doable to maintain crops alive with a thick layer of protecting mulch. Make the mulch pile a couple of foot deep, overlaying the orchid and its root zone.

Take away the mulch within the spring when temperatures are frequently above freezing or for those who see new progress rising.

Container-grown out of doors orchids must be introduced into an unheated storage or chilly basement to overwinter.

Preptanthe orchids must be dug up and divided frequently. The pseudobulbs die after they’re two years previous, so common dividing will preserve the plant going sturdy. Be additional cautious when working with them as a result of the pseudobulbs break simply.

Calanthe Orchid Species and Hybrids to Choose

It looks like new cultivars are popping up on a regular basis, however you’ll be able to’t go improper with any of the species or their hybrids.

Listed below are only a few of the prettiest and best to develop in house gardens or indoors:


A well-liked evergreen or semi-evergreen in colder areas, the leaves of C. discolor can develop as much as 18 inches lengthy and kind on the base of tall flower spikes dotted with as much as 10 brown, white, inexperienced, and pale pink flowers.

A horizontal closeup of a blooming Calanthe discolor orchid with white blooms and dark red leaves.

This species grows indigenously in Japan, Korea, and China. It has develop into wildly common as a home or backyard plant and is usually used as a guardian for hybrids.


Kozu hybrids are completely properly value looking for out.

These hybrids are a cross of C. discolor and C. izu-insularis, and produce flowers in pink, purple, purple, white, and yellow, relying on the cultivar.

A vertical profile of a pale yellow calanthe orchid bloom.

‘Kozu Spice,’ for instance, is an evergreen indoors or in Zones 7 to 9 or semi-evergreen in Zone 6.

It was bred in 1996 in Japan by Okay. Karasawa, and has giant white and purple blossoms.


Native to Japan and Tibet, this species grows in mountainous areas. It has vibrant inexperienced and light-weight yellow flowers on tall stalks.

Every 15-inch stalk can produce as much as 10 flowers. A member of the Preptanthe subgenus, C. nipponica may be grown outdoor as far north as Zone 6.

This species was first described by Japanese botanist Tomitarô Makino in 1898, and it has develop into a preferred choice for breeding hybrids.


This Japanese evergreen has underground pseudobulbs bearing two or three leaves as much as 9 inches lengthy and three inches vast at their largest.

Every plant will solely develop 4 or 5 flowering spikes at a time. These can attain as much as 13 inches in top and initially characteristic nodding buds that finally open and face upward.

Vegetation can exhibit as much as 25 white and purple, pure purple, or pure white flowers at a time and so they might bloom all collectively or open sequentially, beginning in July and lasting by September.

C. reflexa grows in heat areas in moist woodlands or alongside stream banks, which tells you that this can be a plant that wants a lot of moisture.


Hailing from Japan, this hardy evergreen has 18-inch tall inflorescences with vibrant yellow blossoms.

C. sieboldii is likely one of the largest crops within the genus and can survive temperatures right down to 10°F.

A vertical close up of the dew on the yellow blooms of a calanthe orchid plant.

Whereas the flowers aren’t the showiest, they’re eye-catching in their very own proper.

Mixed with the massive, pleated leaves that resemble hostas, C. sieboldii is a phenomenal backyard choice.


With giant, closely flowered spikes of golden yellow blossoms, this hardy sort drops its leaves in late summer season and perks again up in early spring.

A horizontal photo of many yellow calanthe orchids blooming in a forest.

C. striata is an efficient choice for newbie growers as a result of it’s adaptable and tolerant of a variety of circumstances. These lots of fairly blossoms don’t harm, both.


A hybrid cross of C. striata and C. discolor, C. takane is one powerful orchid.

It may possibly tolerate chilly circumstances and can nonetheless produce ample cream, yellow, apricot, and pink blossoms on 18-inch spikes. It’s hardy to Zone 7, with pleated leaves much like a broadleaf plantain.

This hybrid is an efficient choice if you’d like one thing that may gently unfold across the backyard with out changing into invasive.


This common, semi-evergreen species has lime-green and brown flowers on upright inflorescences that develop as much as 12 inches tall.

A horizontal close up photo of a wild yellow calanthe orchid .

Present C. tricarinata with loamy, wealthy, free soil and preserve it persistently damp. It must be positioned in shade, however a bit morning or dappled mild is okay.


This stunning species hails from the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Java, and Malaysia, the place it’s a deciduous epiphyte.

C. vestita requires dappled shade or morning daylight and a humus-rich, free, moist rising medium.

Every pseudobulb produces three or 4 oval-shaped leaves that drop from the plant every fall and regrow within the spring.

One inflorescence with as much as 20 three-inch-wide white and yellow or purple – relying on the local weather and light-weight – flowers emerge in July from every pseudobulb.

Managing Pests and Illness

Christmas orchids are surprisingly powerful for such delicate-looking crops. The principle issues to look at for are spider mites and root rot.


There’s one sort of pest that plagues these orchids, whether or not indoors or out, and that’s the spider mite.

Spider mites are itty-bitty tick relations that use their sucking mouthparts to attract out the sap of crops.

They will trigger critical injury to the leaves of those crops, and might finally kill them, particularly younger specimens.

Spider mites are so small that you simply may not discover them at first. You’ll in all probability see the positive webbing they create, typically crammed with small black flecks, or the splotchy, yellow leaves they trigger.

Step one with eradicating spider mites is to isolate the plant for those who can. Then, spray down the plant as soon as per week with a mild stream of water to knock the pests free.

If that’s not working, learn our information for extra recommendations on how one can management spider mites.


Spots on the leaves are probably the most frequent indicators of illness.

The Erwinia and Acidovorax species of micro organism trigger leaf spots, as do species of fungi within the Cercospora genus.

Anthracnose, brought on by fungi within the Colletotrichum genus, may trigger spots with tan facilities and a black margin to kind.

These pathogens unfold by hitching a experience in splashing water, or in crowded circumstances and excessive humidity. That’s why it’s vital to water the soil quite than sprinkling the leaves, and preserve crops well-spaced.

The second you discover recognizing, trim off any symptomatic leaves. Then, seize a biofungicide and bactericide combo, resembling Monterey’s Full Illness Management.

This product incorporates Bacillus amyloliquefaciens pressure D747, which kills many pathogens.

A square product photo of the Monterey Disease Control product line.

Monterey Full Illness Management

Decide some up from Arbico Organics in 32-ounce ready-to-use or eight-ounce, pint, or gallon-size focus containers.

Root rot may be brought on by water molds within the Pythium and Phytophthora genera.

When these pathogens are current, it could trigger black, mushy spots on the leaves or roots. Root rot will also be brought on by overwatering, which drowns the roots.

A horizontal shot of a white calanthe orchid blooming in a garden.

For those who see uncommon patterns and colours on leaves, it’s normally an indication that viruses like Odontoglossum ringspot virus (ORSV) and Cymbidium mosaic virus (CyMV) have made their method into your crops.

There’s no identified treatment, so you could both get rid of the plant or settle for the bizarre look. For those who determine to stay with it, know that the virus would possibly unfold to different orchids.

Be taught extra about these and different ailments in our information to orchid issues.

Greatest Makes use of for Calanthe Orchids

Indoors, crops of both subgenus may be potted up and loved. Some gardeners develop Preptanthe species in shallow trays or bonsai pots to spotlight the bizarre pseudobulbs.

A close up horizontal shot of a white calanthe orchid blooms with bright pink edged petals.

Within the winter, when the leaves are gone and simply the lengthy pseudobulbs and tall flower stalks stay, species like C. vestita will make a centerpiece that pulls feedback.

Outdoor, they work properly in teams, borders, specimens, or rock gardens, relying on the species.

Mix them with partial shade lovers like aralias, astilbe, bleeding hearts, ferns, hellebores, hostas, and trilliums.

As a result of these species are largely terrestrial, you’ll be able to’t mount them until you’re rising one of many few epiphytic varieties.

Fast Reference Rising Information

Plant Sort: Sympodial evergreen or deciduous herbaceous flowers Flower/Foliage Coloration: Pink, purple, purple, white, yellow/inexperienced
Native to: Asia, Australia, Central America, South Africa, South America Upkeep: Reasonable
Hardiness (USDA Zones): 6b-9b Water Wants: Reasonable to excessive
Bloom Time: Spring, summer season, fall, winter, relying on species Soil Sort: Loamy, wealthy
Publicity: Partial shade or vibrant, oblique mild with morning solar Soil pH: 6.0-8.0
Time to Maturity: As much as 3 years from seed Soil Drainage: Effectively-draining
Planting Depth: Identical depth as rising container (transplants) Companion Planting: Aralia, astilbe, bleeding coronary heart, fern, hellebore, hosta, trillium
Spacing: 1 foot Makes use of: Borders, mass planting, potted (indoors and out), specimen
Top: As much as 3 ft Household: Orchidaceae
Unfold: As much as 2 ft Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Development Fee: Reasonable Genus: Calanthe
Tolerance: Frost (some species) Subgenera: Eucalanthe, Preptanthe
Frequent Pests and Ailments: Spider mites; leaf spots, root rot, viruses Species: Alismaefolia, callosa, hirsute, lutea, odora, rosea, rubens, striata, styloglossum, sylvatica, tricarinata, triplicata, vestita, yueana

Rejoice Christmas All 12 months Spherical

Calanthe orchids are particular. They develop within the floor, and plenty of can tolerate a lot colder temperatures than many people affiliate with orchids.

The looks of the foliage and the flowers may be really outstanding, as can the pseudobulbs when highlighted in a shallow tray.

A horizontal close up photo of a single white calanthe bloom with a blurred background.

Which species do you discover most interesting? How will you develop it? Tell us within the feedback part under and be happy to share an image!

And for extra details about rising orchids, have a learn of those guides subsequent:

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