Hearing the word “orchid” makes us imagine elegant, colorful flowers, with simple leaves and thin stalks. However, jewel orchid breaks this convention by showing off with large, eye-catching foliage. The large leaves have maroon to black shades, with lighter veins that have similar shade with the base. This orchid is also great as an indoor plant and perfect for rooms with minimum light.
Here is everything you need to know about growing and caring for this unique orchid.
What Is Jewel Orchid?
Jewel orchid, or Ludisia discolor, is one of the species of an orchid genus called Anoectochilus. Many of these species grow in rainforests, from South East Asia to East Asia. They have thick roots (rhizomes) that creep above the soil, and upright stem that ends with small flowers.
The orchid’s noticeable feature is its base foliage, which consists of four to six large leaves at the bottom part of the stem. These leaves have dark colors with prominent stems, and they are often more eye-catching than the actual flowers. However, the small and spiky flowers look beautiful when blooming above the foliage.
Jewel orchid plant is considered rare in nurseries and gardening supply stores. However, it is easier than fancier orchids to care for. It is also more ideal for apartment owners who don’t have enough sunlit room.
Requirements to Plant Jewel Orchid
This flower may not need complicated preparations to grow. However, you still need to fulfill several requirements, such as:
Ideal soil and water intake
Many jewel orchid species grow in the rainforest, so they need loamy soil full of organic matters to grow healthily. You can just use a special potting mix made for regular orchids. It also needs a lot of water, although it does not appreciate “flooding”.
Ludisia discolor still requires some indirect light to grow well. However, it cannot tolerate direct light for a long time, since the leaves colors can fade. Using fluorescent light can help your plant grow happily in a dark apartment.
As a rainforest-originated plant, Ludisia discolor needs high humidity, especially if you keep it in an enclosed apartment. Placing a humidifier in the room is the easy solution to reach ideal humidity level.
In short, planting jewel orchid plant is similar to growing begonia indoors. Once you get the hang of it, you can enjoy the quiet beauty of this flower anytime.
Steps to Grow Jewel Orchid
Black jewel orchid is the most popular type of this species, but not all flower nurseries or garden supply stores sell it. They usually sell jewel orchid when it is in full bloom to attract customers. However, you can try bargaining for a plant that already passed its blooming period, since it usually becomes cheaper.
Here are the steps to plant jewel orchid at home:
Prepare the pot
Since this plant has a shallow root system, you need a wide but shallow pot. Fill the bottom with sphagnum moss for extra humidity. Use regular pot compost or special soil for the orchid. Mix it well in a separate place.
Repot the plant
When buying a new plant, you usually get a small one, but with already-blooming foliage. Get it out from the container and shake the soil off the root. Fill the pot with the previously-mixed soil until ¾ part of it before repotting the plant. Cover the root completely, but just below the surface.
Water your plant until the soil is wet, but not overflooding.
If you plant a small jewel orchid, add orchid fertilizer into the pot. Do the same thing every two weeks to encourage growth.
Pick the right spot
Place your pot in a spot that gets constant indirect light, because it is still important to encourage growth. Install fluorescent light if your intended room has a poor natural light supply.
Late spring (after the last frost) or early summer is an ideal time to plant jewel orchid. You can see the flowers start blooming in the fall or early winter.
Tips to Care for Jewel Orchid
Unlike many orchid species, jewel orchid care is way easier. If you don’t give the plant indirect sunlight, it will still live, but failing to produce flowers. Aside from installing fluorescent light and humidifier if necessary, this plant does not need much fussing. While small plant needs fertilizing every two weeks, an adult plant only needs once a month.
Water this plant whenever the soil looks a bit dry, but don’t wait until the soil is cracked (moderation is the key). Pay attention to the soil when determining the watering schedule. If you use more porous and loamy soil, you need to water the plant more often.
Temperature is also important in Ludisia discolor care. If you live in a four-season country, make sure to keep the room warm for the plant. The lowest temperature this plant can tolerate is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).
Problems (and Solutions) of Jewel Orchid
Jewel orchid faces several problems, from root rot to white mold. Here are several common threats and how to handle them:
White mold happens when the plant is faced by nonideal conditions, such as poor ventilation and overwatering. The symptoms are white, fibrous spots that cover the soil and plant base. If you see white mold, throw the soil away, eradicate the plant, wash the pot, and start over.
Root rot happens after you overwater the plant. To solve it, remove the damaged root part if possible. If the damage is too big, cut away the affected part, and propagate the healthy stalk and root.
Scorched/ shriveled leaves and stems
These problems happen if the plant does not get enough water. Try watering this plant more often and see how it goes after several weeks.
Other than these problems, jewel orchid does not have many natural pests. Good care will help you avoiding common problems and growing a beautiful plant.
Jewel orchid may not look flashy, but it is a unique and robust plant that is perfect for many homeowners. Keep the ideal condition for this plant, and see it brightening any room it lives in with unique foliage.