CONDITIONS Pleione orchids are native to the cool to cold climates of the foothills of the Himalayas, Northern India, China, Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan. Tasmania has the ideal climate for them to grow successfully. In their native habitat, Pleiones grow on mossy logs and rocks at altitudes between 1000 & 3000 metres where summers are wet, winters are dry and temperatures range from -5C to 25C. Flowering is generally during Spring and range from rose-purple through lilac to white blooms.
Propagation: The plants have small, onion-like, conical “bulbs” about the size of a walnut and are green to purple in colour. They are easy to grow and produce 1 to 2 leaves up to 30cm long and 1 or 2 flowers depending on bulb size. They multiply rapidly with many new “bulblets” being produced at the top of newly matured bulbs. Bulbs are usually planted in shallow pots or pans and can be lifted March to July once the leaves have died down and then replanted. They can also be left undisturbed in garden beds or good potting mixes but will soon become overcrowded.
Potting Mix: A good moderately rich, potting mix might contain peatmoss, coarse sand, manure and small grade pine bark. It is important that the mix remains free-draining. Pots should have plenty of drainage holes and be filled with your chosen coarse potting mix and place a finer grade in the top third, leaving a little space below the pot or pan’s lip for watering. The bulbs can also be replanted when new growth is visible around July or August. Mix can be kept damp to prevent any bulb shrivelling
Watering: Water plants well when the flower buds are showing at the sides of the bulb. Good air movement should be provided around the plants, but avoid areas exposed to hot Summer winds that may dry out the soft foliage. Water as necessary to keep plants growing rapidly but ease off as the cold weather takes effect and the bulbs have matured.
Fertilizing: Feed fortnightly with a high Nitrogen fertilizer from Spring through Summer at half strength. You can use slow release fertilizers like pelleted chicken manure or any 3 to 4 month, evenly balanced granules.
Flowering: Most Pleiones flower in Spring but there is always an exception to norm.
Problems: Watch out for the dreaded Aphids when they are spiking until flowering as well as when they are forming their new leaf growths. Always keep your plants free of leaf debris once the leaves start shrivelling during Autumn. Be careful not to throw away the little “bulblets” when cleaning up the leaves as these will, in 2 to 3 years, be your flowering bulbs of the future. Re-plant them as you would for the mature bulbs.