Sarcochilus Cultural Notes


Pronounced: [Sar – co – kyle – us]

Sarco. hartmannii

These delightful epiphytic or lithophytic orchids are native to Australia with one from New Caledonia. They rarely exceed 15cm in height and the flower spikes are pendulous to upright. They are generally cool growers but their natural range is from the Tropics to cool Temperate regions. Their leaves range from green, fleshy lance-shaped (hartmannii) to thin brown 10mm long (ceciliae) and the flowers emerge from the base of the leaves. The majority of species are white with burgundy bands or dots around the centre with yellow, orange or red markings on the lip. Some are perfumed too. With current breeding, reds, yellows, and oranges are being produced to delight us with their charm. Bloom size range from 5mm to 30mm+.


CONDITIONS:     They need frost free conditions. They prefer some shading and shelter from strong winds in Tasmania, preferably under Laserlite or equivalent, with shade cloth walls.

POTTING MIX:      A well drained mix is a must with pine bark nuggets, coarse river sand, perlite or granulated Isolite to keep it open. Everyone has their own recipe that suits their watering habits. When there is active root movement you can mount them on a host. You can use cork bark or casuarina limbs or any other tree limbs that do not shed their bark. Get a small strand of sphagnum moss under the plant then secure it to the host with plastic coated tie-wires or fishing line and the plant will send out those new roots and attach themselves securely in a few months.

PROPAGATION:       Dividing is recommended to do in Spring to early Summer when there are new growths with active roots. Don’t divide plants too often as a larger plant will give you a much better display.

WATERING:      Keep the roots just a little moist all year round. You can grow them on water but not in. If you have the pots sitting on a gravel tray with water in the bottom, the roots will go down to the moisture when they want it. They need plenty of water in spring and summer but less frequently in the colder months. Some species grow naturally in the spray of waterfalls or on constantly dripping rocks. You must water regularly those that you have growing on a mount as they dry out very quickly in our summers.

FERTILIZING:          Use half strength solutions of liquid fertilizers fortnightly during the growing season or you can apply 3 to 4 month granules in spring or Pelleted poultry manure can be applied every 4 to 6 weeks depending on how heavily you water. Seaweed extract will also give your plant a change of diet.

Sarco. ceciliae

FLOWERING TIME:    Sarcochilus flower during spring and early summer generally. Many blooms have beautiful crystalline petals and sepals which glow in the sunshine. With the new breeding in progress, it is an exciting time for these Australian treasures. New colours are constantly being produced with the new hybrids.

PROBLEMS:     Watch out for snail, slugs and aphids during flowering time. They enjoy a change of diet too. And do watch out for scale infestations and treat with white oil if necessary.