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Caring for Chysis Orchids

Chysis are semi-terrestrials native to Mexico and Central America.  The growth habit on these is rather different with thick fleshy bulbs carrying pairs of thin pleated foliage.  Plants tend to drop older leaves in the winter prior to new growth and bloom stems in spring and early summer.  Blooms are waxy and long-lasting on semi-upright stems.  Colors range from cream with lavender to orange and peach.  Some species have very large growths which can become semi-pendant with age.  Roots are thick and fuzzy and will cling to surfaces easily.

Light: These plants prefer moderate to bright light.  Plentiful moving air should be supplied at all times and even more so in brighter light.  In the greenhouse, they require some shading to prevent their thin leaves from overheating.  Placing them outside under the shade of tall trees during the summer months is very beneficial.  Do not place them in full sun, however, or the thin leaves will burn.

Temperatures: Warmer temperatures year round (70+) will keep the foliage cleaner and less likely to drop.  However, 50-85 degrees is the range you should aim for.  Again, the warmer you keep them the more moving air they will need and also more water and fertilizer should be supplied.

Watering: We water our plants as often as 5-6 times per week in the summer, depending on growing media.  Hanging baskets grown outside may need water or at least heavy misting everyday to avoid dehydration.  In the winter, when humidity is high and temperatures are cool, avoid having water on the leaves or bacteria spotting can occur.  We use a balanced fertilizer year during the warmer months, usually every second or third watering.  In the winter, watering is greatly reduced to perhaps only once every 7-10 days and no fertilizer is given.  When the leaves drop water can be withheld completely as long at the bulbs do not shrivel.

Potting: We grow our Chysis in clay pots with large chunks of potting media, such as tree fern pieces.  This allows for good drainage and frequent watering without stale mix.   They do not like to be repotted often so a media that will last several seasons is preferred.  Also, larger species appreciate hanging baskets which allow room for the new growths to hang.

Note: This guide is only applicable to Chysis Orchids. For other varieties, please click on one of these links:

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