Calanthe (Tropical) Care Sheet
Calanthe hybrids produce graceful, arching stems of flowers in late fall through the winter. They come from an area of Asia that has a monsoon type climate, and they need different care during the fall-winter period from that given in the spring and summer.
In the fall, leaves turn yellow and shrivel. The bulbs remain plump. When the leaves turn yellow, they may be removed. At this time, or soon after, the flower spike emerges from the base of the bulb. During this fall/winter period, water should be given only enough to keep the bulbs from shriveling, and no fertilizer should be given. In the spring, new growths will emerge from the base of the bulbs. When the new growths start to make roots, they may be repotted into fresh media. Care should be taken to avoid breaking or cracking the roots as you repot. (See media recipe below) Calanthes are terrestrial in nature, growing in leaf mold or humus. When new roots are into the soil, watering and fertilizing should be increased.
During the summer months the plants need considerable water and a good amount of fertilizer. Avoid getting water into the crown of the new growths. Watch for spider mites as these pests can be devastating to the soft foliage.. If the leaves show silvery areas or webs the mites are present. Use a strong spray of water to wash to wash the leaves thoroughly to remove the mites. Then follow up with an insecticide treatment.
Our growing media for plants in pots is as follows:
1 part- Fine Grade Fir Bark or Cypress Mulch
1 part- Light Peat based potting mix, such as for houseplants
(Do not use anything with fertilizer or moisture beads added)
¼ part Fine Grade tree fern
Repot with this media making sure all the exposed roots are covered. Top dress with additional cypress or bark. This will keep proper drainage around the bulbs and the media will more readily absorb moisture when you water.