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Spiranthinae (Painted Leaf Orchids) Care Sheet

    Members of the Spiranthinae family, sometimes called Ladies Tresses, are recognized by the characteristic spiral or rosette-like growths with tall spikes of dainty flowers.  There are about 30 genus in this group including Sarcoglottis, Stenorrhynchos, Pelexia, and Spiranthes.  (Stenosarcos is a cross between Sarcoglottis and Stenorrhynchos.)  Most of these orchids are found throughout Central and South America in the more tropical and sub-tropical areas.  Other more cold tolerant varieties are found in Europe and North America.  Foliage color and pattern varies, many of them having “painted” leaves or variegated foliage.  Bloom color and size depends on the species.  Generally, they are white, green, orange or reddish-pink.  Some are fragrant while others are not.

                        Mostly terrestrial, they are accustomed to a ‘dry’ period during the winter months, occasionally dropping a few leaves before blooming.  Keep slightly drier and do not feed during the winter until you see new growth.  During active growth, water often and feed every 2nd to 3rd watering.  Blooming season is generally from November – March, with a growing season from early spring through the late summer.

                        These plants need medium light conditions similar to Phalaenopsis culture and moderate temperatures (60-80 degrees).  Higher humidity during warmer months is recommended.  Spiranthinae should be potted in tight containers in an open, well-drained medium.  Depending on your conditions different medias will be appropriate.  A mix of cypress mulch blend with peat and perilite works well.  Also a sphagnum moss based mix.  Keep clumps of plants together rather than dividing them often.  Plants grow better that way and will make wonderful specimen plants for your collection.  Make sure to repot every 2-3 years, as the plants do not like stale mix.