How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Calanthe Orchids

Also known as ‘Christmas Orchids’ due to their winter bloom time in tropical areas, species within the Calanthe genus obtained their botanical title from the Greek phrases for stunning (kalos) and flower (anthe). Hardy in zones 7 via 11, Calanthe orchids are terrestrial, which implies they’re grown in soil somewhat than air. That units them aside from different extra demanding orchid species and makes them a lot simpler to take care of.

Calanthes are a well-liked houseplant and make an exquisite vacation present. Flower colours embody pink, purple, purple, white, and yellow. When grown exterior, they tolerate extra shade than most orchid genera and multiply quickly.

Let’s look somewhat nearer at these distinctive members of the orchid clan and study somewhat about their historical past, rising preferences, upkeep wants, and drawback areas.

Calanthe Orchid Overview



Plant Sort


Perennial Terrestrial plant


Pests


Mites, whiteflies, scale, and mealybugs


Publicity


Partial shade to full shade


Ailments


Inclined to root rot


Plant Spacing


18 inches to 2 toes


Species


Calanthe triplicata, Calanthe sieboldii, Calanthe rubens


Native Space


South Africa and Asia


Top


Varies by species, as much as 40 inches


Plant with


Different orchids or Shade-loving crops

About Calanthe Orchids

Close-up of a blooming Calanthe vestita against a blurred green background. The flower spikes emerge from the center of the rosette, bearing a cluster of enchanting blooms. These soft pink flowers have a waxy texture. Each flower features a complex structure, with three sepals and three petals forming a symmetrical and slightly twisted composition.
Calanthe orchids, native to South Africa and Asia, embody 200 diverse species.

Native to the tropical and subtropical areas of South Africa and Asia, Calanthe orchids are perennial crops from the Orchidaceae household, which homes 880 genera, 28,000 species, and almost 300,000 sorts of orchid. There are 200 species throughout the Calanthe genus and two sub-genera: Eucalanthe, which incorporates the evergreen species, and Preptanthe, which incorporates the deciduous species.  

Labeled as sympodial orchids, which implies they’ve a number of stems somewhat than one singular stem (monopodial), Calanthe orchids function a number of upright to barely arching stalks with quite a few blooms. Most species have a clove-like scent and comparatively small flower sizes. Leaves are sometimes elliptical and spirally organized. Their roots are thick, and pseudobulbs (an above-ground water storage node) are small when current. Evergreen species should not have any pseudobulbs in any respect. 

Rising Calanthe Orchids

Thought-about one of many friendliest orchids for novice gardeners, Calanthes might be grown inside as a houseplant or exterior within the floor or a container. In zones 7 via 11, they are often left exterior year-round and can return perennially. In cooler zones, they’ll should be introduced in for winter. Right here’s a have a look at the Calanthe orchid’s fundamental rising preferences.  

Soil

Close-up of a gardener's hands full of potting mix for orchids. This soil mixture consists of hummus and pine bark.
Plant calanthes in well-draining soil, utilizing particular mixes or amending floor soil for optimum progress.

Not like a lot of their orchid family, Calanthes develop in soil. Correct drainage is a main planting goal as a result of they’re extremely prone to root rot. For houseplants or container gardens, use a potting combine designed for hardy (terrestrial) orchids or one that includes natural components like hummus and pine bark. You may additionally add a substrate layer of gravel to the pot’s decrease quarter to encourage thorough drainage.

For floor set up, amend soil (ideally within the earlier season) with compost, peat moss, or one other natural materials to attain a wealthy, loamy, well-aerated soil content material with a impartial pH degree. Mound soil up earlier than planting to attain some elevation and stop puddling. 

Depth & House

Close-up of flowering Calanthe discolor Lindl plants in a sunny garden near a large tree trunk. This orchid features broad, pleated leaves arranged in a lush basal rosette, exhibiting a glossy dark green color. At high slender spike clusters of their enchanting flowers grow. These flowers have a combination of white and purple-burgundy colors.
Plant calanthe orchids with crowns barely elevated, guaranteeing correct spacing and appropriate containers.

Calanthe orchids must be planted at a depth that retains their crowns barely elevated (about two inches above the soil floor). Dig a gap broad sufficient for roots to radiate outward with out overlapping or butting up in opposition to the outlet’s perimeter. This rule applies to each container and floor plantings. 

If planting a couple of Calanthe orchid, area them between 18 inches and two toes aside to permit for enlargement and correct airflow. If planting in a container, select one taller than it’s broad, and go for terra cotta or one thing porous that may wick moisture away from roots. 

Gentle

Close-up of Calanthe discolor flowers in a sunny garden. The blossoms exhibit a symmetrical arrangement of sepals and petals, forming a captivating structure. The lip of the flower is brown in color and adorned with delicate lilac streaks. The color palette is burgundy-green.
Plant Calanthe orchids in partial shade, favoring east-facing home windows indoors or shaded areas exterior.

Calanthe orchids thrive in partial shade and like dappled or filtered gentle to direct gentle. Houseplants must be positioned in a north or east-facing window the place they won’t be blasted with harsh rays. They will also be positioned beneath comfortable fluorescent develop lights to imitate pure part-shade situations. 

Outdoors, a location beneath a tree or on the east aspect of a construction or shrub is right. If you happen to should select between morning or afternoon solar, all the time select the previous, and err on the aspect of extra shade somewhat than extra daylight. Calanthe orchids are one of many few orchid teams that may carry out effectively in very low gentle.

Water

Close-up of Calanthe triplicata flowers covered with water droplets, against a blurred green background. Rising above the foliage are tall, slender spikes adorned with clusters of charming flowers. The blossoms are bright white with contrasting orange throats.
Maintain Calanthe orchids reasonably watered, adjusting watering frequency primarily based on species and native situations.

Moderation is the important thing to conserving your orchids well-watered. Deciduous species will tolerate a small quantity of drought however will carry out higher in soil that’s stored evenly moist. Use a soaker hose a couple of times every week, relying on local weather and precipitation ranges, to make sure they obtain about one inch of water per week. As quickly as leaves drop and crops have entered dormancy, discontinue supplemental irrigation till new progress seems within the subsequent cycle. 

Evergreen Calanthes demand the identical, even watering practices however a better humidity degree than their deciduous cousins. Additionally they require year-round irrigation, even throughout gradual progress intervals.

Monitor your native precipitation and humidity ranges (they need to be someplace between 40 and 80 p.c, ideally). In case your native climate patterns don’t meet these saturation factors naturally, complement them with a misting wand or spray bottle and a soaker hose. 

Temperature

Close-up of a flowering Calanthe kinabaluensis plant against a blurred green background. This species features tall, slender spike bearing clusters of enchanting flowers. The blooms are bright orange.
In zones 7 to 11, most Calanthe orchids stand up to winter, with mulch including further safety.

Calanthe orchids might be safely left exterior throughout winter in zones 7 via 11. There may be some wiggle room in zone 6 if winter is delicate and mulch is used to insulate the bottom throughout dormancy.

Deciduous species can stay and flower usually in temperatures between 50 and 85 levels Fahrenheit. Evergreen species differ of their tolerance for chilly, however some can endure temps as little as 5 levels. 

Fertilizer

Close-up of a flowering Calanthe 'Takane' plant in a sunny garden against a blurred background. This orchid features cascading sprays of vibrant and uniquely colored flowers, characterized by a combination of bright orange and bright yellow.
Month-to-month or bi-weekly, present a diluted, balanced liquid fertilizer to Calanthe orchids in an lively progress section.

Feed your Calanthe orchids month-to-month or bi-weekly whereas actively rising with a balanced liquid fertilizer (equal components nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium) that’s been diluted barely.

It will preserve delicate leaves and blooms from being burned by an overzealous software. Water generously earlier than and after feeding them and discontinue when leaves have dropped, or crops have entered dormancy. 

Upkeep

Although Calanthe orchids are thought-about straightforward to take care of, there are a couple of upkeep duties it’s best to carry out to maintain them moist, tidy, insulated, energized, and disease-resistant. 

Mulch

Close-up of a flowering Calanthe Kozu plant in a sunny garden with soil mulched with dry leaves. The plant boasts lance-shaped leaves that form an elegant, lush rosette. The blooms are characterized by a harmonious blend of white, cream, and pink hues, creating a delicate and enchanting palette.
Mulch Calanthe orchids with a moisture-retaining materials.

Calanthe orchids must be mulched with a cloth that may retain moisture with out compacting or overly saturating the soil. The medium also needs to decompose slowly and never devour extreme nitrogen. 

For houseplants and container-grown Calanthes, use a skinny layer of light-weight bark combine particularly designed for orchids. Within the yard, apply a two-inch layer of cypress, fir, or pine chips round your Calanthes, pulling the medium barely away from their crowns. After winter cutbacks are made, particularly in chilly zones, pile mulch as much as a depth of three inches for somewhat further safety. 

Deadhead

Close-up of two drooping, wilted, dried orchid flowers on a stem, against a blurred green background. The petals and sepals have a dry, papery texture. They are burgundy and light pink.
Deadhead your Calanthe after flowering to encourage new blooms by snipping stalks close to the bottom.

Your Calanthe must be deadheaded after flowering is full and most of its petals have dropped. It will inform the plant’s roots to nourish new blooms.

To carry out this activity, use a clear, sharp pruning software to snip flower stalks off close to the bottom. Direct your lower to a location simply above the second or third node from the crown; some varieties gives you one other flush of blooms.

Prune & Cutback

Close-up of Calanthe discolor leaves among dry autumn foliage in the garden. The foliage consists of lance-shaped leaves with a rich, deep green color, creating a lush and vibrant backdrop.The leaves are pleated and have prominent veins, adding texture and visual interest.
Prune useless leaves and pseudobulbs for illness prevention and wholesome Calanthe progress.

To stop illness and encourage wholesome new progress, prune off useless leaves and pseudobulbs whenever you discover them. That is the one common pruning activity it’s best to must carry out on Calanthe orchids.

Houseplants don’t want fall cutbacks and can retain leaves year-round, however exterior orchids must be in the reduction of to about two inches above floor degree after the foliage has withered from the primary frost. 

Repot

Close-up of a flowering Calanthe vestita plant in a pot against a blurred background. The plant features graceful, arching stems adorned with a profusion of exquisite flowers. The blooms, characterized by their intricate structure, display a delightful blend of colors, including shades of pink, lavender, and white. Each flower has a distinctive lip with intricate patterns and a central column, adding to its allure.
Repot container-grown Calanthe each 2-3 years, trimming roots and dividing if mandatory.

Container-grown Calanthe orchids have root programs that increase horizontally at a fast tempo. They need to be repotted (and presumably divided) each two to a few years to stop crowding. Right here’s the way it’s carried out:

  1. Fastidiously take away your orchid from its present container.
  2. Trim away any decaying roots.
  3. Divide your orchid if rhizomes have greater than two or three upshoots and pseudobulbs (see Division above).
  4. Choose a well-draining container that’s porous and enormous sufficient to accommodate your Calanthe’s lateral root system. 
  5. Fill midway with a fine-grade potting combine designed for terrestrial orchids, or work some perlite, sphagnum peat moss, or orchid pine bark into the combo. 
  6. Modify the soil degree so the plant’s crown will sit 1-2 inches above grade and fan the roots out in a circle.
  7. Cowl loosely with the remaining potting combine, place in vibrant oblique gentle, and water evenly till established. 

Overwintering

Close-up of a young Calanthe plant in a black pot against a blurred green background. In the early stages of growth, Calanthe presents young leaves that unfurl with a vibrant, fresh green hue. These emerging leaves are lance-shaped, slightly pleated, and have prominent veins. A spike with green, teardrop-shaped buds grows from the center of the foliage.
Container crops want winter shelter in cooler zones.

In zones 7 to 11, Calanthe orchids which have entered dormancy might be left within the floor and coated with a thick layer of mulch. In cooler zones, the place temps sometimes dip under 14 levels in winter, containers must be sheltered in a cool, darkish location the place temperatures hover round 50 levels Fahrenheit and humidity ranges are round 50 p.c. Houseplants want no particular winter care however require much less frequent watering.  

Propagation

As a result of they’re costly and far sought-after crops, orchids are sometimes harvested illegally from pure settings, which has led to many species being labeled endangered. Calanthe orchids don’t unfold naturally by seed or germinate with out appreciable intervention, however there are two main methods to propagate a longtime plant with relative ease: by division and by keiki.

Division

Close-up of Calanthe discolor 'Ebine' orchids in bloom in a sunny garden. This cultivar showcases broad, pleated leaves arranged in a lush rosette, boasting a rich, dark green color and glossy texture. Rising gracefully above the foliage are tall, slender spikes that bear clusters of exquisite flowers. The blooms of 'Ebine' exhibit a unique combination of soft red, orange, and yellow tones.
Divide and replant Calanthe orchids by separating rhizomatous roots and pseudobulbs each few years.

As sympodial orchids, members of the Calanthe genus have rhizomatous roots that reach laterally beneath the soil’s floor and supply a number of factors of latest progress. From these roots, that are slender and lengthy like a thin candy potato, inexperienced shoots emerge upward and break via the bottom. These shoots might be separated and replanted each few years. Right here’s the way it’s carried out:

  1. Dig up your orchid and lay it flat on a tough floor.
  2. Mud off as a lot grime as attainable.
  3. Determine the rhizome, the roots, and the pseudobulbs (when relevant). 
  4. Use a clear, sharp knife or pruning software to divide roots into a number of sections. 
  5. Embody a piece of rhizome, some roots, and two to a few pseudobulbs (if working with a deciduous Calanthe species) in every new part.
  6. Replant as you’ll a brand new Calanthe orchid (see Planting under). 

Keikis

Close-up of Orchid keikis, or "baby" orchids, against a blurred dark green background. These are miniature replicas of their parent plants, growing as tiny shoots or offshoots along the length of the flower spike. These young orchids exhibit a compact and charming appearance, featuring small leaves and a few delicate roots.
Calanthe orchids produce keikis, or child crops, which might be separated and planted independently.

A Hawaiian phrase that interprets to ‘little ones,’ a keiki is basically a child orchid that grows from plant tissue above floor. Calanthe orchids develop keikis to various extents and for various causes starting from reproductive safety to emphasize and poor well being. Chances are you’ll discover that your Calanthe produces many keikis, an occasional keiki, or none in any respect.

As a result of they’re reproduced asexually, keikis are true to the mom orchid. Search for them on spikes alongside your Calanthe’s stems at factors close to a progress node. They are going to be miniature variations of the mom plant, with small leaves, flowers (typically), and roots that dangle downward. These crops might be separated and planted independently. Listed below are the steps:

  1. Depart the keiki in place till its roots are between one and three inches lengthy and it has a small upward shoot.
  2. Separate the spikes from the principle stem with a pointy, clear knife or pruning software.
  3. Apply cinnamon or an natural fungicide to the injuries on each the mom orchid and the keiki.
  4. Plant the infant Calanthe in a well-drained container with potting combine and preserve it moist.

With roughly 200 species within the Calanthe genus, there are various choices to pick out from. Right here’s a fast have a look at probably the most outstanding species and a abstract of their traits and rising preferences. 

Frequent Christmas Orchid

Close-up of a flowering Common Christmas Orchid (Calanthe triplicata) plant against a blurred green background. The arching stems bear clusters of small, intricately designed flowers in bright white color.
Cultivated for his or her traditional white flowers, Christmas orchids thrive indoors, blooming from October to February.

Cultivars from this species are maybe probably the most well-known Calanthe orchids. Snow-white petals and sepals are egg-shaped with a outstanding decrease lip in traditional orchid kind. Inflorescences are lengthy and arching, producing wherever from 10 to 40 flowers and reaching heights of as much as 40 inches. 

Leaves are evergreen and strongly ribbed, rising so long as 20 inches. In tropical areas (and inside heat properties), C. triplicata blooms from October to February, which is how this species earned its vacation title.

Bloom intervals are significantly lengthy, averaging someplace between three and 4 weeks. Frequent Christmas orchids will behave perennially within the floor in zones 9 and 10 however are most frequently stored as houseplants.  

Japanese Hardy Orchid

Close-up of flowers of an apanese Hardy Orchid, Calanthe sieboldii, against a blurred green background. The flowering stems bear gracefully arranged, intricate blooms of delicate yellow color. There are drops of water on the flower petals.
Sturdy in zones 7-9, this Eucalanthe orchid has evergreen foliage and yellow flowers in spring.

Hardy in zones 7 to 9, this Eucalanthe orchid includes a pleated, basal leaf base that averages six inches tall and 15 inches broad. Its foliage stays evergreen year-round except temperatures dip under 14 levels Fahrenheit. 

Flower stalks are thick and powerful, reaching heights of 20 inches and providing a full spire of butter-yellow flowers which can be small however quite a few. Outdoors, this orchid will bloom in late spring. Inside, you would possibly get one other wave in winter.

The Reddish Calanthe

Close-up of a blooming Reddish Calanthe (Calanthe rubens) against a blurred dark background. The arching stems carry vibrant and intricate blooms in shades of reddish pink.
Originating from Malaysia and the Philippines, C. rubens produces pink flowers from February to Might.

A local of Malaysia and the Philippines, this Preptanthe orchid flowers from February to Might in its pure habitat and when stored as a houseplant. Their flower stalks common 20 inches lengthy and have roughly 12 pink flowers with scarlet lips. Leaves are deciduous and small with furry undersides. C. rubens is hardy in zones 7 via 9. 

Pests & Ailments

Calanthe species are identified for being among the most low-maintenance members of the orchid clan, however they’re weak to a handful of bugs and ailments. Right here’s a fast overview of their greatest points and a few concepts for addressing them.

Mites

Close-up of spider mites on the abundant cobwebs between dry stems. Spider mites are tiny arachnids that have a spider-like appearance with eight legs. These insects are reddish-brown in color.
Fight spider mites in Calanthe orchids by growing humidity and utilizing horticultural oils.

Probably the most outstanding Calanthe orchid foes, spider mites typically seem when situations are dry. Search for webbing, stippling, and brown splotches (excrement) on leaf undersides when you suspect spider mites. Chances are you’ll want a magnifying glass to see these tiny, spider-like bugs. 

To mitigate (and stop) an infestation, enhance humidity ranges close to your orchid and monitor intently. Horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps utilized to leaf undersides are additionally a deterrent.

Scale & Mealybugs

Close-up of mealybug on an orchid leaf. Mealybugs are small, soft-bodied insects covered in white, cottony wax, giving them a distinct, mealy appearance.
Fight scale or mealybug infestations in Calanthes with alcohol swabs and cleaning soap or oil.

An assault from these bugs will go away your Calanthes with chlorotic foliage (yellow and comfortable). Search for raised bumps or fuzzy patches close to pseudobulbs or the plant’s base to point a attainable drawback with scale or mealybugs. Each populations might be decreased by swabbing leaves with diluted rubbing alcohol and discouraged with insecticidal cleaning soap or neem oil functions.

Whiteflies

Close-up of Whiteflies on a green leaf. These tiny pests have a distinctive appearance with white wings and a powdery, moth-like body. Whiteflies hold their wings in a tent-like fashion over their bodies.
Fight whiteflies in orchids with hose blasts, shaking, and horticultural oil safety.

A puff or cloud of white, tiny bugs that seem when your orchids are moved or shaken signifies that whiteflies have settled in. You might also see tiny white dots on stems, leaves, and buds. Whiteflies might be discouraged with every day blasts from a hose, vigorous shaking, and a protecting coat of horticultural oil. 

Root Rot

Close-up of a hand in a white rubber glove showing rotting roots of an orchid on a white table. Nearby there is an orchid root ball, which consists of thick roots intertwined with each other and mixed with soil mixture. The roots are brownish, soft, rotting.
Forestall root rot in Calanthe orchids by avoiding over-watering, guaranteeing good drainage, and monitoring intently.

That is by far the largest risk to your orchid’s well being. Invited by soil that’s over-watered, overly dense, or poorly drained, root rot isn’t normally seen till it’s too late. Although it begins under floor with mushy, mealy roots attacked by fungus, root rot will current above floor with yellow or brown, drooping leaves and stems. 

Your Calanthe would possibly nonetheless be saved if the problem is caught early (throughout division or repotting). Trim away affected roots, leaving solely wholesome rhizomes and root hairs in place. Mud with cinnamon or an anti-fungal product, replant in well-draining soil, water sparingly, and monitor intently. 

Steadily Requested Questions

You’ll be able to count on your plant to stay 15 to 25 years.

Lukewarm or room-temperature water is greatest. Water that’s too sizzling or too chilly can stress the orchid.

Sure, however flowers might be smaller and extra sporadic.

Remaining Ideas

As a terrestrial, sympodial orchid, Calanthe is simple to plant, take care of, and share with pals and neighbors. Keep in mind that Calanthe orchids in your house may have completely different wants and cycles than these in your yard. Give the roots room to roam, preserve the soil evenly moist, and monitor for stress. With somewhat luck (and a reasonably inexperienced thumb), your Calanthe orchids ought to convey you pleasure and peace for a few years to come back. 

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