Friday, November 22, 2013
Calanthe rubens Ridl. 1890, a deciduous terrestrial orchid
This Calanthe is probably one of the easiest terrestrial orchids that you can grow in Puerto Rico. All it needs is to be repotted once a year on fresh media and regular watering. Many years ago I was given a small rootless piece by a friend. I had never grown a Calanthe so I gave particular attention to the plant. The plant thrived and next year it bloomed. When it was two years old I divided it. This gave me two plants. Next year I divided them again and then had four. I repeated the process a few times until I had more plants than I really wanted. I gave a few of them away.
Since all my plants were a single clone, they bloomed all at the same time. I would group them all together and for months I would enjoy the massed display of flowers. When the inflorescences would cease to produce flowers, I would cut them and repot the plants. I did this for a number of years, but then I began to get lazy. I neglected them and they started doing poorly. However they kept flowering although with less vigor. Unfortunately, I lost this orchid. The culprit was a black rot that attacked the bulbs. For those orchid growers that live in a tropical setting this small Calanthe is a good option. One would think that given the ease of culturing this plant it would be common in local orchid collections, but the reverse is true. Very, very few people grow Calanthe in Puerto Rico. I think the main reason is that most people are unfamiliar with this genus and that sources that sell these plants are few and far between.