At his day job, Eric Lucas works for Buschholz Nursery, a wholesale grower in Gaston, Ore., that supplies garden centers all over the United States and Canada. He grows all sorts of amazing plants, including a particularly beautiful and unusual type of orchid that is putting on spectacular bloom for him right now: pleiones.
Pleione orchids are a terrestrial orchid, meaning they grow on the ground rather than on the branches of trees like many of the familiar tropical orchids. They also come from a climate with frosty weather in winter, and some selections can grow outdoors all year in Zone 9 or warmer. In colder climates, they are best moved into a cool spot like a porch or garage for the winter, where they’ll be cool and dry during their winter dormancy but sheltered from hard freezes.
I asked Eric how he grows his orchids, and here’s what he had to say:
Pleione are actually very easy to cutlivate and the reward far greater than the effort put into them. We use a soil mix that’s about 50% medium fresh fir bark, 10% compost, and 40% horticultural pumice. It needs to be well drained but moisture retentive. Pleione like to be completely dry during dormancy (end of October through mid-February). Watering can commence from then on to keep the medium moist but not wet. The pleione should be fertilized with a time-release fertilizer at that time as well. More cultural information can be found on the web.
And wow . . . if you get the conditions right, you are rewarded with these incredible flowers! In spring, once the weather begins to warm, each plant produces massive, intricate blooms that are nearly as big as the entire rest of the plant. There are many hybrids and selections, each with more beautiful flowers than the last.
Pleione ‘Oriental Splendor’ ‘Vesuvius’‘Wackernagel Pearl’ An unknown cultivar. Pleione orchids blooming in the lush, green garden!
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