Large, extremely hardy terrestrial orchid Epipactis gigantea, also known as Helleborine or Epipactide, produces flower spikes that are typical of orchids and combine red, orange-yellow, and brown colors. This unique spring-to-summer flowering lasts for a number of weeks. It behaves very well in pots and looks just as lovely in slightly humid beds as it does on the banks of water points. It enjoys soils that are light, acid-prone, cool to humid, full sun or partial shade.
Plants in the Orchidaceae family include Epipactis gigantea. This plant species, known as Creek Orchid locally, is indigenous to northern Mexico and the western states of the United States. In the wild, it grows in permanently moist, humus-rich soils along the edges of waterways. It is a perennial plant with fleshy rhizomes that can grow to be between 70 and 80 cm tall and 40 cm wide. The deciduous vegetation there blooms in the spring and dies off in the fall. It has four to twelve sheathing, lanceolate, 5 to 15 cm long leaves, from which a terminal inflorescence with up to 15 3.5 cm in diameter flowers emerges.
From May through June to July, they ovulate. Two reddish brown petals with purple veins and three light brown or greenish sepals make up each flower. The lip has a cup-shaped protuberance, is brighter red-brown in color, is more clearly veined, and is frequently yellow in color. Following flowering, a hanging capsule measuring 2 or 3 cm long and containing tens of thousands of tiny seeds develops.
The terminal, up to 1 meter long, 2-32 flowered raceme of the giant helleborine blooms in the spring and summer. With leafy, lanceolate bracts, the flowers are quite showy. Green to rose-colored sepals with purple to rose-colored veins. Petals with red or purple veins range in color from pale pink to rose to orange—strongly veined, red or purple-marked lips. Epipactis gigantea forma rubrifolia, with deep red stems and leaves, and Epipactis Gigantea forma citrina, with lemon-yellow flowers, are two very different color forms of this species that have been published.
Epipactis gigantea is a unique plant with a natural appearance that blends well in humid beds, on the edge of water features, or with other plants that enjoy the same conditions, such as Japanese primroses, Euphorbia palustris, or even astilbes. It requires no additional protection to thrive in pots.
Western North America, from British Columbia to central Mexico, is the Epipactis gigantea’s natural habitat. It grows along wet, gravelly, and sandy stream banks and bars. It can also be found in chaparral, seeps, marshes, wet cliffs, and hot springs between 0 and 3000 meters above sea level.
Botanical of Epipactis Gigantea
How to Care Epipactis Gigantea Orchid?
Only use cultural information as a starting point; customize it to fit your needs. You will need to consider many different factors, including your physical location, where you grow your plants, how much time you have to devote to caring for them, and many others. Then you can choose the cultural practices that work best for you and your plants.
Light: Epipactis gigantea do best when placed in areas that receive some sunlight, as they do better in shady areas. If the substrate is kept from drying out in the summer, these plants can be planted in full sunlight.
Moisture: Stream orchids require a humidity range of 40–70%. The plant’s growth is stymied, and the leaves start to dry out and turn yellow in an environment with too little moisture. A room containing plants needs to be ventilated more frequently and for longer periods of time the higher the humidity, the more likely it is that the plants will rot and develop various types of fungal diseases.
If the humidity is consistently too low, you might want to think about getting a humidifier to raise the humidity. Setting your plants on trays with water, pebbles, or gravel, but not allowing them to come into contact with the water, is another way to increase humidity.
Temperature: Giant hellebores grow best when the temperature is between 17 and 19 degrees Celsius at night and 22 to 25 degrees Celsius during the day. Wintertime temperatures range between 5-7 °C during the day and 14-16 °C at night on average.
Potting: Epipactis gigantea tolerates a variety of substrate and growing medium conditions as long as the pH is neutral, between 5.5 and 7. They grow best in clay, chalk, or loam soil that is moist and well-drained and has a pH balance that is either acidic, alkaline, or neutral. If you want to maintain good moisture levels in the summer and encourage better drainage in the winter, you might want to add a lot of compost to the native soil when you plant. Pumice gravel, coarse sand, loam, and clay (max 5%), peat, fen soil, sphagnum, coco peat, and oyster shells are just a few examples of the many media that you can use. Less than 20% of the diet should be organic.
Repotting is done once every two to three years, either in the late spring when the growths have matured or in the autumn, winter, and spring when the plants are still dormant.
Watering: Stream orchids need consistently moist soil to thrive, so it’s important to water plants frequently while they’re actively growing and during extended dry spells. At any time of year, even in the fall and winter, avoid letting your plants dry out. In the height of summer, the risk of anaerobic soils may not be too great. Standing water and warm compost are very dangerous! Otherwise, tap water with good-quality chlorine is preferable to rainwater. Water that is high in oxygen is crucial.
The temperature of the content directly affects how often it needs to be watered; the higher the temperature, the more frequently. When watering, excess water should drain freely from the pot because rotting of the roots and the lower portion of the plant can happen very quickly if the water sits inside the pot or in its pan.
Fertilizing: Giant helleborine is an easy-to-grow, robust orchid that requires more fertilizer than other species. As an excess, you can use a high-quality chemical fertilizer dissolved in water during the growing phase. Once a year, 10 grains of slow-release fertilizer can be used per mature plant as a basic fertilizer when spring shoots emerge.
On the banks of a stream, on a rocky subsoil, in peat, porous, cool to humid, and somewhat acidic soil, Epipactis gigantea is easily cultivated. It is afraid of suffocating, overly dense, and impermeable soils. This plant prefers either full sun or light shade. Its underground roots are wary of the winter’s stagnant humidity. Use a blend of 60% heather soil, 20% horticultural soil, and 20% coarse sand when planting in pots. In order to keep the substrate permanently moist, care must be taken.
Considering that stagnant humidity can be fatal in the winter, it actually requires constant water.