Zygopetalum Care Complete Guide. South American tropical rainforests are home to the Zygopetalum genus of orchids. 1 This epiphytic orchid is regarded as a hardy plant with delicate parts susceptible to less-than-ideal growing circumstances.
Zygopetalums have strong aromas that range from peppery and spicy to chocolatey. Some other scents are compared to hyacinths or freesias. These hardy orchids can bloom up to four times per year for a duration of three to four weeks with adequate care. Flowers range in size from 2 to 4 inches, and they come in purple, burgundy, green, and white hues with speckled and patterned lips and petals. Some hybrids will grow flowers that are blue in hue, an orchid color that is rare.
|Plant Type||Perennial, epiphyte|
|Mature Size||12-24 in. tall|
|Bloom Time||Up to 4 times annually|
|Flower Color||Purple, burgundy, green, white, blue|
|Hardiness Zones||9-10, USDA|
|Native Area||Tropical South America|
See Zygopetalum Care Guide
True epiphytes, zygopetalum orchids have slender, light-green leaves and flower spikes that emerge from pseudobulbs. These enlarged stem regions resemble iris rhizomes in certain ways. The stems and pseudobulbs on the Zygopetalum orchid are delicate and need to be handled gently to prevent breakage, in contrast to the hard, knobby iris rhizome.
The majority of Zygopetalum species can be cultivated in shallow pots, but the rarer, more rhizotomaceous species can only be grown in baskets or on tree fern slab culture. As opposed to species that are found in coastal and lowland rainforests, higher elevation species require different maintenance.
Bright, filtered light is necessary for zygopetalums to blossom. On the delicate leaves and pseudobulbs, providing some sort of partial shade will help to prevent sunburn and brown stains. Put the plant under a shade cloth or close to a window that receives brilliant light without the sun’s direct rays.
Zygopetalums, like all orchids, cannot grow in moist, muddy soil. A constantly wet growth medium will result in root rot and fungal infections in epiphytic orchids since they receive moisture and nutrients through air roots.
These orchids grow nicely in shallow pots or baskets with fine orchid bark and 20% perlite since they prefer a slightly acidic soil. Sand, coarse peat, and redwood bark shavings can all help plants retain moisture while still allowing for proper drainage after watering.
During the growing season, more regular watering, up to every two days, can promote frequent flowering in these orchids. Watering can be cut back to once a week once the blooms have faded. This orchid doesn’t enter a complete dormant state after blooming, therefore the conditions you offer will determine how long it can grow. Water usage should be decreased in temperate climates throughout the winter to allow for rest. It is better to use filtered or distilled water at room temperature because this plant is also sensitive to salts and minerals in tap water.
Thermodynamics and Humidity
This orchid does best in temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees during the day and 10 degrees colder at night. Types that normally occur in mountain rainforests will thrive at even somewhat lower nighttime temperatures, between 50 and 55 degrees. In the winter, zygopetalums may endure temperatures of 50 degrees if water is withheld and the plant is kept dry.
When not in flower, this orchid will also profit from routine misting. The ideal humidity is from 60 to 70 percent, reaching as high as 80 percent in the summer. If you mist your orchids in the morning, the leaves will dry out by dusk. Wet leaves may cause blossom loss and stem deterioration. To prevent botrytis petal blight, avoid spraying plants when they are in flower.
The health of the orchid also depends on proper air circulation. Keep the air circulating about your plant by opening a window or using a fan; avoid blowing air directly on the plant.
Since zygopetalum orchids are not picky about fertilizer, both liquid feed and delayed release feed are appropriate. Late spring top dressings of dolomite will aid to fortify the plant’s delicate leaves. Fertilize every two weeks with a 30-10-10 formula throughout the growing season for the highest possibility of repeat blooming periods, or feed all year long with 20-20-20 at half intensity. High nitrogen fertilizers should be avoided because they can cause the leaves to stretch and become brittle. 1 Different Kinds of Zygopetalum Orchids
Zygopetalum orchids come in 15 different varieties according to the World Monocot inventory, although several hybrid varieties have also been found.
- Zygopetalum maculatum: Each pseudobulb has one or more 16-inch flower spikes that each have eight to twelve blooms. Green petals have red dots and bars. The veins on the orchid lip, which is one broad lobe, are purple and white.
- Zygopetalum maxillare: Chocolate-like notes in the bloom aroma. Green and burgundy petals have a ridged lip that is purple and lavender.
- Sad Zygopetalum: Three to five flowers with burgundy-colored petals are produced by 9-inch stems. Peppery and spicy are descriptions of fragrance.
- Zygopetalum intermedium: The white lip of this flower has blue spots, while the yellow-green petals have purple blotches. The orchid has 8–12 inch flower spikes.
- Large flowers up to 4 inches wide with distinguishing yellow-green foliage, burgundy speckled petals, and a purple striped white lip can be seen on Zygopetalum crinitum. blooms on 8 to 12 inch-tall flower spikes.
- Reproduction of Zygopetalum
- Zygopetalum can be grown more easily by dividing an existing plant and extracting offsets (pups) from the mother plant. With pseudobulbs that are at least one-third the size of the primary bulb, this is often done in late spring to early summer. Each division should typically contain three pseudobulbs with active roots. Always keep three active bulbs on the mother plant. Be prepared to take your time and treat the process cautiously and with extreme care since the stems and bulbs of these orchids are easily damaged. Follow these instructions after assembling a pair of sharp scissors or snips, growing media, 4- to 6-inch shallow pots, and gloves (optional).
Place the orchid in its pot in a sink or pail of cool water (not cold) twenty-four hours before the division. After soaking the potted plant for 30 minutes, remove the extra water.
With one hand, carefully grab the plant near to a pseudobulb node while you remove the orchid from the pot, making sure to leave at least three pseudobulbs with the mother plant. Any growing material in the way should be removed.
With one hand holding the mother plant steady, gently push the offset down. A snap should be audible.
Keep the roots of the two plants as intact and undamaged as possible by slowly and carefully separating them.
Remove any roots that appear brown or shriveled by using a pair of clean, sharp scissors or snips. To encourage healthy development, trim back damaged roots.
Put the young plantlet in a small pot and add perlite and fine orchid bark to the area around the roots and bulbs. Make sure the pot is big enough to give the plant 1 inch of space between the rim and the pot all the way around. Zygopetalum orchids dislike being confined to their pots.
Place the new plant in a location with the ideal temperature, humidity, and sun exposure. Mist or lightly water the plant.
Your orchid is making new roots at the time that the pseudobulbs begin to sprout new leaf buds. You can start performing routine upkeep.
Zygopetalum orchid repotting and potting
In contrast to many other orchid genera, zygopetalum orchids dislike being potbound, so use a wide, shallow pot with many of drainage holes.
Every three to four years, when new leaves are extending upward, repotting should be done. Use a pot with sufficient drainage that is the next size up. Because the roots are fragile, some breaking may happen. Before repotting, hydrate the plant for 30 minutes in a sink or pail of lukewarm water to help reduce transplant shock brought on by any root damage.
Typical Pests and Plant Illnesses
Zygopetalum orchids are susceptible to a number of fungi infections, which typically manifest as leaf discoloration. Botrytis, anthracnose, and cercospora are typical issues. Keep an eye out for lesions or patches that grow or spread and are orange, brown, or black. The majority of fungal infections are brought on by excessive wetness, insufficient airflow, or frequently high temperatures.
Several times over the course of several weeks, water the plant, allowing the soil to slightly dry in between applications. Remove the damaged plant sections with a sharp, sterile knife or scissors. A delicate towel moistened with warm water can also be used to wash the leaves. Although they are not always effective against all fungi, you can also use fungicides. After receiving treatment, keep the orchid separate from other plants in a cool, shady area until it has recovered.
Spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, scale, and thrips are examples of typical pests. Look for leaves that seem to have been eaten, are discolored, or have deposits of a sticky or powdery white material. A fingernail can be used to scrape scale insects off of surfaces. By carefully cleaning the leaves and soaking the growing medium in water, the majority of other insects can be gotten rid of. If the infestation is serious, you might need to repot the orchid with new soil or treat it with neem oil.
How to Induce Blooming in Zygopetalum Orchids
Depending on your climate, feed your Zygopetalum orchid every two weeks with a 30-10-10 orchid fertilizer during the growing season, which typically lasts from spring through fall. Make sure the plant has a lot of strong indirect light, consistent temperatures, and good air movement during the day. Temperatures at night should be steady but 5 to 10 degrees colder than during the day. When the top third of the growing media gets dry, place the orchid on a tray of wet pebbles to increase humidity levels.
Typical Zygopetalum Orchid Problem
The majority of issues with this orchid are typically related to improper lighting, temperature, or watering.
Rotting Stem and Pseudobulb
Overwatering is the cause of these problems. Remove any plant components that have become mushy or brown by removing them with a sharp, sterilized knife or scissors after removing the orchid from its pot. Place a fresh orchid in its place, give it a site with bright, indirect light, and stop giving it water for a week.
Dark green or yellow leaves
Zygopetalum leaves should be long, slender, light green, and have a caste that is yellowish. If the leaves become entirely yellow, there has probably been too much exposure to the sun. The orchid’s leaves will be dark green if it doesn’t get enough light. Transfer the orchid to a different spot with the appropriate quantity of light. Older, lower orchid leaves naturally turn yellow and fall off as time goes on.
Not in bloom
If your orchid doesn’t bloom at least once a year, improper lighting conditions or inequal temperatures are probably to blame. Adjust as necessary to produce an abundance of bright, indirect light. Move the plant to a better position or add a shade cloth. To better track temperature changes, think about setting up a thermometer next to the orchid.
What is the lifespan of my Zygopetalum orchid?
With proper care and sensitive handling, these orchids can live for roughly 7–10 years because of the delicate Zygopetalum structure.
What popular Zygopetalum orchids are there?
The American Orchid Society explicitly recognizes the following three varieties. Zygopetalum maculatum, also known as mackayi, Z. maxillare, also known as YoshioImogawa, and Z. triste, also known as Seagrove’s Blue Caribou 1
Do Zygopetalum orchids grow well in baskets?
Yes. In many ways, growing epiphytic orchids in baskets is identical to doing so in small pots. More mosses and other objects that can hold water are included as part of the growing medium, which is one of the main distinctions. Additionally, strategies for hydrating your plant can call for more misting.