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Welcome to My Little Garden
Welcome to My Little Garden

About Me

Tropical Garden, Batu Caves, Malaysia
Gardening is part of my life and I want to share that portion of my zeal and joy with you. These are my thoughts, my experiences and life work. I hope it enrich and add value to you too.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ground Orchid - Spathoglottis x parsonsii

Identifying its name is quite a feat. 
I'm amazed that there are so many versions of their names that I really cannot put a finger and say that this is it. Anyway regardless the scientific descriptions the closest I got was:
Spathoglottis X Parsonii. 

I believe it is a hybrid - a mix of two different species. Spathoglottis Plicata seemed to be the common ones where there are no dual tone colours on them - they are either all yellow or white to pink to strong magenta shades.

My Ground Orchid story begins right at the beginning of my garden blogging time where I purchased this plant and managed to keep it alive since 2008 (that's 5 years from now) 
It was tough - I almost killed it with over-fertilising it thinking that it would finally bloom.

It rarely bloom during those few years (3 years ago - I think)
and if it did - that would be one singular spike with few flowers lasting for a week or two. 
(I took the trouble to go through my entire blog to hunt down this orchid and found that I actually had avoided writing about it but up-loaded the pictures here and there)

Guess my frustrations shows beyond to the cyber world. 
I doubt anyone would had hatred it and might had dumped it but more than anything - this one is truly a difficult one to care. I had purchased two of this kind - Spathoglottis plicata and both died a slow death.

My success story begins two years ago when I had divided the plant into 3 different pots. One I had passed to my friend who is now finding it hard to keeping this one alive. 
(The last time I saw it in his house - the leaves had turned brown but not dried) 

So breaking its code of success and secrets is truly a hard nut to crack. I can tell you what worked for me. Hope it might give you the same results. (no promises of course)

1) Sunlight.
These need good bright sunlight to bloom. 
No Sunlight - no Orchids.
(Please not blazing desert hot sun on them - they might turn crisp before you know it)

2) Fast Draining soil.
Earlier the roots where staying strong in a compact deep pot. 
I had tear open / cut / break them up into clumps and plant them in long medium shallow pots and used fast draining soil instead of clay soil (earlier)
The plant had an initial shock but recovered very fast. 
With new growth came new flower spike. 

3) Fertiliser
I found that chemical based fertiliser seemed not to work well with me. I had switched to organic fertiliser and they seemed to handle to it so well. I would suggest them instead of those red granules ones - as I almost killed it when I accidentally applied a strong dosage on them.

4) Flower Spike
The Flower spike can last almost for 6 months so do take care of it not to prune them when they appear to be leggy. 
(unless you are not so keen in keeping those spiky florets) 
Once - the flower turned into a berry-like fruit. 

5) Burnt Leaves
Too much sun may cause burnt leaves on them. So that's the price you have to pay in getting those blooms. 
Too shaded = no blooms = well developed green leaves.
Too hot/bright sun = flower spikes = burned leaves & holes on them.

Once they start flowering, it would be a yearly thing and you would look forward in seeing those flower spikes lasting for months and that is a wonderful feeling in knowing that you had made a good decision in keeping this orchid in your garden giving a long-term rewards of blooming for months to come.

6) Pest
You have to watch out for whiteflies - they just love to infest underneath the leaves and spraying pesticide on them can proof very difficult. Somehow I find that ants are guarding them - collecting nectar from the flowers so I suspect that they are not giving up this plants easily for other insects to invade this one.

(Please don't get me wrong - some ants are also a pest - farming ones that they bring mealy bugs and scale insects with them - eradicating those is really hard as you are handling two different species at one time)

Do share with me your experience with this orchid. 
I would truly like to know your success story of what you did & didn't do and if it didn't go well with you 
(at least it would be a good thing not to repeat the mistake for others to follow)

These are the old pictures where the plant only gives out one spike within the year and barely last more than a week or so. This started blooming when I placed it to a brighter area. Very much earlier it was actually having a strong shaded area.

The good part is that the leaves rarely got burned and they beautifully looked like palm leaves. And that is the price to pay in keeping them in shade - they never bloomed. (last pictures)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Initially, after looking at your photos, I consider using them for landscaping. However after reading of your trials and tribulations, I'm having second thoughts.

    1. I think there are better plants that are constant bloomers than this which will do well for landscaping like Blackberry lily, Canna lily and Costus.
      This one is not so hardy.

  3. They are actually an easy plant for me. See my post below:


  4. I like your multi coloured ones, my ground orchids are variations of purple, going from almost white to dark purple. I have found mine do best when they get morning sun and afternoon shade.

    1. Will visit your garden blog to view this plant.

  5. James, I have this ground orchid also and had similar experience! Earlier, when I spotted the flower spike coming out from among the leaves of my ground orchid I was beyond joy! I took some time (killing about two plants I think!) to know the plant better and now I can safely say that I am able to grow this plant haha... I agree on the part about organic fertiliser. The plant respond better to organic ones. Sunlight and media (no clay) same as yours but require adjustment in terms of location and watering frequency. The plant simply hates wet soil. Anyway, congrats on the blooms! Your ground orchid looks stunning :-D

    1. Thanks Stephanie for your thoughts.
      I guess we have to kill a plant few times in order to understand it better.

  6. I had once. I forget how I killed it, probably too little water in my zeal to prevent overwatering.

    1. Guess we all learn from our mistakes.
      Thanks Jean for sharing your experience.

  7. hi, i stumbled upon your blog and i must say, it's very informative...your prowess in the garden puts me to shame. Keep up the good work and i hope you'd enlighten us with your plant info.

  8. I too have this ground orchid but the colors you have are wonderful.Thanks for informative article

  9. Great job as always! Love the fabulous colours of your orchid flowers, James. You have such patience in caring for them in spite of being rarely rewarded with flowers for the earlier years. Seriously, I would have trashed them. ;)

    1. Normally Jacqueline - I allow my plant to go thru natural death. If they still survive in my garden - then I consider that there is still hope.
      This one proved its worth. I still have few more orchid species which I haven't seen any improvement yet.
      They didn't bloom nor died.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  10. thanks for your detailed care instructions for spathoglottis. i just bought one, the garden center cashier said shade. but it doesn't make sense to get it to bloom. the one i have has three nice spikes. one in bloom, the others to come. i'm going to keep it in morning sun and see how that works. any recommendations for watering? the pot feels heavy but the soil is dry down a couple inches. i am thinking of keeping on dry side and then very dry after the blooms are done to force blooms. i didn't know it was so difficult to care for!

    1. Firstly - what I wrote here is more applicable for the tropical regions.
      IF you are in the temperate climate then its different.
      Recommendation on the watering is basically daily - the plant and flowers do need water but then again - it applies in the tropics.
      Colder regions may require lighter watering regime.

  11. I love your spathoglottis. I got 3 pots of them but none of them have leaves as luscious as yours. Good job.

    1. You have?
      Certainly they must be blooming furiously by now.

  12. Hi James, your plants are so lush and free-flowering.. I'm green with envy! ;-)
    Thanks for sharing on how to care for this Ground Orchid... I really need to know as I recently managed to get a pot for a steal (just RM8 during the CNY season when they were sidelined). I've planted them in the ground... though at a semi-shaded site, the older leaves are getting burnt but not the newer shoots. Probably, getting acclimatised or is it due to the current hot dry season and haze. What do you think?
    By the way, it'd be helpful if you have a search widget for your site... it took me quite a while to find this post. Thanks.
    Have a wonderful day, my friend!


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