Growing Pleione Orchids

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Growing Pleione Orchids

Pleione - pronounced - play owny

Alpine/Cool Growing
3 - 7 C (39 - 45F) Alpine Types
7C - 10C (45 - 50F) Cool Types max 24C (75F) in summer

Pleione Orchids Pleione are a small group of around 25 cool and alpine growing orchids mostly from China, Northern India, Thailand and Nepal and naturally grow close to the snow line at the edges of woods and forests. They are semi epiphytic and can be found growing on or around the bases of trees and in leaf litter. Closely allied to Coelogyne the flowers are large, delicately coloured and exotic looking. They are all deciduous and need a rest during the winter at which time the round squat bulbs should be stored either in their dry compost or removed for storage. The flowers of Pleione typically develop before the leaves.

Light requirements

Pleione like good light during the growing season and can be left out doors during the summer or grown close to the glass if grown indoors. During the winter resting period they can be placed on a shelf in the greenhouse or a cool room with diffused light.

Watering requirements

Pleione like moist compost during the growing season which is between February and October, during this time they should be watered every week (starting sparingly until established) using clean fresh water. From October through the following April the compost should be allowed to dry out completely.

As mentioned earlier Pleione are deciduous and will require a rest during the winter.

Feeding requirements

The plants are moderate feeders and a balanced plant food can be applied from April to August at 1/4 the pack recommendation given every third watering. During late August and September you should change to a higher potash feed (again at 1/4 strength) which will encourage the new bulbs to ripen in readiness for the rest period. Feeding should cease by October and no more should be given until the following spring (March) at which time normal feeding can resume.

Re-potting schedule and compost

Pleione are naturally semi epiphytic and can be grown either in a pot or a shallow pan. The compost mix used should consist of equal parts loam, sphagnum moss and medium grade orchid compost, this will provide good drainage and moisture retentiveness.

Pleione should be re potted every year in fresh compost either before flowering or just after, this depends on the variety grown but generally around January.

The rounded bulbs do not need burying in the compost but should be allowed to rest on the surface of it or at the most just have the very base pushed slightly in to it for stability.  Because they will have no roots at this time they may need some for of support until roots are established in the compost.

Here are a few commonly grown species, if in doubt grow them in cool conditions rather than alpine.
Name Temperature Flowering Colour
Pleione formosana Alpine/Cool April/May Pale Rose & Cream 
Pleione forrestii Alpine/Cool March/May Primrose Yellow, red markings
Pleione hookeriana Cool March/April White with purple/yellow blothes
Pleione humilis Cool Sept/October White with Rose Spots
Pleione maculata Cool Sept/October White, Blotched Lip
Pleione praecox (lagenaria) Cool June/October Rose/Purple, Paler Lip

Propagation

Pleiones produce numerous small bulbs around the base of the old bulb or around the 'scar' formed when the leaves fall, these should be potted up in trays and will be flowering size by the second year.

Here's some equipment you may find useful
Thermometers | Thermostats | Humidity Gauges

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