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Ludisia, the Prized Jewel Orchid

 

ludisia-discolor-orchid

Facts Facts Ludisia Orchids

Botanical Name: Ludisia Orchid (loo-DISS-ee-ah)
Abbreviation: Lus.
Common name: Jewel Orchids
Family: Orchidaceae
Tribe
: Erythrodeae/ Cranichideae
Subtribe: Goodyerinae
Number of recognized species: One
Origin: China and Southeast Asia
Blooming season: Winter to spring
Color: White with a hint of pink
Growing classification: Terrestrial

 

History and Origin of Ludisia Orchids

Ludisia is a terrestrial, ground-dwelling orchid plant usually found thriving on the damp forest floors and high mountains of China and Southeast Asia. This includes tropical countries, such as India, Myanmar, Philippines, and Indonesia.

Praised more for its beautiful gem-colored foliage than its flowers, this small, monotypic orchid genus is more generally known as the jewel orchid, because of its lush leaves with a rich deep-red velvet leaves with intricate venation.

There may be mention of other jewel orchids in books, such as Anoectochilus and Macodes, but Ludisia seems to be the most popular.

It was first described in 1818 and was called Goodyera discolor. They initially thought it was from Brazil. Come 1825, the orchid genus was given a new and official name Ludisia, but confusion arose when another botanist called haemaria that same year.  The correction was published in Kew Bulletin in 1970.

At one point, Malaysia was teeming with Ludisia orchids but numbers have reportedly drastically diminished over the years. This unfortunate fact can largely be blamed for the sudden rise in demand for ornamental orchids from Asia, which catapulted illegal trade and poaching of exotic orchids from their natural habitats.

Description Jewel Orchids

Growing slowly but surely #jewelorchid #ludisiadiscolor #orchids

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Ludisia orchids are frequently considered more as a fancy ornamental plant rather than an orchid because of its dark and iridescent leaves. Oval in shape and usually, the leaves are 2 to 3 inches long. Its spikes, which shoot from stems, grow up to 10 inches in length bloom beautifully with simple small, white flowers with a hint of pink. The delicate blooms

The flowering season for this jewel orchid is winter to early springtime. This happens once a year and typically lasts for, at least two weeks, which is rather impressive in larger plants in terms of floral display.

Ludisia: Orchid Species, Hybrids, Cultivar

There is only one registered orchid species for the Ludisia orchid genus – Ludisia discolor (syn. Haemaria discolor).  It’s a low, spreading orchid plant with maroon-colored leaves with metallic reddish or golden veins. Its spikes are fleshy, upright, and have a twisted yellow column.  

Ludisia discolor has some listed varieties, including:

  • Ludisia discolor 'Alba', an albino variety, it’s pale.
  • Ludisia discolor 'Nigrescens', often referred to as "black velvet"
  • Ludisia discolor var. ordiana
  • Ludisia dawsonia

Aside from these two, there is currently very little known about the orchid hybrids and cultivars of Ludisia discolor.

Orchid Care: How to Grow and Take Care of Ludisia Orchids

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Ludisia orchids are fairly easy to grow and maintain. Give the tender, loving care a common indoor plant deserves and it will love you back.

Tending to a jewel orchid can be quite different. There’s a good chance you have to throw everything you know about basic orchid care out the window if it’s a Ludisia jewel orchid you’re dealing with.

Here are some essential tips on how to be successful in growing Ludisia orchids.

  • Where to grow your jewel orchid?
    As mentioned above, Ludisia is a terrestrial orchid that lives on damp forest floors. It’s best to grow your orchid plant in a well-draining medium that’s rich in humus.

    Many orchid experts suggest trying out commercial terrestrial orchid mix or making your own mixture made of equal parts peat moss, perlite, and potting soil. Ludisia orchids also make excellent terrarium plants and look nice in pots or hanging planters.

  • How much humidity does a Ludisia orchid need?
    Compared to its contemporaries, Ludisia orchid needs a higher amount of humidity. It also prefers warmer temperature, given the fact that it’s a tropical Asian orchid. A good range would be anywhere between 23 and 29 degrees Celsius.
  • Is your orchid getting enough light?
    In the wild, Ludisia orchids can be found on the ground, shaded by a canopy of tall, thick trees from the sun. That being said, it only makes sense that they make excellent indoor plants. Keep your jewel orchid in low light conditions away from direct sunlight or heat exposure, which can burn or discolor its pretty leaves.
  • How to water your orchid plant correctly?
    Ludisia orchids prefer a regular watering schedule. Don’t wait for it to completely dry out or it will die on you. A sucker for super moist environments, jewel orchids should be watered every three to four days. Misting regularly will also be beneficial. Pros recommend adding moist peat or sphagnum moss to maintain healthy levels of humidity. Make sure it’s in a potting material with good drainage to prevent the roots from rotting.
  • Does your orchid need fertilizer?
    Jewel orchid plants should be fed with a well-balanced, diluted fertilizer that contains all the beneficial trace elements. The American Orchid Society advises fertilizing orchids weekly but weakly, explaining that most orchids will do better with just a little fertilizer than too much. A 20-20-20 formulation is ideal. Don’t forget to water your orchid plant first before feeding.
  • How to propagate your jewel orchids?
    Even a novice orchid grower can multiply your collection of jewel orchids easily. This can be done by cutting the stem of the orchid plant and breaking it down to many pieces, cutting the nodes where the leaves normally sprout. Put the cuttings in moist sphagnum moss. Cutting root tips is another viable propagation technique worth the try.

Also Read: How to Maintain Your Orchids Indoors

Jewel Orchids in Los Angeles

Jewel orchids may be native to China and Southeast Asian countries, but as with other common orchid plants we’ve seen them adapt and thrive terrifically in the United States, it’s not impossible to see them in the country.

Los Angeles, in particular, with its almost tropical, almost always bright and sunny days, makes an ideal location for spotting, growing, and even propagating tropical orchids, such as Ludisia orchids.

Many parks and botanical gardens display gorgeous orchid species for public viewings, such as the Arboretum of Los Angeles County, the Descanso Gardens, and the South Botanic Garden.

However, if you want your own jewel orchid blooming for your personal viewing pleasure, you can also check out Orchid Republic’s stunning orchid arrangement collection. Located conveniently in the heart of Studio City, Orchid Republic offers flower delivery anywhere in Los Angeles and Orange County.

Sources:

Ortho’s All About Orchids, Ortho and Elvin McDonald, 1999
Complete Guide to Orchids, Ortho, 2005

 

 

 

 



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