Fast Facts Rhynchostylis Orchids
Botanical Name: Rhynchostylis (rink-oh-STY-lis)
Horticultural Trade Abbreviation: Rhy.
Number of recognized species: Three (4) unique orchid species and two (2) subspecies
Type species: Rhynchostylis retusa [L.]Blume 1825
Origin/Distribution: Native to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Southeast India
Growing classification: Monopodial orchids
Blooming season: Winter months
Flower colors: Rhynchostylis orchid flowers have a spray of small and typically white with light to deep magenta, red or lavender-blue spots.
Skill level: Recommended for intermediate to advanced orchid growers
About Rhynchostylis Orchids
The Rhynchostylis orchid genus was first described by botanist and orchidist, Carl Blume, in the 1820s. According to the book Genera Orchidacearum, its name was developed from the Greek words “rhyncho” (snout) and “stylos,” (column) depicting the appearance of the characteristic beaked-like column of the type species. Interestingly, it is more commonly known as foxtail orchids because the closely packed spray of orchids resembles the thick, bushy tail of a fox.
Despite being categorically a vandaceous orchid, Rhynchostylis orchids quite different from Vanda orchids. For instance, they require bright, indirect light. Rhynchostylis orchid flowers are incredibly beautiful and fragrant. They may produce tiny blooms but they have multiple inflorescences (cluster of flowers on a single plant). Rhynchostylis orchids will wow with showstopping sprays of small typically white with light to deep magenta, red, lavender, or blue specks. However, it is not surprising to see Rhynchostylis orchids blooming in other colors than the ones we mentioned because of orchid breeding. Its blooming season is mostly during the winter months, from December to February.
Distribution: Where Is This Orchid From?
A true blue tropical orchid, Rhynchostylis are native flora to the picturesque islands of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Thailand, and Southeast India. They can be seen in deciduous forests attached on small trees. They have also been spotted on coastal forests in Sabah and in open forests and teak plantations in Java.
Uses of Rhynchostylis Orchids
In Nepal, Rhynchostylis retusa orchids were reportedly used as an ingredient in traditional herbal medicine. The sap of the roots are applied as a soothing salve for minor cuts and wounds, the leaf powder for pain relief in rheumatism, and the dried orchid flowers are prepared as a natural insect repellent and to induce vomiting. The same medicinal use has been recorded in parts of Sri Lanka and India for this specific orchid species, where its roots are locally known as “rasna.”
Rhynchostylis Orchid Species
Jay's Internet Orchid Species, an excellent and more updated resource about all things orchids, has listed down four recognized orchid species for the Rhynchostylis genus. Thanks to the success of orchid cultivation and hybridization, these four rare orchid species have now multiplied to many beautiful orchid varieties.
- Rhynchostylis gigantea [Lindl.]Ridley 1896
- Rhynchostylis coelestis (Rchb. f.) Rchb. f. ex Veitch 1891
- Rhynchostylis retusa [L.]Blume 1825
- Rhynchostylis rieferii Higgins 2013
How to Grow and Maintain Rhynchostylis Orchids
Check out some frequently asked questions about Rhynchostylis orchid care.
How much light does my orchid need?
Give your orchid plant access to bright but indirect sunlight. As epiphytic orchids from forests, Rhynchostylis orchids are used to taking refuge under canopy of tree branches and leaves. They can be quite sensitive to harsh, hot sunlight that can brown and burn their leaves and flowers. A north-facing windowsill or a shaded part of your balcony, patio, or garden that gets plenty of morning sunshine all make ideal spaces for growing this type of orchid.
How should I water my orchids?
Water generously every day, especially during the summer. If you consider yourself a serial orchid plant killer because of overwatering, then you and the Rhynchostylis orchids are a perfect match. This orchid thrives best in moist and humid conditions. Water daily in the morning to allow the potting material to dry during the day. You wouldn’t want it to get root rot, too, because of excess moisture.
Despite its sensitivity to intense light and heat, Rhynchostylis orchids are still tropical orchids that prefer a warm growing environment (above 50 F) all year round. That being said, they cannot tolerate or survive frost. Mist regularly to improve humidity levels and provide good air movement.
Should I feed/fertilize my orchids?
Most orchid flowers require a little boost of fertilizer, especially during the growing or blooming season. Rhynchostylis orchids are no exception. Feed it with a balanced orchid fertilizer (20-20-20 or 10-10-10) at half strength diluted with water. Do it weekly after each watering session.
Where should I grow my orchid?
For aesthetic reasons, we highly recommend growing your Rhynchostylis orchids in hanging baskets because of its ability to produce multiple stems filled with flowers that trail stunningly. Choose a high-quality potting material that will offer good drainage for this thirsty orchid plant. This way, you will avoid any risk of rotten roots or fungal plant diseases.
Orchids in Los Angeles and Orange County
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The American Orchid Society, Rhynchostylis
Jay’s Internet Encyclopedia, Rhynchostylis Blume 1825
Micropropagation of Orchids By Tim Wing Yam, Joseph Arditti
100 Orchids for Florida By Jack Kramer
Bloom-Again Orchids: 50 Easy-Care Orchids that Flower Again and Again and Again, Judy White
Genera Orchidacearum Volume 6: Epidendroideae, Part 3, by Alec M. Pridgeon, Phillip J. Cribb, Mark W. Chase, Finn N. Rasmussen