Chinese Pleione Culture

The Chinese Pleione species P. formosana, P.bulbocodiides, P.limprichtii, and P.speciosa, as well as their hybrids, are the focus of these cultural comments. As a result, the procedures apply to all of the plants that are described on my website.

Although these are the techniques that I use in the United Kingdom (UK), I am certain that there are alternative approaches to cultivating these plants, both in the United Kingdom and in other countries.

In a modest greenhouse with a temperature controlled at 2 degrees Celsius, I cultivate my pleiones (i.e. set to exclude frost). Some species of Pleiones cannot produce flowers until the winters are very cold, and it is believed that the colors of Pleiones, particularly Shantung hybrids, are improved when the temperature during the winter is lower.

When I take the dormant pseudobulbs out of their respective pots in the middle of January, the new Pleione year begins for me. After meticulously removing what’s left of the shriveled pseudobulbs from the previous season and trimming the roots to a length of about an inch, I next transplant the seeds. My compost has excellent drainage and is quite open; its components are as follows:

  • Bark for orchid potting in a volumetric proportion of 10 parts
  • 2 portions of sterile leafmould (or peat if you prefer)
  • 1 part coarse grade perlite.

For some species, such as P. forrestii, P. x confusa, and P. aurita, I add some moss that I have taken off the lawn (wood moss could also work, but sphagnum does not work since it retains too much water and dies soon when combined with the fertilizer that will be used).

The pseudobulbs are planted with just a half to three-quarters of an inch of space between them, ideally with the shoot or shoot facing the same direction (that way the flowers all face the same way). It is ideal for around one-third of the pseudobulb to protrude above the compost. When I pot up, the compost is often still a little bit moist.

When I start to notice some new growth, I generally give it a few gentle waterings. When the buds are already drooping, I give the plant one last thorough watering. That’s right; despite the fact that the plants seem like they’re bursting at the seams with growth after a few months, I just water them very little. One of the most typical errors that people do at this time is that they water their plants too much. I may sometimes spray the plants with pesticides only once when they are in the bud stage in order to eliminate any greenflies that may be present and cause the blooms to become misshapen.

When the plants are in blossom, I could give them another drink of water once. To better appreciate the blooms, I have placed them on the benching. After they have bloomed, I move them to the floor of the greenhouse that is partially or completely shaded. After a brief wait during which I observe the leaves as they begin to unfold, I then begin to consistently apply water. My goal is to ensure that they are never completely soaked in moisture. I begin by giving the bulbs a feed that is one-third the normal strength once per week. The NPK ratio for this feed is 2-1-1. (NPK ratio is the ratio of 3 essential elements Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium in the feed, if you look on the maker’s label you should see it there). When the leaves have reached their last stage of development, I change the ratio to 1-2-2, and then in the middle of August, I change it back to 1-1-2. If you had access to the fertilizers manufactured by Chempak, they would correspond to the numbers 2, 8, and 4 correspondingly. In order to maintain a high humidity level, I spritz the leaves on particularly warm nights.

The leaves begin to turn yellow as fall approaches. As soon as I see it, I immediately and fully cease watering that plant. I will not remove the plants from the compost pile until January when it will be time for the report.

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