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Cultural tips for Bulbophyllum

From Greek Bulbos Bulb and phyllon leaf

Bulbophyllum ( Bulbos ) is a pantropical genus centered in southeast asia, spreading east to New Guinea and Australia, west through India, Africa into the tropical areas of the Americas, including the southern tip of Florida. The largest number of Bulbophyllums are found in the Far East. New Guinea has recorded over 700 distinct species within its borders.


In our experience most Bulbos are in continual growth, except for a brief rest in the cool of the winter. They usually bloom on the matured new growth. If there is a peak bloom period it would probably be spring and early fall


Bulbos prefer to be evenly moist, except a slight drying in the winter. During growth period, the Bulbos should be given heavy waterings, so they are never dry.

Because of the wet conditions loved by the Bulbos, fungus can be a problem. A monthly preventative spray of your favorite fungicide is desirable to ward off problems.

Good air movement is a must to keep leaf fungus down, because of the heavy watering regime.

Most BULBOPHYLLUMS, including the CIRRHOPETALUMS, are easier to grow mounted and to us present a more natural appearance. Most are rambling growers and resent being disturbed; however, they do not seem to mind an occassional clipping of a few unruly leads to keep them neat.

In growing most Bulbos, we have found sphaghnum moss pads mounted on the back side of cork slabs to be an excellent growing method. The recurved shape of the cork retains more moisture in the moss pad, which the Bulbos love. We have found the easiest method is to tie the plant with 6 lb test nylon fishing line. There are almost as many ways of mounting Bulbos as there are Bulbonuts.

After the plant has recovered from its self imposed pout and the new roots have gained a foothold, the nearly invisible fishing line can be removed. The fishing line does seem to injure the Bulbos, and is usually left in place. Other mounting materials are wood slabs, driftwood, cactus wood, tree fern plaques, TF pots, TF totems, and TF balls. Wood baskets with moss or osmunda pads are a close second choice.

If a potted Bulbo is your choice, they will enjoy any loose well drained media. The bulk of Bulbos have numerous short roots which do not penetrate the media deeply, so shallow media is a must to avoid root rots.


The majority of Bulbos are comfortable in a temperature range of 45 F to 95 F. Some of the higher elevation Bulbos, such as those from the Himalayas and New Guinean mountains prefer cool temperatures for part of the year and can be a little difficult in warmer areas.


Preferred light conditions are bright shade. If adjusted slowly, full morning sun up to noon is enjoyed by most Bulbos. If you can comfortably read a newspaper without squinting or straining to see then you have the right light.


Fertilization is simple - Bulbos love to eat. 1/4 strength at each watering is sure to keep them happy. We have found organic fertilizers, such as fish emulsion, cow manure teas are enjoyed. The fertilizer formula should match the potting medium. We prefer non-urea based fertilizers at half strength. Non urea fertilizers provide 100% immediately available nitrogen, which urea based fertilizers do not. We recommend Better Gro fertilizers , which also haves micro nutrients, to provide strength for the new growth, as well as support for the flowers. If you use the urea, salt based fertilizers ensure no salt residue are left in the roots. Always flush, with clear water, monthly to protect the short tender roots from fertilizer burn.


While not insect resistant, bulbos seem to rarely be bothered by insects other than an occassional scale or mealy bug infestation, which can be easily handled by a 70% isopropyl alcohol and soap drench, or your favorite insectidide.


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