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Jewel Orchid Culture

   While the majority of orchids are grown for their beautiful flowers, members of the jewel orchid group are primarily grown for their uniquely marked and spectacular foliage.All the true Jewel orchids are members of the Subtribe Goodyerinae, which has distribution throughout the tropical and temperate regions of the world. Many of the jewel orchids are found in the warm, humid tropical forests of SE Asia and through the Indo Pacific islands, where they can be found growing in the leaf litter of large tropical trees. In North America, species of Goodyera can be found in the leaf litter beneath evergreen pines, firs, and cedars, as well as the decidous oaks and maples. The Jewel Orchid leaves are full and dense, growing in a whorl pattern similiar to the familiar coleus plants. For this reason, jewels are often mistaken for foliage plants, rather than orchids. Their foliage spreads or creeps, along the top of the growing media, quickly maturing into large specimen plants. The flowers of most species of jewel orchids are insignificant; however a few, such as Ludisia discolor , produce spikes of small but attractive white and yellow flowers which are also pleasantly fragrant. Besides Ludisia(formerly Haemaria), Anoectochilus, Dossinia, Goodyera, and Macodes are also members of the Jewel Orchid Alliance.

Ludisia is the genus and the species is Ludisia discolor (aka Haemaria discolor). The species is native to Indonesia and Burma. There is a variety known as Ludisian discolor var. dawsoniana. Ludisias are terrestrial orchids which means they grow in soil and soil-like medium and grow on the ground. ! Ludisia can be grown in the yard as ground cover as a low spreading plant. Plant them in shady, moist areas with excellent drainage. Potted, Ludisia . These orchids are characterized as relatively difficult to grow. Flowers are white with twisting yellow columns. Individual flowers are small but grow in clusters on upright stalks. Flowers usually form fall to winter during cooler weather. The large specimen plants produce a showy display of inflorescences.


Low to medium light is ideal, as Jewels can grow in extremely low light levels. Do not subject them to bright light or strong sunshine. Jewel Orchids make excellent terrarium plants. They will grow very well under fluorescent lights and/or incandescent "grow lights".


Most Jewels enjoy intermediate to warm environments, but a few species in the genus Goodyera can be found in the cooler highland forests of SE Asia up to elevations of 8000 feet. The North American species of Goodyera range from Canada to North Georgia.

The ideal annual temperature range for most members of the Jewel Orchid Alliance are 75°-85°F. (24°-3O° Celsius) during the day and 55°-6O°F. (13°-16° Celsius) at night. Plants will tolerate temperatures to 45°F (10°Celsius) and up to 100°F ( 38° Celsius) for short periods. At higher temperatures, air circulation and humidity must be increased or damage can occur


Keep evenly moist, as the Jewels need high humidity. If plants are grown indoors, more frequent watering may be necessary, as the air conditioner or heat will reduce humidity. Remember, Jewels like humidity, so keep their medium moist but ensure good ventilation to prevent possible fungal problems.


Jewel Orchid Alliance plants should be fed consistently, but very lightly, when in full growth. During the Spring through early Fall, fertilizing every 10 to 14 days, with clear waterings in between, will make your Jewel Orchid Alliance plants happy. In the late Fall through Winter, a light feeding once a month will suffice. The recommended strength is one eighth (1/8) to one quarter (1/4) at each application.

Non-urea based fertilizers are recommended. Non urea fertilizers provide 100% immediately available nitrogen, which urea based fertilizers do not. We recommend 20-10-20 Grow More fertilizer, which also have micro nutrients, to provide strength for the new growth, as well as support for the flowers.


Jewel Orchids are terrestrial orchids, so they need to be grown on a media that retains moisture but drains quickly. Sphagnum moss , with a little perlite mixed, works very well but commercial terrestrial orchid mixes or African Violet mixes are also excellent. Plastic pans are best, as the Jewels grow along the top of the media.


When you purchase a new plant, always place it where you can watch it for a couple of weeks until it is acclimated to your area. Initially, water the plant thoroughly and place it in a dim location with good humidity.

A preventative spraying of Orthene 75%, wettable powder or in aerosol, on maturing flower buds will prevent thirp damage, as well as aphids and ants. If insects are found on the open flowers, the same chemical can be used to eradicate the infestation, without damaging the flowers. Other insecticides WILL damage the flowers and should not be used. Use Orthene spray as recommended on the label. If using the aerosol, spray from at least a foot away from the flowers. In addition, Orthene 75% does not leave any unsightly residue.

Examine your plants on a regular basis. Slugs and snails find Jewel Orchid Alliance plants particularly attractive to dine on. Following the label recommendations on your favorite "slugicide" or "snailicide" will usually solve any munching problem.

Jewels Orchids can be easily propagated anytime of the year. Take cutting of growing shoots, allow to "harden off" a day or two, then pot them directly in your favorite terrestial potting medium. If you dip the cutting into a fungal/rooting hormone compound before "hardening off", you will greatly increase your success rate.

As with most Orchids, Jewel Orchid roots are sensitive to fertilizer salt build up, so remember to clear water flush, between feedings.


  • All About Orchids, by Charles Marden Fitch
  • Home Orchid Growing, 5th Ed by Rebecca Northen
  • Growing Orchids - Book Two, by J. N. Rentoul
  • Growing Orchids, American Orchid Society
  • Orchid of Brazil by Jim and Barbara McQueen
  • Encyclopedia of Cultivated Orchids, by Alex D. Hawkes
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Orchids, by Alec Pridgeon
  • The Manual of Cultivated Orchid Species, by Bechtel, et al

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