Jewel Orchids


I purchased a Ludisia orchid at a home show for its pretty leaves. It has now sent out stems that are growing taller and taller but I cannot tell if there will be an orchid flower at the end of each stem. Also, will the flowers have a scent and how long will the flowers last? When can I transplant it to a new pot and is a special potting medium necessary? —Teddie Tasch

Ludisia discolor showing foliage. photo © 2003 Greg Allikas


Ludisia discolor is the Latin name for what are popularly known as jewel orchids. In 2010, there was a good series appearing in the AOS magazine, Orchids, written by Leon Glicenstein. Each rosette of leaves will have a tallish inflorescence of white blooms in winter, which, to my knowledge, are not fragrant. The flowers, which are not particularly long-lasting, open in sequence, prolonging the overall display. After flowering, stems having leaves can be rooted as cuttings in pots having terrestrial mix, or the plant can be transplanted if it needs the space. Keep evenly moist year round in a medium similar to one you might use for African violets or other terrestrial houseplants. — Ned Nash