The Aerangis citrata is a small orchid plant that grows profusely in eastern Madagascar. Its flowers are a lemon custard color that turns to pure white as it matures and, at the same time, emit a citrusy fragrance that makes this species one of the most popular orchids among collectors.
With its habitat being mostly tropical rainforests, the Aerangis citrata is often found busily pollinated by hungry native insects that thirst for its sweet orchid nectar. If you want to know all the necessary details to take care of this plant, read ahead.
The Aerangis citrata is sometimes interchangeably named the Lemon-scented Aerangis due to the delicate citrusy fragrance coming from the flowers. Other names include Aerobion citratum, Angorchis citrata, Angraecum citratum, and Rhaphidorhynchus citratus. Louis-Marie Aubert du Petit-Thouars initially described the pale yellow flowers as “jaune citron” or “having the color of lemons” in 1822. The species was formally described by Thouars Schlechter in 1914.
The Size of Aerangis Citrata
Growing in its native tropical environment, the Lemon-scented Aerangis has evolved to be a small but impressive orchid plant. The leaves can grow from a few inches to around 7 inches in length. The flowering stalks can grow up to around 10 to 11 inches. Overall, it is a small plant, and some orchid collectors identify it as a miniature species of orchid.
The shiny, elliptical, dark green leaves of the Aerangis citrata can grow from 3.5 inches to around 4.7 inches wide. Unevenly distributed pairs of tightly spread leaves are arranged in double rows found along with the plant’s shoot. One plant usually has three to four leaves, although sometimes there may be more or less.
The long fine roots of the Lemon-scented Aerangis can grow to around 18 inches, depending on the maturity of the plant. The roots have evolved over many years to collect and absorb rainwater from the air and its immediate surroundings. The plant is epiphytic in nature. This means it thrives as an air plant, and its roots have managed to adapt to its environment amongst the trees and rocks that serve as hosts to the Aerangis citrata.
One of the most crucial points in the survival of the plant is to keep its fine roots moist but not wet.
A perfect blend of suitable substrate mix and watering schedule will help keep this miniature orchid perfectly healthy and flowering. Another factor is to keep the air movement constant and strong so that its roots retain the perfect amount of moisture.
Aerangis Citrata Flowers
The Aerangis citrata shows off its lemon-scented blooms in the spring, summer, and fall seasons in temperate climates. In tropical settings, some have been found purportedly frequently blooming throughout the year. The long pendulous strands of small elegant flowers appear during the blooming period with an average of 16-inch-long pendants of flowering stalks. Each stalk can bear around fifteen to thirty flowers.
The Aerangis citrata flowers emit a slight lemon scent. Some with petals will appear in pale yellow, while most flowers have petals with a cream to white color. The size of the flowers is around half of an inch to slightly bigger, but rarely reaching an inch.
In the wild forests of Madagascar, moths are the primary pollinators of the Aerangis citrata. Attracted to its nectar, the night-time visitors are drawn to the white blooms that glow in the night, guiding its preferred pollinators to the fan-shaped lip where the nectar sits comfortably in the spur.
The ephemeral beauty of the Lemon-scented Aerangis flowers lasts for as long as 6 weeks, where the whole flowering period begins with the budding of new blooms and lasts until the wilting nature of mature flowers. Its short and fleeting days of beauty are offset by its ability to flower several times in a year. This makes it one of the more anticipated blooms for collectors of tropical miniature orchid plants.
The hot tropical climate of Madagascar has made the Aerangis citrata adaptable enough to live in hot to cool temperatures, although the beautiful miniature orchid plant prefers shady locations and conditions. Due to its adaptability, the presence of this orchid is distributed widely in the humid tropical forests on small tree trunks, as well as on branches of varying altitudes.
Aerangis Citrata Care
Growing Aerangis citrata orchid plants initially seems challenging, but they are actually one of the easiest tropical miniature orchid plants to care for. As a plant accustomed to warm humid forests, the Lemon-scented Aerangis thrives when its nutrient and flowering requirements are met, even in temperate climates.
– Light Requirements
One of the crucial aspects in caring for any orchid is the light requirements. Since orchids are used to growing in evergreen jungles and rainforests, the right level of light brightness is quite critical in maintaining healthy and flowering orchids. The Lemon-scented Aerangis is no different, as it is used to living in shady and low-light conditions and locations.
The Aerangis citrata does not like direct sun, as with most orchids. It flourishes in locations that offer soft filtered light, especially in areas with warm, humid weather. In temperate climates, the orchid plant appreciates commercial plant grow lights with a light level of 12,000 to 18,000 lux year-round. It prefers an ideal low-light exposure of twelve hours. The Lemon-scented Aerangis can even flower in very low light levels but does not grow well in a location that is too bright for it.
– Water Requirements
In the wild, the Aerangis citrata is exposed to natural periodic seasons of wet and dry weather, typical of tropical Madagascar. This cyclical and seasonal climate and weather conditions have shaped the growth and flowering habits of this gorgeous miniature orchid.
In temperate areas where they are in cultivation, the Lemon-scented Aerangis prefers regular and ample watering during its active growth period from late spring to autumn. The roots love to be moist but not wet. Care should be ensured that the roots can dry out quickly from the ample watering.
Aerangis citrata is a thermophilic plant, which means it thrives in temperatures that are warm to hot. In the wild, the temperature of its environment is largely dependent on the weather. However, in controlled conditions of cultivation, the Lemon-scented Aerangis appreciates a temperature of 82 to 84 F during the day and a night-time temperature of approximately 64 F.
Aerangis citrata enjoys growing on the forks between tree branches and stems in its native Madagascar. The locations and positions allow the plant the perfect ratio of water absorption, humidity, light, substrate mix, and support.
In cultivation, the Lemon-scented Aerangis prefers growing on rootstocks to showcase its pendant inflorescences. Once secured on rootstocks, bark slabs, and other forms of hanging mounts, the orchid prefers constant watering and misting to prevent dry roots.
Some growers prefer to place the orchids in clay pots with a mix of permeable substrates. Clay pots with loose substrate mixes encourage water drainage and air circulation. Repotting Aerangis citrata is advised once the substrate decays and decomposes, and repotting is ideal when the appearance of new roots is visible.
Lemon-scented Aerangis are used to their natural humid rainforests, where climate conditions create the ideal ratio of air circulation with air moisture content. In cultivation, these miniature orchids prefer a humidity level of 70 to 85 percent from late spring to autumn. In the colder winter months, the Aerangis citrata will appreciate a humidity level of 65 to 70 percent in controlled environments. Misting also helps increase the air humidity levels that these plants love so much.
Wild Aerangis citrata use their surrounding environment to absorb nutrients into their system with their long, fine roots from the surrounding decaying and decomposing forest debris. In cultivation, fertilization is recommended to keep the necessary nutrients present, enabling the orchids to be optimally healthy in controlled conditions.
Fertilization is advisable every week using a diluted solution that is half or a quarter of the recommended dosage strength of orchid fertilizers. During the growing period, which is spring to mid-summer, a water-soluble fertilizer that is high in nitrogen is ideal. Meanwhile, a water-soluble fertilizer that is high in phosphorous is ideal for late summer to autumn.
In winter, when the Lemon-scented Aerangis is resting from active growth and flowering, it is not ideal to use any kind of fertilizers at all. Frequent misting using rainwater, de-ionized water, or even reversed-osmosis water is ideal.
– Rest Period
During the colder winter months in temperate climates, the Aerangis citrate requires less watering. Frequent misting will help the orchid prevent dry roots in between reduced watering schedules. Orchid growers are advised to watch out for either wrinkled roots from dehydration or root rot from excess water and act accordingly.
Cultivation of Aerangis Citrata
In carefully controlled conditions, when cultivating the Aerangis citrata, the most critical factors are the light, the humidity, and the temperature. Some growers have resorted to using a terrarium to control these factors.
A terrarium is an indoor plant environment in a sealed container. The plants and soil in the terrarium produce essential gases and moisture that are mutually beneficial for all living and non-living components inside it. This creates a mini self-nourishing environment.
Some growers have also attempted to grow these miniature orchids from Aerangis citrata seeds. Since the seeds are so tiny that they look like dust, many growers have been unsuccessful. Growing Lemon-scented Aerangis from seeds also does not yield high or even viable amounts of plants, so many growers prefer to propagate using other methods.
The Aerangis citrata is a miniature orchid plant that rewards its loving caretakers with tiny white flowers that are delicately scented with lemon. Let’s go over everything we’ve learned on how to grow and care for this small wonder of Madagascar.
- The Aerangis citrata is a miniature orchid that flowers up to three times a year, producing small flowers that emit a citrus scent.
- Once its water, light, and temperature needs are met, the Lemon-scented Aerangis will thrive and flower even in temperate conditions.
- Terrariums are one of the ideal ways to grow the Aerangis citrata, with many growers adjusting only the light level that is suitable for this orchid species.
The Lemon-scented aerangis is a petite plant that brings great joy, with many growers praising its low-maintenance growing habits along with its small showy fragrant flowers. Perfect for novice to expert-level cultivators, this mini but mighty orchid is a great addition to any home!
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