Bulbophyllum Echinolabium is the largest flower of all the Bulbophyllum orchids. It has beautiful but smelly flowers and it is the fragrance (or stench) that sets it apart from other orchids.
Read the care and cultivation guide to learn all about its growth requirements.
What Is Bulbophyllum Echinolabium?
Bulbophyllum Echinolabium is an epiphytic orchid native to Sulawesi island and Borneo. It is an important species in hybridization. Some of its hybrids do not have a pungent smell.
It is also called with the flamboyant name of “the Bulbophyllum with the Hedge-Hog Shaped Lip” due to its distinct shaped lip. Johannes Jacobus Smith described it first in 1934.
– Size and Growth
Bulbophyllum Echinolabium grows in the mountainous jungles lying at an altitude of 2000 to 4000 feet. It grows new bulbs every year and you can use them for propagating this plant, as Bulbophyllum Echinolabium seeds are generally not viable.
Its culture is the same as other Bulbophyllum orchids. It is a sympodial orchid, meaning that it has a bifurcating branching pattern. The stem has a rhizome and a pseudobulb. The erect inflorescence bearing flowers arise from the base of the pseudobulb.
Bulbophyllum Echinolabium is a unifoliate orchid. It means that its foliage is formed by a single leaf at the top of the pseudobulbs. It has fleshy and leathery leaves. The leaves become dark red or brown when exposed to very bright light and a dark green color when in dark.
Bulbophyllum Echinolabium has beautiful, large flowers that bloom from spring to fall. It is a sequential bloomer, with the flower spikes producing flowers again and again over the course of a year. It is pollinated by flies. Many flowers emerge from the unbranched flower spike. The flowers bloom from 28 to 30 inches long inflorescences.
It is the largest flower out of all the orchids under the Bulbophyllum genus. The flowers can get as large as 16 inches from tip to tip. The flowers are not fragrant and have a stench similar to rotten meat.
The smell tends to fade away towards the end of the day. It has long, pink and crimson petals that are elongated at the tips. They are not long-lasting and can last only up to four to five days before falling off.
Bulbophyllum Echinolabium has a thread-like fibrous root system. In jungles, these roots creep over the tree branches and rocks. Some aerial roots derive their nutrition from air.
Bulbophyllum Echinolabium Care
Bulbophyllum culture is pretty straightforward, so this orchid does not require special care and attention. Find below all its growth requirements regarding light, water, temperature, potting mix, humidity, and fertilizer.
Bulbophyllum Echinolabium has light requirements similar to Phalaenopsis orchids. It needs moderate to bright, indirect sunlight to grow well. If you are keeping it indoors, place it in a South or East-facing window that receives indirect light during the day. With strong light, maintain strong air movement around the plant roots.
If the light is too bright, the leaves turn red or brown. Shift it to a darker spot in this case. If the plant fails to flower, shift it to brighter light conditions.
Bulbophyllum Echinolabium likes to be on the moist side. Water it abundantly in the growing season and let it dry out just a bit in between waterings. Keep the soil mix moist at all times in the warmer months and reduce the watering frequency as the weather gets cold. Even during the winter months, do not let the soil mix dry out completely. Dried roots can kill the plant.
With high watering frequency, maintain good air movement around the plant roots. High moisture levels without air circulation can cause root rot and other fungal diseases.
Bulbophyllum Echinolabium grows the best in a well-draining soil mix that retains moisture for a long time. Plant it in a good quality orchid bark mix that can retain moisture and is fast-drying. You can also grow it in either sphagnum moss or coco peat mix.
We recommend using a mix of medium-thick bark chips and perlite over sphagnum moss in humid environments, because moss gets stagnant too fast. On the contrary, use sphagnum moss with some stones at the bottom of the pot if it is too hot and dry in your area.
Sphagnum moss retains moisture for longer periods. Use shallow pots or containers, as the roots of this flower do not go too deep.
Bulbophyllum Echinolabium is a warm to hot-growing orchid. It prefers warm temperatures and cannot tolerate very cool temperatures. Do not expose your orchid to temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit and shift it to a warmer spot indoors if it gets frosty in winters.
This warm-growing orchid needs an average daytime temperature of 80 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit and an average nighttime temperature of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. With warmer temperatures, it needs high water frequency and high humidity.
Bulbophyllum Echinolabium comes from areas of very high humidity. In their natural habitats, these orchids grow in humidity levels of 75 to 80 percent. But in cultivation, they grow well in humidity levels above 50 percent. If the air is too dry in your home, keep humidifiers and humidity trays around the plant to maintain the required level of humidity.
Bulbophyllum Echinolabium has fertilizer needs just like any other orchid. It is not a very heavy feeder, so add a small amount of nutrients. Feed the plant weekly with well-balanced liquid orchid fertilizer.
Apply one-fourth to one-half of the recommended dose mentioned on the fertilizer label. You can also use 20:20:20 fertilizer to feed the plant during the active growing season. Apply Epsom salt to provide the plant essential supply of calcium and magnesium.
Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer from spring to mid-summer and a phosphorus-rich one from late-summer to fall. Avoid over-fertilizing the orchid as it leads to salt buildup around the roots. Salt accumulation over time can cause the roots to burn and eventually kill the plant.
To avoid this problem, flush the plant with fresh water every month. Give it a good dip in RO water or tap water. It will prevent salt accumulation.
Bulbophyllum Echinolabium does not like frequent repotting because unnecessary root disturbance can cause plant growth to slow down. Sometimes, it can stay sick for up to one year if it is disturbed at the wrong time.
One thing to be careful of is to watch what new growth comes out because there is a sheath around the new growth that can trap water. Watch out for and cut the protective sheath off, so that it does not hamper the drainage.
If the potting mix has not decomposed, you can still repot the plant to a larger pot. Remember to keep the root ball intact with the soil mix around it. Keep the root disturbance to an absolute minimum. Shift the plant if either the soil mix decomposes or the plant outgrows the pot.
Prepare a new, airy soil mix of bark chips and perlite and shift the plant to the new pot. Place the plant gently in the new soil mix without disturbing its root system. Keep the newly repotted plant in a shaded spot for a few days without water. Once the plant has acclimatized to the new environment, you can shift it to brighter light and resume regular watering.
Sometimes Bulbophyllum Echinolabium is prone to get infected by pests and insects like caterpillars. Spray your plant with Neem oil regularly to keep all pest problems at bay. The plant is most susceptible to bacterial rot when new growth comes out.
Apply high-quality insecticides and fungicides twice a year to prevent any bacterial or fungal infections.
Bulbophyllum Echinolabium is an easy grower and is a great addition to any orchid enthusiast’s orchid collection. Their vibrant colors make it worthwhile to grow them.
Now that we have covered everything there is to know about this unique orchid, let us sum up all the crucial points you need to keep in mind before growing them.
- Bulbophyllum Echinolabium is native to Borneo and Sulawesi island.
- It is loved for its large and showy flowers that have pointed petals and have a rotten meat-like smell.
- The stench is not too strong unless you go near it.
- It needs moderate, dappled sunlight throughout the day to grow and bloom.
- Keep the watering frequency high during the active growing season and reduce it during the winter months.
- It is a hot to warm-growing orchid that cannot tolerate cooler temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep the humidity level above 50 to 60 percent by keeping humidifiers or humidity trays.
- It is not a heavy feeder, so fertilize it lightly during the active growing season.
- To prevent salt buildup, flush the plant regularly with tap water.
- Repot the plant when it has outgrown the pot or when its soil mix begins to decompose.
Bulbophyllum Echinolabium might not have the longest-lasting and most fragrant flowers but they are worth the wait when in bloom. You must absolutely add one of these beauties to your plant collection.
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