Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis care infographicBulbophyllum Phalaenopsis is one such orchid that has bizarre and unique flowers. If you are looking to add some weirdness to your houseplants collection, then this is the orchid for you. Many orchid enthusiasts grow it not for its stench but for the unusual look it brings to their plant collection.

Read on to find out more about Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis care.

What Is Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis?

Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis is a large-sized epiphytic orchid endemic to Papua New Guinea. It is one of the largest orchids belonging to the Bulbophyllum genus.

Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis - large-sized epiphytic orchidEvery orchid is unique and interesting in its way but Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis is one orchid that you can never ignore.

In their natural habitats, these orchids are found in the rainforests of tropical countries of Australia and Southeast Asia. Louis-Marie Albert du Petit-Thouars described it first in 1822.

– Size and Growth

Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis is a large-sized orchid that smells like rotten meat and is pollinated by flies. The female carrion fly is the insect that helps with pollination. It usually grows one pseudobulb a year. The pseudobulbs are tiny, cylindrical, and thick. They act as storage units, helping in the retention of water and nutrients.

– Foliage

Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis gets the name “Phalaenopsis” because of its foliage, which is quite similar to the Phalaenopsis or the moth orchids.

The leaves are long and, unlike the blooms, they look quite attractive. The leaves turn red when kept in direct sunlight for too long and remain a bright green color when in indirect light. The long, waxy leaves can grow as long as 5 feet over time. The leaves droop and wither when they are dehydrated.

– Flowers

Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis has red blooms that have orangish hair on top. They are firm and fuzzy to the touch. The flowers smell like rotten meat and attract flies, which help in their pollination. The stench is not very strong but if you go near it, you can certainly smell it.

The reddish-brown inflorescence blooms in clusters of 15 to 20 flowers on basal and short canes. The meat-colored petal is covered with papillae that resemble maggots.

The flowers bloom from early spring to late summer. It takes the plant one to two years to develop the first blooms.

 

Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis Care

Caring for Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis is quite simple if you keep in mind its basic growth requirements. The care is similar to most Phalaenopsis orchids. Find out all about its water, light and soil requirements below.

– Light Requirements

Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis prefers bright, diffused light to grow well. Too much light can cause the foliage to develop an intense red tinge. You can grow them indoors as long as you can provide sufficient light and ventilation. Semi-shaded areas receiving curtain filtered sunlight work best.

– Water Requirements

Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis likes to be watered abundantly during the active growing season. In summer, do not let the soil medium become completely dry in between the waterings. A drought of even just a few days can kill the plant. When the leaves seem droopy and withered, water the plant immediately.

Never let the plant get flooded or stay soggy for too long. Be careful with the watering and keep your Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis slightly drier in winter. Water the plant only when the soil medium feels partially dry to touch.

It takes about a week for the medium to dry out completely in normal conditions. So, watering one to two times a week works well for it. If the air in your area is very dry, water the plant more frequently.

Avoid using hard water as it can cause salt build up around the roots, which in turn can bring about root burn. This can kill the plant. Use filtered water to prevent such problems.

– Soil Mix

Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis prefers a loose and airy soil mix that drains water out fast. You can also use coconut husk as potting media if the bark is not available in your area. Add sphagnum moss to the soil mix to reduce the watering frequency.

Moss also helps in retaining moisture for longer periods. One problem with using moss is that over time it decays and starts retaining too many salts. So, make sure to change the soil medium when it begins to decompose.

Plant your orchid in a pot if you do not want the soil medium to dry out. Shallow pots work fine for their growth. If you have mounted it on cork or tree fern, you will have to water it several times a day in summer. When the plant is small, it grows well when mounted but, as it gets bigger, it is better to shift it to a pot.

To prepare soil mix, use bark chips mixed with perlite for drainage. Use medium-thick bark chips and avoid using fine bark because it retains moisture for longer periods and soggy soil medium can cause root rot and other fungal diseases.

– Temperature

Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis is a hot-growing orchid and prefers warm to hot temperatures. Intermediate to warm temperatures work fine for its growth. It does well in temperatures lying between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night. The temperature drop at night helps in initiating blooms.

– Humidity

Like most other orchids, Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis also loves high humidity conditions. But it is quite tolerant of lower humidity levels as well. Try to keep the humidity level above 50 or 60 percent. Keep humidity trays and humidifiers around your plant if the air is too dry. You can also mist or spritz the plant with water several times a day in summer.

With high humidity, ensure that there is sufficient air movement around the plant roots. Lack of ventilation around the roots can cause fungal growth and root rot due to frequent watering. You do not have to worry so much about fungal infections and root rot in dry weather, but if you live in a tropical area with high humidity maintain good air movement around the plant.

– Fertilizer

Fertilize Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis once every two weeks in the active growth period. Feed it frequently during the growing season and slow down in winter. Apply one-fourth to one-half of the recommended dose mentioned on a balanced liquid orchid fertilizer. You can also use organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion and seaweed solutions. You can eliminate fertilizing in winter as its growth slows down significantly in winter. Giving a break from fertilizing and resuming in spring will help the plant to initiate flowering.

Repotting

Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis does not need frequent repotting. Repot it every three to four years when its soil medium has begun to decompose and new growth appears at the beginning of spring. Decayed and decomposed soil mix can cause fungal infections and other diseases that can kill the plant.

To repot, first remove the old soil mix from the plant roots. Wash the plant and cut off any dead and brown roots. Now, prepare a new soil mix by mixing bark chips with perlite. Gently place the plant in a new soil mix. Let the plant adjust to the new environment over the next few days and keep it in shade.

One of the biggest causes of this plant’s root rot is that people do not repot the plant at the right time. When you let your plant sit in decayed soil mix for too long, it causes root rot and ultimately this kills the plant. So, keep checking the soil mix by feeling its texture and, if it feels like it has started to break down, change the potting medium.

These orchids are not easy to propagate at home. They are cultivated and propagated by Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis seeds in lab settings.

Conclusion

Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis has stinky orchids which are not for everyone. But the smell is not too strong. This rare and expensive plant is worth adding to your plant collection. Let us sum up everything we have learned about this orchid so far.

  • Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis is a stinky, epiphytic orchid native to Papua New Guinea. It is popular for its flowers with a rotten meat-like stench that are pollinated by flies.
  • It needs partial shade with moist soil, warm temperatures, and humid conditions to produce flowers. Also, provide your orchid with bright, diffused sunlight.
  • Water the orchid frequently in the growing season from spring to fall and reduce waterings in winter.
  • Use pine bark chips mixed with perlite as soil mix if you are planting the orchid in pots.
  • Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis thrives in warm to hot temperatures with a slight drop at night. The nighttime drop in temperatures helps in initiating blooms.
  • Keep the humidity level around the plant above 50 percent.
  • Fertilize the plant with a liquid orchid fertilizer biweekly during the active growth period.
  • Repot your plant every three to four years in early spring when new growth starts to appear.

Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis is not as scary as you might think and it can do great in a home environment. Now that you know all about this unusual orchid, go and get one for yourself!

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