Gastrochilus Japonicus orchid houseplants make any room come alive with their extraordinary beauty. Each small, dense epiphytic growth produces an equally diminutive inflorescence that ultimately shows tiny compact flowers.
The striking petite flowers emit a delicate citrus fragrance, making this specimen a highly desirable one for many orchid lovers.
What Is a Gastrochilus Japonicus?
The Gastrochilus Japonicus is a miniature orchid from East Asia commonly referred to as the Yellow Pine Orchid. Described in 1913 by Rudolf Schlechter, this precious orchid is also known as the Japan Gastrochilus, the Gastrochilus Holttumianus, the Gastrochilus Taiwanianus, the Saccolabium Japonicum, and the Tamra Gastrochilus.
Gastrochilus Japonicus Care
The Yellow Pine Orchid is an excellent houseplant since it is quite a resilient perennial orchid. The ease and maintenance of this lovely miniature orchid make the plant highly sought-after and quite desirable.
Minimal care is required as long as the basic needs of the orchid are met. The healthier the orchid, the less prone it is to infections, pests, and diseases.
Normally, the Gastrochilus Japonicus thrives in its natural habitats where rainfall is moderate to heavy during the wetter months of the year, which is its usual growing season.
In cultivation, watering frequency and amount should mimic its natural environments as possible. Caution should be present that the roots do not remain water-bound or constantly wet and remain adequately moist.
In temperate regions where cold winter seasons are present, watering frequency and amount must be reduced. In the spring, summer, and early autumn seasons, moderate to heavy watering and frequency is preferable as these are the Yellow Pine Orchid’s natural growing seasons.
Despite the season, growers are still encouraged to keep the roots of the orchid constantly damp and never water-logged.
The Yellow Pine Orchids typically grow in the higher branches of the forest trees of their native habitats, where sunlight is often dappled and filtered by the forest canopy. The cover of leaves allows soft, diffused bright light while shielding the Yellow Pine Orchid from the harshness of direct sunlight.
Growing accustomed to their native habitats, the Gastrochilus Japonicus requires a light level of 20,000 to 30,000 lux in cultivation. They should be ideally located where bright morning light levels are abundant, and strong direct harsh sunlight exposure is minimal or non-existent.
When grown indoors, the Gastrochilus Japonicus benefits from plant grow lights which provide the correct light levels for optimum growth and development. Whether grown outdoors or indoors, air movement should be present to allow ventilation.
The Gastrochilus Japonicus can be grown on bark slabs as well as in pots, as they are aerial plants unaccustomed to densely-packed soil. In the wild, they are found between branches of trees and rocks where decaying organic matter provides the orchids with the right amount of moisture and nourishment. In cultivation, there are several ways to mimic their natural growing environments.
In cultivation, the Yellow Pine Orchid prefers a growing medium that is semi-permeable and quick-draining. Loose organic materials such as bark chips, sphagnum moss, fern flakes, coconut husks, and pieces of charcoal make great potted substrate material for this plant.
Other Planting Mediums
When attached and mounted, old tree barks, tree fern flakes, and orchid poles make great planting mediums. The quick-drying nature of these materials ensures that adequate moisture levels are maintained while providing fast water drainage. The semi-permeability of these materials also assures efficient air movement for optimum orchid root health.
Growers can repot Gastrochilus Japonicus when the roots are visibly overgrown and climbing out of their potted containers. Rehoming the Yellow Pine Orchid in mounts and slabs is recommended when the plant outgrows the substrate piece.
The Gastrochilus Japonicus is used to moderate temperatures, being exposed to mildly cold temperatures in Japan and Taiwan. In the warmer seasons, it prefers daytime temperatures of approximately 77 to 80 F and nighttime temperatures of 62 to 65 F.
On colder days, the Yellow Pine Orchid can tolerate daytime temperatures of 66 to 70 F and nighttime temperatures of 50 to 55 F.
In locations where the temperatures may be quite challenging to control, growers are encouraged to use heaters and other heating techniques to maintain the preferred temperature of the orchid.
The Gastrochilus Japonicus has adapted to thrive in environments with high humidity in the mountainous forests of its native lands. In cultivation, it is preferable to keep the orchid in conditions with 90 percent humidity levels during the drier, warmer months. In the colder seasons, the orchid prefers 80 to 85 percent humidity levels.
Growers may use humidifiers and other air humidifying techniques to keep the air moisture level high.
The Yellow Pine Orchid prefers a low dilution of a quarter to a half-strength of the recommended dose of the typical orchid fertilizer. In the spring to mid-summer season, it is recommended to use fertilizers rich in nitrogen as this is the orchid’s active growing season.
In the late summer and autumn periods, growers are advised to switch to fertilizers rich in phosphorus. In the winter seasons, fertilization is best to be discontinued or extremely reduced at the very least.
– Rest Period
The Gastrochilus Japonicus prefers to rest during the colder winter months in cultivation, as it normally does in its native habitats. During this period, watering frequency and amount should be reduced to the point that the roots remain moist but not overly damp or wet. Fertilization during this period should also be discontinued.
Gastrochilus Japonicus seeds are quite minuscule, which can be difficult for growers to use for cultivation and propagation methods. These orchids are under the endangered orchid species list, so their reproduction is typically developed under intense special conditions in vitro techniques.
To ensure protection against illegal poaching, buyers are encouraged to purchase from sellers who have secured legal and ethical means in procuring these plants.
Facts About the Gastrochilus Japonicus
– Name Origin
The gastrochilus comes from the Greek words “gaster,” which means stomach, and “cheilosis,” which means lip. The name refers to the unusual appearance of the flower’s lip.
The miniature Yellow Pine Orchid can grow to be a mature plant at two to four inches in height. Despite its tender size, the orchid packs a punch with its striking beauty found in its unusual and small patterned flowers.
Many orchid collectors find this diminutive plant particularly enchanting during its maturity when they experience the Gastrochilus Japonicus flowering in their spectacular fashion.
The Yellow Pine Orchid leaves are thick and leathery. The evergreen leaves are lanceolate and can grow up to six or seven inches long. The deep green leaves of the Gastrochilus Japonicus come from short stems that are densely packed.
Growers should be careful that water does not gather for a long time in between these compact leaves to prevent any kind of fungal infections and leaf rot.
The roots of the Gastrochilus Japonicus are white, plump, and fine tendrils. As epiphytic plants, they have grown accustomed to absorbing moisture and nutrients from their aerial roots.
The Yellow Pine Orchid has roots that firmly grip loose organic decaying matter, providing nutrients to the small plant. The tips of the roots are bright green and slowly become covered with a white protective sheath as it grows.
Care should be ensured that the roots remain moist but not overly wet or placed in stagnant water. Fungal infections from these conditions could result in root rot.
The tiny Gastrochilus Japonicus produces miniature flowers in the fall. The small flowers are borne on axillary dense inflorescences. Each flower spike can develop two to seven flowers, which are less than three-quarters of an inch in size.
The bag of the lip, from whence the scientific name is based, is often white and creamy with streaks of yellow. The tiny flowers have bright yellow-green petals and are minutely dotted with pinkish-purple spots at the inside of the flower’s lip.
The position of the flowers seems to suggest they grow from the base of the plant. On closer look, the flower spikes are quite abrupt and jut out minutely from the plant’s base. The blooms of the Yellow Pine Orchid can sometimes frow facing down, but more often than not, they grow facing up or sideways.
The unique flowers of the Yellow Pine Orchid also produce a soft, exquisite citrus fragrance. The faint scent complements the extraordinary nature of the tiny colorful blooms.
The miniature Yellow Pine Orchid is a native forest dweller in Japan, the Ryukyu Islands, and Taiwan. In Japan, the mini orchid is endemic to the islands of Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, Sakisima, and Yakusima.
In the Ryukyu Islands, they can be found in the islands of Okinawa, Amami-Osima, Ishigaki, and Iriomote. The Gastrochilus Japonicus can be found naturally growing on the forks and branches of trees in the mountainous forests of Japan and Taiwan with high humidity.
While mainly endemic to these two countries, the petite orchid can also be found in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand.
The Yellow Pine Orchid is a unique orchid with stunning floral features and a delicate citrus scent. Despite their seemingly fragile appearance, these plants are extremely easy to care for and maintain.
Let’s go over what we’ve learned so far in keeping this tiny wonder healthy and flourishing:
- The Gastrochilus Japonicus is a miniature orchid that prefers bright diffused light, high humidity, and strong air movement for its optimal growth conditions.
- The miniature orchid tolerates mildly cold temperatures quite well, although it is still best to use temperature-regulating measures to keep it comfortable.
- The Yellow Pine Orchid can be displayed in pots or mounted on tree slabs, where the roots can enjoy appropriate watering frequency and amount as well as quick drainage.
The Gastrochilus Japonicus is an amazing adaptive orchid perfect for growers in tropical and temperate regions. The ease in growing this orchid has made it quite desirable for many orchid enthusiasts to collect, despite its endangered status.
Due to this status, orchid collectors are encouraged to purchase their plants from reputable sellers to ensure ethical trades and practices. Beautiful, fragrant, and low-maintenance, the Gastrochilus Japonicus proves that great things do come in small packages!