Haraella retrocalla is a stunning epiphytic orchid native to Taiwan. Commonly called the Taiwan Fragrant orchid, it belongs to the Haraella genus and Orchidaceae family.

Our complete guide will help you successfully grow and care for Haraella retrocalla.

What Is Haraella Retrocalla?

Haraella retrocalla is a miniature orchid species endemic to Taiwan found on the islands near Taipei and Taitung. It is an easy-to-grow orchid perfect for all beginners out there. Yushun Kudo identified it first in 1930.

Haraella retrocalla’s common names are the rear-facing lip spur Haraella, Haraella odorata, Gastrochilus retrocallosum, Saccolabium odoratum, Saccolabium retrocallum, Gastrochilus odoratus, and Gastrochilus retrocallus.

– Size and Growth

You can find the Taiwan fragrant orchid growing in the clear deciduous forests lying at heights of 1600 to 5000 feet. It is an epiphytic, miniature-sized orchid with a stem’s length varying between 0.40 and 0.80 inches.

It grows the best when mounted epiphytically on tree fern or cork or other trees. It has monopodial growth, meaning that it grows upward from a single point and adds leaves to the apex every year. The stems grow horizontally, so the leaves overlap less and can receive more light.

– Foliage

Haraella retrocalla is a tiny plant, and the foliage is also small. The plant has distichous leaves. Distichous arrangement is an alternate leaf arrangement where the leaves are arranged in two vertical columns on opposite sides of the stem.

The leaves are fleshy and curved. They are oblong to oblanceolate, which means they have a more pointed end at the base. They are about 1 inch long and 0.30 to 0.45 inches wide.

– Blooms

Haraella retrocalla has bright and fragrant flowers. They bloom throughout the year if properly cared for. But, it blooms the most during spring, fall, and early winter. The flowers are bright yellow with shades of red on the inside and have a citrusy fragrance. Its fragrance is the strongest in the morning.

Each flower spike blooms one to three flowers at a time that bloom in sequence. A mature plant produces two to four flower spikes.

It is interesting to note that the flower’s scent is similar to that of a female beetle. The male beetle tries to mate with the flower, but upon failed attempts, it moves on to other flowers and thereby helps in pollination.

Haraella Retrocalla Care

Haraella retrocalla is an easy-to-maintain plant. However, there are a few things to take care of if you want it to bloom frequently. The factors such as light, water, soil, temperature, etc., determine your plant’s growth.

Read on to find the right growing conditions for Haraella retrocalla to bloom.

– Light Requirements

Haraella odorata is a great windowsill plant that needs medium, indirect light to thrive. Avoid placing your plant in direct sun, as it can cause yellow spots on the leaves and burn the plant. Use sheer nets to protect the plant from sunburn in outdoor areas.

It does well under the grow lights too. If your plant looks healthy but does not show new growth, it probably needs more indirect sunlight. Move the plant to a brightly lit space and see if the plant grows well.

– Water Requirements

Haraella retrocalla likes to have the soil moist and does not like to dry out too much. Water your plant as the soil mix begins to dry. Wrinkled and shriveled leaves can be a sign of underwatering. If you notice the leaves starting to shrink, water the plant thoroughly and keep it in the shade for a few days. Water the plant frequently to make the leaves healthy again.

Like other vandaceous plants, Haraella retrocalla loves to be watered daily. During its active growth phase, abundant watering will help in new and healthy growth. When the plant matures during autumn, reduce the watering sessions.

When in pots, you can water the plant every two to three days. If your plant is mounted epiphytically or suspended, you might have to water the plant almost daily, sometimes even twice a day, because the water gets drained fast.

The correct watering technique is either using a hose to soak the orchid or dunking the plant in a bucket of water in the morning. Keep the plant in the bucket until the bubbles stop forming.

Be consistent with your watering schedule. Do not overwater your plant as it will cause root rot. Apart from underwatering, overwatering this moisture-loving orchid is another issue that many people face. To avoid overwatering, use sphagnum moss, perlite, or charcoal in the soil mix. Water the soil only when the bark begins to dry. Maintain damp but not soggy conditions around the roots for best results.

– Soil Mix

Haraella retrocalla grows well in a well-drained fine bark mix if it is grown in pots. Fine bark mix works better than the coarse mix because it maintains appropriate airflow and allows the roots to stay moist for longer.

Since most orchids are epiphytes that grow on tree barks, it makes sense to use fir bark as the potting mix for these miniature plants. Add perlite or charcoal to the orchid bark for drainage and airflow. This loose and quick-drying soil mix will help.

For maximum flowering, mount your plant on bark or tree fern or cork using some sphagnum moss. Sphagnum moss helps in keeping the roots moist. It is also called the swamp method because of the jungle-like swampy conditions provided to the plant.

– Temperature

Haraella retrocalla is a warm to cold growing species falling in the genus Haraella. It is not a fussy plant when it comes to temperature and can handle a wide temperature range. The ideal daytime temperature for its growth is 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and a nighttime temperature between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the temperature falls below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, bring the plant indoors as it cannot tolerate extremely low temperatures for too long.

– Humidity

In its natural habitat, Haraella retrocalla lives in 80 to 85 percent humidity from summer to autumn and 75 to 80 percent humidity during winter. So a humidity level above 70 percent works well for Haraella retrocalla’s proper growth. But it can tolerate as low as 50 percent humidity levels too.

Mist or spritz your plant once in a while to maintain humidity around it. It loves humidity and does not like to dry out. Haraella odorata grows well in terrariums, too, because the terrarium is closest to its natural environment.

– Fertilizer

Fertilize your plant weekly with a 20-10-20 mix. Take half a teaspoon of the fertilizer and dilute it in a gallon of water. In the case of mounted Haraella retrocalla, fertilizer works better when the mount is set horizontally. Avoid fertilizing the plant during winter as it goes dormant in the cold season.

– Type of Pot

Shallow pots or containers with many drainage holes work well with Haraella retrocalla. You can grow Haraella retrocalla easily, either in a pot or on a slab. If you are growing your orchid on a slab, mist it every morning and evening to maintain moisture.

– Repotting Haraella Retrocalla

Ensure that the bark that you are growing your orchid in is firm. Repot the plant when new roots begin to appear, this will help in the quick development of roots, and the plant will adjust easily in its new environment.


The forgiving Haraella retrocalla is a great plant for all beginner gardening enthusiasts. Give your garden a sweet, refreshing fragrance with the bright yellow blooms. Taking care of it is not difficult, provided you follow our guide.

So let us sum up everything we have learned about this beautiful plant:

  • Haraella retrocalla is an epiphytic, miniature orchid native to Taiwan
  • It remains miniature, hardly reaching a height of an inch
  • It has small, fleshy, and curved leaves that can grow 1 inch long and 0.45 inches wide
  • Its blooms are bright yellow and red with a slight, lemony scent
  • It thrives in medium, indirect light; excessive sunlight can cause the leaves to burn
  • Keep the soil moist at all times as it does not enjoy dryness for too long
  • It grows well in the temperature range of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the day and 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night
  • For potting soil, use fine bark mix in pots and sphagnum moss when mounted on fern bark or cork
  • Mist it regularly to maintain a high humidity level around the plant
  • Fertilize weekly with a liquid orchid fertilizer for best results
  • Avoid overwatering the plant as standing water leads to root rot

Repot the plant when the soil mix starts to decompose and new roots begin to develop.
After reading our care guide, you have all the tips for growing and cultivating Haraella retrocalla in your garden. Get your hands on this fragrant orchid and fill your home with fresh and positive energy.

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