Peristeria elata care infographicPeristeria Elata is a gorgeous orchid that is on the verge of extinction because of trafficking. It is because of its beauty that the orchid is appreciated worldwide. But it is rare to find this orchid, and if you do, you would not want to lose it.

We have created this care and cultivation guide to help you know all about this beautiful orchid.

What Is Peristeria Elata?

Peristeria Elata is a beautiful epiphytic and terrestrial orchid native to the Central American countries of Panama, Ecuador, and Venezuela.

It is also called the Holy Spirit orchid, Dove orchid, the Holy Trinity orchid, and Flower of the Holy Spirit. William Jackson Hooker described it first in 1831.

– Size and Growth

Peristeria Elata is a large-sized, fast-growing orchid found mainly in the jungles of Panama. It grows on tree trunks covered in moss and sometimes as a lithophyte on rocks and crevices in the wild. It is also the national flower of Panama. It has sympodial growth meaning that there is a bifurcating branching pattern.

It has oval or tear-shaped, elongated pseudobulbs that are about 5 inches long. Each pseudobulb has four to five leaves. This orchid needs a dry rest period in winter. It is the rest period that helps in initiating blooms at the beginning of spring.

During the rest period, watering and fertilizing should be kept to an absolute minimum. But light should be increased as in the wild, these orchids receive more light in the winter season because deciduous trees on which these orchids grow lose their leaves.

– Leaves

Four to five massive leaves appear from the apex of the pseudobulbs. This plant sheds the older leaves. It loses most of the leaves on the older pseudobulbs.

Leaves of Orchid

So most of the time, the only leaves on the plant are the current year leaves.

– Flowers

Peristeria Elata has stunning marble white-colored flowers with purple spots and yellow-colored anther and pistil. The central part of the bloom has a dove-like shape which is why the orchid is also called the Dove orchid.

The inflorescence bearing flowers get tall and can reach a height of 4 feet and width of 6 inches. 4 to 12 waxy, fragrant blooms emerge from the base of the tall, upright stems. The flower spikes may take months to mature, and the flowers bloom the most in late summer and early autumn. The flowers are long-lasting, with four to six flowers being open at a time.

– Roots

Peristeria Elata has a fuzzy root system, and they like to be moist at all times. If left bone dry for longer periods, the roots will turn gray, and eventually, the plant will die.

Peristeria Elata Care and Culture: Its Growth Requirements

Peristeria Elata is not a great beginner-friendly orchid. It has some very specific care requirements. But if you are prepared to take care of it, then it would not be too challenging to grow this beauty.

Caring Peristeria Elata

Read our comprehensive guide to learn all about its growth requirements.

– Light Requirements

The Holy Ghost orchid prefers bright, indirect light to grow well. When the plant is young, it prefers low to medium light, and when it matures, it needs bright light. It has sensitive foliage which can burn quite easily in direct sunlight. So avoid keeping your orchid in direct sunlight at noon.

Indirect Light to Grow Peristeria

The light level should be the highest during the winter season, but avoid keeping it in the direct midday sun. The orchid also grows well under artificial grow lights. The flower spikes can grow very tall. So choose a space that is bright and can accommodate the plant.


During the dry rest period in winter, increase the amount of light. Increased light during this time helps in initiating blooms at the start of spring. You can provide morning and evening sunlight but not during noon as it can burn the leaves.

– Water Requirements

Dove orchids like a lot of moisture at the roots. Keep the watering frequency high during the active growing season as it likes to have the soil moist at all times. Reduce the watering sessions in winter but do not let the soil remain dry for too long.

If the pseudobulbs appear shriveled or wrinkled, it is most probably because the plant is underwatered. Round, full, and plump pseudobulbs are a sign of optimum watering. While keeping the soil moist, make sure not to overwater the plant as soggy soil conditions for longer periods cause root rot and other bacterial and fungal infections.

– Soil Mix

Since Peristeria Elata loves high moisture all the time, sphagnum moss works the best for its proper growth. We recommend using the New Zealand sphagnum moss because other mediums such as bark chips and coconut husk chips do not retain moisture as long as sphagnum moss does. In warmer areas, it becomes more important to use sphagnum moss over other orchid soil mixes available in the market.

Elata Loves High Moisture Soil

In cooler climates, loose and airy soil mixes with thick bark chips or fir bark with perlite or charcoal. A fast-draining soil medium allows the plant roots to dry rapidly and prevent problems like root rot and fungal diseases. Let the soil mix dry out a bit in between watering in the winter season to prevent root rot.

– Temperature

Peristeria Elata is a warm to hot-growing orchid. It needs temperatures lying between 65 and 70 F to grow well. It requires an average daytime temperature of 75 to 82 F and an average nighttime temperature of 60 to 65 F to grow well. The temperature difference between day and night is essential to help the plant bloom. Avoid temperatures below 60 F as it can be detrimental to the plant.

– Humidity

Peristeria Elata prefers humidity levels between 80 and 85 percent from spring to autumn and about 70 percent in winter. It is a humidity-loving plant.

Peristeria Elata Growing on High Humidity

So it becomes necessary to maintain good air movement with high humidity to prevent problems like root rot, red spiders, bacterial infections, and fungal diseases. Lack of air circulation causes immature flower buds to yellow and fall off.

– Fertilizer Requirements

Fertilize the orchid once every week during the growing period from early spring to autumn. Apply one-fourth to one-half of the recommended dose mentioned on a well-balanced liquid orchid fertilizer. Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer from spring to midsummer and a phosphorus-rich one from midsummer to autumn. Do not fertilize during the winter season as the plant does not show any new growth during this period.

Repotting Peristeria Elata

The ideal time to repot Peristeria Elata is when new growth is just beginning to show. Early spring is a good time to repot the Dove orchid as it gives the plant enough time to establish its roots in the shortest possible time. Avoid repotting in winter as most orchids go into dormancy during this time and can die if repotted at the wrong time.

Repot the orchid if you have your orchid planted in fir bark or cork, and the soil mix has started to decompose. If it has outgrown the existing pot, it is time to repot. Whichever of these two happens first, you have to change the potting mix and plant your orchid in a fresh soil mix.

Avoid Repotting Peristeria in Winter

While repotting, remove the old soil medium completely as older soil mix can cause the roots to rot. Wash off any old media that is left. Be gentle in this process as its roots are sensitive and can break easily.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I stimulate Peristeria elata to flower?

To stimulate Peristeria elata to flower, provide bright indirect light, keep the soil consistently moist, and use a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.

2. What are the common myths associated with Peristeria Elata?

Common myths associated with Peristeria Elata include its use in love potions and its ability to ward off evil spirits.

3. What is the cultural significance of Peristeria Elata?

Peristeria Elata, also known as the Holy Ghost orchid, is culturally significant in Central and South America, where it is considered a symbol of purity, beauty, and the Holy Spirit.


Peristeria Elata may not be the perfect windowsill or beginner-friendly orchid. But it sure is a gorgeous blooms that can attract anybody’s attention. If you have some experience growing other orchids, then you must give this orchid a try.

Given below is a list of all the necessary points you need to keep in mind before growing this pretty orchid:

  • Peristeria Elata or the Dove orchid is a large, terrestrial, or epiphytic orchid endemic to Panama.
  • It has beautiful, marble-white flowers that bloom from spring to autumn.
  • It prefers bright, filtered sunlight to grow well during the growing season.
  • Increase the light during the winter season to promote new growth and induce flowering.
  • Water and feed the orchid well during the growing season.
  • Water it frequently during the active growing season keeping the soil moist at all times.
  • The plant loves moisture, so use New Zealand sphagnum moss as a substrate for best results.
  • It prefers temperatures ranging between 65 and 80 F.Aavoid lower temperatures as it is a warm-growing orchid.
  • It prefers 80 to 85 percent humidity level during the growing season and 70 percent in the winter.
  • Fertilize your orchid weekly using one-fourth to one-half of the recommended dose on a regular liquid orchid fertilizer. Do not fertilize the orchid in winter.
  • Repot Peristeria Elata in early spring when new growth shows.

We hope our guide has helped you find out the exact growth requirements of this beautiful orchid, and you get one of these beauties for yourself!

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