My husband and I went to Langwarrin to an Orchid Farm and bought Australian native orchids ‘Sarcochilus’. The small and pretty blooms are fragrant. These native orchids species are endemic to Northern, Eastern Australia and Tasmania. These epiphytic (grow on other plants) and lithopythic (grow on rockeries) orchids grow wildly on high altitude mountain ranges. In Victoria, Sarco orchids can be found in certain areas around Mt. Dandenong. There are also quite a few of hybrid varieties.
As this is the very first time for me to have this species of orchid, I have to learn the growing requirements. These are notes that I have made:
- Location: To grow Sarco orchids will need cool and airy shaded areas around 60 % – 70% with high humidity. It is common to place Sarcochilus under tables or benches. Never expose the plants to direct sunlight. Keep them in shadier place during summer months.
- Temperature: The ideal is between 8 deg.C to 28 deg.C. In the summer when the Melbourne temperature can soar well above 30 deg.C, keep the plant in darker place and water down the surrounding area to make the air more humid. When the winter temperature is well under 8 deg.C, keep the plant under cover or if it is outside, the plant can be covered with plastic sheet. Never expose the plant to frost.
- Potting media: consist of orchid barks or coco bark. A little bit of river pebbles or styrofoam pieces can be added into the barks.
- Watering: As Sarco orchids have no Pseudobulb, they will not be able to store water. Watering should be done regularly to keep roots moist. Reduce to about once a week during winter time. Rain water is more suitable to use. Do not let the leaf crown wet and keep flowers dry.
- Fertilizer: During summer and autumn apply weak mix of liquid fertilizer such Aquasol, Fish Emulsion or Seaweed Extract once a week with exception, once a month use water only to flush the fertilizer residue (once a week for three weeks apply weak fertilizer and only water on the fourth week). Apply less often fertilizer in spring. DO NOT apply fertilizer at all during winter time.
- Propagating: Sarcochilus will form a large clump that can be divided over time.
- It can grow mounted on a shady tree trunk, on rockeries or just in ordinary pots. The proprietor of the orchid farm said that Sarco orchids will grow many long aerial roots. In older plant, the aerial roots can creep and cling on the wall, on rocks or on tree trunk. If grown in pots, when the clump is bigger, wide squat pot is better to use.
We bought two pots and both are flowering, the one with pink flowers (S. fitzhart) is larger than the white one (S. hartmannii sp.). We were given two extra in smallest pots. One is another flowering S. fitzhart and the other one is Sarco bernice klein ‘Pink Blush’ with no flower. So it will be a mystery how the flowers will look like, but I guess it will be pinkish. We were also given a small pot of soft cane Dendrobium (no flower) for free.