If you saw a Thunia without flowers, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a cornstalk. When it’s in bloom, however, there’s no doubt that it’s an orchid. Thunia flowers look like Cattleyas that haven’t opened completely. The 5 inch (13 cm) wide blooms hang in clusters, pulling down the tops of their 4 ft. (1.2 m) tall stalks.

Thunia flowerThunia flowersThunia plant with flowers hanging below foliage

Possibly the fastest growing orchid, this terrestrial replaces these tall stalks each year. New leaves emerge from the base of the previous year’s stalk (actually a pseudobulb,) and the new growth shoots up in just a few months. This species is native to the slopes of the Himalayas, and has a wide range from India east to Vietnam and north to China.

Thunia flower close upThunia flowers and budsThunia flowers and leaves

When new spring growth emerges after winter dormancy, Thunias need light watering and full sun. Too much water can rot new growth. Within a few weeks, the new stalks grow 6 inches (15 cm,) and should be moved into shadier conditions. By late spring, Thunias need heavy water and fertilizer to mimic the Indian Ocean monsoon in their native homes. After blooms that last a couple weeks, leaves turn yellow in the early autumn. At this point, watering and fertilizing should be reduced to a minimum. I keep this specimen cool and dry in winter, watering as seldom as once a month to keep the stalks from shriveling too much. If these varying seasonal care needs seem too daunting, just imagine the reward of seeing these gorgeous flowers hanging off a cornstalk.

Thunia flowerThunia flowers hanging below foliageThick stems of Thunia plants

Explore posts in the same categories: Dormancy, Fragrant Orchids, Growing, Intermediate Growers, Photos, Watering

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8 Comments on “Thunia”

  1. nancy Says:

    Really beautiful! It sure is a weird one with those corn stalks. Thanks for th epost.

  2. Joy Blake Says:

    Gorgeous flowers, but that is quite the bizarre orchid. I’ve never seen one growing with a big stalk like that. I like how the flowers pull down the top of the plant.

  3. Cik1992 Says:

    nice photos
    thanks for the post

  4. HTC Says:

    How bizarre. I’ve nevr seen an orchid with a stem like that. Even on a tall sobralia or big grammatophyllum you wouldn’t mistake them for cornstalks.

  5. kevn Says:

    What a weird orchid!

  6. nancy Says:

    Wow! theres such diversity in the orchid family its really amazing.

  7. Lorenzo Says:

    cool post thanks

  8. AboutOrchids » Blog Archive » Terrestrial Orchids Says:

    […] Thunias are terrestrial orchids […]