When I first bought this unusual Japanese species at Pacific Orchid Expo 2009, I didn’t know if I could grow it. My purchase consisted of 3 tiny Orchis tubers, each smaller than a pea. Along with planting instructions for this mini terrestrial, the vendor included its Japanese name, uchouran, meaning “butterfly wing orchid.”
I planted the tubers, and 2 of them grew and bloomed well for a couple years. Then I lost one when it turned to mush in a heavy winter rain. The sole remaining plant grew, but had only a single feeble flower last summer, so I wasn’t surprised when it didn’t live through the winter. Happily, the flowers survive in photos.
At this year’s Pacific Orchid Expo, I had an opportunity to talk to the vendor again, and explained how the Orchis had done well for a couple years, but then died off. He answered that they’re difficult to cultivate, often short-lived, and most of his were gone now, too. I felt a bit redeemed that I’d learned how to grow this uncommon species, if only briefly. Then I asked if he had any more for sale. They’d be worth another attempt, not just for the blooms, but to try to keep them alive longer. He didn’t have any, but I’m keeping my eyes open.
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