With their incredible diversity, orchids take many forms. These Thunia flowers may resemble Cattleyas, but this large Thunia plant looks more like a cornstalk than an orchid. Possibly the fastest growing orchid, new Thunia stalks grow 3 feet (0.9 m) or more during spring. This fascinating species has lived in a west-facing room of our apartment for 8 years. It puts on its big annual display in June, and Dave took some great shots.

Thunia flowers and leavesThunia flowersThunia flower side view

These 5 inch (13 cm) blooms hang in clusters, pulling down the tops of their tall stalks, also called canes. Flowers emerge over the course of a month. New buds develop inside rounded bracts which come to a point, like crystals dangling on a chandelier. The fascinating flower lips have yellow whiskers and frilly edges.

Close up of Thunia flower lipSide view of Thunia flower lipThunia flower and buds hanging from plant

This terrestrial is native to the Himalayas and Southeast Asia, where it grows along streams or in rocky areas as high as 7550 ft. (2300 m.) Each winter, Thunias drop their leaves and go dormant. In spring, new canes emerge from the bases of old ones. New growth needs full sun. Keep humidity high, but only water lightly. Too much water can rot young growth. Plants should be moved into shade when they’ve reached 6 inches (15 cm) tall. By late spring, Thunias need regular water and fertilizer. When leaves yellow and drop in autumn, reduce water and fertilizer 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.

Close up view of Thunia flower lipThunia flowerThunia flowers and leaves

Incredibly, this tall plant grows in a small 6 inch (15 cm) pot. I repot it every other winter into new, rich potting soil. To keep it stable, I tie the canes to the shelving unit where it lives. Despite its large size and care demands, it’s worth it to enjoy these gorgeous flowers hanging from a cornstalk.

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

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4 Comments on “Thunia”

  1. May Tang Says:

    REally cool photos! The flowers are very interesting.

  2. DianeInLA Says:

    Truly Cool flowers. Much thanks for sharing.

  3. Kurt Gomez Says:

    Your web site is really wonderful. Many thanks for sharing your photos.

  4. nancy Says:

    That’s such a great flower. I wish I had room to grow one!