Pleion orchids

Pleion orchids

The pleion orchid is a genus of the orchid family that clearly differs from its other "cousins"; in particular from the point of view of the numbers of the genus, we note that it is a grouping of only twenty species or a little more, which is very rare among the genera of orchids that often even include thousands of species (such as the dendrobium). Not only that, this plant is native to the southern areas of China, Nepal, so we are talking about Southeast Asia (historically the area of ​​origin of orchids), but in particular we are talking about a mountainous area, so the climate they love is the sub tropical one. mountain. What do we mean? Simple, for those unfamiliar with these Asian climates, we can say that the mountainous sub-tropical has a cycle that includes classic (or almost) seasons, and therefore orchids pleione they respect seasonality; this is a feature to remember when growing this plant. In general, the plant is small in size, with almost always a single flower that sees its stem born directly from the pseudo bulb, with colors ranging from white to purple and a characteristically frayed and unique lip. The orchids pleione they are both epiphytic and terrestrial plants, and this depends on the species we are considering. Its cultivation is not difficult because, as we have already said, it is seasonal and therefore manages to follow our climate well (even if it is still an indoor plant).

Environment and exposure

Unlike many other orchids, for pleione orchids the aspect of the cultivation technique that is most important is that of ventilation; in fact, whether it is cold or very hot, the pleione wants a ventilation that allows it, for example, to withstand some frosts (drying the residues of water in the ground and between the leaves) or to cope with temperatures around 30 degrees that otherwise could not stand (in this case it is also good to suspend any type of fertilization, to avoid excessive salt concentrations in the plant). In general, however, the ideal temperatures for the pleion orchid are about 5 degrees centigrade in winter, when it goes into vegetative rest (in this case it does not have to worry about the fall of all the leaves, it is normal for this phase of the plant and they will grow back when it is over), while they are around 25 degrees centigrade during the day and 15 degrees centigrade at night in summer. As far as the light is concerned, the discussion can be limited only to the spring - summer - autumn phase, as the pleione orchid plant goes into vegetative rest in winter and therefore the light it receives is irrelevant. From spring onwards, with the gradual stabilization of the temperature, the pleion can be exposed to abundant light, but not absolutely direct (we would risk burning the plant, or compromising all flowering); it is important that a combination of light and air is formed, which will guarantee the strength of the plant to withstand even the great heat. The ideal place is in the shade of another plant in an external but very sheltered place.


The perfect soil for the life of the pleion orchid is the one that sees as salient characteristics a perfect aeration capacity, therefore the ingredients we must aim for are: bark, bark (small, medium and large), sphagnum, perlite, coniferous needles such as pine.

Planting and repotting

Repotting is not one of the most important operations for the pleion orchid; this is due to the fact that it does not have a highly developed root system, on the contrary the roots of this orchid are very reluctant to go deep and also to develop (even in the case of terrestrial species). This must lead us to choose a vessel that is not deep and in any case not much wider than the previous one; the only care to have is, as with all orchids, to really treat the roots with white gloves, which are very sensitive to wounds and cuts that can induce diseases and fungi that are dangerous for the survival of the plant.

Orchid roots

As we have just seen in the repotting chapter, the pleion orchid is distinguished by not having particularly full-bodied and extensive roots; more precisely, they do not like to go deep but prefer to widen horizontally, even if very limited.

Reproduction of orchids

This aspect of the care of a pleion orchid is very interesting, as all the species of this genus are characterized by producing the so-called "bulbils", that is very small bulbs that form above the pseudo-bulbs of the plant and that can be detached and backfilled separately to give birth to new plants. According to widespread data, within two or three annual cycles they also bring the inflorescences.


The watering of pleione orchids must follow the life cycle of the plant with some precision: in winter, reduce watering to a minimum (every 15 days or more), while in summer even every 3 or 4 days during the hottest periods. The changes must be gradual and start as early as September and February.


Pleione hookeriana plate from
Lindenia Iconographie des Orchidées

Pleione are a small group of beautiful, predominantly terrestrial but sometimes epiphytic or lithophytic, miniature orchids. This genus is named after Pleione, mother of the Pleiades (in Greek mythology) and comprises about 20 species.

Orchids and bromeliads

In This Article:

Recognized beauties in the plant world, orchids and bromeliads are some special plants that require some knowledge to be best grown.

Often epiphytic, sometimes terrestrial, sometimes tropical, sometimes very resistant, it is necessary to observe each species and avoid generalities in order not to be confused.

Discover them on our cards to learn how to store them and make them bloom again in good condition!

Common name Scientific name


  • Pineapple Shark, Bracteatus of pineapple
  • Bilbergie liar, Billbergia nutans
  • Angel Hair, Air Girl, Spanish Moss, Old Man's Beard, Tillandsia usneoids
  • Dyckia, Dyckia remotiflora
  • Dyckia very high, Dyckia very high
  • Air girl, Tillandsia dyeriana
  • Air girl, Tillandsia aeranthos
  • guzmania, guzmania
  • Hechtie, Hechtia epigyna
  • Vegetable tank, Neoregelia Monet, Neoregelia
  • Tillandsia of Bailey, the girl of the air, Tillandsia baileyi
  • Tillandsia racket, Tillandsia cyanea
  • Tillandsias with threadlike leaves, girl of the threadlike air, Tillandsia filifolia
  • Bulletus tillandsie, Air girl, Bulbous Tillandsia
  • Tricolor Tillandsie, Air Daughter, Tillandsia tricolor
  • Violet tillandsie, Air girl, Tillandsia ionantha
  • Silver vase, Aechmea fasciata
  • Vriésie, Vriesea
Rustic orchids
  • The lady's slipper, Cypripedium reginae
  • Cypripedium yellow, Venus yellow shoe, Cypripedium flavum
  • Swamp Epipactis, Swamp Helleborine, Epipactis palustris
  • Giant Helleborin, Giant Epipactide, California Epipactis, Epipactis gigantea
  • Formosa Orchid, Pleione formosana
  • Hyacinth Orchid, Bletilla striata
  • Orchis neglected, Dactylorhize forgotten, Dactylorhiza praeliminissa
  • Slipper-of-Venus of Europe, Cypripedium calceolus
  • Kentucky Shoes, Cypripedium kentuckiense
  • Fragantha spirantha, Spiranthes cernua
Wild orchids
  • Gymnadia Long Spur, Gymnadia Gnat, Gymnadenia conopsea
  • Bee Orchid, Bee Ophrys, Ophrys apifera
  • Pyramidal orchids, Anacamptis pyramidalis
  • Serapias neglected, Serapias misunderstood, Serapias neglecta
Tropical orchids
  • brassada, x Brassada
  • Cambria, Odonto, Odontoglossum x
  • Cattleya, Cattleya
  • Cymbidium, Cymbidium
  • Dendrobium speciosum, Dendrobium speciosum
  • Little egret, dove orchid, Habenaria radiata
  • Laelia, Laelia
  • Odontoglossum spectatissimum, Odontoglossum spectatissimum
  • Odontonia, Odtna, Odontoglossum x Miltonia
  • Oncidier, Oncidium
  • Spider Orchid, Brassia
  • Bamboo orchid, Dendrobium
  • Bamboo orchid, Dendrobium amethystoglossum
  • Bamboo orchid, Dendrobium Nobiled, Dendrobium nobile
  • Butterfly orchid, Phalaenopsis
  • Orchid-thought, Miltoniopsis
  • Phragmipedium, Phragmipedium
  • Phragmipedium 'Memory Dick Clements', Phragmipedium sargentianum x besseae
  • Pleione forrestei, Pleione forrestei
  • Venus shoe, paphiopedilum
  • Chamberlain's Venus Hoof, Paphiopedilum chamberlainianum
  • Spathoglottis plicata, Spathoglottis plicata
  • Vanda Vanda
  • Vanillier (vanilla), vanilla
  • Zygopetalum, Zygopetalum

Pleione orchids - garden

Photo by © Pieter C. Brouwer and his Nature Photo Website

Photo by © Paul Cumbleton and the Alpine Garden Society Website


Common Name The Early Blooming Pleione - In China You Qiao Du Suan Lan

Flower Size 2 1/2 "to 4" [6 .5 cm to 10 cm]

This small sized, lithophytic and epiphytic, cool to cold growing species is from Yunnan China, India, Nepal, Vietnam, north Thailand and Myanmar where it grows in primary highland cloud forests on mossy trees and the rocks below them at altitudes of 1200 to 3400 meters with shortly cylindrical, maroon pseudobulbs covered by greenish warts carrying 2 apical, narrowly elliptic-lanceolate, acute leaves and blooms on a basal, erect, 3 to 6 "[7.5 to 15 cm] long inflorescence with 1 to sometimes 2, fragrant [ of primrose] flowers and warty, basal sheaths that appears in the fall mostly on old, leafless psuedobulbs but occasionally with the leaves still present.

Synonyms Coelogyne birmanica Rchb.f. 1882 * Coelogyne praecox Lindl. 1821 Coelogyne praecox var. sanguinea Lindl. 1854 Coelogyne praecox var. tender Rchb.f. 1883 Coelogyne praecox var. wallichiana (Lindl.) Lindl. 1854 Coelogyne reichenbachiana T. Moore 1868 Coelogyne wallichiana Lindl. 1830 Cymbidium praecox Sm. 1821 Dendrobium praecox J.E.Sm 1819 * Epidendrum praecox Sm. 1806 Pleione birmanica (Rchb.f.) B.S.Williams 1894 Pleione concolor hort. ex B.S. Williams 1894 Pleione praecox var. alba E.W.Cooper 1951 Pleione praecox var. candida Pfitzer 1907 Pleione praecox var. reichenbachiana (T. Moore & Veitch) Torelli & Riccab. 200 Pleione reichenbachiana (T. Moore) Kuntze 1891 Pleione wallichiana (Lindl.) Lindl. & Paxton 1851-2

References W3 Tropicos, Kew Monocot list, IPNI The Orchids of Burma Grant 1895/95 The Orchids of Sikkim-Himalaya Part 1 King & Pantling 1898 as Coelogyne praecox drawing fide The Orchids of North-Western Himalaya Vol IX Part II Duthie 1906 as Coelogyne praecox Die Orchideen Schlechter 1915 Die Orchideen Schlechter 1915 as P reichenbachiana Atlas des Orchidees Cultivees Constantin 1920 as P reichenbachiana drawing fide Atlas des Orchidees Cultivees Constantin 1920 as P wallichiana drawing fide AOS Bulletin Vol 27 # 9 1958 drawing fide AOS Bulletin Vol 28 # 10 1959 photo fide The Orchids of Thailand Seidenfaden & Smitinand 1959 AOS Bulletin Vol 32 No 3 1963 drawing good The Orchids of Thailand Seidenfaden & Smitinand 1965 corrections drawing Encyclopedia of Cultivated Orchids Hawkes 1965 Encyclopedia of Cultivated Orchids Hawkes 1965 as P reichenbachiana AOS Bulletin Vol 28 No 10 1966 photo AOS Bulletin Vol 44 # 5 1975 photo fide AOS Bulletin Vol 47 No 7 1978 photo fide AOS Bulletin Vol 47 No 10 1978 photo fide Indian Orchids, Guide to Identification and Culture vol 2 Pradhan 1979 drawing / photo fide Orchid Digest Vol 48 No 4 1984 photo fide Rudolph Schlechter Die Orchideen Band 1B lieferung 16/17/18 945-1128 Brieger, Senghas 1985 photo ok The Genus Pleione Cribb & Butterfield 1988 drawing / photo fide Orchids of Kumaun Himalayas Pangtey, Samant and Rawat 1991 The Manual Of Cultivated Orchid Species Bechtel, Cribb & Launert 1992 photo fide Wild Orchids of China Tsi, Chen Mori 1997 AOS Bulletin Vol 67 No 4 1998 Native Orchids of China in Color Singchi, Zhanhuo and Yibo 1999 photo fide Beautiful Orchids of Nepal Rajbhandari & Bhattarai 2001 Rudolf Schlechter Die Orchideen Band 1C lieferung 42 - 43 pg 2626 - 2762 Brieger 2001 A field Guide to the Wild Orchids of Thailand Vaddhanaphuti 2001 photo hmm Orchids of Bhutan Pearce & Cribb 2002 Wild Orchids in Myanamar Vol 2 Tanaka 2004 A field Guide to the Wild Orchids of Thailand Vaddhanaphuti 2005 photo hmm 100 Sikkim Himalayan O rchids Pradhan 2005 photo fide AOS Bulletin Vol 75 No 4 2006 drawing fide Orchids of India A Glimpse Misra 2007 drawing ok AOS Bulletin Vol 77 No 11 2008 photo fide Native Orchids From Gaoligongshan Mountains, China Xiaohua, Xiaodong and Xiaochun 2009 photo fide A Field Guide to the Orchids of China Singchi, Zhongjian, Yibo, Xiaohua and Zhanhuo 2009 photo fide Flora of China Vol 25 Zhengyi, Raven & Deyuan 2009 The Wild Orchids in Yunnan Xu Xiang Ye & Liu 2010 photos ok Orchid Digest Vol 78 # 1 2014 photo fide Orchid Digest Vol 81 # 2 2017 photo fide Orchid Digest Vol 82 # 2 2018 Photo fide

Garden orchids

Less delicate and more resistant orchid plants from temperate climate regions can vegetate optimally even in open spaces such as gardens, terraces or balconies.

Among these species, the following deserve to be mentioned:

the Cymbidium, among all the orchids the most commonly cultivated and also available in supermarkets, and whose name, which in Greek means boat, indicates the shape of the labellum. The success and popularity of this species derives from its great ability to adapt even to cooler climates and this thanks to its origin from the subtropical zone of the Himalayan range. This beautiful species has long spike-shaped inflorescences and produces flowers in various colors, from yellow to pink and from white to green in one color or mottled.

the Cypripedium, extremely adaptable even to high mountain climates as it requires cool summer temperatures and tolerates even quite harsh winters, is among the most beautiful orchids for shape, size of flowers, colors and perfumes. Like the Phapiopedilum species, the flower, of conspicuous size, has a lip in the shape of a shoe.

the Bletilla, originally from the Far East (China and Japan), with small but numerous flowers produced on a single stem, fuchsia in color but also white. Beautiful are also the leaves that resemble those of tropical plants both for the emerald green color and for the shape

the Pleione, coming from the sub-tropical mountainous areas of South-East Asia (China and Nepal), small in size and with a single white to purple flower and a unique fringed lip. The genus to which the Pleione belongs includes a group of species in a fairly small number, no more than twenty, and this clearly differentiates it from all the other genera of orchids.

Pleione orchids - garden

In Italy, with the exception of the mountainous areas, the climate is quite mild. The Mediterranean climate, in fact, alternates between hot summers and relatively cold winters. In most of the coastal towns of Italy, in winter, the average minimum temperatures rarely drop much below zero, and in most cases they approach zero (1-2 degrees higher or lower). This means that in sunny locations, sheltered from winds, temperatures (which will therefore be a few degrees more) will almost always be greater than zero. To see what the minimum temperatures are, you can buy (for 20 / 30,000 lire) a double thermometer (which marks the minimum and maximum temperatures). If you are satisfied that the minimum temperatures do not drop below freezing, then you can try growing some tropical orchids outdoors all year round. Indeed, for the epiphytes, you can try to naturalize them on small trees that we have in the garden or on the balcony. For example, some orchids of the Organ mountains in Brazil (such as Oncidium varicosum rogersii) in nature receive temperatures very similar to ours (over thirty in summer and 4-5 degrees in winter), including some rare frosts. Naturally the water regime is different, with dry winters and humid summers (on the contrary with respect to here), but this can be easily remedied. The same goes for various species that come from the subtropical zones of the Himalayan range, such as many Cymbidiums (you can see in the section "Best known orchids"), Coelogyne (C. cristata is very suitable), Pleione.

It is also possible to grow outdoors (obviously) those orchids that come from temperate areas, such as the Bletilla striata (native to China and Japan), most of the Cypripedium (eye, they are protected and cost an arm and a leg) and some species of the North American and European temperate zones (the same goes for the Cypripedium: all European orchids are protected by an international treaty, they cannot be harvested and the only way to cultivate them is to buy the plants from very specialized nurseries. something in the links). A further problem that the latter have is that most of the species are practically not cultivable, as they depend on symbiosis with a fungus (the mycorrhiza which is necessary for all orchids for germination in nature). However, you can find some (NOT Italian) nurseries that have "discovered" how to grow some European wild orchids and sell their bulbs (at very high prices). You can also find for sale the "mythical" Cypripedium calceolus, the most beautiful and largest European orchid (mythical as the few remaining specimens in Italy can be observed only by a very few privileged ones, who keep their location very secret. find them, take a picture of them, leave them there and don't tell anyone!) but at prices that are at least discouraging.

Video: Ορχιδέες και λάθη που κάνουμε όταν τις ποτίζουμε.

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