Clear Mountain Garden Treasures
 

Clear Mountain Garden TreasuresCulture and Germination - Thunia

epiphyte
A plant that grows on another,
but does not obtain nutrients from its host.
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lithophyte
A plant that grows on rocks or stony soils.
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terrestrial
A plant that grows on the ground, like most plants do.Grows on or in the ground.
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pseudobulb
A swollen stem found mainly in orchids
see also Bulbs, Corms and Tubers.
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deciduous
Shedding of leaves at the
end of the growing season
see also Plant Life Cycle.
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deciduous
Shedding of leaves at the
end of the growing season
see also Plant Life Cycle.
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Thunia

Flowers
Family Orchidaceae
Name Thunia Veitchiana

Thunia is a small genus of epiphytic / lithophytic / terrestrial orchids that originate from the monsoon areas of India and South East Asia, growing to quite high elevations. The canes (actually elongated pseudobulbs) grow rapidly in the spring and flower in the summer, then loses their leaves in the autumn, going completely dormant in the winter. The following spring, the old canes sprout new growths and the cycle continues. Old canes only last for one year on the plant and usually shrivel up in autumn. The flowers are mainly white or pink with yellow or pink lips. They are borne on terminal spikes.

Culture

Thunia is a deciduous orchid, making rapid growth in late spring, flowering in mid summer and then dying down in the autumn. When leafless, it needs to be stored dry, and in a cool, bright and frost free place to over-winter. New growth appears at the base of the canes around September. These new growths will not yet have any roots, and watering must be still kept to a minimum. A little squirt of water twice a week around the base of the cane is sufficient.

Once the roots have started to grow, more water can be gradually applied. Take the plant outside around Labour Weekend, and place somewhere bright, but away from direct sun. Keep up the watering, daily if possible.

October is also the time to pot the plant on to a bigger pot if required. Use orchid mix, which is usually made up of bark granules. Do not use ordinary potting mix. The plant may need additional support as the roots from the old canes would have shrivelled. As an alternative, sphagnum moss may be used, but this medium is rather costly. Sphagnum moss will also need to be replaced yearly.

Feed at every watering with a dilute solution of liquid fertiliser, say at half the recommended strength. It is important that the fertiliser strength be gradually built up. Start with 1/16 strength and increase weekly in 1/16 steps to 1/2 strength. Eg. Start in the last week of October at 1/16 strength, then a week later go up to 1/8 strength, then a week later to 3/16, and so on until you get to half strength. Alternatively, apply a 6 month slow release fertiliser in October, at half the manufacturer's recommended rate.

The plant will make rapid growth in late spring / summer. Mature plants will then grow flower buds at the end of the canes. These will open during Christmas or early January. The flowers are sequential, meaning, as one fades, another will open to take its place. I normally bring the plant indoors to enjoy the flowers and their fragrance.

Once the flowers have faded, take the plant back outdoors again. By this time the old cane will start to wither. This is normal, and the old cane will shrivel alway completely by the autumn. Keep up the watering and feeding. The new canes need to be plump by the end of autumn.

In the autumn, when the weather cools, the leaves will start to turn yellow. Stop feeding altogether and gradually reduce watering, stopping completely when the leaves start to drop off. Bring the plant indoors, or earlier if a frost threatens. Keep the plant dry over the winter until the next growing season.


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