1st photo was taken October - November. Plant is in full flower
2nd photo was taken late December - early January. Plants are finished flowering and begining the decent into dormancy.
3rd photo was taken late January. Plants are 99% dormant.
4th photo was taken April - May. This is a good time to repot.
5th photo was taken late July through early September. Plants have begun to grow. At this point careful watering can begin.
Plants within this group exhibit a VERY DISTINCT growing season and a VERY DISTINCT dormant season. Culture is VERY easy once one understands the seasonality of the plants.
Plant physiology: Plants consist of a leafy shoot, a fleshy tuber, and many long fleshy roots. The purpose of the tuber is to store enough nutrients to sustain the plant over dormancy. Tubers are 2” – 8” long. The leafy shoot eventually produces a few leaves 6” – 12” long or a sizable rosette of leaves 3” – 20” across. The inflorescence will emerge from the center of the leaves. The inflorescence will have several to many short leafy bracts at its base. Depending upon species / hybrid and the plant strength the inflorescence can be 5” – 30” tall. The apical ¼ - ½ of the inflorescence will hold the flowers. Depending on the species / hybrid and strength of the plant, each inflorescence can hold 4 – 35 flowers. Flowers will be variously colored and ornamented. Individual flowers will range in size from 1” – 3½” across.
Growth Cycle / Watering: In cultivation growth usually commences April – June. Watering a dormant plant will lead to the rotting of the tuber and death. It is best to wait until you see growth before you water. When you do water, don’t water the top of the pot. Top watering can cause the new shoot to rot. Water the plant from the base. Initial watering can be accomplished by setting the pot in a small saucer. Hab. carnea is especially hateful in regard to watering during dormancy. Apparently if it even sees a drop of water during dormancy it will die. For many years it came to my place to die in misery.
As the plant breaks dormancy the shoot will begin to grow slowly. As the plant uses up the stored nutrients in the tuber it will also begin to produce roots at the base of the shoot. As these roots begin to elongate and proliferate, shoot growth will quicken. One to many elongated fleshy leaves will form. During active growth the plants prefer to be kept evenly moist. Not soggy. It is better to err on the side of too dry. The inflorescence will emerge from the center. In cultivation this usually occurs August - October.
As the last flowers begin to fade the basal leaves will often begin to look haggard. They will begin to yellow and some dry brown spots will appear, this is normal. If the spots appear wet, STOP watering and apply a fungicide / bactericide. The yellowing of the leaves is the sign that the plants are beginning their seasonal dormancy and it is time to cut back on watering. In cultivation the leaves usually begin to yellow October – December. When the majority of leaves have dried up stop all watering. Permit the media to completely dry. The plant will remain dormant and exist as a plump fleshy tuber until growth commences April – June. This is the best time to repot.
Potting: Plant the dormant tubers about 1” deep in either sphagnum moss, a peat moss based mix, or a small bark mix. These are not the bog Habenaria of North America. Plants prefer to be evenly moist during their active growth but need good drainage. There is a growing point at one end of the elongated tuber. It is often hard to differentiate the growing point where the shoot will emerge if you receive bare root tubers. If this happens simply plant the tuber on its side. As the plant grows the plants gravitropism will put things right.
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