Phragmipediums offer a wide array of fascinating shapes and colors from pastels to neon-bright. Several species offer long ribbon-like petals that can be up to a foot in length. Hybrids based on Phrag. besseae can range from bright orange and red to softer pink tones. The recent discovery of Phrag. kovachii has added a range of pinks and purples. Some flower all at once, while others can bloom over an extended time period as flowers open one after another on the inflorescence.
These plants are native to Central and South America, from Mexico to Ecuador and Peru. They are often found near streams, or on steep slopes where there is a constant flow of water.
The species and hybrids with long petals such as Phrag. Grande and Phrag. caudatum need stronger light, approximately 2400 to 3000 foot-candles. Some species and hybrids will grow well with medium light levels; these include Phrag. besseae and many of its hybrids, Phrag. pearcei and Phrag. ecuadorense.
Phrags appreciate water with low levels of mineral content and other dissolved solids. Distilled water and rain water are good for these plants. Many of these plants pretty water that is slightly acidic (pH levels around 6.5).
In general, Phrags like a lot of water and do not prefer to dry out. Some growers use a semi-hydroponic system for growing these plants. Some species, such as Phrag caudatum and its hybrids, appreciate drying out slightly between watering.
In general, Phrags appreciate moderate growing temperatures with daytime temperatures in the 70s and 80s, and night time temperatures in the 50s and 60s.
Humidity and air movement
Phrags prefer humidity levels between 50% and 70%, along with strong air movement.
For more cultural information, visit the AOS webpage on Phragmipedium culture.